Help and Advice From the Help Desk of the Master Gardeners of Contra Costa
Client's Request to the Help Desk of Master Gardeners of Contra Costa
I live in Concord. When my family and I moved to California 4 years ago, a representative from the Board of Agriculture (I believe… editor: probably County Department of Agriculture), came out to inspect all of our outdoor furniture, etc. for pests. While he was visiting, he helped identify some of the trees and plants in our new yard. He mentioned at the time that there were people who would come out, free of charge, to help identify plants and help with how to best care for the plants and trees in our yard. We recently moved into a new home and have tons of wonderful trees and plants in our yard, but I have no idea what any of them are. I was hoping this service was still available and I was wondering how to access it. Thank you in advance for any help you can provide.
MGCC Help Desk Response:
Thank you for contacting the Master Gardener Help Desk. Congratulations on your new home; how lucky you are to have many wonderful trees. Unfortunately, we are not able to send Master Gardeners out for personalized home garden consulting. Our mission is to educate county residents about various aspects of gardening to empower them to be better gardeners. We have many educational opportunities to help you learn more about your garden. The Master Gardener's website is http://ccmg.ucanr.edu/ where you can find links to events and information about gardening in Contra Costa County.
Our Garden is a public demonstration garden of the Contra Costa Master Gardeners, located in Walnut Creek at the corner of North Wiget Lane and Shadelands Drive, just off Ygnacio Valley Road. Weekly speakers on Wednesday mornings present a variety of information April through October on edibles gardening and home gardening in general. Contra Costa Master Gardeners maintain the garden and interface with the general public. For example, this week's presentation is Summer Pruning of Fruit Trees. We encourage you to bring in your home & garden problems & questions, and talk with a Master Gardener at the Gardening Help Table (9:00 AM - Noon) on Wednesday mornings. We also staff a table at the Concord Farmers Market on the 1st Tuesday and 3rd Thursday of each month from May - October. Feel free to bring photos or samples of plants to any of our tables and we will try to identify them.
We also offer presentations at many libraries throughout Contra Costa. You can find listings for all Contra Costa Master Gardener outreach programs at: http://ccmg.ucanr.edu/Find_Us/ .
If you have any specific plant identification questions, you can always email photos to the Help Desk, or visit to consult or drop off a sample at our office at 75 Santa Barbara Road, Pleasant Hill, which is open Monday-Thursday from 9:00am - noon. See the web page http://ccmg.ucanr.edu/Ask_Us/ for more details.
Good luck with your new garden.
Master Gardeners of Contra Costa
Editor's Note:.... Been thinking about this some more since originally preparing the response for BLOG posting... that's why it's now "Part 1"... intentions now are to follow up soon with some ideas about how the "average" gardener might get some additional help on identifying plants, trees, etc. in their garden... most likely focused on "self-help"... readers are welcome to provide their suggestions... e,g., print, web, help desks, societies, etc.
Note: The Master Gardeners of Contra Costa's Help Desk is available year-round to answer your gardening questions. Except for a few holidays, we're open every week, Monday through Thursday for walk-ins from 9:00 am to Noon at 75 Santa Barbara Road, 2d Floor, Pleasant Hill, CA 94523. We can also be reached via telephone: (925) 646-6586, email: email@example.com, or on the web at http://ccmg.ucanr.edu/Ask_Us/
This year, I decided to volunteer to help propagate tomato seedlings for the CCMG Great Tomato Sale. It's our biggest annual fundraiser. I've never propagated seeds before, but I thought it would be a fun way to earn some volunteer hours.
Upon arriving at Our Garden in Walnut Creek, I received instructions about: (1) the structure of the soil flats we would be planting, (2) the number of seeds to plant per row, (3) how deep to plant each seed, and (4) how to immediately place the identification markers to avoid confusion over varieties. My assigned tomato was "Black from Tula". It was fun to take a flat full of soil and draw a thin line for placing the seeds (about an inch apart in 5-6 long rows). It was also nice to hear from other volunteers what seeds they were propagating this year and what success they had with other varieties planted in previous years. When completed, the flats were recorded and placed in the greenhouse and gently watered.
More to come in the next several weeks . . .
Dear Diary: I'm back! Its been two weeks since the seedlings were planted, and I returned to help move the sprouted seedlings into their new home – each one gets a 4 x 4 inch plastic pot with its own label! It was tough to separate some of the closely rooted seedlings, but with gentle encouragement, teasing, and promises of greatness, they saw the light! A place of their own! I'm so excited! The sprouted seedlings were planted deep down below their cotyledon leaf and then gently watered in the greenhouse. Done for now. Back in two weeks.
Dear Diary: It's hard to believe another two weeks have passed. I am back to help with more transplanting - this time I was working with "Bloody Butcher". This tomato variety is quite large and has a long root system; so long, in fact, that it was recommended that we slightly bend up the roots in order to fit them in the new pots. Later in the day, I counted labels we removed from seedling pots that did not make it. "Wisconsin 55" was the worst with the most seedling failures. As a Milwaukee native, I took it little personally and was a bit disappointed.
Overall, Diary, this has been a great experience. I got to see former classmates and catch up, I learned the proper way to plant seeds and handle their resultant seedlings, and I especially enjoyed the community feeling while working in the garden. It was not only educational, but it was fun too!