November in Sonoma County
UCCE Sonoma is committed to helping our community rebuild.
Click here for a list of resources that we have compiled.
Garden Sense Program – Suspended for the remainder of 2017
As a result of the wildfire disaster, the Garden Sense program is suspended for the remainder of 2017. You may still request a Garden Sense consultation, and you will be added to the list of requests for 2018. We will notify you via email in early 2018 as to when the Garden Sense program will resume.
Fires and Food Safety
Air quality in Sonoma County has been significantly impacted by the ongoing fires in the region. Local farms have played a very large and important role in food relief efforts immediately following the start of the fires and the mass evacuations. Many farmers and others in the community are concerned about how the air pollution might be impacting produce. While the University of California does not have data on the levels of these chemicals in produce that have been in contact with smoke and ash, we understand the need to share information with our community at this time.
When assessing the safety of exposed produce, the difficulty is knowing what has been burning. If it is just vegetation smoke then it’s probably safe to eat produce after rinsing down the ash (just the same as having a bonfire in your garden), although it might still taste/smell smoky.
If the air pollution has particulate matter from treated timber, tires, non-food grade oils, or anything plastic or chlorinated that burned it may include a mixture of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs), dioxins, and metals. Exposure to fire retardant may also occur.
An unpublished literature review on the health impacts of PAHs from traffic-related air pollution on lettuce grown in urban agriculture found that:
- Some PAHs can be absorbed into plant tissue, and so cannot be simply washed off.
- The health risk from eating these PAHs is a small proportion of the health impact from breathing them, and it is far below the EPA’s level of concern for lifetime cancer risk.
- It is possible that the health benefit of eating the vitamins and nutrients in green leafy vegetables might outweigh that negligible negative impact.
- There is not enough research available on the cumulative impacts of air pollution on produce to make any solid conclusions about the health impacts.
Here’s a link to a USDA fires and food safety page:
Nurture and Protect the Soil
GardenSense - On-site WaterWise Garden Consultations
Sonoma County residents wishing to schedule a garden consultation can click here.
Sonoma County Master Gardeners are partnered with the Sonoma County Water Agency on a project called GardenSense. The project is intended to help local gardeners further improve their water conservation practices. A free on-site consultation by a pair of GardenSense Consultants will demonstrate to residents how to easily conserve water (and save money) by creating a climate-appropriate garden that is healthy, environmentally sound, and most of all – beautiful!
Topics covered in consultations include advice on lawn removal, low water use plants appropriate to your site, conversion of sprinklers to drip irrigation, an irrigation assessment including overall suggestions for improving water efficiency, and sustainable garden practices.
Growing a Thriving Vegetable Garden with Less Water
The Food Gardening Specialists (FGS) of the UCCE Sonoma Master Gardeners are excited to present water-wise food gardening strategies. Given our hot, dry summers along with the prediction of extended drought, we can’t afford to waste a drop. This video demonstrates how home and community gardeners can grow a thriving vegetable garden with less water. In addition, this video is complemented by a planting scheme and a drip system instruction and shopping list that reflect the 4x8-foot demonstration vegetable bed in the video. Click here for these documents along with additional helpful documents for food gardening with less water.
Ask a Master Gardener
Questions and Answers from the Helpline
Master Gardener-staffed Help Desks are located
at Sonoma County Farmers' Markets and Fairs
Master Gardeners are volunteers trained by the UC Davis Cooperative Extension.
Sonoma County Master Gardeners will provide environmentally sustainable, science-based horticultural information to all of Sonoma County’s population. We strive for diversity and inclusion in all aspects of our organization.
UCCE Farm Advisor: Paul Vossen
SCMG Coordinator: Mimi Enright
|Holiday Decorations - Healdsburg||12/2/2017|
|Holiday Arrangements from the Seasonal Garden -Rincon||12/2/2017|
|Habitat Gardens -Cloverdale||12/9/2017|
Find links to workshop handouts under Resources/Workshop Handouts.
Sundays with Sue
By SCMG Sue Lovelace
Updated: November 19, 2017
Speaking of frosty temps, I went out yesterday morning to pick lettuce for my granddaughter’s 4th Birthday (Happy Birthday, Marley Rae!) and some of the heads were frozen. I wish I had had row covers or food tents on them! On they went for tonight.
Speaking of Grateful, that is what I am for All of You and for Family and Friends. Please know my warm thoughts are with so many that will not be spending Thanksgiving in their homes and for those who have lost family and friends.
“Those pilgrims were thankful for what had happened to them, and we should be thankful, too. We should just be thankful for being together. I think that's what they mean by Thanksgiving, Charlie Brown." - Marcy, “Charlie Brown Thanksgiving”
Master Gardeners in Print
The Garden Doctors
Dana Lozano & Gwen Kilchherr, The Press Democrat
Webmasters: Kim Roche, Stan Pawlak
Food Gardening Editor: Stephanie Wrightson
Staff Photographers and Videographers
Electra de Peyster
Laura Salo Long