- Author: Barbara Dawson
Trees in Drought
By Barbara Dawson, MG, Drought Committee Member
Think about your yard. What is the most important plant there? Your vegetable garden, perennials, grass? Or, did you think of trees? In fact, trees are probably the single most important item in your yard. Trees add value to your property, keep you cool in our hot summers, provide fruit, and give birds and other animals cover.
Summers in Southern California are becoming hotter and seem to last longer into the (supposedly) cooler months of the fall. Drought remains a concern although Southern California appears to have more available water than the rest of California. Nevertheless, we must consider how to manage our yards during these hotter times with less water.
Of any plant in our yard trees are the most important element and one that needs to be a priority. Why? Trees are the longest living and as such there is a greater investment in time and effort. A vegetable garden can be established in a few months, a perennial might take months to one or two years, but a tree (depending on the cultivar) three years plus. Some slower growing, longer living trees can take five years to become established and still only be a few feet high.
Ideally, during the summer trees should be watered weekly. If a tree is in the middle of a lawn chances are it's not receiving enough water. Lawn watering is superficial. Trees require deep watering at the drip line (the drip line is the area around a tree where the canopy edge reaches). The drip line may not be close to the trunk, depending on the size of the tree. Water should be given slowly over a period of time to allow for deep absorption. Knowing how well your soil retains water would be beneficial. This also prevents surface roots and encourages deeper rooting. Drip irrigation, a soaker hose, or a plain old garden hose can be used. Younger trees may require as much as 15 gallons per week in the hottest times. More mature, well established trees require three to five deep waterings throughout the summer. Fruiting trees require consistent, deep watering to maintain the crop. Symptoms of a water deficit might be dull (looking), wilting, curled, yellow leaves, and/or smaller new leaves. Plant new trees in the cooler, wetter time of winter.
Before planting any new trees, think about its water requirement. Obviously, fruiting trees will require more
water but when planting ornamentals consider how much water that tree will use both as it grows and when it matures. There are many trees available that require little water when mature. In other words, don't buy a tree that is suited for the pacific northwest or east coast where more water is available. Some good drought, heat, and pest resistant choices for this area:
‘Red Push' pistache (Pistacia × 'Red Push')
‘Bubba' Desert Willow (Chilopsis linearis 'Bubba')
‘Desert Museum' palo verde (Parkinsonia × 'Desert Museum' )unless you are in a shothole borer prone area)
Find just the right tree for just the right location visit these trustworth interactive websites: https://selectree.calpoly.edu/ https://inlandvalleygardenplanner.org/ or https://calscape.org/search.php
- Author: Gretchen Heimlich
Gretchen Heimlich-Villalta, UCCE Master Gardener and PhD student at UC Riverside
What Is IPM?
“Integrated pest management (IPM) is an ecosystem-based strategy that focuses on long-term prevention of pests or their damage through a combination of techniques such as biological control, habitat manipulation, modification of cultural practices, and use of resistant varieties. Pesticides are used only after monitoring indicates they are needed according to established guidelines, and treatments are made with the goal of removing only the target organisms. Pest control tools are selected and applied in a manner that minimizes risks to human health, to beneficial and nontarget organisms, and to the environment.”1 Mary Louise Flint, IPM in Practice: Principles and Methods of Integrated Pest Management ?
An Ecosystem-Based Strategy It's easy to skim over the ecosystem component of IPM; after all, it's a broad concept, and perhaps a bit abstract. But it's really important, so let's try to make it as simple as possible. Every ecosystem (the forest, the ocean, your garden, even your soil) is made up of individual members that do a couple things:
1. They get their energy from/feed on something(s) else.
2. They give their energy to/are fed on by something(s) else. ?
Together, the members of an ecosystem have roles that keep that system in balance and contribute to its overall function; they also provide services to humans. In your garden, this can include oxygen production, air and water purification, water capture and cycling, food production, climate regulation...I could go on and on, but I think you get the picture. Only a small portion of an ecosystem's inhabitants are pests of plants or humans. As gardeners, we are custodians of our garden ecosystems. It's a big responsibility—and an awesome opportunity!
Long-Term Prevention through a Combination of Techniques
In agriculture, farmers who practice IPM will pay close attention to details like pest numbers, natural enemies, and weather and field conditions. The home gardener will start by inspecting their plants regularly for damage and getting to know their common pests. Identifying plant pests can be a daunting task, but it's worth the effort. It's crucial to identify what's stressing your plant before attempting to treat the problem in order to avoid affecting non-target organisms. And by recognizing pests early, it may be possible to, say, knock back aphid populations with a shot of water from a hose instead of spraying insecticide once the population has gotten out of control.
So, Why IPM?
Using a combination of treatments is usually more effective than any single treatment for controlling pests. By optimizing cultural practices and using biological and mechanical controls, we can reduce or eliminate the need for chemicals. Integrated pest management allows us to reduce the damage of plant pests, and at the same time reduce the damage of pest treatments to our garden ecosystems, humans, and the environment. As thoughtful custodians of our landscape ecosystems, we can optimize plant health—and at the same time protect non-target organisms ranging from bacteria and fungi to birds, bees, and people. And this is a beautiful thing. For specific help with IPM in your own garden and landscape, contact a UCCE San Bernardino County Master Gardener volunteer at firstname.lastname@example.org
Author info: Gretchen Heimlich-Villalta is an ISA™ certified arborist who has been a San Bernardino County Master Gardener since 2014. She received her AS in Integrated Pest Management from Mt. San Antonio College, where she has helped teach IPM since 2020. She received BA degrees in Creative Writing and Photography, and is currently working on her Ph.D. in Plant Pathology at the University of California, Riverside, where she is researching citrus root and soil health; she also helps manage the Strub Avenue Community Garden in Whittier. Sources: 1. Flint, M. L. IPM in Practice, 2nd Edition: Principles and Methods of Integrated Pest Management. (University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources, 2012). 2. Eskalen, A. & Faber, B. A. Phytophthora Root Rot. UC IPM https://www2.ipm.ucanr.edu/agriculture/avocado/Phytophthora-root-rot/ (2016). 3. Managing Pests in Gardens: Fruit: Cultural Tips: Fertilizing avocados—UC IPM. http://ipm.ucanr.edu/PMG/GARDEN/FRUIT/CULTURAL/avocadofert.html.
- Author: Margaret J O'Neill
Master Gardener Spotlight: Phoebe Frankeberger
This month we are spotlighting UCCE San Bernardino County Master Gardener Phoebe Frankeberger. She has been with the program for since 2018 and has been a wonderful part of our newsletter team. Her forte is putting all the elements together so the newsletter is reader-friendly and attractive. I have had a behind the scenes tour of what it takes to get our newsletter together and it's a lot of work!! Phoebe's ability to take a bunch of links and pages and bring them to life puts a smile on my face every month! We reach out to the public in many ways from our online presentations to our social media to our in person events, but our newsletter has become one the best ways to reach out to you, our community, in such a large county! We hope each month you are able to find interesting blogs and links and are able to find classes that help you grow as gardeners. If you have attended a class because you saw it on our newsletter, or learned something new from one of our blogs, or are reading this now then we have Phoebe to thank for it!! She is a wonderful, kind and insightful person, and she is able to bring these qualities to our newsletter each month! Enjoy our interview with Phoebe
- Maggie O'Neill, Master Gardener Program Coordinator
I am a wife and mom of two adult daughters. I volunteered with a number of organizations prior to Covid quarantines, but due to some unrelated health issues, my volunteering has been limited to the MG newsletter since that time. I am also a CPA who is now semi-retired but still work for a few chosen clients. My husband is also a Master Gardener and a CPA. One of my designations as a partner of our accounting firm was Creative Director. I had designed and set up our website and any advertising we did. So, when I learned that the Master Gardeners needed help creating a new newsletter, I was happy to sign up, since I've always enjoyed that creative process.
Why did you decide to be a MG?
As empty nesters we were always looking for activities and ran across an ad in the Chino Hills Champion newspaper in 2018 for the Master Gardener class. Being known as avid landscape gardeners around our neighborhood, we signed up for the class. It was so enlightening. We learned about sustainable landscaping, healthy communities, lawn types and water usage, edible gardening, germination, propagation, composting, invasive plants, effects of climate change on our trees and communities, and so much more. I had a small container edible garden the last couple of years and my herbs are convenient to have any time I need them. We have a couple of butterfly plants now and get excited every time our backyard is filled with butterflies. We are more aware of our water usage and more aware of plant types and needs. I am able to diagnose problems much more easily – or at least know where to look to find the answers. I've been able to propagate more plants and have loved growing plants from seed versus store bought ones in pre-planted pots. I've also become more aware of my environment and what it means to be able to compost and recycle. We've changed our life in many ways (and not just because our daughters have pushed us) but because we've become more knowledgeable about the consequences and the ease of doing things a bit differently.
What are your gardening passions?
I love all flowers that make your home look and feel well loved and taken care of. Landscaping with lots of color is my passion. Not really planned out color, like you'd find around a hotel – just patches here and there, like you'd find in nature. I love bunches of plants overlapping each other.
What is a tidbit or two you've learned as a MG that the public reading our newsletter could gain from?
I love every part of our newsletter. Each part is significant to any gardener and our San Bernardino community. The calendar section pivoted to online classes due to COVID-19, but is in the process of changing back again to more in person events. I am so pleased with the “MG Spotlight” feature because it highlights so many different interests of so many different people that have a love for gardening and are drawn to teaching others their knowledge. “Janet's Jottings” and “Coordinator's Corner” are a bit of science and a bit of fun. They are always great reads and their content is easily applied. Our “What's Bugging Your Garden” highlights the University of California's Integrated Pest Management program and all that's available to help you via its website. Our guest writers have been awesome highlighting many different issues from invasive plants, sustainable roses or other UCCE programs such as the Master Food Preserver program or the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education (EFNEP) program. I also love the UCCE Master Gardener Helpline, which is accessible by email or phone to the public to pose any gardening related question or issue they wish. We highlight this great public service every month because we know its benefits.
What attracted you to serving as the chair of the MG newsletter committee?
What advice would you give someone considering becoming a UCCE MG?
Do it for yourself – that knowledge base is so important if you have any interest in gardening and want University of California science and research based information. Most of us are limited in our knowledge, we keep doing the same thing over and over each year, even though it's not working as well as we want. The Master Gardener program will open up new territory for you, whether it's soil management or pest management or anything in between. Besides preparing you with a breadth of knowledge to share with the public, it with provide you with personal knowledge and insight to be able to improve your own gardening and landscaping needs and desires.
Anything else you'd like to add?
The newsletter is only a year and a half old. It is still growing and changing, which I hope never stops. We have new Master Gardener volunteers all the time which keep things fun and fresh. I would encourage you, as a member of the public, to consider applying to the Master Gardener program. Who knows? If you have an interest in writing or designing, you may be our newest new team member! And, you Master Gardeners also reading this, contact Maggie if you'd like to join our team!
- Author: Margaret J O'Neill
Fall is upon us and it's time for a shift in seasons. Here in Southern California, we really do have four seasons, even if they don't follow the rules!! Our summers can be long and drawn out and rain seems to come early or late, but never when we think it will. As the days get shorter and cooler our “warm season” vegetables slow their production and our summer herbs are going to flower.
Warm season veggies are annuals that, by nature, usually produce their complete life cycle, from seed to seed, in one year. There are some veggies such as tomatoes and peppers that continue producing into the late fall. It's tempting each year to try and “overwinter” them, pushing them to last until next spring when they can start producing again. It's important to remember that it's not just the temperatures of the soil and air that cause fruits and veggies to produce, it's also the length of day light. Overwintering your warm season veggies may also lead to pest problems from overwintering insects and disease parts. Cool season veggies are less often the fruits of the plant and are usually stems, immature flower heads and leaves. These plants do well with the cooler temps and shorter days and they are perfect for your cool season edible garden.
Here are a few great cool season veggies that do well in San Bernardino County:
Peas: Easy to grow, easy to seed save from and there are lots of different types! Types include English Peas, Snow Peas, Sugar Snap Peas and many come in both bush or pole varieties. They can be planted throughout the season and usually take about 60 to 70 days to be ready to harvest. Peas are a legume, a plant that can “fix” nitrogen (bring N into the soil) so they usually don't need much fertilizer. They can be direct seeded into the soil or planted in smaller pots and transplanted. Sweet peas (although not edible!) can be planted now too.
Carrots: Carrots come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and flavors so these are a must have in any cool season garden! They like to be direct seeded into the soil and the seeds don't like to be planted too deep. They also like the soil to be nice and fluffy so they can grow a nice shaped root, so it's a good idea to loosen the soil before planting. Some people even grow a crop right next to the carrots to keep the soil loose while the seeds are germinating and starting to grow. Pick a crop to grow next to carrots that doesn't take up too much space under ground, like lettuce, and also one that will be wrapping up as the carrots are starting to grow bigger. Carrots can be succession planted too, staggering the plantings, so that you have a continued supply of carrots throughout the season. Carrot seeds are easy to save, but they take two seasons to get a crop, and also need a few carrot buddies near them for success, so keep that in mind if you are planning to save your own carrot seeds. They are usually ready to harvest in about 70 to 80 days.
Brassicas (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, Brussel sprouts, turnips and more): These plants can be grown in So Cal with much success, but they can be a little trickier than some of the other cool season veggies. Some of them like to be planted in warmer soils but don't like our long hot falls, like Brussel sprouts, so if you are having trouble reach out to our helpline and attend our free classes to learn more about caring for this family of veggies. They do well being direct seeded, or transplanted and are ready in about 50 to 110 days, depending on what type and variety you are planting. Broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and kale can “bolt” if we get warm spells, but they can be planted into the early part of next year (if you don't live where you get too much frost) so if you plant them early but have trouble, don't give up, try again! Seeds can be saved from these plants, but they do cross breed with others in the family, so they need a little bit more attention to get seeds saved successfully. For more information on that check out this month's seed saving class on Oct 28th. Register here https://ucanr.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJcqd--rqzspG9A1-wCMt7j6oVULAen5Hu3A
Radishes: One of the quickest growing veggies around, they are ready in about 28 days for most varieties and are easy to grow! In So Cal they can be grown year-round, but they do best in the cooler season when the temps are lower to promote the development of the root into a bulb. They should be direct seeded into the soil and like loose soil for best growth. They can also be succession planted so that you can have a harvest all season. They are easy to seed save from and fun for all ages!!
Lettuces: Like radishes, lettuce can be grown year-round in So Cal if you can find the right area to grow them, but they do best when grown in cooler weather. There are many many types of lettuces and they are relatively easy to grow. Moisture on the leaves should be avoided to prevent disease from developing, but they dry out and suffer in quality easily when the soil is not kept evenly moist (but not soggy), so make sure you don't let they get too dry! They can be direct seeded or planted from transplants and are ready in about 40 to 55 days depending on the variety. They can be succession planted, but you can also prolong the harvest by removing the lower leaves and leaving the plant in to grown more leaves. Lettuce is another one that is easy to seed save from, and if your lettuce does bolt due to late warm weather consider leaving it in and allowing it to go to flower so you can harvest the seeds.
Onions and Garlic: Fall is the best time to plant your So Cal onions and garlic. Onion varieties are long day, short day and day neutral. Short day onions do best in So Cal since they require the least amount of day light to grow a great bulb. Garlic varieties are either softneck or hardneck. The most common is soft neck, but there are advantages to both, so the choice is up to you! Planting your onions and garlic now will give them time to grow and be ready for harvest in the spring!
Winter squash and pumpkins: Our winter squash and pumpkins are usually harvested when they are mature, instead of our summer squash that is harvested when it's immature. While we harvest those things in the fall and winter, they are planted in the summer. Next year plan your cool season squash and pumpkins by planting in the early to mid-summer and if you are trying to get fall pumpkins plant early to mid-summer and harvest when the vine starts drying out. Then store in a cool dry place until you are ready to use them during the holidays. You can also count backwards, figuring out how long it should take for them to be harvested and then plant them at the correct time in the summer. The only challenge with that is that puts planting time in July when it's often very hot, so those young plants may need a little extra care to keep them from over heating, or you can plant earlier and then harvest early and store until you want to carve or use them to decorate. Harvest time is about 80 to 110 days, and seeds can be saved from most squash varieties easily, as long as you control or are aware of the pollination needs for that variety.
Herbs: Most herbs can be planted year-round in most parts of So Cal, but the spring and the fall are especially good times of year to plant. If you are planning to grow some of your own herbs for holiday cooking, then now is a good time to start to let your plant establish before you start harvesting! To learn more about growing herbs check out our free class this month on Oct 14th Register here: https://ucanr.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJMtf-qrrTsvGtJLGcWOlNFPO9ui9QtCu7es
- Author: Deborah Schnur
As the seasons change, I'm excited to plant my fall garden and start my new part-time position as the Environmental Education Coordinator for UCCE San Bernardino County. I'll be working an average of eight hours a week, reporting to Maggie O'Neill, our amazing Master Gardener Coordinator. Working together, our aim is to expand our reach to the public and provide greater support for Master Gardeners. One of my first duties is launching this blog to keep you informed of our environmental education activities. Since San Bernardino is the largest county by area in the United States, I'll need your help to get up to speed on what's happening in our school gardens. Please don't be shy about reaching out to me for assistance with your projects!
Another one of my responsibilities is to facilitate the connection between Master Gardeners and school gardens. I will support Master Gardeners to help set up or revitalize gardens, work with teachers to help develop student garden education, teach gardening classes to parent groups and teachers, provide technical assistance to garden caretakers, and connect schools with local community gardens and food systems.
I also plan to develop a toolkit of practices and procedures for Master Gardeners to follow when providing environmental education for K-12 classrooms. The toolkit, which will be posted in VMS, will include curriculum links, learning modules, hands-on training examples, and more. The main role of Master Gardeners in school environmental education is to “train the trainer”—train teachers to work directly with students. To complement this effort, I will develop web pages containing resources for school garden management specifically for K-12 administrators, teachers, and staff. These pages will be added to the UCCE San Bernardino County and Master Gardeners of San Bernardino County websites.
You may have already noticed some upgrades to our Master Gardener website. Maggie and I have been updating, adding, and reorganizing content to make the site more user-friendly and share more research-based information with the public. To start, we added two new items to the left-hand navigation menu: Newsletters and Recent Presentations. Visitors to our website can now easily view and download our monthly newsletters and our latest online class presentations. In the near future, we plan to add a link to request help with school gardens. We welcome your ideas for additional improvements.
Now that I've given you a brief overview of my initial assignments, I'd like to introduce myself. I moved to southern California from Minnesota two years ago and completed my Master Gardener training in March 2021. I grew up on Long Island in a suburb of New York City, where my parents devoted much time and attention to gardening and landscaping. That's where my interest in gardening began. Moving around the country, I took my love of plants with me to Chicago, Phoenix, back to Chicago, Minneapolis, Houston, back to Minneapolis, and finally to California. I even lived in Thailand for a year. I guess you can say I'm a nomad at heart.
Long story short, I began my career in biomedical engineering, transitioned to mechanical engineering, and made a major pivot to public health about 5 years ago. After graduating with a Master of Public Health from the University of Minnesota, I moved to California to be closer to my daughter, escape the Minnesota winters, and serve with FoodCorps (part of the AmeriCorps network) at Phelan Elementary School for the 2019-2020 school year.
At Phelan Elementary, I experienced firsthand the transformational power that gardening and nutrition education can have on an entire school community. With help from over 75 volunteers including teachers, staff, students, and families, the Phelan community transformed the school garden and greenhouse from a field of weeds to a place of pride. Over the fall and winter, we grew broccoli, cauliflower cabbage, carrots, radishes, onions, lettuce, spinach, kale, and herbs. As the months passed, more and more students came to explore the garden during recess. Teachers requested space to conduct experiments. Students joined the after-school Sprout Scouts garden club. Parents and high school students pitched in to maintain the garden and help with lessons.
The first lesson I taught was “Garden Explorations”, which included a garden hunt matching game. I remember the joy on the kids' faces as they raced around with their partners, searching for items in the garden that corresponded to the pictures on their cards. As an outdoor classroom, school gardens can instill appreciation and respect for nature, improve social skills and teamwork, and literally bring academic concepts to life.
School gardens and nutrition education can also positively impact kids' eating habits. Phelan students eagerly awaited the monthly cafeteria taste tests where they were able to try a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables (sometimes for the first time) and vote for their favorites. Older students who served as Cafeteria Captains assisted with taste tests by handing out food samples, making announcements, and tallying votes.
Another incentive to promote healthier food choices was the Taste Bud Ticket program. At the start of every lunch period, I announced the color of the day based on the food served in the cafeteria. (All students in the district were eligible for free lunch.) Then I distributed taste bud tickets to students eating healthy foods of that color. Before heading out to the playground, students wrote their names on the tickets and dropped them in a box. At the end of the week, I drew two tickets from the box and invited the winners to arrange time in the garden with a friend. Nearly all the winners took advantage of this opportunity and brought more than one friend!
Now that schools have returned to in-person learning, I'm excited to begin working with school employees and Master Gardeners to create environmental and gardening education programs and resources. If you need assistance, feel free to contact me at email@example.com. Happy fall gardening!