- Author: Pamela Kan-Rice
“Mature fruit trees and landscape trees are worth saving!” said Janet Hartin, UC Cooperative Extension advisor. “Recognizing early signs of drought stress is important because irreversible damage can occur that no amount of watering will correct.”
Two seasons without enough water can result in severe drought stress and even kill a tree, warned Hartin, who serves San Bernardino, Riverside and Los Angeles counties. Also, drought-stressed trees are more prone to damage from diseases and insects than non-stressed trees.
Common symptoms of drought stress include
- Wilting or drooping leaves that do not return to normal by evening
- Curled or chlorotic (yellow) leaves that may fold or drop
- Foliage that becomes grayish and loses its green luster
- New leaves that are smaller than normal
“One or two deep irrigations with a garden hose several weeks apart in spring and summer will often keep these valued plants alive, especially if their roots are relatively deep,” she said.
“An important thing to consider when you're trying to conserve water in the garden and landscape is that plant water requirements vary,” said Hartin, an expert in environmental horticulture. “Water needs are directly related to the evapotranspiration rate of each particular plant. To meet the water needs of plants, you have to replace the water used by the plant and the moisture that evaporates from the soil surface.”
Besides differences among water requirements among plant species, microclimates within a climate zone affect how much water a plant will need and how often a plant should be watered, as well.
“Landscape plants in urban heat islands surrounded by asphalt parking lots may require 50 percent more water than the same species in a park setting,” Hartin said.
Also, soil type plays a large role in how often landscape and garden plants should be irrigated. Sandy soils drain faster and take water in faster than those containing clay and require more frequent irrigation. Water can soak down 12 inches in 15 minutes in sandy soil, whereas the water may take 2 hours to reach the same depth in clay soil and will spread out more horizontally.
“Dig into the roots,” she said. “Take a handful of soil and squeeze it. That'll give you a good idea of whether the soil is really dry and crumbly, which means it's not holding any water, or if it's medium, where it's just starting to crumble, but still holding together fairly well. We recommend waiting to irrigate until the soil just starts to crumble.”
To see a video of Hartin's presentation “How to Save Water and Beautify Your Landscape the Sustainable Way,” visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MN4b5DML-bs. For water-saving gardening tips in Spanish, visit http://bit.ly/1uZ6Ztq and http://bit.ly/1xHNwQo. You can also consult the UC Master Gardeners in your community for advice. Check http://camastergardeners.ucanr.edu to find the nearest UC Cooperative Extension office to speak with a Master Gardener.
Factors involved in irrigation scheduling
- Plant water use
- Soil water holding capacity
- Water infiltration rate
- Plant rooting depth
- Irrigation system output
- Author: Melissa G. Womack
Educating the public was the focus of the Search for Excellence 2014 competition. The entries were judged by a team of experts selected from throughout the state.
"Congratulations to all the Master Gardeners involved in carrying out these innovative projects," Gable said. "This competition celebrates the hard work of dedicated UCCE Master Gardener volunteers across the state."
The Search for Excellence competition winners will be honored at the Master Gardeners Statewide Conference, Oct. 7-10 in Fish Camp, Calif. The next Search for Excellence competition will be in 2017.
First Place - Riverside County
“There's Gold in them thar hills!” Riverside County is a big county, stretching from the Los Angeles metro area to the Colorado River. The main challenge of the UCCE Master Gardener Program of Riverside County was how to better fulfill their mission of educating their community on sustainable gardening practices. The answer – “Gold Miners.” Riverside County was divided into nine geographic areas with a UCCE Master Gardener volunteer in each area actively pursuing volunteering opportunities for their peers. Since the program began in 2011, “Gold Miners” has increased the presence of UCCE Master Gardeners throughout the county, giving volunteers the opportunity to provide outreach closer to home, engage new members of the public and increase the number of certified UCCE Master Gardeners from all regions of the county.
Second Place - Santa Clara County
UCCE Master Gardeners of Santa Clara County developed a one-acre teaching and demonstration garden on the grounds of St. Louise Hospital in Gilroy. The demonstration garden was designed to create educational outreach opportunities in the far southern portion of the county. UCCE Master Gardener volunteers provide hands-on public workshops in the garden as well as classes in both the hospital boardroom and community libraries. The objectives of the St. Louise Hospital garden includes teaching residents about low-water vegetables, fruits, and ornamental plants well-suited to local growing conditions, and modeling sustainable gardening practices reflective of UC research-based horticultural principals.
Passionate volunteers from the UCCE Master Gardener Program of Orange County developed a series of 15 educational videos. Nine videos provide a comprehensive overview of the composting process and six videos concentrate on worm composting. Each series begins with an explanation of what composting is and shifts into how to start, maintain and troubleshoot a compost pile or worm bin. The videos are designed to instruct and encourage the gardening public to compost either at home or in community gardens. All of the educational videos were filmed and narrated by UCCE Master Gardeners. The videos are published on the UCCE Master Gardeners of Orange County public website.
First Runner-up - Orange County
Recognizing the need to reach a significantly larger number of home gardeners than demonstration booths and Farmers Market tables were engaging, the UCCE Master Gardeners of Orange County developed a speakers bureau. The criteria was simple: fulfill the mission of disseminating up-to-date, research-based information and to deliver "wow" presentations for the public. UCCE Master Gardeners created teaching plans, incorporating the statewide program mission and the ANR Strategic Vision to cover important topics such as gardening for improved nutrition and healthy living. Additionally, the UCCE Master Gardeners of Orange County engaged the help of Toastmasters International, an undisputed authority for training speakers.
Second Runner-up - San Diego County
UCCE Master Gardeners of San Diego County created a program called MG Growing Opportunities (MG-GO) which provides research-based horticulture education to teenage youth involved with the juvenile justice system. Under the guidance of UCCE Master Gardeners and a vocational horticultural therapist, incarcerated youth learn about ecosystem friendly, sustainable gardening. In the process, the youth acquire vocational and life skills, such as teamwork, problem solving, self-esteem, and leadership. The goals of MG-GO are to introduce sustainable gardening practices to an under-served population, highlight gardening as a healing endeavor, and develop a replicable model for statewide use.
The UC Master Gardener Program provides the public with UC research-based information about home horticulture, sustainable landscaping, and pest management practices. It is administered by local UCCE county-based offices that are the principal outreach and public service arms of the University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources.
The UC Master Gardener Program is an example of an effective partnership between the UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources and passionate volunteers. In exchange for training from University of California, UCCE Master Gardener volunteers engage the public with timely gardening-related trainings and workshops. With programs based in 50 California counties and 6,048 active members, UCCE Master Gardener volunteers donated 385,260 hours last year and have donated more than 4.2 million hours since the program inception in 1981.