Nursery and Floriculture Alliance
University of California
Nursery and Floriculture Alliance

From the UC Blogosphere...

Mike Janes to head UC Agriculture and Natural Resources strategic communications

Mike Janes
Mike Janes, the public relations and communications officer at Sandia National Laboratories in Livermore, will become the strategic communications director for the UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources on Feb. 2, reported Jeb Bing in the Pleasanton Weekly.

The article said Janes represented Sandia to the media for nearly 13 years. According to the Sandia website, the company, a wholly owned subsidiary of Lockheed Martin Corporation, is a science and engineering laboratory for national security and technology innovation.

In his new position, Janes will report directly to UC ANR vice president Barbara Allen-Diaz and will be responsible for overseeing a variety of functional communications areas. The article notes that the ANR division is located in Davis, but is not a part of UC Davis.

"It's been an honor and a pleasure working here at Sandia," Janes is quoted. "Though it's a cliché to say it's 'all about the people', it's really true in this case. I'll miss the people and the mission of Sandia but know the lab will continue to do important work in the national interest."

Posted on Wednesday, January 28, 2015 at 8:47 AM

Yes! They Will Do Carpets and Clothes

Advice for the Home Gardener from the Contra Costa Master Gardeners' Help Desk

Client's Questions and Concerns:
Client called about finding a “wormy” bug in the wood frame of her son's bunk bed. She wanted to know what it is and what she should do about it. We told her that we could probably identify the bug if she submitted good photos, but that the fastest way to get a positive identification of the bug would be to bring it to the CCMG Help Desk office in a closed plastic envelope or sealed jar.

Response from the CCMG Help Desk:

Varied carpet beetle
cast larval skin (left)
& adults (ctr & rt)
Thank you for dropping off an insect for identification at the Master Gardener help desk. The insect you left us is a carpet beetle larva. Carpet beetles belong to the family of beetles known as dermestids. There are three types of carpet beetles commonly found and of concern-- Varied (Anthrenus verbasci), Furniture (Anthrenus flavipes), and Black (Attagenus unicolor). All three carpet beetles are pests in warehouses, homes, and other locations where suitable food exists. Adults lay eggs on a larval food source such as woolen fabric or carpets or furs. Eggs hatch in about two weeks, and the larvae feed for varying periods, depending upon environmental conditions. Damage occurs during the larval stage only. Larvae feed in dark, undisturbed locations and on a variety of dead animals and animal products such as wool, silk, leather, fur, hair brushes with natural bristles, pet hair, and feathers; occasionally they feed on stored products such as certain spices and grains. They don't feed on synthetic fibers. 

Furniture carpet beetle larva (lt)
& adults (ctr & rt)
Carpet beetles are among the most difficult indoor pests to control because of their ability to find food in obscure places and to disperse widely throughout a building. Successful control depends on a combination of sanitation and exclusion. If sanitation and exclusion are successful, insecticide treatments aren't required. If you have found just this one larva, you probably don't have an extensive infestation. 

Black carpet beetle larva (lt)
& adult (rt)
Elimination includes the accumulations of lint, hair, dead insects, and other debris that serve as food for carpet beetles. Throw out badly infested items. Remove old spider webs and bird, rodent, bee, and wasp nests, which can harbor infestations. Be sure that window screens, doors, and vents are secure to keep carpet beetles from flying in from outdoor sources. Regular and thorough cleaning of rugs, draperies, upholstered furniture, closets, and other locations where carpet beetles congregate is an important preventive and control technique. Frequent, thorough vacuuming is an effective way of removing food sources as well as carpet beetle eggs, larvae, and adults. After vacuuming infested areas, dispose of the collected material and/or bag promptly, because it can contain eggs, larvae, or adult insects.

Here is a link for further information from the University of California about managing carpet beetles: 

Please contact us again if you have more questions.

Contra Costa Master Gardeners Help Desk

Note: The Contra Costa Master Gardener Help Desk is available year-round to answer your gardening questions.  Except for a few holidays, we're open every week, Monday through Thursday for walk-ins from 9:00 am to Noon at 75 Santa Barbara Road, 2d Floor, Pleasant Hill, CA  94523. We can also be reached via telephone:  (925) 646-6586, email:, or on the web at


Posted on Monday, January 26, 2015 at 12:25 AM

February Chores


February Chores

By Andrea Peck   UCCE Master Gardener


While February marks the last 28 days of winter, spring lays in wait, ready to pounce. This is not the time to neglect your garden. Redolence will not pay off. Beneath that sparse and weedy winter garden is activity and potential.  Take advantage of it by planting bulbs such as amaryllis, caladium, calla lily, canna, dahlia, daylily, bearded and Dutch iris. Inland gardens can plant gladiolus and tuberose. 

Early sowing has early rewards. Try alyssum, columbine, cosmos, hollyhock and lupine. A smattering of wildflower seeds will bring color and pollinators. 

Foodies might try parsley, endive, leek, lettuce and turnips. Don't forget a good helping of garlic, onion and shallot sets. For coastal gardens, beets, carrots, kohlrabi and snow peas are good options. Inland gardeners might start seeds indoors or use a cold frame. Broccoli, Brussel sprouts cabbage and cauliflower are timely choices. While you're digging around, transplant artichoke crowns, asparagus crowns and rhubarb rhizomes.

Plant camellias and azaleas, just be sure to use and acid soil mix, don't plant too deeply and mulch to keep roots cool. It's not too late to plant roses and deciduous fruit and nut trees as well as berries and grapes.  Prune dormant or damaged trees and shrubs that bloom in summer and fall. Trim rose bushes, grapes and berries before budding. Apply final dormant spray for stone fruit trees. Shape your fuchsia before it forms leaves.  Deadhead cool season flowers to encourage bloom.

Provide nutrients by utilizing slow-release fertilizers on groundcovers, perennials, shrubs and trees. Work bonemeal, cottonseed meal or composted manure into the top three inches of soil. Citrus trees prefer a light fertilizing. Use balanced fertilizer for fruit trees. Fertilize after rains to prevent runoff into storm drains and creeks. Native and Mediterranean plants do not need fertilizing.

Perhaps most important in this time of gaining momentum is controlling weeds and pests. Set a schedule for weeding. Contain future outbreaks by yanking weeds before they seed or flower. Use strong blasts of water to control aphid populations, trap earwigs in rolled-up newspaper and keep your eyes peeled – spring is on its way.

Posted on Sunday, January 25, 2015 at 8:54 PM

Daily Life For Master Gardeners

Orchid Blues

By Andrea Peck


There is nothing worse than a failing orchid. I have friends who have success with them. Sometimes it's all I want – a blooming orchid. At the moment, I have one large-leafed type. I do not remember his name. It has been so, so long since I saw its flower that I couldn't tell you what it even looked like. It's a sad story.

Nevertheless, Mr. Sorrowful is in my possession. Let's look on the bright side; at least he has a few leaves, even though one is split down the center. He offers so much with those big, fat photosynthesizers that I can't bring myself to ignore him any longer.

The first order of business is repotting. I can tell that the solid glass container that he lives in has no air circulation. I know this goes against the Laws of Orchid Ownership and I should be fired immediately. Excess moisture is bad news. It may be why these weird rooty things are growing vertically up towards the sky. They are suffocating, no doubt.

Of course, I know nothing about repotting, but I figure, how hard could it be? I had a friend who used this phrase often and it got her a lot of places. I try to inhabit her attitude now and then. But, when it came down to it, I decided I'd better read a bit on the whole process before I began. I located the Orchid Society Website. The following is what I learned.

Orchids should be moved when they have outgrown their current pot. This is evident by roots growing out of the medium and exiting the container. My plant does not have this problem, but the soil needed replacing. When I extricated Mr. Man, there were a few roots that looked shrunken, okay, most looked shrunken and I really have little hope. Nevertheless, I purchased orchid specific potting soil and a new pot with holes in the sides for better air circulation.  Soil mix must be fast-draining, yet moisture retentive. That's kind of a weird combo if you ask me, so I went straight to the prefabricated “orchid mix.”

Then I watered my plant. Most orchid watering instructions start by emphasizing overwatering as the main culprit in orchid deaths. The best trick is to stick your finger in the medium and describe in terms of ‘wet' or ‘dry' what you feel. If you are not sure, water the next day. I swear, this is the actual advice. But, it makes sense – when it comes to your orchid, err on the dry side. Other tricks of the trade are watering in the morning to ensure dry foliage by nightfall and watering more if your home is dry or extra warm. Some people add humidity by placing their plant on a tray or plate of water so that the plant sits on something that keeps it above the water (such as gravel, rocks or a small dish).  Shriveled leaves indicate a lack of water – this can occur from either underwatering or root problems that prevent water uptake.

Orchid experts suggest diluted (1/4 strength) weekly feedings of a balanced fertilizer such as 20-20-20. Feeding less, on a more regular basis seems to keep orchids at their best. Water first to prevent burning of roots, then feed.

Location, location, location. According to the Orchid Society, lack of light is the main reason a healthy orchid does not bloom. Where you place your orchid is key to its ability to flower. Most orchids prefer an east or south facing window.  West facing windows are too bright, while windows that face north are too dark. However.  After utilizing my son's compass keychain, I placed Mr. Doomed-To-Bloom in an east facing window. Three days later old Leather Leaves was really looking up to his name. He had significantly aged and was slightly burnt, dried out and sort of Marlboro-manish.

I could have opted to cover the window in a sheer curtain, but I did not want to emasculate my man any further. So, I gave him a cool drink and moved him to a more suitable locale. Interestingly, I did read that orchids that are receiving adequate light will have leaves that are light to medium green.  Dark green indicates more light is necessary for blooming.

The major insight I gained occurred somewhat viscerally. You must be laid back with your orchid. Get Zen with it. Despite their delicate carriage, these plants are tougher than they look. Don't baby them too much – it takes the jungle out of them.

Before I sign off, there was one last thing that I learned. And actually, it surprised me. Orchid species are becoming extinct. Threats occur with loss of habitat and collecting. Make sure you purchase only artificially propagated orchids. And of course, in my case anyway, attempt to keep the ones you have alive!


Posted on Sunday, January 25, 2015 at 8:46 PM

Winegrape growers concerned about drought

Foothill vineyards have water worries.
Winegrape growers who rely on groundwater are worried about the dismal rainy season so far, reported Ed Joyce on Capital Public Radio. He quoted the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration as saying that, barring "epic rain and snowfall," the drought will likely continue through the spring and summer.

Joyce spoke to a a dismayed winemaker, a worried vineyard manager and he gathered background for his four-minute story by interviewing Lynn Wunderlich, UC Cooperative Extension farm advisor for El Dorado, Amador, Calaveras and Tuolumne counties.

"There's a lot of concern out there amongst growers that I work with in the four counties in the Central Sierra," Wunderlich said. "Generally in the foothills we have a shorter depth in the soil from the surface to the bedrock, so that all impacts the available water that a grower has."

Because of the drought, Wunderlich said some growers are extending their wells or digging new wells to increase groundwater supply.

"I even had an email from a small grape grower who said he's collected rainwater this season," Wunderlich said. "So people are getting quite creative in their attempts to conserve water, knowing that we're going to have potentially a tough season."

Posted on Friday, January 23, 2015 at 3:17 PM

Next 5 stories | Last story

UCD College of Ag
Plant Sciences Department
Webmaster Email: