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From the UC Blogosphere...

California Red Scale Meeting in Tulare April 2

Why are SJV growers struggling to control California red scale and
what should they do this season?
Join us for a lecture on California red scale biology and management by Dr. Beth Grafton-Cardwell and a PCA panel discussion of strategies for controlling red scale this season. 
April 2, 2015
10 am-noon
Tulare County Ag Building Auditorium
4437 S. Laspina, Tulare
(for more information, call 559-684-3300)
Bonus session: Update on Asian citrus psyllid finds and the status of the psyllid management areas
Posted on Wednesday, April 1, 2015 at 4:42 PM

Fertilizing Citrus



By Linda Lewis Griffith


Citrus trees grow so well on the Central Coast that it's easy to take them for granted.  You may have a lemon tree on your patio or a tangelo that supplies the whole neighborhood with bags of sweet, tangy fruit.  Even hard-working citrus appreciate love now and again.  And you can do that by regularly feeding them. 

Citrus trees planted in the ground get most of their nutrients from the soil. The exception is adequate nitrogen.  Deficiencies in nitrogen reduce yields and adversely affect size, color, sweetness and peel texture of the fruit.

Nitrogen should be applied several times throughout the year.  The first feeding is in January or February, just prior to bloom. The second occurs in May.  The final feeding is in June. 

Select a nitrogen fertilizer, such as ammonium nitrate or urea.  Determine the size and needs of your particular plant and follow the instructions on the label.  For instance, a one-year-old year tree should get 1 tablespoon of nitrogen fertilizer three times per year.  As the tree matures, the application rate increases approximately one- tenth of a pound per year.  A five-year-old tree may require 1 pound of nitrogen fertilizer divided into three applications. 

Apply the fertilizer over the root area of the tree and at least 1 to 2 feet outside the drip line.  The fertilizer should be thoroughly incorporated into the soil.  Avoid feeding too late in the season as it may delay fruit coloring or make the rind tough.

Citrus grown in containers have slightly different needs.  Frequent watering leaches micronutrients out of the soil so they're often deficient in iron, zinc or manganese. To compensate, use a complete, slow-release fertilizer and follow the manufacturer's instructions.  Foliar sprays are also effective if applied in the spring when leaves are approaching their full size.

More information about fertilizing citrus is available through the University of California Division of Agriculture and National Resources website:

Posted on Monday, March 30, 2015 at 8:42 PM
  • Author: Linda Lewis Griffith
  • Editor: Noni Todd

Groundwater records should be public, says UC ANR expert

Because of a 64-year-old law in California, groundwater information (like groundwater) is out of sight.
Thomas Harter, a groundwater hydrologist with UC Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) has called for a change in California law that will make information about the state's dwindling underground stores of water available to the public.

Harter, a UC ANR specialist based at UC Davis, and co-author Laurel Firestone, shared their thoughts in an op-ed penned for The Guardian. Firestone is co-executive director of the Community Water Center in California, which helps disadvantaged communities gain access to clean, affordable water. 

The authors wrote that state records with information needed to characterize groundwater aquifers are kept confidential under a 64-year-old law that considers them proprietary to well drillers. The well logs contain data that is public in every other state in the West and include details such as where wells are located, their depth, potential pumping rates, diameter and descriptions of the sediments and rocks the wells go through.

"The lack of information is a major impediment to stewardship of the resource," the op-ed says.

California State Senator Fran Pavley introduced Senate Bill 20 in December, which if passed will make well log data publicly available in California.

"Perhaps as more community and farm wells dry up this summer, the legislature will extend its enthusiasm for transparency to the critical information needed for more equitable and sustainable management of our groundwater," Garter and Firestone conclude.

Posted on Monday, March 30, 2015 at 1:18 PM

Raccoon Latrines and (Some) Veggie Gardens NOT

Help and Advice from the Contra Costa Master Gardeners' Help Desk

Client's Question:

Juvenile raccoon
(Procyon lotor)
I live in Concord. I had a terrible raccoon problem in my vegetable garden in 2014 including areas where they used as latrines. One area is where I have a plum tree growing and other areas I had vegetables planted. I understand raccoons can carry parasitic diseases. I don't know if it is safe for me to plant in these areas for vegetables this year. I know I am not the only one with this problem in our county. Can you advise? 

CCMG's Help Desk Response:
Thank you for contacting the Master Gardener Help Desk. Raccoons can certainly be a big problem in our gardens and yards. I'm sure that getting them out of your yard was very difficult.

You are correct that raccoons carry a parasite that can infect people and pets. This roundworm (Baylisascaris procyonis) is quite resistant to many of the usual controls and will live for many years in your soil, so it's wise to consider their latrine areas as contaminated. 

The good news is that plants cannot become "infected" by the parasite--the almost invisible eggs can't be absorbed or otherwise enter plants. They can only contaminate the parts of the plant in direct contact with the soil. Because of this, I would avoid planting any kind of root crops (carrots, radishes, potatoes, etc.) in that area, unless you do so in a raised bed filled with soil you bring from another area. I might also avoid leafy green vegetables, especially those eaten raw (lettuce) because they are so close to the soil. Other crops such as tomatoes, peppers and eggplants (and the plum tree) would be fine to grow there, though.

All soil, even areas away from a raccoon latrine, could potentially be contaminated with a variety of parasites and microorganisms, so you should always wash garden produce before you eat it, and wash your hands with soap and water after working in a garden, even if you wear gloves. This advice is especially true for young children.

Here is a link to information about raccoons in the garden from the University of California: 
CDPH Raccoon Latrine Cleanup Guidelines
for Roundworm
is a link to a very informative California Department of Public Health publication, “What you Need to Know about Raccoon Roundworms – Cleaning Up a Raccoon Latrine” that you probably should review to assure that you have taken all appropriate steps to protect you and your family from possible infections from situations such as yours. After I read this document I wanted to be sure and wash my hands every time I come out of the garden...and I haven't seen any raccoons lately since I stopped feeding the cat outside.

Please let us know if you have additional questions. Happy gardening…. Hopefully without raccoons!

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, March 30, 2015 at 12:18 AM

Daily Life For Master Gardeners



Brown and Green and Other Stuff

By Andrea Peck


Organics wastes do not contain methane. It is only when

they are placed in an anaerobic environment that

methane is produced. (See link in post for source)


The other day someone told me that orange peels can't be composted. Then I heard through a game of telephone that crackers and bread don't belong there either. That convoluted conversation ended with the hands-in-the-air conclusion that kitchen waste should not be composted at all. 

You'd love to laugh - but you can't because let's face it, we have all been in that head-shaking position of can I or can't I?

Our compost is a crazy nest of mess. Egg Cartons, octopus, Tootsie Roll wrappers and other exotics have been found during compost turning days.  Some things I need to pull out later, like plastic strawberry cartons and bottle caps, while others break down remarkably well.

 But, what can you “legally” compost?

That list is long, long, long.  This week I decided to make a short list that encompasses a sampling of odd-ball items that you may wonder about. I've placed them into an informal ragtag of unscientific categories.

  1. Paper:

Paper makes composting difficult because it encompasses a wide range of products. Compost cereal boxes, cardboard egg cartons, notepaper, old, new and junk mail, bills. School stuff: homework, flashcards, faux paper décor, messy handwriting practice and anything having to do with the Common Core. Party stock: napkins, paper towel, tissue, grocery receipts, paper tablecloths, paper plates, party streamers, pizza boxes, cardboard boxes. The list goes on. Infinitum.  Assist nature by shredding large items first please.


  1. Woody Stuff:

Toothpicks, matches, wood skewers, sawdust, pencil shavings, twigs, wooden airplanes. Again, this is a category that goes on. Be creative, but don't drop anything in your chute that is toxic. Large wood items, such as logs and fence posts will decompose, but let's get real here, that will take many moons.


  1. Hair:

This is a favorite category for those of us who like to shock their neighbors. Compost your hair, pet hair, fur, feathers, whatever. Consider leather and eel skin, just don't go picking any pockets with the excuse that your compost needs more browns. Or are those green?


  1. Food:

First, you should try to eat your food and then, if possible give it away to dogs and chickens and other creatures (this does not include your Ho Ho's, but you and I know that you ate every last one of those). Next, compost.  Jam, jelly, spaghetti sauce, popcorn, fish, frozen vegetables, potato chips, crackers, bread, cereal, spices, tea, tea bags, coffee, grounds and filters, pasta, rice soy, rice and almond milk, tofu and leftover alcohol. Stay away from meat and dairy if you get rodents or critters. Your bin may not get hot enough to kill the bacteria associated with meat (bones included). Try to reuse and compost as much as you can because food that ends up in the landfill produces methane gas. See this link for more information:  


  1. Random Rubbish:

Dust bunnies, lint, cotton and wool clothing, masking tape, white glue and paste, household plant leaves.


  1. Poop:

You knew this one was coming. Chicken and horse poop, bunny pellets, bird droppings, fish bowl and aquarium water, gecko droppings…let's see what other animals do we have here? It's like a zoo in our home. Exceptions: dog, human, cat feces. And remember, it's very important to make sure the compost get hot enough to kill potentially harmful bacteria.


  1. Just Plain Gross:

I'll say it first. Yuck. Toenail clippings, razor shavings, Kleenex and cotton balls, non-plastic Q-tips. Your husbands attempt at a beard (not in the middle of the night, ladies). Stop. That's enough, already.


Finally, use your greywater to moisten your ball of wax.

Share your compost knowledge: comment below with additional weird and unusual items that have successfully (or unsuccessfully) made their way into your compost bin.  Also, questions are welcome!






Posted on Sunday, March 29, 2015 at 10:49 AM

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