Master Gardener News Blog
By Jackie Woods UCCE Master Gardener
Which Vegetables Are Easiest To Grow? Karen M. Nipomo
Springtime tends to bring out the gardener in all of us. The longer days and warmer weather make us gravitate to garden centers and nurseries in search of inspiration - and something to plant! Vegetable gardens are high on the list of garden projects this time of year so why not plant something that you can eat? More importantly, why not plant something that's super easy to grow?
Thankfully, there are plenty of options. Tomatoes top the list of easy to grow vegetables, especially the small-fruited varieties such as “Yellow Pear” or other cherry tomato varieties. What if space is limited? Consider using hanging pots or size-appropriate pots. Starter plants provide instant gratification because there's no need to fuss with starting seeds. With a little support for their stalks and lots of sun, tomatoes will reward you with a bountiful harvest all summer long.
Loose leaf lettuce is another simple vegetable to grow, even from seed. Whether in a small plot of ground or in a container, lettuce grows quickly, takes up little space and is very easy to harvest: just cut the tops off when you're ready for a salad. Reseed every few weeks and you'll have a steady supply at your fingertips.
One of the most prolific vegetables to grow is squash; specifically, zucchini. Who hasn't been on the receiving end of a few – or dozens – of home grown zucchini? Zucchini tends to do best in warmer soil and they like adequate moisture, too. Another bonus is that you can eat the blossoms.
Other easy to grow options include bush-type green beans, root vegetables such as radishes, beets, carrots and bushy cucumbers which do well in containers. One interesting, though less talked about option for planting vegetables is the ‘regrow' method. Basil, romaine lettuce, green onions, leeks, potatoes, garlic and celery can all be regrown using rooted cuttings (basil) or the root stump. Celery is easy and fun to regrow. After harvesting the leaves and stalks, either root the stump or simply plant it in the soil and watch it grow!
Exciting, isn't it? Let's plant some vegetables!
Looking for more inspiration? Visit http://cagardenweb.ucanr.edu/Vegetables
By Tami Reece UCCE Master Food Preserver
I just harvested my cabbage. How do I make sauerkraut? Carol B. Atascadero
Sauerkraut is an easy process to make in your home kitchen. You mix sliced cabbage with an easy to make brine of salt and water and let it ferment for several weeks at room temperature. You will need to use some type of weight to hold the cabbage under the brine. You will know it's fermenting when bubbles begin rising throughout the jar. Fermentation inhibits the growth of harmful bacteria and supports the right kind of bacteria producing the acid needed for fermentation (http://fyi.uwex.edu/safepreserving/2013/09/23/safe-preserving-fermented-foods/). Even though fermentation is an easy process, it is important you follow a scientifically tested recipe to make sure the chemistry is right to inhibit the growth of any harmful bacteria.
Many vegetables can be fermented. If you are growing napa cabbage, you can make a delicious kimchi. Cucumbers made into pickles is one of the most common. Another popular fermented product is kombucha. Kombucha is a fermented drink made with water, sugar, tea and a culture or SCOBY (a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast). SCOBYs are best purchased from a reputable source to minimize risk of contaminants such as molds or harmful bacteria which could cause illness (http://farmtotable.colostate.edu/prepare-ferment/kombucha.pdf).
Would you like to learn more about fermentation and how to make sauerkraut and kombucha at home? Have you tried making fermented foods at home and wondered whether certain “scums” and funky smells are foods going bad or just science at work? Register for our upcoming workshop on Saturday, April 22, 2017. It will be held in the UCCE Auditorium adjacent to the parking lot at 2156 Sierra Way, San Luis Obispo. There will be a $5.00 charge to cover class supplies and you must register at http://ucanr.edu/fermentationas space is limited. If you have any questions regarding the class or general preserving questions, please call the UCCE Master Food Preserver Helpline at (805) 781-1429 and leave a message or email the UCCE Master Food Preservers at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Authored by: Reece, T.; Ravalin, D., & Soule, K./span>
Vegetable Garden Workshop and Plant Sale
By Tami Reece UCCE Master Gardener
I just moved into a new house and would like to plant a vegetable garden. Any tips? Courtney M. Atascadero
Perfect timing! The UC Master Gardeners are having a free workshop on how to prepare for and design a vegetable garden. Did you know it is best to create your rows to run north to south to avoid shading any of your plants? The workshop will also include a discussion on how to prepare your vegetable beds and the best vegetables to choose for your location. There are spring and summer vegetable plants that will grow well in south county, but may not be well-suited to handle the heat in north county. Soil, as with any other planting endeavor, is a key element in vegetable gardens. Without a good foundation of healthy soil, your plants may perform poorly throughout the growing season. When should you fertilize? What can you use and how much should you use? Too much fertilizer not only runs the risk of leaching into our local waterways, but it can also burn your plants or cause so much new foliage to sprout that fruiting will be delayed. Do you want to use raised beds or try growing vegetables in straw hay bales? Or maybe try dry farming techniques which use methods of soil preparation that do not require irrigation during the summer months. All of these subjects and more will be discussed at the April workshop.
If you want to know more about vegetable gardening techniques, join us at the UC Master Gardener Advice to Grow By workshop on Saturday, April 15, at the Garden of the Seven Sisters, 2156 Sierra Way in San Luis Obispo, 10:00 am to noon. Visit our website to register - http://ucanr.edu/sites/mgslo/. Then, stay for the plant sale! Get a head start on your spring garden and pick up some vegetables or landscape plants after the workshop. The UC Master Gardener plant sale will run from noon to 2:00 p.m. Master Gardeners will be available to assist you in choosing the right plant for the right place in your landscape or vegetable garden.
Sudden Oak Death
By Andrea Peck UCCE Master Gardener
Do we have Sudden Oak Death in San Luis Obispo County? Bob G. Paso Robles
Yes, tests have confirmed the presence of Sudden Oak Death (SOD) for the first time in San Luis Obispo County. SOD is a serious exotic disease that is threatening the survival of tanoak and several oak species in California, including coast live oak. SOD is currently found in 16 coastal counties, from San Luis Obispo to Humboldt County. The disease spreads from infected California bay laurel leaves to oaks. Management options are available but they are only effective if implemented before oaks and tanoaks are infected, so timely detection of the disease on bay laurel is essential.
Hosts, such as California bay laurel, suffer less damage and do not die from the pathogen. Despite this, the bay laurel is significant because they can harbor and spread the disease. Diagnosing the disease is tricky. A laboratory test utilizing either culture techniques or DNA analysis is necessary to confirm the presence of P. ramorum. Once the presence of the pathogen is confirmed, proper disposal of leaves, twigs and branches is an important step towards limiting the spread of the disease. Removal of the tree or infected plants may be necessary.
The community can help by volunteering to sample suspected bay laurel leaves at this year's SOD BLITZ. The purpose of the SOD-blitz is to inform and educate the community about the disease and its effects, get locals involved in detecting the disease, and produce a detailed local maps of disease distribution. The training is free and all necessary materials will be provided. The BLITZ consists of one training session and collecting leaves from suspect bay laurel trees.
2017 SOD BLITZ trainings sessions are planned for two locations:
Thursday May 11 from 1-4Pm at SLO County Department of Agriculture, 2156 Sierra Way, San Luis Obispo, CA.
Friday, May 12, 6pm to 8pm, SLO County Atascadero Library, Martin Polin Community Room, 6555 Capistrano Ave, Atascadero, CA
Collecting will take place on Saturday and Sunday, May 13 and 14.
Register for the SOD BLITZ training at http://ucanr.edu/sites/mgslo/
By Linda Lewis Griffith UCCE Master Gardener
“Why are the blossoms and leaves on my apple tree turning brown? Deb R. Arroyo Grande
Your tree may be infected with fire blight.
Fire blight is a common and frequently destructive bacterial disease that affects pome fruit trees and other related plants. Pears and quince trees are highly susceptible. Apples, crabapples and Pyracantha species can also be susceptible to damage. Fire blight infections may destroy limbs and even entire shrubs or trees.
Fire blight is caused by a bacterium, Erwinia amylovora, that overwinters in cankers on twigs, branches or trunks of host trees. Warm, daytime temperatures between 75 and 85 degrees interspersed with intermittent rain or hail create ideal conditions for bacteria to thrive. Splashing rain or insects transmit pathogens to nearby blossoms or succulent new shoots.
Symptoms first appear in spring as trees begin to grow. A watery, light tan liquid oozes out of infected areas. The ooze darkens after exposure to air, leaving streaks on branches and trunks. Cankers may be inconspicuous and go unnoticed until later in spring when flowers, shoots and young fruit shrivel and turn black.
Vigorously growing shoots are the most severely affected; conditions such as high soil fertility and abundant water increase the severity of damage.
Management begins by first selecting varieties of plants that are less prone to damage. For instance, Fuji, Gala, Golden Delicious, Johnathan, Mutsu, Pink Lady and Yellow Newtown are susceptible to fire blight; Empire, Pristine and Williams Pride are considered more resistant.
Once infections have taken hold, it is necessary to prune out diseased branches. Cut infected branches at least 8 to 12 inches below the visible injury or canker. A greater distance below infections may be required on major branches, scaffolds or trunks in May or June when fire blight bacteria are moving rapidly.
To avoid spreading bacteria during the pruning process, dip or spray pruning tools with a 10 percent solution of bleach (one part bleach to nine parts water) before each cut. Dry and oil tools after use to prevent rust.
For more information about fire blight, visit these websites: