This year has been filled with surprises and new challenges. One surprise change that occurred was a bright spot. It was a response to the reality, confusion and concern about food supply and isolation resulting from our staying home, away from jobs, and activities that would normally fill our lives. It seems, people started to garden more. We spent more time in our gardens if we were fortunate to have them. They were our refuge. They provided positive energy in a world ready to engulf us in negative and unproductive attitudes. With our fragile lives so exposed and vulnerable, time in our gardens was good medicine.
Most intriguing of all was that many with little inclination to garden suddenly felt the urge. I took notice when my grown children suddenly had their thumbs turning increasingly darker shades of green. Yes, they helped their mother in and around the garden when they were young. They listened with eyes glazed over as I explained why I did this or that but really never showed any true passion for all those garden joys we might relish. Past a certain age of wonder and glee, the green in their small thumbs faded and they started poking at cell phones and computer keyboards, etc.
They are back. Those newly green thumbs are behind a multitude of questions, yards of soil, seeds aplenty and harvests protected like new babies from any danger. It's a miracle of sorts. And for me, such fun to share what I have learned with very little drama except a knowing smile or two.
So I use this time to encourage you to help those budding gardeners everywhere! I started with mapping out resources, especially the computer type stuff. It comes more natural to them. Organic, sustainable, healthy and humble gardening is my sermon, always. Tidbits of information with a story based in experience (especially if they are in the story – from their youth, of course), or an encouragement for a better outcome (really a challenge to do better than their mom), motivates. But ultimately, I love my books and share those with them to help them get the feel for things. Why reinvent the wheel? See what has gone before and adapt. Books add so much alongside an experienced gardener or two and digging into that lovely loam.
Here are a few books to consider sharing with those beginning gardeners among so many more:
SUNSET WESTERN GARDEN BOOK regularly updated, it is a gem for quick information.
THE SELF SUFFICIENT GARDENER by John Seymour. A lovely old book with amazing illustrations and a wealth of basic information. A prized possession.
Rodale Publishing: Books available on all subjects. Start with these.
THE NEW SEED STARTERS HANDBOOK by Nancy Bubel with Jean Nick
THE RODALE BOOK OF COMPOSTING edited by Grace Gershuny and Deborah L. Martin
RODALE'S ULTIMATE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF ORGANIC GARDENING
Edited by Fern Marshall Bradley, Barbara W. Ellis, Ellen Phillips with Deborah L. Martin
From there a multitude of books, old and new can be found on any subject. Check your book shelves. The newest trend has been to make it very local and focal. So if you are gardening in the Pacific Northwest or Arizona, there are books to help you out. If you have a special interest in herbs, fruits, berries, or earthworms, etc., lots to find. If the interest is only in flowers or beautiful landscapes, there is lots to find as well. Most likely, you and they will want it all. There is plenty to see, do and share. One more suggestion: Don't forget the cook books!
Lasagna gardening is a time saving, labor reducing, easy composting method that improves soil structure, reduces water consumption, soil erosion and is an organically fertile method of gardening. Tree trimmer in your neighborhood? Ask for a trash can (or space allowing, a whole truck) full of chipped material. Most of these materials are free for the asking and can add nutrients to your soil with little or no work. These materials, when mulched or composted will add significantly to the health of your soil.
The same recycle, reuse, renew holds true in our gardens at home. At the end of harvest, the beds are recycled by adding mulch, composting left-over material or adding other amendments to prepare them for reuse. Some beds are immediately reused for winter crops; other beds are left to ‘renew' until the beginning of Spring, when new crops will be planted to await their turn at harvest in the Fall. During the growing season, trimmings are kept and recycled. Nothing from the garden ends up in a landfill. Everything is recycled, renewed, and reused.
Master Gardener members use this same cycle in many of our adventures. We join Master Gardener to renew our knowledge of horticulture, and reuse our new found knowledge, sharing it with others through our teaching. We continually recycle the information (keeping it current) to ensure our clients receive the best information available. Recycle, reuse, and renew concepts will hopefully interest more people in gardening and the Master Gardener Program.
If you find yourself in need of recycling, renewing, or reusing your skills, join us as a Master Gardener. After your training, (and when the pandemic ends) there will be plenty of activities and events to peak your interest. Master Gardeners can create new venues to reuse their knowledge and skills. Use your creativity and start a local community garden, school garden, or a booth at the county fair. Check with your local school to guest speak to children about gardening. The list is endless and only as confined as your imagination. Even if you choose to wait to join Master Gardener, dream big and start you own plan to recycle, renew and reuse. Ready to grab a pitchfork and shovel and enjoy some Lasagna?
Rain gardens are small depressions in the ground (from a few inches to a few feet deep depending on soil conditions), that receives rainwater from hardscapes and holds the water to seep back into the ground. Rain gardens are often planted with native plants that can tolerate wet feet for part of the year but are just as happy when the dry, drought like condition occurs. Rain gardens are relatively inexpensive to build, and are sized according to your hardscape; the more hardscape, the larger the rain garden. Most home sized rain gardens cover less than 500 square feet, so they are easy to maintain. Rain gardens are very effective at controlling runoff. One neighborhood in Burnsville, Minnesota installed 17 rain gardens at 14 homes and runoff was reduced from almost 36,000 gallons to less than 1,000!
Community parks can serve as a rainwater retention pond during the wet season. This will help the community avoid flooding, but the park itself will be unusable when the area is full of water. Curbline planting areas, front yards, side yards, even street dividers can serve as bioretention cells. A complimentary solution would be for homeowners to consider building their own rain gardens, and collect some of the water that would normally be lost to rivers and lakes or to the park retention pond. As the gardens consist mainly of native plants, the homeowner and community will benefit from less water use, beautiful yards, and everyone will benefit by replenishing the groundwater aquifers that we rely upon. Of course, rain gardens can be built anywhere…how about your yard?
Asian Citrus Psyllid and Huanglongbing Disease
Asian Citrus Psyllid (ACP) insects are found worldwide. These insects carry Huanglongbing disease. In 1998 ACP had established itself in Mexico, Florida and Texas. The Florida citrus crop was devastated by over 50% loss of trees during the height of the spread. In 2008 ACP was detected in Southern California vectoring in from Mexico. ACP are very small winged insects the size of an aphid (approx 4mm or 1/8”). Since 2008, the ACP has migrated northward through California's central valley and is now established in the Bay area and Sacramento. The problem is not the ACP, but the disease it carries: Huanglongbing.
Huanglongbing (HLB), also referred to as Yellow Dragon Disease or Citrus Greening Disease is a major disease of citrus. It causes reduced fruit quality and yield, tree decline and eventual tree death. It is vectored into trees by the ACP. During feed-ing, the ACP can transmit the bacterium that causes HLB disease. The psyllids feed on the leaves of citrus and other related plants (Kumquats, Chinese Box Orange, Orange Jessamine, Indian Curry Leaf, and more). During feeding HLB bacterium is injected into the leaves and transmits throughout the plant.
ACP can be found in old or new growth areas of the tree. Eggs or nymphs arefound only in the very new growth (flush growth) area of a tree. Nymphs produce a sugar filled waxy tubule as they feed. These curly tubules are unique and can be easily seen. They also attract ants, so be on the lookout for ants. Check for the prescence of ACP by their feeding position. The ACP leans forward and tips its rear end at a characteristic 45 degree angle.
- Author: Sherida Phibbs
Cultural care can help in managing and spreading of the infection. It is important to reduce the sources. Remove fallen fruit from the ground as soon as it drops as well as remove damage fruit from the tree. To increase air circulation, prune out dead limbs and prune trees. Pruning tree skirts at least 24 inches above the ground will help to minimize the spores being splashed up from the ground. Do not allow sprinkler irrigation from wetting the fruit. Only harvest the fruit when the fruit is dry and do not store wet fruit - wet fruit becomes diseased during storage. Do not store infected fruit with clean fruit.
For serious problems applications of a preventive copper fungicide can be considered. This should be applied before or just after the first autumn rain, directing the spray to the ground beneath the tree and to the tree skirt up to 4 feet above the ground. When rainfall is extensive, additional applications in January or February would be beneficial.
Source: UCANR Publication 3332 Pests of the Garden and Small Farm pages 128-129
IPM Pest Information for brown rot