- (Public Value) UCANR: Promoting healthy people and communities
- Author: Brenda Spoelstra
I became a University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) Master Gardener in San Bernardino County in January of 2019. I had learned about it from a friend who is an instructor with the UCCE Master Food Preserver program. She knew I liked gardening and suggested I look into it to see if it was something I would like to do. At the time I was working for a City Parks and Recreation Department in Planning and Design and my interest was increasing public open spaces and parks and gardens, knowing how essential they are to a healthy lifestyle. In another way, I was looking for an opportunity to get involved in the community. My interest in gardening and garden design just seemed like a natural fit for the UCCE Master Gardener program.
Within the UCCE Master Gardener program, I have volunteered in the San Bernardino School District (SBUSD), informational tables at farmer's markets, and more recently, with a non-profit after school program in Redlands called Micah House. There are two locations but the Micah House program on Oxford Street has been my main connection in the community, working with the mothers of after-school students on their vegetable boxes.
(The UCCE Master Gardener program would like to express gratitude to Micah House Executive Director Alison Anderson and the Chapel Street Micah House team for opening their doors to allow us to offer our 18-week training class there. In turn, Master Gardeners partnered with Micah House staff, families of their after-school program, and the community at large to transform a grassy area in their front yard into a lovely drought-tolerant garden through a grant from the Inland Empire Resource Conservation District.)
In one of my first UCCE Master Gardener activities with the SBUSD, I quickly became aware that it would be imperative to know Spanish well if I wanted to contribute to the UCCE Master Gardener mission to, "develop and extend practical research-based information in agriculture and natural resource to the residents and workforce of San Bernardino County." The US census states that 54% of San Bernardino County is Hispanic, and that 37% of the population speaks Spanish as their first language.
Thus, the story of how I needed to re-learn Spanish led to becoming the on-site UCCE Master Gardener at Micah House on Oxford Street. It began when I reached out to an extended family member who previously taught an immersive Spanish program and is the program director at Micah House on Oxford Street, for Spanish tutoring. After a couple of sessions, she asked if I might be interested in leading some gardening workshops in their vegetable beds started by the previous program director. Well of course! One hiccup. The mothers I would be instructing in gardening speak only Spanish and I want this to be inspiring, not complicated.
In the fall of 2019, with interpretation help from the program director, we set off together in planning the cool season vegetable garden with four mothers of children in the program. We were able to discuss the appropriate cool season vegetables and they selected the desired plants to grow over the winter. None had grown any of their own vegetables but were superb at gardening techniques such as weeding and planting. Much of gardening workshops can be a physical demonstration and then accomplished by the attendees, and I'm thankful for that because at this point my Spanish is still not up to a working standard!
With Spring coming, the program director had an idea how to include the children. We had an activity for them to plant seeds in recycled egg cartons, to be grown indoors as starts for the Spring garden. Again, the mothers were in the lead with selecting the warm season vegetable types and decided on a salsa garden.
With the help of the seed supply in the UCCE Master Gardener office, the kids were able to plant onion and jalapeno peppers. The mothers decided what to plant, install, regularly maintain. Harvest from the vegetable boxes are generously shared with their neighbors. Even with a few Spanish words, my sub-par communication skills seemed to go a long way with building rapport within the community and the workshops seem to be exciting for the kids and the vegetables are growing well! Fast forward to January, they are now harvesting cilantro, radish, lettuce, kale, and soon beets, carrots, and broccoli.
I like the personal benefits of gardening, doing something outdoors while getting a little exercise. Also, the learning and the organizational skills built on from one season to the next as you learn more about how plants behave in changing seasons. Watching plants form and develop over time makes it an activity of patience, as well, along with the maintenance lessons and mistakes. Before becoming a UCCE Master Gardener, I had experience in developing my backyard from a dead lawn to trees, shrubs, and flower garden (along with vegetable patch gardening). I believe the most outstanding thing I learned is the number of people volunteering in the community and the free resources UCCE Master Gardeners provide. I had not heard of the program up until then, and I think the program has many more ways to develop and transform in the coming years.
What I like best about the UCCE Master Gardeners program is the access to the science-based peer reviewed information regarding growing, pest management, and resources on plants and their requirements. It gives more confidence to the advice and recommendations I give in the community, which supports the work, rather than just relying on someone's personal experience with gardening. I think the first thing I would ask people interested in becoming a UCCE Master Gardener is whether they have a personality that likes to engage with the community. You can't stay sheltered away from the public while being a UCCE Master Gardener and you can't just have an interest in more information to be an arm-chair expert without experience. We test our knowledge in the community with questions they have or with activities which go along with instruction.
You may not have a natural desire for teaching, but you will need to have some interest in passing along knowledge with an open mind and appreciation for varying levels of experience in others. I tell people just because I have the UCCE Master Gardener badge does not make me a master of gardening -- it's the process of mastering, which never ends. I have a list of community service, both domestic and international. I've been involved with a City's Arts commission, 5k founder and organizer, an overseas director's assistant on a construction project, installed California Native gardens, community garden volunteering, and various past volunteer work with churches and work.
The purpose of this brief article is, even though you may think a little isn't enough, your efforts extended to the community can go a long way and grow into something you may not have planned. Stay open to opportunities and activities; you just never know where 'yes' will lead you.
- Author: Margaret J O'Neill
Calling all Gardeners! Class is open!!
Have you been thinking about taking the Master Gardener training class but aren't sure if it's for you? Maybe this blog
Who would make a good Master Gardener?
-You!!! Seriously….this program succeeds because of diversity…….of mindsets, geographical location, educational background, culture, ethnicity, gardening experience, and perspectives. If you are reading this blog, you likely already have an interest in plants and could be a great Master Gardener!!
-People who want to help empower their neighbors, their community, and the residents of San Bernardino County by teaching them how to grow edible and landscape plants successfully. Our volunteers work throughout the county to teach people about three main topics: Growing Food, Sustainable Landscaping and Healthy Lifestyles and Better Living Through Gardening. Within those topics we can teach a lot of things, but the core of our program is sharing research-based information with the public so they can learn how to grow some of their own food and create their own gardens, green spaces, pollinator gardens and more, all while saving resources and protecting the environment and building community.
-People who love love love gardening! If you are passionate about gardening, you are halfway there!! Many of our Master Gardeners are shy at first about working information tables or giving presentations but they all say that when they focus on their love of gardening instead of thinking about “knowing everything” they find sharing with the public fun and rewarding (hint- we don't know everything, but we have a whole team of fellow Master Gardeners to help us, and in the class we learn how to find credible information to share on all kinds of topics!). There are also behind the scenes volunteer opportunities for those who are really not comfortable with being in front of people. We work to accommodate all comfort levels when it comes to sharing the knowledge you learn with the public.
-Community leaders who are looking to improve outcomes in their area. The Master Gardener program works with many community leaders to help be part of a positive vision/outcome for their neighborhood and what better way to know how Master Gardeners can help than to learn about the program firsthand. While there is a volunteer requirement as part of being a Master Gardener, there are a lot of way to get your hours in and we work with each individual to see what would work best for them.
- A wide variety of gardening topics like: sustainable landscaping, mulching, soil preparation and composting; growing food; plant pathology; plant propagation; integrated pest management; fruit tree care; how to properly water plants and what an ET rate is; all about irrigation equipment and use; what ACP, GSOB, ISHB are (and you will learn what those things stand for too!); all about beneficial insects, what they are and how to create habitats that can support them year round……just to name a few things this course will cover.
-How and where to volunteer within our program so you can start sharing your knowledge with the public and how to start projects in your community with the support of our Master Gardener committee chairs.
-We can spend a life time learning about plants and there will always be new things to learn and breakthroughs….so one of the things we really focus on is: how to research, where to go, how to determine if resources are credible, and what kind of questions to ask when you are looking things up
Besides learning all about plants, what will you do as a Master Gardener and what do we expect of you?
-Examples of our outreach are: Giving or supporting online presentations (and in person when it is safe to do so); work our helpline (by receiving training and answering questions by email and phone); work with school and community gardens; work on citizen science projects; volunteer to support our seed library; when it is safe to go back to in person activities we work at info tables and events sharing info with the public on our three areas of focus (growing food, sustainable landscaping and healthy/better living through gardening) and do demonstrations for the public on gardening techniques, irrigation set up and planting and more.
We just ask that you join our class with an open mind and heart and that you be prepared to take what you learn and share that information back with your community and the public (through the projects that we have going on, or projects that you work with us to develop). Our goal is to get all (and I mean all) of San Bernardino County residents gardening, whether that be in a community garden, a window sill garden, their back yard, or in pots on their patio…..and that goal takes a lot of passionate people!! All of the information we share with the public is research-based peer reviewed information and that's what you will learn about in the 18 week training class. In addition to the classes you take we will link you with experts and hundreds of research based publications so you will be well prepared to answer questions and direct people to resources (remember that we don't know everything, we just know who to ask and where to look to find credible, research based information).
Volunteering looks different for everyone and we understand that all of our UCCE Master Gardeners are sharing their time and passions with us in addition to living full lives themselves. So, you may volunteer on a regular basis with projects near home, or work a little bit each month, or you may be part of the dozens of Master Gardeners who help us with our spring outreach. Some volunteers spend many hours each month and get hundreds of hours each year and some volunteers are only able to get the 50 hours they need in the first 18 months (and the 25 hours needed each year after that). Both types of volunteers are so appreciated, and needed to keep our program running.
So, if you think that you might have time to give back to your community and want to improve the lives of people in SanBernardino County please consider applying to the Master Gardener. Becoming a Master Gardener is a lifelong journey that starts with taking the course as the foundation (or roots of a tree?) that will grow as you learn and start to work with and develop projects that you are passionate about. Please note that you are required to attend ar live information sessions offered via Zoom before your application will be accepted. August information sessions are on August 8 (2:30-3:30pm) and August 19 (9-10am). They will provide you an opportunity to ask your questions and find out more about the Master Gardener program. Register for a session on our website: http://mgsb.ucanr.edu/. We look forward to having you join our team as a fellow Master Gardener, or as a participant in our free upcoming classes for the gardening public listed in this newsletter!
- Author: Debbie LeDoux
Esther Martinez graduated from the UC Cooperative Extension (UCCE) San Bernardino County Master Gardener program in 2019. In the short time since she graduated, she has taught adults and children how to grow food, how to sustainably garden to save water and attract pollinators, and even what plants are poisonous to dogs through her many volunteer activities focusing on the West End of the county.
She was excited to educate attendees in the Pumpkin Festival at the Chino Community Garden in October 2019. At this free workshop, participants enjoyed harvest-themed activities. They learned about sustainable gardening and were invited to decorate or carve pumpkins grown in the Garden's pumpkin patch. Esther helped participants make succulent gardens in pumpkin shells.
I was impressed with Esther's willingness to jump in and get things done. She has a fearlessness that is inspirational. When she first started volunteering at the Chino Community Garden, she saw a need to clean up the butterfly garden and did not hesitate to do it. The butterfly garden is now thriving with native plants, including two butterfly bushes that attract butterflies. Children visit the butterfly garden and learn through hands-on activities about gardening with pollinators. To prepare for a "Build A Butterfly Garden" workshop, Esther ordered Painted Lady butterfly eggs online and raised them at home.
Esther has a portable butterfly net enclosure she uses for raising butterflies at her home. She transports the butterfly enclosure to gardening workshops so that children can experience hands-on learning about butterflies. Esther has taken her butterfly enclosure to the Waterwise Community Center Seed Library in Montclair to share with visitors that come to get seeds for their own gardens.
She sees opportunities for using her gardening knowledge in unique ways. She presented the idea of having an information booth at a pet event with Healthy Chino, at Ayala Park, called “Bark Around the Park.” Both she and Roger answered pet owners' questions. They also provided them with printed information about plants that are poisonous to pets.
Esther has terrific organizational skills that she has used to coordinate UCCE Master Gardener events. She was in the midst of organizing a UCCE San Bernardino County Master Gardeners West Valley get-together in May at the Chino Community Garden. She had received permission from the City of Chino to hold the get-together at the Chino Community Garden. The theme of the event was "A Beautiful Day in the Garden" in honor of Mister Rogers' "A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood." Because of COVID-19 restrictions, she was not able to move forward with planning. Esther is looking forward to the time when UCCE San Bernardino County Master Gardeners can once again hold gardening workshops at the Chino Community Garden and you can be sure she'll be taking a lead role! Through thick and thin, she continues to help maintain the Chino Community Garden, keeping it free of weeds and making sure the plants are watered.
She has known about the UCCE San Bernardino County Master Gardener program for a long time and was always interested in becoming certified. She finally realized her goal when she had more free time in 2019. She applied to the program after she attended a Water Wise workshop presented at Chino Basin Water Conservation Districts' Waterwise Community Center. She met Maggie O'Neill, UCCE San Bernardino County Master Gardener Program Coordinator and, after listening to her presentation on the Master Gardener program, decided "I'm going to just have to jump in and take a chance.”
Esther encourages anyone interested in helping county residents garden more successfully to apply to the Master Gardener program, which is taking applications beginning July 1 for the October 3, 2020 - March 6, 2021 program (completely online for the first time in its history!). For more information on the program and applying, please click here: https://cesanbernardino.ucanr.edu
In addition to gaining research-based sustainable gardening knowledge to share with the public, Master Gardeners meet people like Maggie O'Neill. Esther says that Maggie has been an incredible mentor to her. She has a good sense of humor and makes it fun to learn about gardening and horticulture.
Esther generously invited me to visit her garden and the Chino Community Garden. She humbly told me that her garden is like a "mom-and-pop garden, but it comes from the heart." I was delighted with the creativity Esther expressed in her garden. She has created themed areas in the garden that represent people and places that are meaningful to her. One area dedicated to her mother is decorated with pottery and mementos that Esther collected to remember her by. Another area is dedicated to her father-in-law. It includes items from his military career and a plaque acknowledging him as a Purple Heart and Bronze Star recipient. Some areas of her garden are whimsical and charming. Other areas are steeped in Native American culture that Esther is proud to be part of. Free in her artistic expression, Esther has created garden areas that are unique and meaningful.
Esther appreciates the importance of pollinators in gardens. She has created a Monarch butterfly garden habitat at her home. She received certification last year from the North American Butterfly Association (NABA) by agreeing to criteria set by NABA that demonstrate her commitment to creating and maintaining the habitat. The garden must have at least three different native caterpillar food plants, and at least three various native butterfly nectar sources. The use of pesticides is discouraged because they are harmful to butterflies. Esther has planted a lot of milkweed and other native plants in her garden to attract butterflies and create an environment where they can lay eggs.
Another one of Esther's gardening interests is creating topiaries. She developed a fascination with them when she visited Disneyland as a child. She even has a topiary section in her yard devoted to the "Three Bears." She has created several, including a large topiary of a horse in her front yard. She created an area she calls "my pig pen" that features topiaries of a mama pig and her two cute piglets. She made several of her topiaries by shaping screen cages in the shape of the desired topiary. She also has a few topiaries that she made freehand. While keeping the topiaries trimmed and maintained is time-consuming, it is a labor of love for Esther.
If Esther has an interest in learning something, she just does it! She decided soon after becoming a UCCE Master Gardener that she would enhance the knowledge she acquired in the Master Gardener classes. Esther wanted to learn about irrigation concepts to gain the skills to fix her own sprinklers and manage run-off in her yard. So, she went through the required training to become a Qualified Water Efficient Landscaper (QWEL). In addition to participating in 20 hours of education on local water supply, sustainable landscaping, soils, landscape water budgets, irrigation system components and maintenance, irrigation system audits, and scheduling and controller programming, Esther was required to demonstrate her ability to perform an irrigation system audit as well as pass the QWEL exam.
During the same time that she was attending the classes, Esther and her husband decided to design the front area of their yard with a dry stream bed. They put decomposed granite in the front yard, installed a trench and lined it with river rocks to create a watershed. The area now catches water that would have run off uncaptured into the street.
Esther has a long history of agriculture and gardening, starting when she was 5 years old. Growing up in Chino, Esther, along with her family, was always involved in agricultural activities. When she was younger and school was not in session, she spent many summers working in agriculture. Esther knows first-hand about the hard work that goes into agriculture. She has a lot of respect and empathy for the people who continue to work in the fields in the Central Valley and other California areas to provide us with food.
Esther likes to say that "Plants are like people. They are all unique." She has combined her creative side with her love of gardening in unique ways. She has an artist's sensibilities as well as a life-long knowledge base of agriculture and horticulture. I am pleased that I had the opportunity to get to know Esther, see her home garden, and visit the Chino Community Garden with her! She expanded my gardening knowledge and opened my eyes to new ways of thinking about gardening.
Esther felt honored to be featured as the July, 2020 UCCE San Bernardino County Spotlight Master Gardener. She very humbly told me that she was surprised to be chosen. UCCE San Bernardino County Master Gardeners are thankful to Esther Martinez for her enthusiastic support, creativity, and extensive gardening knowledge!
- Author: Debbie LeDoux
Doug Arnold is 100% home-grown and has been a UC Cooperative Extension (UCCE) San Bernardino County Master Gardener in the High Desert since 1997. Doug and his wife have lived in the High Desert since 1982. He enjoys DIY projects, such as building raised bed gardens. For reading material, he enjoys reading the UCCE Master Gardener handbook. Doug is typical of a humble volunteer, being a man “of few words." The spotlight is not always a place he feels entirely comfortable in. However, he and his wife Sara, a UCCE Master Food Preserver, have been fixtures in the High Desert extending objective information on gardening and food preservation and safety for many years. I guess you could say that Doug is the ‘glue' for the UCCE High Desert Master Gardener community, supported and augmented by Sara's volunteer work!
Under Doug's leadership, the UCCE San Bernardino County Master Gardener and Master Food Preserver booth at the High Desert Home and Garden Show (Home Show) has run seamlessly over the past several years. He and fellow Master Gardener Jim Pettigrew have worked together at the Home Show at the San Bernardino County Fairgrounds in Victorville, California, every year. The Home Show holds two home improvement expos a year, one in the Spring and one in the Fall. The Home Show in Spring tends to be especially busy. Attendees can meet and talk with over 150 vendors representing diverse areas like landscaping, patio, gardening, and building contractors. There are always people stopping by the UCCE San Bernardino County Master Gardener and Master Food Preserver booth with gardening questions. The Hesperia Garden Club also participates in the Home Show. Doug is hopeful he can get back to doing the home shows soon!
Doug and his friend Jim also participate in the annual plant sale at the Victor Valley College (VVC) Agriculture and Natural Resources Department. This year's spring sale has been postponed for now, but the plant sale has been at the college for several years. They have a wide assortment of plants for sale. Doug has bought many of his plants from the sale.
Doug's wife Sara became a Master Food Preserver in 2017. They are very active working together at local Farmers Markets. They enjoy working at the Farmer's Markets, saying, "it's a lot of fun." He and Sara are "an institution" at the Phelan Farmers Market the first and third Monday of every week. They enjoy working with the public, and people ask him and Sara a lot of questions about gardening, food preservation, and the Master Gardeners program. People who regularly visit the Phelan Farmers Market know that if they have questions about gardening or food preservation, Doug and Sara are the sources to go to! Doug says if he doesn't know the answer to a problem when presenting at Master Gardener events, he refers the person to the UCCE San Bernardino County helpline. "It's convenient!" They also worked for a few years in the past at the Farmers Market in Wrightwood, California. He and Sara are looking forward to working at the Phelan Farmers Market again when COVID 19 restrictions are lifted.
When Doug and his wife moved to Piñon Hills, they lived on 2 and ½ acres off a dirt road. He said there really wasn't much out there at the time and that they were "out here totally on our lonesome." Piñon Hills is in San Bernardino County, California, near the Los Angeles County line. It is located near the Pearblossom Highway, 28 miles east of Palmdale, and 15 miles west of the Cajon Pass, where Pearblossom Highway meets Interstate 15. The town lies within 25 miles of Hesperia and Victorville. Piñon Hills is in a tri-community that consists of Piñon Hills, Phelan, and Wrightwood.
Doug and Sara have a 20 X 30-foot vegetable garden, growing tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers, and jalapenos as well as many other types of vegetables. Sara preserves most of what they produce. They have a 30-year old apple tree and get enough apples for Sara to make lots of applesauce. They have to cover the tree to "keep the critters off it."
Doug has had to adopt a uniquely different approach to gardening due to the weather challenges in the High Desert, where they live at 4,000 feet. A lot of plants and vegetables won't grow because of the extremes in temperature fluctuations. Summers in the High Desert are generally hot and dry. Winters are relatively cold, with much of the annual rainfall occurring in the winter. The success of crops depends on winter rainfall, which varies from year to year. The temperatures can rise over 100 degrees in the summer, and can then quickly drop to below freezing around September/October. They might have a beautiful Spring or Fall one year. Still, the temperature and climate may be completely different in other years. One time it was 0 degrees for six days in a row.
The weather is usually dry, but they had a rainy spring this year, which was unusual. Vegetables haven't been growing as well as they typically do. They have partial tree shade in some of the property where they can keep the plants from getting burned by the sun. Doug experiments with 40% shade cloth, which also helps keep the sun from burning the vegetables. He sometimes sets up windbreaks to help reduce the effects of strong winds. Doug says he is always experimenting because "sometimes you don't need the shade or to block the wind!" He uses a drip irrigation system to water his garden.
Doug and Sara don't make their own compost because of the dry climate and expensive water rates. I experienced Doug's wonderfully dry sense of humor when he told me a story about some compost that they recently ordered from a nursery in Hesperia. While delivering the compost, the man's truck lost a transmission. Doug laughingly told me that their compost was somewhere between his and Sara's house and Hesperia! But it finally arrived at Doug and Sara's house.
Doug has gardened from an early age, inheriting his green thumb from his mother. She was an active gardener in Ontario, California, when the area was still undeveloped, and citrus tree groves were everywhere. She grew many types of vegetables, including rhubarb, strawberries, and tomatoes. Doug helped in her garden a lot, including pulling a lot of weeds!
The Southern California High Desert encompasses the Joshua Tree National Park, Twentynine Palms, and the Morongo Basin. It extends as far north as Barstow and includes Victorville. Doug says the broad area makes it challenging to get together with his fellow Master Gardeners in the High Desert. He told me that Master Gardeners in Barstow, Twenty Nine Palms, Joshua Tree, and Yucca Valley are becoming more active. He also likes the Zoom meetings because of his interactions with people he wouldn't usually talk with.
Doug had a lot of fun working as the Real Estate and Special Sections Editor for 30 years before he retired from the Ontario Daily Bulletin. Doug met Janet Hartin, UCCE San Bernardino County Area Environmental Horticulture Advisor, and County Co-Director while working at the paper. He always very generously published weekly UCCE San Bernardino County Master Gardener articles in the Home and Garden section.
Doug retired due to having a major stroke. It took him a few years to relearn physical skills such as how to walk and talk. As Doug recovered and became more active, he and Sara attended the Farmers Market in Phelan. They met a UCCE San Bernardino County Master Gardener who interested him in finding out more about joining the program. He remembered working with Janet Hartin from the time he published her horticulture articles and upcoming Master Gardener events in the Daily Bulletin. He contacted her for more information regarding becoming a UCCE San Bernardino County Master Gardener. She helped him sign up for the classes, and get into the program.
Doug also keeps track of the local rainfall for the National Weather Service. The Weather Service has a rain gauge that measures moisture in hundredths of an inch. Doug records the information in a log and emails it to the National Weather Service group in Colorado.
Doug said what he likes most about the Master Gardener program is the people. He enjoys the people probably as much as he enjoys gardening. The UCCE San Bernardino County Master Gardeners are very thankful to Doug and Sara for their years of service! Their extensive gardening knowledge helps other gardeners become successful. An added gift to all of us is Doug's sense of humor, wisdom, intelligence, and kindness! We thank you, Doug!
- Author: Margaret J O'Neill
As spring draws to a close and I begin to accept that summer is truly on its way, I have a mix of emotions. I find spring to be exhilarating and there is such a sense of endless possibility! Maybe this year the tomato crop will be huge?! Maybe my apricots will ripen before they fall or get pecked by birds…..maybe I will get my act together and have the huge veggie garden that I always dream of……maybe this year I will plant my Anaheim chilies and make my first homemade chili rellenos!? Then the end of May and beginning of June starts creeping up and I realize that if I haven't started my tomato from seeds it is probably waaaayyy to late; if I haven't planted those new natives it is not a great time to do it; if I haven't thinned my apricots it might be too late and I feel like it might be another year where all of my dreams and plans might not come to fruition. Now don't get me wrong there are some great things about summer, like the long days …..and….well….this year it might not include summer trips or gatherings pool side and BBQ parties like it does in other years…but those long days are still going to be here and that means more time to garden right?!?!
Keeping your trees healthy throughout the summer will help them last for years and generations to come. I learned this the hard way with some of my older citrus trees last year, after losing them to insufficient and inconsistent watering. Proper and consistent water is so important, and something our Master Gardeners can help you out with. One of the most common garden questions we get is about watering, and this is even more important in the summer! There are several factors that go into the decision of how often to water, including what the soil type is, what type of plant it is, how well the plant is established and more, so don't be shy about reaching out to our Master Gardener helpline, or joining our online “Ask a Master Gardener” times and we can help you out with your individual watering needs.
So, what can you do to keep your garden healthy during the summer? Here is a short list of things that can make a world of difference in your garden:
· Apply 3 to 4 inches of mulch around your trees and plants, keeping it at least a few inches away from the trunk or stem, avoiding mulch that has been artificially dyed.
· Water properly and consistently: Keep you plants on a good watering schedule and keep up to speed on upcoming weather so that if a hot spell is coming so you can make sure they are well watered ahead of time (a farmers favorite conversation starter is going to be something about the weather, and there's a reason for that!).
· Ollas can be a fun and creative way to add extra moisture protection for your plants. There are a wide variety of olla styles and filling methods, so join us on our upcoming Olla making class to learn more.
· Shade cloth can be a great way to help protect your fruits and veggies from the hot afternoon sun, and you can set it up so that it only shades your plants from the sun at the hottest time of day, ensuring they are still getting enough sunlight to grow and produce fruits.
· Back to water: Setting up an irrigation system will be a big help in the summer, especially if you are working or away from home for much of the day. While hand watering can be fun in the spring and the fall it is not very efficient, often gets water on leaves that can lead to things like powdery mildew and more and is a lot less fun when it's a “do or die” activity for your plants. It is also hard to water trees and larger shrubs enough by hand before run off occurs, so an irrigation system is a great, water efficient way to go! Watering in the early morning is a good time to water to reduce evaporation and make sure your plants are not sitting overnight with moisture on the leaves.
· Native plants that have been planted this spring are probably not well enough established to be on their own this first summer, so they will need supplemental water this summer.
· Don't fertilize a dry plant, if your plant is dry (and therefore stressed) then you need to get it back on track with regular water before you fertilize.
· Don't forget to protect yourself in the summer garden too! Be mindful of sun, drink lots of water, and be sure to take breaks! There are often lots of chores that can be done in the shade or early in the morning so plan ahead and keep yourself healthy out there too!
With these tips and the help of our Master Gardeners you can have a garden that thrives even in the summer heat. We will be offering classes in June about protecting your garden from summer's heat, and on a wide variety of topics so check those out and as always, we are here to help, just a phone call, zoom click or email away!