Master Gardener News Blog
Preserving Proteins Workshop
By Rosemary Orr UCCE Master Food Preserver
What is the best way to preserve proteins like seafood? Helen G. Morro Bay
This time of year, with the long days and warm weather I am reminded of camping in the mountains. One of my favorite memories is the time we canned trout at our friends' camp in the Sierras. The oily, tender trout meat and skin, perfectly salted, crunchy soft bones loaded with calcium, is hands-down the most delicious canned preserved protein you will eat. The camp's outdoor kitchen consisted of an outdoor gas cook stove, a pressure canner, and a big pot of boiling water. The ice chest was loaded with cleaned and cut trout, ready to be filled into clean jars. Once filled with trout and salt, the jars were carefully loaded into the pressure canner. It made sense to can fish this way, outside in the open mountain air.
At camp high in the Sierras or in your own kitchen, the only way to safely preserve proteins; fish, shellfish, meat, game, poultry, vegetables, beans, etc. is with a research-tested recipe and a pressure canner. Proteins are low acid foods with a pH of 4.6 or higher, and susceptible to bacterial growth. Many bacteria in foods are destroyed by boiling at 212℉; however, some bacteria like Clostridium botulinum can only be destroyed when the temperature in the pressure canner reaches at least 240℉. When canning proteins, the temperature of the canner needs to be kept consistent during the entire required processing time. Processing times will vary depending on the food and the size of the jar. When canning at high altitudes like the Sierras, canner pressures must be increased in accordance with tested recipes. Make sure you follow your recipe exactly.
To learn how to safely and deliciously preserve your next catch and other protein containing foods, check out the Master Food Preservers "Preserving Proteins" workshop on Saturday, June 24, 10:00am to 12:00pm at the UCCE auditorium at 2156 Sierra Way, in San Luis Obispo. At this workshop, you will learn how to preserve seafood, meat, and soups. Master Food Preservers will also teach making jerky and how to freeze meat and seafood to preserve quality. There will be a $5.00 fee to cover supplies. You must register online at: http://ucanr.edu/survey/survey.cfm?surveynumber=19937
Summer Pruning Workshop
By Andrea Peck UCCE Master Gardener
Should I trim back my fruit trees in June? Carol B. Paso Robles
After generous rains and spring warmth, your fruit trees are in prime condition to produce a bountiful harvest. Proper pruning is essential to promote healthy growth, discourage disease and maximize the ability of your tree to give nourishing and tasty fruit. But, what does that entail? If you are new to pruning, just added a new tree to your garden, or would like a refresher course in fruit tree care, this Saturday's Advice to Grow By workshop is for you.
The first half of the two-hour workshop will focus on fruit tree selection. Deciduous trees are dependent on chill hours for fruit production. Find out which cultivars are best suited to your climate. You will learn how and where to plant your tree, what is necessary to foster growth in new trees and how to help your tree flourish through the years. Questions such as, 'how much water does my tree need,?' 'what type of fertilizer,?' and 'how often should a tree be fertilized'? will be addressed. Most fruit trees require at least annual pruning to maximize sun exposure, provide ample air flow, and direct energy towards fruit-bearing branches. Summer and winter pruning is beneficial for many types of trees, though there are a few varieties that require pruning only in the summer. Also slated for discussion is the process of thinning as your tree begins to fruit. Disease prevention and pest control through integrated pest management (IPM) techniques will round out the speaking portion. The second half of the workshop will be held in the garden where pruning techniques will be demonstrated on trees in the orchard. Pruning workshops are among our best attended and offer camaraderie, pertinent information and a boost of motivation and confidence to manage your own trees successfully.
To learn more about pruning, join us at the UCCE Master Gardeners Advice to Grow By workshop on Saturday, June 17, in our demonstration garden at 2156 Sierra Way, San Luis Obispo, 10:00 am to noon. Visit our website to register, - http://ucanr.edu/sites/mgslo/. In the event of inclement weather, please meet in the auditorium. Garden docents will be available after the workshop until 1:00 p.m. (depending on volunteer availability).
SLO Master Gardeners Partner With GleanSLO
By Aliza Golan Wendy Waldron UCCE Master Gardeners
As UC Master Gardeners, we know the joy of watching our gardens grow and the pleasure of harvesting the bounty. Sharing the fruits of our labor brings an even greater sense of satisfaction. Over the years, since the establishment of the Garden of the Seven Sisters, the Demonstration Garden in San Luis Obispo, our garden has steadily grown and flourished. And, here's another feel-good story:
Consistent with the UC Master Gardener's public service and outreach mission, a sizable portion of the harvest from the orchard and other garden plots in the Demonstration Garden is donated to our local community. Donations are made through our partnership with GleanSLO, a program of the Food Bank Coalition of San Luis Obispo County.
GleanSLO rescues nature's bounty, distributing locally harvested produce throughout San Luis Obispo County through its direct food programs and network of community partners. The collaboration between the UC Master Gardeners and GleanSLO began in fall 2013 when 65 pounds of produce was harvested by GleanSLO. Subsequently a Master Gardener-GleanSLO Liaison Committee was established to coordinate the consistent increase in harvest donation. During the 2016 harvest season, over 600 pounds of produce was harvested from the Demonstration Garden and distributed to various community partners through our joint venture with GleanSLO.
We look forward to our continuing partnership with GleanSLO and to sharing the bounty of our Demonstration Garden with the local community.
If you want to learn more about GleanSLO or are interested in donating a portion of your own garden or orchard harvest, check out their website at: www.gleanslo.org
By Leonard Cicerello UCCE Master Gardener
I need help understanding the different ways to water my gardens. Jason D. Templeton
It's important to take the time to design and install a workable irrigation system that accurately waters and minimizes water waste. Or, hire someone to do it for you. A hand watering regimen is difficult to do accurately and efficiently. Additionally, hand watering is difficult to maintain without the help of friends and neighbors during vacations and other times we stray from home. Prevent the needless suffering in the garden and install an irrigation system. Here are two choices that work well in a landscape or vegetable garden.
One system requires an electric controller. The controller is wired to valves that are placed in a group or throughout your landscape. PVC pipe is connected to the valves and risers with nozzles attached strategically to water a specific section. A typical landscape may include a lawn, a rose garden, a plot for annuals, a row of trees, a vegetable garden, or some combination of. Each planting area has a different water requirement and each controller can be programmed to designate the day(s), time, and number of minutes to irrigate each area.
The second system is drip irrigation. It may be considered the micro manager system. Options include an electric or battery operated controller. Half inch flexible plastic tubing can be used in place of PVC pipe. Include a pressure reducer because drip systems cannot handle the same amount of water pressure as PVC systems. Adding a filter will prevent debris and sediments from plugging emitters. Strategically insert emitters into the tubing to reach the target trees and plants. The emitters are calibrated from one half gallon per minute to several gallons per minute. When the water goes only where it's needed, you're minimizing the watering of unseen weed seeds, as is done with traditional sprinklers.
It is imperative to periodically troubleshoot your watering system. Power goes out, batteries die, nozzles and emitters will get plugged, risers get broken, fittings come loose, and leaks will develop. Turn on the system and inspect the tubing and each emitter to identify problem areas and repair as soon as possible.
By Polly Nelson UCCE Master Gardener
What are parasitic wasps? Sally S. San Luis Obispo
If parasitic wasps seem creepy, their beneficial contributions will convince you to welcome them to your garden. Parasitic wasps (PW) are tiny, non-stinging insects that parasitize their host, mostly other insects that feed on plants. PWs span over three dozen families within the order Hymenoptera. They are much smaller than the large stinging paper wasps, yellow jackets, and hornets commonly found around the yard.
Parasitic wasps are effective managers of aphids and other pests such as mealybugs, whiteflies, scale, and tobacco hornworms. One type of PW specializes in parasitizing only aphids. Tender new plant growth attracts aphids which then attract PWs. Females PWs lay one egg inside the aphid. After egg hatch, the larva feeds on internal tissues and secretes chemicals to transform the soft-bodied aphid into an aphid mummy – a bloated tan to dark brown colored shell. The larva completes its development safely inside the hardened aphid mummy and chews through the shell to create an exit hole. The PW emerges as an adult, mates, and looks for new hosts, all within its 2 to 3-week lifespan. Aphid mummies are easily spotted on plant foliage and are a tell-tale sign that PWs are present and at work in your garden.
Invite PWs to your garden by providing alternate food sources. Plants and shrubs with dense clusters of small flowers, such as Ceanothus and buckwheat, are among those recommended. Other choices include members of the carrot (Apiaceae) family, such as Queen Anne's Lace, dill, cilantro and fennel. Select a variety of plants with different boom periods to maintain a PW population throughout the year. Ant control around plants is imperative to allow PWs to do their jobs. Ants protect and defend honeydew producing pests and interrupt the activities of predators and parasitic wasps. If insecticides are necessary, look for those that pose the least risk to beneficial insects and always follow label instructions.
Welcome parasitic wasps to work with you and for you to improve the diversity and balance of your garden habitat.
For photos and more information on parasitic wasps and biological control, visit www.biologicalcontrol.info