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From the UC Blogosphere...

New ANR advisor profiled in Wines and Vines

Lindsay Jordan.
Lindsay Jordan has joined the academic staff of UC Agriculture and Natural Resources as a UC Cooperative Extension viticulture advisor for Merced, Mariposa and Madera counties, reported Jane Firstenfeld in Wines and Vines.

Jordan has a master's degree from Cornell University and bachelor's degree from UC Davis.

"We consider her a star," said Maxwell Norton, who retires June 30 after 30 years as a Merced County UC ANR advisor and county director.

Jordon told Wines and Vines that she expects water use, conservation and irrigation issues to be topics of interest to growers in her territory, which she estimates contains about 90,000 acres of vineyards.

However, her focus, she said, will "ultimately be determined by what best serves the growers."

Posted on Friday, February 27, 2015 at 8:56 AM

'More crop per drop' drought strategy touted

Corn silage producers can get 'more crop per drop" with deficit irrigation, however productivity will decline, reported Dennis Pollock in Western Farm Press. Pollack based the story on a seminar at the World Ag Expo earlier this month presented by Mark Lundy, UC Agriculture and Natural Resources Cooperative Extension advisor for Colusa, Sutter and Yuba counties.

Lundy said there are certain times in the crop's development that farmers will not want to stress the corn silage - when tassels and silk are forming. At other times in its development, even if the corn is stressed, the application of more water does not bring a proportionate increase in yield.

The UC ANR advisor suggested farmers choose planting dates, varieties and cultural practices that will maximize irrigation efficiency.

“Look at what you choose to grow and perhaps plant later with a short variety or drought tolerant variety,” he said. “And get weeds under control. They take up water.”

UC ANR advisor offered advice at World Ag Expo for efficient corn silage farming.
Posted on Tuesday, February 24, 2015 at 2:44 PM

Gardening And Canning


The Master Food Preserver Program Is Here!

By Andrea Peck UCCE Master Gardener and Christine Nelson UCCE Master Food Preserver Coordinator


Do you have an overabundance of fruits and vegetables?

 If you're a regular reader of the Master Gardener's articles, you know we strive to help SLO County residents become more proficient gardeners. We are now pleased to introduce you to our sister program, the UCCE Master Food Preserver (MFP) program. The MFP program provides scientifically based, food safety and preservation information and techniques.

Master Gardeners will show you how to grow it and MFPs will teach you how to preserve it.

 There has been a resurging public interest in food preservation, which has grown alongside "buy local," and "farm-to-table" movements. However, food preservation has also become something of a lost art and is not commonly practiced in the home. As residents have become more interested in home food preservation, the need for education on safe food preservation practices was evident. The MFP program in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Counties will teach community members how to reduce food waste, maximize their food resources, and create safe, consumable food products.


The MFP program offers a free helpline and will hold monthly workshops. The helpline is staffed by certified MFPs and is available to answer inquiries related to class schedules, freezing, canning, drying, food preservation recipes and resources, and how to become a Master Food Preserver. The helpline number is 805-781-1429 and is staffed on Wednesdays from 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.


Workshops are scheduled for the 4th Saturday of each month from 10:00 a.m. -12:00 p.m. in the UCCE Auditorium located at 2156 Sierra Way, San Luis Obispo. The next workshop will be held on Saturday, February 28th and will focus on stretching your food budget. Participants will learn how to properly freeze food to prevent freezer burn, as well as make delicious dehydrated snacks. Registration is required.


For more information about the workshops or to register, please contact Christine Nelson at (805) 781-5944 or


For a fun and informative test of your canning skills, visit


Posted on Monday, February 23, 2015 at 7:45 PM

Daily Life For Master Gardeners

Pump It Up … And Out and Over…

By Andrea Peck


This post is way behind. I mean, way, way behind. It took me a few years to get my husband to discover it even. It sat silent and small, right in front of our eyes. I'm sure we passed it millions of times in hardware stores and nurseries. We saw parts peeking out of landscapes on long walks that meander past posh homes.

We were blind.

Until one day. I think it was because my husband was talking to my neighbor. She is lovely and soft spoken. She mentioned drought. There was no way he could miss those words spoken in such a beguiling tone. They fell into his ear canal and made it up to the decision-making portion of his brain.

That night my husband lifted five-gallon buckets of water from the bathtub in a fury. More furious than I ever did –partially that is because I tend to do things very slowly and ploddingly. Sometimes I talk to myself in a Southern voice. Other times it is Australian. Those conversations usually end with a dingo and I usually trail off at that point.

But, never mind, thanks to my neighbor, my husband was able to experience the Parade of Nightly Buckets and that must have gotten him thinking. Or, at least, I assume that is how it happened because he is not a talker, certainly he would never discuss life with himself even in his own accent. The reason I think this line of reasoning is possible is because that week he came home with our handy-dandy submersible water pump.

Now, instead of having to use a pitcher to fill a five-gallon bucket and bring this water out to say, clean my patio or driveway, I am able to attach a hose to the pump, place the hose through the bathroom window and plug in the pump.

I will admit that the setup is a bit Hillbilly with the hose running out the window and the screen slightly askew, but frankly, I don't care. In fact, the first time I used this pump, I was amazed at how much water I had coming out of that hose -so much that the patio had a nice sheen on it instead of the normal dog detritus that I find so visually exasperating. 


Though we have discussed drought ad infinitum, the topic does continue to plague me. I assume that many of you relate. I'm not sure that we are going to get large amounts of rain in the near or even far-off future. Even if we do, with the rise in population, water availability is going to continue to be an issue that requires great thought and innovation. We'd better continue to play our cards right and set up systems of rain catchment and graywater reuse before desperation sets in.


Keep in mind that using graywater is an important element towards water saving, but there are certain caveats to its use. You do not want to save the water for longer than 24 hours. Personally, I try to use it up pretty quickly. Once in a while, I'll save a bucket for use the next morning, but when I do I throw in a little bit of bleach to offset any bacterial growth.  If you are like us, washing up smelly kids or showering after cleaning a chicken coop, then you are guaranteed some pretty fetid stuff that may last long enough in your saved water to breed and whatever else gooey microorganisms do in water. So, use it quickly.


Also, do not water your edibles with this. Now, you can water a tree or an artichoke plant or landscape shrubs that are ornamental, but don't put it on your lettuce, broccoli or any root vegetables. Remember not to overload one area of your landscape either. Water should percolate and dry quickly. We're not creating a cesspool here. Do not connect your hose to a sprinkler, either. Because of potential bacterial contamination, graywater should not be airborne.


When using your pump, don't place a huge load on the motor by having really long hoses attached that go uphill. Try to use gravity as much as possible. Having said that, I have attached this shorter 25' hose to a longer hose that runs on a slight downhill to another tree we have further out in the yard. I always try to assess the water before using. For example, I may have my kids take a shower with shampoo and soap really quickly (I let this water go down the drain) before they settle in for a bath. This lessens the bacteria level and soap amount in the water. When the water looks really grungy, I let that go. You don't want to gunk up the pump or use questionable water. You can also simply save the clean water you use while heating your shower in a bucket and then use the pump for that; the pump is small and would easily fit in a five-gallon bucket.

 Finally, these pumps are cheap. I can't give you a price on ours, because my husband bought it and he's busy now, but it was definitely in the $25.00-$30.00 range. 






Posted on Monday, February 23, 2015 at 7:36 PM

A Library for Seeds

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

Client's Question:
I've heard that I can get free seeds and advice about seeds from Seed Libraries. What and where are Seed Libraries? 

CCMG Help Desk Response:
Seed Libraries are a great source for free seeds and seed advice. Mainly for vegetables, but many also have ornamental and native seeds as well. Seed Libraries are also a great complement to the efforts of Contra Costa Master Gardeners (CCMG), especially as CCMG expands its School and Community Garden efforts. Most Seed Libraries are found inside your local library, usually supported by library volunteers, some of which are also MGs.

One of the most active Seed Libraries in CCC is the “Richmond Grows Seed Library”.

What exactly is a Seed Library you ask? The description from Richmond's web site is informative:

“Come to the Richmond Public Library, Richmond, Calif. and “borrow” seeds for free! You may be asking, “How can you ‘borrow' seeds?” The basic is idea is that you plant the seeds, let some go to seed, then return some of these next generation seeds for others to borrow. (Don't worry. We don't have fines if you don't return seeds.) ...

Richmond Grows is a non-profit seed lending library located in the public library. We're open whenever the public library is open. You do not need to have Richmond Public Library card to use the seed library, but we do ask people to watch our on-line orientation. We provide free classes on organic gardening and seed saving, and of course, you can also borrow books from the public library on these topics.

Don't live in Richmond and you want to know where a Seed Library might be located near you? Then see Richmond's web page on Sister Seed Libraries (

Sounds great doesn't it? However, there's currently a bump in the road for Seed Libraries. The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA) is implementing regulations that would greatly hamper and possibly eliminate Seed Libraries' long-time operations (e.g., for more on this, see “seed libraries pennsylvania”). More than a dozen other states are now considering similar restrictive regulations. While according to Richmond Grows and other local sources, the California Department of Food and Agriculture has not yet commented on these actions, Seed Libraries are concerned about possible crippling Seed Library activities in California. If that issue concerns or interests you, you should look at the Sustainable Economies Law Center's web page ( for even more background information and consider signing their petition supporting Seed Libraries. 

Have you checked out your local Seed Library for garden seeds and information? They also are worthy of your support (e.g., $, seed, and volunteer time).

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, February 23, 2015 at 12:06 AM

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