UC Nursery and Floriculture Alliance
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UC Nursery and Floriculture Alliance

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Master Gardener Helpline




Master Gardener Helpline 

By Jutta Thoerner   UCCE Master Gardener Volunteer


I used to call the UC Master Gardner Program in Orange County for advice with my plant and insect ID questions. Is this service available in this area?  Christian, SLO.


Yes, these services are available through the UC Master Gardener helpline. We have three helpline locations in the county - San Luis Obispo, Templeton and Arroyo Grande.

There are four ways of accessing the Helpline.

1. Visit the MG helpline office

2. Call the helpline office number and talk to a MG or leave a voicemail

3. Drop off a sample and fill out a questionnaire when  MGs are not in

4. Email MGs and include information and photos of your plant or insect issue, using anrmgslo@ucanr.edu,

Tips on how to collect samples:

FOR PLANT PROBLEMS:  Its ideal for the sample to be collected just before it is brought into the Helpline Office. If that's not possible, store the sample in the refrigerator until you can bring it in (don't add any water to the sample bag). Select a sample showing distinct disease or insect symptoms. Include plant parts to show various stages of the problem with diseased and healthy plant tissue for comparison.

FOR PLANT IDENTIFICATION: Collect as many parts of the plant including flowers and leaves attached to the stems, and any fruit or berries. Flowers are especially crucial in plant and weed identification. If submitting a root sample, place it in a paper bag separate from any other plant samples. Dig roots carefully; don't pull as diseased roots are fragile.

FOR PEST IDENTIFICATION: Handle the insects gently as not to damage them. Include any leaves with evidence of damage caused by the insect. 

No problem is too small for the MG helpline!           


Helpline Locations:

San Luis Obispo: 2156 Sierra Way, 805-781-5939. Helpline is staffed on Monday and Thursday 1-5pm. Drop off samples anytime M-F, 8 am-5 pm. 

Templeton: 350 N. Main St B, 805-434-4105. Helpline is staffed on Wednesday 9am -12 pm. Drop off samples anytime M-F, noon-2:30pm.

Arroyo Grande:  810 West Branch St, 805-473-7190. Helpline is staffed on Wednesdays, 9am -12pm. Drop off samples anytime M-F, 8 am-2:30pm.


Posted on Saturday, July 23, 2016 at 11:52 AM

Breaking News: Zika Virus Found in Wild-Caught Culex

Culex quinquefasciatus, the southern house mosquito,is known for transmitting the West Nile virus, but now the Zika virus has been detected in wild-caught C. quinquefasciatus in Recife, Brazil, the epicenter of the Zika epidemic. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

The news is out.  It's what they've been searching for. In a groundbreaking discovery, a scientific team of Brazilians...

Posted on Friday, July 22, 2016 at 2:26 PM

Popular Japanese tea matcha has health benefits

Matcha, finely ground powder made from baby green-tea leaves, is growing in popularity due to health benefits and the natural woodsy flavor it imparts to drinks, pastries and savory dishes, reported Jenice Tupolo and Carla Meyer in the Sacramento Bee

To find out if the most-prized tea in Japan lives up to its purported health benefits when scrutinized scientifically, the reporters contacted UC Cooperative Extension specialist Sheri Zidenberg-Cherr.

“The health benefits are similar to that of green tea in general,” Zidenberg-Cherr said. Possible benefits of green tea include lower risk of cardiovascular disease and some types of cancers, and bone-density improvement. Though "the studies are pretty inconclusive," she said, some have been promising.

"Some have shown a benefit of maybe three cups a day in terms of reduced risk of cardiovascular disease especially," she said.

Zidenberg-Cherr cautioned against taking matcha or green tea with dairy milk.

"There is a protein in cow's milk that will bind to those important catechins and reduce how much you actually get in your body," she said.
A matcha tea latte from Starbucks. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
Posted on Friday, July 22, 2016 at 9:33 AM

UC students in 'protected environment' are vulnerable to food insecurity

Many people are surprised to learn that students enrolled in the state's premiere higher-education system are vulnerable to food insecurity, said Suzanna Martinez, a researcher with UC ANR's Nutrition Policy Institute, on the KPFA radio program Up Front. (Martinez's segment begins at the 20:23 mark.)

Martinez was interviewed for the program by host Pat Brooks, who was sitting in for Dennis Bernstein. Martinez said that anecdotal evidence of food insecurity on UC campuses was already popping up when UC President Janet Napolitano provided funding to each of the campuses to address the issue. The UC president also provided funding to the UC Nutrition Policy Institute to survey students across the system to document and understand food insecurity on UC campuses.

The report, issued last week, was based on the responses to a survey by about 9,000 students. Nineteen percent indicated they had “very low” food security and an additional 23 percent were characterized as having “low” food security. The greatest impact, Martinez said, was on the Latino and black student populations. Most of the students struggling with food insecurity had never experienced such circumstances before going away to college.

In response to the survey, Napolitano approved $3.3 million in new funding over the next two years to help students regularly access nutritious food on campus and off. 

Brooks asked Martinez what is the new report's 'call to action.'

"Our hope is to eliminate food insecurity, and with this report we are hoping that others will be dedicated to this and committed to the work as well,” Martinez said. 

Students eat lunch on the West Quad at UC Berkeley. (Photo: SERC at UCB)
Posted on Thursday, July 21, 2016 at 4:00 PM

From Venomous Scorpions to Neuropathic Pain Research

Holding a copy of Discover magazine's edition of

Fascinating stories in the scientific world... Have you heard about the entomologist who went from researching venomous...

Posted on Thursday, July 21, 2016 at 1:11 PM

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