Nursery and Floriculture Alliance
University of California
Nursery and Floriculture Alliance

From the UC Blogosphere...

California's three-part drought survival plan

Anglers hike down to the water's edge at the San Luis Reservoir. The reservoir is at 30 percent of capacity.
National Public Radio reporter Kurt Siegler spoke to the director of the UC California Institute for Water Resources, Doug Parker, to set the stage for a five-minute report on the California drought for All Things Considered. (The story is embedded below.)

In California, Siegler reported, water is moved through a network of dams, canals and pipes from the places where it rains and snows, to places where it is needed, like farms and cities.

"The system that we have was designed back in the 1930s through 1950s to meet population and land use needs of the time," Parker said. "Now things have changed in the state and that system really hasn't evolved to keep up with the times in California."

The system was designed when the California population was about 10 million. Now the population is 38 million. It was also designed during an unusually wet period of history.

"And the question is, how is that system going to perform in 2050?" Parker said.

The story outlines three ways the state is coping with the drought:

  • A $7 billion water bond to upgrade that massive infrastructure system is on the Nov. 4 ballot. The measure would pay for building two new large reservoirs and the expansion of dozens more. There is also tens of millions of dollars earmarked for water recycling and reuse.
  • Efficiency, such as capturing urban waste water, treating it and using it on farms. Passage of the water bond will allow for this strategy to expand.
  • Water conservation. The example Siegler gave was an executive order by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, which aims to cut freshwater use in his city by 20 percent in the next three years.

Listen to the NPR story here:



Posted on Thursday, October 23, 2014 at 8:50 AM

Reporter ponders UC Cooperative Extension pepper research

Capsaicin, the yellow line of fluid, gives jalapeño peppers their heat.
A column in the Salinas Californian playfully reflected on UC Cooperative Extension research that aims to turn up the heat in the mighty jalapeño pepper.

Writer Dennis Taylor reported that Aziz Baameur, UCCE farm advisor in Santa Clara and San Benito counties, is trying to increase the Scoville units in hot peppers by adjusting on-farm practices.

"The trend lately is toward hotter items," said Jeff Sanders of George Chiala Farms in Morgan Hill, the site of the research project.

Taylor waxes on about super hot peppers that are being grown around the world - including the current record holder, according to Guinness, the Carolina Reaper, which is 900 times hotter than the jalapeño.

He wrote that he asked a newsroom colleague, UCCE Master Gardener Laramie Trevino, whether she would prefer more heat in jalapeños, and he mentioned a plan to call Baameur and Sanders to learn more about the motives behind their research work.

For more information about the hot pepper research, see: Some like it hotter: UC Cooperative Extension tries to grow a spicier jalapeño.

Posted on Tuesday, October 21, 2014 at 4:39 PM

Cool Season Vegetables


Cool Season Vegetables

By Tami Reece    UCCE Master Gardener


Fall is the perfect time to refresh your garden and keep it growing into the winter. You want to choose the right crops and the best location; choose cold weather protection best suited to your needs and know your frost dates.

 Cool season crops thrive in cooler temperatures and several have shorter seasons than warm season crops. Cool season vegetables grow best between 45 and 55⁰F and 55 to 75⁰F and most mature cool season vegetables are frost tolerant. Winter crops can be planted from seed if there is sufficient time for the plant to become established before the first frost. Otherwise, it's best to consider using transplants. It's important to know the local frost dates and plan and plant accordingly. The approximate frost dates for San Luis Obispo County are:


Interior area         First Frost:  October 7            Last Frost:   April 20

North County       First Frost:   November 7        Last Frost:   April 17

Coast/SLO          First Frost:   December 31       Last Frost:   February 15



Pick a location that will get full sun, but will be shielded from the wind or frost such as near a south facing wall or fence. If the best location for your winter garden is the same location as your spring and summer garden, it's important to regenerate the soil that provided your spring and summer crops. Work in several inches of compost throughout the planting area to replenish and rebuild the soil.


 Choose the right form of weather protection based on your needs and available resources. Cloches make for a simple cold weather protectant. A cloche is something you put over an individual plant to protect it from frost or freeze. They can be plastic milk jugs, glass or plastic cloches, or even cardboard boxes. Row covers are permeable fabrics placed over plants or frames.  Heavier fabrics can protect to 24 degrees. Cold frames are bottomless frames placed on the ground, with a hinged top that act like a mini greenhouse. Lastly, a good straw mulch of 6 to 10 inches loosely scattered can provide additional protect from frost.  

With a little preparation, you can have fresh vegetables throughout the fall and winter seasons.


Are you interested in becoming a UCCE Master Gardener? Join us at our Informational Meeting, Monday, October 20 at 1:00 p.m. in our auditorium at 2156 Sierra Way, San Luis Obispo. For more information please visit:





Posted on Monday, October 20, 2014 at 6:51 PM

Daily Life For Master Gardeners


Fall Planting

By Andrea Peck


I've heard that fall is the time for planting ornamentals, but I must confess I have always wondered why. Logically, I'd assumed that the reason fall planting is best is to gain the benefit of rain. But, California, as a rule, does not weep measurable precipitation during those three grand months. Contrarily, the fall months are often some of our warmest and driest, particularly along the coast.

So what gives?

I decided to dig a bit deeper and I discovered that much of the interwebs is composed of forums that discuss the merits of vegetable planting during the fall.  Brussels sprout and broccoli fans are consistently represented and there is a bit of showing off with the mention of exotica, such as watermelon radish and red perilla. There are fancy photos and book loads of recipes involving kohlrabi and spinach. Finally, I unearthed it: the reason we plant in fall.

And confound it; no matter the angle that I view gardening, it appears that the future-think approach is the one with the most rewards. If you dial back to spring, you will see what I mean. Planting in spring is notoriously popular – you can visualize the frenzy, as ladies and gentlemen fling themselves amongst the colorful spring flowers and vegetable starts.

 Such a relief from the doldrums of winter!

But, tumble into this marketing ploy and you will come to learn that planting in spring lends little support for the average new ornamental. Think of summer - it's not hard with that dry desperate heat still smoldering around us. Now think of that poor plant that you stuck in the earth during the spring. You watered it for a bit, assuming it would soon root in and stand on its own. Then summer waltzes in with its water restrictions and phenomenal temperatures. If you are like me you see a number of dead “new” plants creating texture and sculptural interest in your landscape. Mine were even drought tolerant.

Planting during the fall is the opposite. Just as you are finished nurturing your little plant infant, the winter steps in to take over with the real irrigation manna.

But, hold fast! There are other reasons that make fall planting ideal. Apparently plant shoots require fewer nutrients as winter dormancy approaches. Also during the fall, carbohydrate “food” that is produced in the leaves is moved to the roots – this promotes growth and survival.

Autumn generally shows a temperature shift, as well. The temperature may continue to feel overwhelming, but the days are quickly becoming shorter and the nights cooler – a perfect combination for plant growth. Warm days keep soil temperatures elevated which encourages root growth, while the overall cooler temperatures lessen moisture loss through the leaves. 

Winter brings changes which promote a hardy plant over time. Rain provides clean moisture and nitrogen. Colder temperatures slow top growth which allows rain and cool soil to focus on root growth. Warmer air temperatures arrive with spring. The fall plant, allowed the extra resources of initial warmer soils, cooler air and the subsequent winter rains and cool temperatures, is primed to support top growth. Root growth continues during the spring which allows the plant a better chance towards survival during the increased dryness and heat of summer.

Now, with all that nourishing and care – and planning - your little one is ready to show off a full flush of foliage.


Posted on Monday, October 20, 2014 at 6:44 PM

Kiwifruit industry is making a comeback in California

California kiwifruit was valued at $23 million in 2012. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons.)
Kiwifruit, the 67th most-valuable crop in California, had its heyday in the 70s and 80s, before production slowed somewhat, reported Reed Fujii in the Stockton Record. However, UC Cooperative Extension advisor Janine Hasey, says it appears to be growing in popularity once again.

All of U.S. kiwifruit is grown in California. Hasey told the reporter that most kiwifruit come from Sutter, Yuba and Butte counties, as well as the southern San Joaquin Valley. Strong market demand and prices have prompted at least one major grower to expand.

"They actually plan to plant 800 acres in Yuba County, which is a huge increase," Hasey said.

Kiwis are native to China, but are commonly associated with New Zealand. Called the Chinese gooseberry, they were renamed "kiwifruit" - after flightless birds native to New Zealand - for the export market in the 1950s. Kiwifruit vines are frost sensitive and require plenty of heat in the summer. Of the 27 most commonly eaten fruits, kiwis are the fourth most nutrient dense, following papayas, mangos and oranges, according to the Network for a Healthy California's Harvest of the Month.

Hasey said consumers are drawn to the fruit's sweet-tart taste and nutritional value.

“They're really packed with potassium and vitamins and antioxidants, and a lot of people like them,” she said.

Posted on Monday, October 20, 2014 at 4:20 PM

Next 5 stories | Last story

UCD College of Ag
Plant Sciences Department
Webmaster Email: