- Author: Morris and Jody Lacey, Master Gardeners
There is so much to discuss when this subject presents itself – which way do you go?
If you choose the road most traveled, you will find yourself immersed in a plethora of information to which others also have access. The toughest challenge with that is not plagiarizing a particular article and submitting it as yours.
However, by taking the high road you can speak from the heart and share your personal experience with herbs. In this way you can put together a brief and, hopefully, interesting herbal bite which will draw folks into the world in which we herbal folks live.
Recently our MG Herb Study group met and reviewedchili peppers. What was amazing was the amount of knowledge the members of the group had to share: many of them presented a unique point of view on this exceptionally large group of herbs. Do you know if chilis are fruits or vegetables? Botanically speaking, chili peppers are a fruit but they are often prepared and eaten like a vegetable. Then too, drying chilis and grinding them into flakes or powder makes them also a spice! Amazing when you consider that chili peppers originated in South and Central America and were brought to the “Old World” by Christopher Columbus.
Have you ever tried to find a “Sriracha” pepper? I have – to no avail. Of course, I was approaching the search “manually;” that is to say I went from nursery to nursery asking if they had any “Sriracha” peppers. According to our group's research, there isn't one!
Sriracha is a chili “sauce” that originated in Thailand. David Tran, a Chinese immigrant from Vietnam, created and brought this flavorful creation to the United States. In 1978, he and three thousand other refugees crowded onto the Taiwanese freighter Heuy Fong and headed for Hong Kong. British authorities refused to allow them into Hong Kong for a month before finally relenting. They disembarked on January 19, 1979. Tran gained asylum in the United States and started a sauce manufacturing company called Huy Fong Foods, named after the ship on which he escaped Vietnam.Huy Fong Sriracha has been a staple in Asian restaurants and markets for over forty years. Quite the herbal history lesson!
People measure chilis for their pungency (spiciness or heat) in Scoville Heat Units (SHU). This scale, invented in 1912 by Wilbur Scoville (a pharmacologist), takes into consideration the amount of capsaicin in the chili pepper. Scoville used five volunteers and had them taste the pepper in solution, increasing the dilution until the volunteers could no longer sense the “heat”. The higher the dilution ratio, the hotter the pepper. A bell pepper rates 0 SHU, while the Carolina Reaper rates at 2,200,000 SHU. Fear the reaper!
As a youngster, I witnessed my father eating peppers, adding pepper pickling juice (vinegar) to his food to enhance the flavor of the meal. For years all of us kids were amazed how tolerable he was of the spiciness of peppers. However, it did catch up with him! As he aged, he began getting hiccups when the peppers got too hot for him. (I too suffer this hiccup symptom, but I don't overwhelm myself very often.)
The youth today are missing out on the feeling of accomplishment one gets from fixing a broken item, repairing a vehicle, and growing your own food. Even growing herbs as simple as peppers is rewarding, but few high school grads are interested in growing plants, let alone herbs. Truly, they know not what they are missing. The satisfaction of accomplishment! It tastes like fresh basil and rates at 2,000,000SHU!
- Author: Sherida Phibbs Master Gardener
After residing amidst the awe-inspiring Coastal Redwood trees (Sequoia sempervirens) for a remarkable 3½ years, I recently returned to the valley. To my surprise, I discovered a significant presence of redwoods in my neighborhood, with my backyard neighbor boasting three of these magnificent trees lining the back fence. The trees were planted in late 1980 and the largest tree is more than 150 feet tall. I've noticed that these trees appear to be under stress, and their presence has become somewhat of a nuisance.
Coastal redwood trees (Sequoia sempervirens) are among the most iconic and majestic tree species on the planet. Native to the Pacific coast of the United States, these towering giants can reach astonishing heights of up to 379 feet and live for over a thousand years. Their remarkable size and age have captured the imagination of nature enthusiasts, scientists, and artists alike. However, the cultural requirements of these impressive trees are quite specific and understanding them is essential for successful growth and conservation efforts. One crucial aspect is avoiding planting them in hot valleys.
The coastal redwood stands as a testament to nature's grandeur and resilience. These towering giants, often referred to as "nature's skyscrapers," dominate the coastal landscapes of Northern California and Oregon. While their imposing height and majestic beauty capture the imagination, the coastal redwood's shallow root system is an equally fascinating and important aspect of their biology. However, this very characteristic that aids their survival in their natural environment can also be a source of concern when it comes to potential damage.
Coastal redwoods are often admired and desired in urban and suburban environments for their aesthetic appeal and the sense of tranquility they bring. However, when planted in urban settings, the shallow root system can create challenges. As these trees grow and their root systems extend laterally, they can come into conflict with sidewalks, roads, and buildings. The pressure exerted by the expanding roots can lead to infrastructure damage, including cracked sidewalks, disrupted pavements, and compromised foundations.
Mature redwood trees with extensive root systems can also disrupt underground utilities like water and sewer lines. As the roots expand, they can infiltrate and clog pipes, causing costly maintenance issues. Consequently, while redwoods can provide beauty and shade to urban areas, careful consideration of their placement is essential to avoid potential damage.
In this article, we delve into the cultural requirements of coastal redwood trees and explore why they are ill-suited for our hot valley environments.
Moisture and Fog: A Vital Combination: Coastal redwoods thrive in a unique climate, characterized by a mixture of cool, moist air and frequent fog. This maritime influence plays a significant role in the tree's growth and survival. Redwoods draw much of their water directly from the atmosphere through a process known as foliar uptake. Their leaves capture moisture from the surrounding air, enabling the trees to supplement their water needs during periods of low rainfall. The fog, which often blankets the coastal areas where redwoods are found, provides a consistent source of moisture, especially during the dry summer months. Without saying, this is missing in our valley.
Temperature Moderation: One of the primary reasons coastal redwoods avoid hot valleys is their sensitivity to temperature extremes. These trees have evolved to thrive in the mild, temperate climates of the coast. Hot valleys, on the other hand, are known for their high temperatures, which can be detrimental to redwood health. Redwoods are not adapted to withstand extreme heat, and prolonged exposure to hot conditions can lead to stress, reduced growth, and even mortality. The coastal environment's moderating effect on temperature, thanks to the adjacent ocean, helps redwoods maintain optimal growth conditions.
Soil Characteristics: Coastal redwoods also have specific soil requirements. They prefer deep, well-draining soils that retain moisture without becoming waterlogged. The roots of these trees are relatively shallow but extensive, spreading out in a wide network to capture water and nutrients. In hot valleys, the soils are often much drier and have less water-holding capacity, making it challenging for redwoods to access the necessary resources for healthy growth.
The Adaptation of a Shallow Root System: One of the most remarkable features of coastal redwoods is their shallow root system. While conventional wisdom might suggest that tall trees require deep roots for stability, redwoods have evolved a different strategy to thrive in their specific habitat. These trees grow in regions characterized by heavy rainfall and fog, which provide ample moisture to the forest floor. As a result, coastal redwoods have adapted by developing shallow, widespread root systems that extend laterally rather than vertically.
The root system of a redwood tree typically spans a wide area, often two to four times the height of the tree. The roots can extend up to 100 feet horizontally but only reach a depth of about 6 to 12 feet. This shallow root system allows redwoods to access moisture from the upper layers of soil, capturing water from rain, fog, and condensation that accumulates on their leaves.
Erosion and Soil Stability: While the shallow root system of coastal redwoods is a marvel of adaptation, it also has the potential to cause issues, particularly in human-impacted environments. One of the main concerns is related to soil stability and erosion. The extensive but shallow root system does not provide the same level of anchoring as deeper-rooted trees. This can lead to soil erosion, especially in areas where the soil has been disturbed by construction, urban development, or other human activities.
In conclusion, the coastal redwood's shallow root system is a testament to nature's ingenuity, enabling these giants to thrive in their unique environments. While this adaptation allows them to access moisture and nutrients efficiently, it also presents challenges, particularly in human-altered landscapes. Soil instability, erosion, and infrastructure damage are potential issues that need to be addressed through careful planning, responsible urban development, and thoughtful conservation efforts. By understanding and respecting the intricacies of the coastal redwood's root system, we can continue to appreciate the beauty of these awe-inspiring trees while minimizing their potential for causing unintended damage coastal redwoods are a testament to the intricate relationship between a species and its environment.
Their specific cultural requirements, including the need for moisture, fog, moderate temperatures, and appropriate soil conditions, have shaped their evolution and survival strategies. While they possess certain adaptations, planting them in hot valleys would be a disservice to their unique characteristics and could lead to diminished growth and health. As stewards of our natural world, it's our responsibility to understand and respect these requirements to ensure the continued thriving of coastal redwoods for generations to come.
- Author: Marcy Sousa
Master Gardeners are community members who love gardening and are enthusiastic to share their knowledge with others. This program offers comprehensive training in the best home gardening practices and an opportunity to use your knowledge in service to your community. Our volunteers are helping home and community gardeners reap the maximum benefits and enjoyment from gardening. Our volunteers help empower neighborhoods to foster healthier gardens, communities and a sustainable environment.
The Master Gardener program began in Washington State in 1972 and quickly expanded to other states. The first University of California programs were established in Riverside and Sacramento counties in 1980. San Joaquin County re-launched its program in 2007 and since then, the San Joaquin Master Gardeners have volunteered over 76,000 hours and have earned over 22,000 continuing education hours. The program is funded by the communities of San Joaquin County and AB939 which focuses on diverting green waste from our landfills. The Master Gardener Program enables the University of California Cooperative Extension to more efficiently share its extensive gardening resources and science-based gardening information with county residents through public service, educational outreach, and research programs.
- designing, planting and maintaining demonstration gardens
- using mass media to share gardening information
- teaching workshops and demonstrations, or lecturing on gardening practices
- participating in research activities with academics within UC
- answering gardeners' questions via email or helpline
- speaking to the public on horticultural/gardening topics
- information booths at community events
- educating and guiding parents and teachers in gardening practices in support of school gardens
Our next training will begin Jan. 23, 2024, and is open to residents of San Joaquin County. Prospective Master Gardeners will need to attend an orientation meeting in October (date TBA) and interviews that will be held in November. Those who enter the program commit to donating a minimum of 50 volunteer hours the first year and 25 hours every year after along with earning 12 hours of continuing education to remain certified. Applications can be found on our website.
Training sessions will meet on Tuesdays from 8:30 a.m.–1:30 p.m. Classes are taught by experts from the UC faculty and staff, landscape and nursery professionals, local horticultural educators and certified Master Gardeners that are outstanding teachers, who inspire students. Trainees must pass the weekly quizzes and take home final exam with a 70% or better. Classes will be held in person at the Robert Cabral Agricultural Center in Stockton. If we are not able to meet in person, we will host classes virtually. Applications can be found on our website. The registration fee for this program is $200, which includes a copy of the UC Master Gardener manual as well as other UC home horticulture books and covers class supplies. Class fees are not due until applicants are accepted into the program.
Becoming a Master Gardener Volunteer offers a unique opportunity to blend your love for gardening with community service. Gain expert knowledge in horticulture, foster sustainable practices, and contribute to greener neighborhoods. From connecting with fellow enthusiasts to promoting environmental stewardship, this journey empowers you to transform landscapes and lives. Cultivate your passion, share your expertise, and make a lasting impact on both local ecosystems and the people within them. Join us in nurturing nature while reaping the personal rewards of growth, camaraderie, and environmental change.
More information about our 2024 training and the application process can be found on our website at ucanr.edu/sjmg. If you have questions, feel free to contact the Master Gardener Helpline at (209) 953-6112.
- Author: Marcy Sousa
California's San Joaquin Valley, often referred to as the nation's salad bowl, is a cradle of agricultural abundance. This region, with its fertile soil and temperate climate, has been instrumental in feeding not only the state but also the nation and beyond. At the heart of this agricultural powerhouse lies an essential organization dedicated to advancing sustainable agriculture, strengthening communities, and ensuring the well-being of residents.
The San Joaquin UC Cooperative Extension
The San Joaquin UC Cooperative Extension (SJ UCCE) is a vital component of the broader University of California's Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR). UC ANR is a statewide network of researchers and educators who work collaboratively to extend the resources and expertise of the University of California system to communities throughout the state.
History and Legacy
The roots of Cooperative Extension in California date back to the early 1900s, when agricultural advisors began working with farmers to address various agricultural challenges. The formal establishment of the Cooperative Extension system came with the Smith-Lever Act of 1914, which created a nationwide network of extension offices affiliated with land-grant universities.
The SJ UCCE emerged in 1914 as a response to the unique agricultural landscape of the San Joaquin Valley. With a rich history of agricultural innovation, this region required specialized support and research to maintain its position as a leader in food production.
The mission of the SJ UCCE is to extend research-based knowledge and resources to solve problems and promote well-being in the local community. This mission is grounded in several core principles:
- Research and Education: SJ UCCE bridges the gap between cutting-edge research conducted by UC scientists and practical applications in the field. Their research informs their educational programs, ensuring that farmers and residents have access to the latest, science-based information.
- Local Relevance: One of the hallmarks of Cooperative Extension is its responsiveness to local needs. SJ UCCE tailors its programs and services to address the specific challenges faced by San Joaquin Valley communities, from pest management and water conservation to nutrition and youth development.
- Partnerships: SJ UCCE collaborates with various stakeholders, including local governments, agricultural organizations, community groups, and volunteers. These partnerships amplify the reach and impact of our programs and research.
- Non-Formal Education: The Extension's focus on non-formal education means that knowledge is disseminated through workshops, field demonstrations, and community events, making it
accessible to individuals of all backgrounds and educational levels.
Fostering Sustainable Agriculture
Agriculture is the lifeblood of the San Joaquin Valley, and the SJ UCCE plays a pivotal role in supporting its sustainability and resilience. In our county, we have farm advisors that cover many of the crops grown in our county and subjects important to our county agriculture. These topics include grapes, vegetables, soils, entomology (insects), fruit trees, weeds, nut trees, dairy, livestock, water and irrigation, invasive plants/insects, plant diseases and resource conservation. Here are some of the key ways in which our office contributes to the region's agricultural success:
- Crop Management and Pest Control: Through research and outreach efforts, San Joaquin UCCE provides farmers with strategies to manage pests, diseases, and invasive species effectively. This helps safeguard crop yields and reduce the need for chemical inputs.
- Water Conservation: In a region often grappling with water scarcity, San Joaquin UCCE offers guidance on efficient irrigation practices and water management, helping farmers maximize water use efficiency and minimize environmental impact.
- Sustainable Farming Practices: The San Joaquin UCCE promotes sustainable farming methods that protect soil health, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and enhance biodiversity. These practices not only benefit the environment but also improve long-term farm viability.
- Diversification: Recognizing the importance of diversifying agricultural production, the San Joaquin UCCE offers resources and support for farmers looking to expand into niche markets or alternative crops.
The San Joaquin UC Cooperative Extension is not solely focused on agriculture. It also places a strong emphasis on community development and well-being. There are several community-based programs in our office.
Nutrition and Health Education: The San Joaquin UCCE offers nutrition education programs for adults and youth aimed at improving the health and well-being of residents, particularly in underserved communities. These programs help individuals make healthier dietary choices and lead healthier lives.
Youth Development: The renowned 4-H program engages young people in a wide array of educational activities. This not only fosters personal growth but also encourages community involvement and leadership skills.
Master Food Preservers: The UC Master Food Preserver Program is designed to educate the public about safe food preservation techniques, including canning, pickling, drying, and freezing. Master Food Preservers are trained volunteers who undergo extensive education and training in food preservation methods based on research conducted by the University of California. They then share their knowledge and expertise with the community through workshops, demonstrations, and other outreach activities.
Master Gardeners: Master Gardeners are dedicated and trained volunteers who possess a deep passion for gardening and horticulture. Our primary aim is to provide home gardeners and the general public with research-based horticultural information and gardening expertise.
The SJ UCCE has an enduring legacy of service to the San Joaquin Valley. As the region faces new challenges, from changing climate patterns to evolving community needs, SJ UCCE remains at the forefront of research and outreach efforts.
In the coming years, the Extension will continue to evolve and adapt, leveraging the latest scientific research to address emerging issues. Whether it's assisting farmers in adopting climate-smart agriculture practices, helping communities navigate the complexities of water management, or providing resources to support local businesses, the SJ UCCE will remain a steadfast partner in the prosperity and sustainability of the region.
The San Joaquin UC Cooperative Extension stands as a testament to the enduring importance of cooperative extension offices in our communities. It embodies the spirit of collaboration, education, and service that has been a cornerstone of agricultural progress in California for over a century. In the San Joaquin Valley, where agriculture and community are deeply intertwined, the SJUCE plays a pivotal role in nurturing both.
This last year of unpredictable weather of up and down temps, hot and cold, some rain and dry weather, did not bode well for this gardener and maybe not for others.
In my neck of the woods of the San Joaquin Valley (Stockton), spring began with cooler-than-normal weather as well some on-and-off rainy, windy days. Should I plant seeds or start with nursery plants? With the crazy weather in early spring, I thought, should I even start to plant anything at all? What's a gardener to do?
After a few weeks and warmer weather, I decided to pick up a few young plants and begin my summer garden in my raised garden boxes. My harvest has been limited: only a few watermelons, a handful of tomatoes but loads of squashes, of course. While still small, several melons busted open showing a less than desirable melon. My watermelon crop yield has been only a few in a raised bed of mostly vines that started as a great display of beautiful green leaves with lovely little yellow flowers that I looked forward to becoming large, glorious watermelons. What resulted was a bed of greenish-gray leaves without flowers and only a few sweet, edible melons.
What I've learned this year is that as temperatures rise beyond 85°, the growth rate of plants slows down due to photosynthesis, the process in which plants use the sun's energy to create carbohydrates as a food source reduces when temperatures rise into the 90 and 100 degrees.
In contrast, the rate of respiration (the process by which plants use carbohydrates to grow and develop) continues day and night, even at higher temperatures. This depletes the food reserves of the plant. If extreme heat continues for weeks at a time, as it has this year, plants can actually die from a depletion of their food reserves.
High temperatures can also cause severe water loss (desiccation) when transpiration (the process by which leaves release water vapor to the atmosphere) exceeds moisture absorption by the roots. Evaporation of water from the soil can further reduce the amount of water available to plants.
So, what to do in extreme heat to protect not only your garden, but also lawns and landscape? Below are some suggestions and information to help us all better understand the impact of the predicted long-term hot weather on our gardens.
Change Irrigation Routine
High temperatures will result in higher water loss both through the leaves of the plant (transpiration) and through evaporation from the soil surface.
- Check soil moisture at least daily – When soil is dry at a finger's depth or more, it's time to water.
- Water in the morning - Less water is lost to evaporation in the cooler early part of the day and allows plants to fully hydrate before temperatures rise. Early morning watering will also allow wet foliage to dry quickly in the morning sun. Morning watering also ensures plants are fully moistened as the day gets warmer.
- Water the root zones, not the foliage. Roots absorb the water. Wet foliage is more susceptible to disease.
- Apply water efficiently - High temps mean more water evaporation before it reaches the roots. Instead of sprinklers use spot watering at the base of the plant, soaker hoses, or drip irrigation systems to provide water efficiently.
- Water slowly, deeply, and infrequently. Avoid a quick splash that can cause shallow rooting and lead to poor drought tolerance.
- Apply water until the soil is moist to at least 5 to 6 inches. Unsure how deep the water penetrates, dig a hole to see for yourself. Only apply water when the soil is dry to the touch 1 to 2 inches deep.
- Use mulch to conserve soil moisture and reduce watering frequency. Mulch can be used in most settings including veggie gardens and containers.
- Plants in containers and hanging baskets may need water twice a day - especially when weather is windy and hot, containers dry out very quickly. Check often, as most will need water at least once a day, and some may need water in the morning and the evening.
- Check on recently planted plants. Perennials, trees, and shrubs planted earlier in the year have not yet been rooted in fully. With most roots still in the original root ball, that root ball can quickly dry out. Check newly planted plants frequently, and water both the original root ball and the surrounding soil if either is dry. The same consideration is important for those plants planted within the last three years. These plants still do not have extensive root systems and may need extra water during stressful times.
- Always check soil moisture before watering. The metabolic processes (photosynthesis, respiration, and nitrogen fixation) slow down in extremely hot temperatures.
- If you'll be out of town for a couple of days, have someone do the garden watering in your absence. Newly planted plants and containers can't go for long periods of time without water, especially in the hot summer months.
Watering tips for Vegetable Gardens
- Veggie gardens should receive about 1 inch of water when there is no rain.
- Most veggie gardens will need to be watered during the growing season. Make sure your garden is near a water source to make irrigating easier.
- Whenever possible, avoid wetting areas outside the plants' root zone to reduce the opportunity for weeds.
- Avoid the overhead watering of veggie gardens. Wetting the foliage and surrounding soil promotes disease and weeds.
- If necessary, hand water or install soaker hoses to irrigate directly to the plant's root zone.
Some suggestions for watering equipment and systems
- Invest in a high-quality watering wand with a breaker at the end that gently showers plants but still delivers a good volume of water.
- Using a watering wand with a local shut-off makes it easy to stop water flow in between plants or containers.
- Use a long watering wand (24 to 36 inches long) to reduce bending and reaching.
- Avoid using spray nozzles. The powerful stream of water damages foliage and washes soil away. When adjustable spray nozzles are used on mist settings, they deliver a small amount of water, requiring more time to thoroughly wet the soil.
- Repair or replace leaky or broken hoses, sprinklers, and watering wands to avoid wasting water.
- Buy a watering can with a large opening to make filling and mixing water-soluble fertilizers easier.
- Install a rain gauge to know how much water rain may have already provided for your garden.
Suggestions for Watering Lawns
- Avoid using overhead sprinklers that spray a lot of water high into the air because more water will be lost to evaporation. Instead, use sprinklers that keep water lower to the ground and can easily be adjusted to change the delivery pattern so water can be applied directly to the area that needs it.
- Adjust sprinklers so they don't wet sidewalks or driveways where water will just run off and be wasted.
- Consider using spot sprinklers rather than oscillating sprinklers to water small areas, such as patches of newly seeded lawn.
Global warming is a reality for gardeners and the gardening they love to do. Now is the time to think about how we can tend to our gardens in the predicted unpredictable future of warmer, wetter weather.