- (Public Value) UCANR: Developing an inclusive and equitable society
- Author: Lynsey Ruml, UCCE San Bernardino County Master Gardener
Roses have an unfair reputation as unsustainable, high-maintenance and disease-ridden, but resilient Earth-Kind certified roses defy this stereotype! Earth-Kind roses are selected and certified by Texas A&M University through their Earth-Kind research program at the AgriLife Center. To earn the certification, roses must past eight years of research and data collection, proving themselves as exceptionally resilient landscape performers by demonstrating heat tolerance, pest resistance and the ability to thrive in diverse soil types and PH levels.
Four of the eight years of research must include randomized and replicated trials supervised by a team of seven PhD level plant and soil scientists to ensure efficacy when designating new cultivars. These final four years are conducted in Texas climate zones 7-9 in locations with diverse soil conditions and alkalinity to demonstrate adaptability. University scientists across the county were so impressed by the results of the Earth-Kind trials, they adopted Earth-Kind research programs of their own. Seven universities currently test Earth-Kind roses, lending additional climate-specific information for gardeners!
Land-grant University Master Gardener volunteers across the country started replicating the research in their test gardens, even adding new ‘found rose' varieties to the Earth-Kind certification list! To ensure rose candidates are pest resistant and can grow sustainably, testers do not apply pesticides or herbicides-including organic! The roses receive only minimal watering and no fertilizer other than what's naturally released through mulching. This exciting, easy approach to growing roses is the perfect solution for every home gardener's wish of beautiful and lush, but environmentally responsible landscaping.
Thinking of adding Earth-Kind roses to your garden? Below are a few varieties recommended for coastal and inland climate zones in Southern California:
Belinda's Dream is an exceptionally heat-tolerant modern rose introduced in 1992, bred from Tiffany hybrid tea and Jersey Beauty. Continuous double blooms with over one-hundred petals have a long vase and bush life of up to a week-even in hot climates! Belinda's Dream has a five-by-five-foot, shrub-like growth habit and exceptionally healthy, aphid-resistant foliage.
Cecile Brunner is a French rose,introduced in 1881 and parented by Mignonette and Madame de Tartas. It has softer foliage and stems than other roses and small, forgiving thorns. It's small, pink blooms resemble miniature versions of hybrid tea blooms. At four-by-four feet, Cecile Brunner is perfect for the middle border. A climbing sport of Cecile Brunner exists, but hasn't completed Earth-Kind certification. https://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/earthkindroses/cultivars/cecile-brunner/
New Dawn is the very first plant to receive a patent (1930), after it was discovered as a repeat flowering sport of the once-bloomer, Dr. Van Fleet. New Dawn has exceptionally large thorns, but prolific three-inch, light-pink double blooms. New Dawn can be grown as a climber, rambler, or left to form a giant shrub. This rose also tolerates some shade. When grown as a climber, New Dawn can reach heights of over twenty feet!
Mutabilis is a six-by-eight-foot China rose, introduced prior to 1894 (considered an ‘old rose'). It's unusual, fabric-like, silky blooms are impossible not to touch and gradually change from yellow to deep pink. Mutabilis blooms in successive flushes and won Earth-Kind's 2005 rose of the year! https://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/earthkindroses/cultivars/mutabilis/
Thank you for reading! We hope you enjoyed learning about our favorite Earth-Kind cultivars and maybe even found a new rose for your garden! For additional information about Earth-Kind roses and the Texas A&M, Earth-Kind program check out the links below. Happy rose growing!
Resources: https://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/earthkindroses/ https://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/earthkindroses/cultivars/ https://agrilifeextension.tamu.edu/
When summer is here and the list of edible fruits and veggies that can be planted in Southern CA is at its shortest, then maybe it's time to consider growing some herbs to add some flavor to your cooking! Here is a system you might want to try that helps you save on space, water and time! I first stumbled across this idea while surfing the internet and thought “oh, that looks cute!” That was a few years ago, and since then I have fallen in love with this system. The “three-tiered herb garden” system has a few key features that have made it a key part of my year round edible gardening.
-It takes up very little room and it's portable. The stack of three pots can take up as little as 12 to 14” of space on your porch or growing area. This is great for areas where you don't have a lot of room to grow and it also makes it easy to find room right by your kitchen or porch door. That said, I have gone on to create larger versions of this and mini versions of this and all sorts of versions in between, but the basic set up below is a good place to start before you try different versions.
-Great for many varieties of herbs in a small planting area. The top tier of the herb garden is on the drier side and is great for growing herbs that like a drier soil. I like to put thyme or sage at the top. The middle tier is great for plants that need a little more water, but don't like to be too wet. Herbs like basil, marjoram, oregano, chives, and cilantro will do well on the middle tier of the herb garden. The bottom level is a little damper and is a great place to grow herbs like mint (planting the mint in a pot keeps it from taking over your garden too!), chives, parsley, basil and chervil. Rosemary and fennel do well in the three-tiered system but tend to get big, making them a better choice for a larger herb garden, or planting in beds. Lavender is susceptible to diseases at it's crown and do best planted in well-draining soil and given lots of space to grow.
-It's great for people who forget to water (that's me!!)! The top and middle tier pots have drainage holes so when you water from the top the water flows down towards to pots below. This is great because it creates microclimates in your set up where the top of the tower is drier and the bottom tends to be more wet, but it also has some insulating effects as well. The stacking of the pots helps prevent water from evaporating (imagine picking up a rock on a dry day and seeing some moisture underneath, it's the same idea). The holes in the pots allow roots from the upper tiers to grow down into the soil below and keeps them from being so vulnerable to heat and drying out like they would be if they were just in their own unstacked pots by themselves.
-Great, easy to transport, gifts for people who love plants, and a fun way to get creative in the garden. I got started with one, and I have gone on to make big ones (with a half wine barrel as the bottom pot and then the middle and top pots being 14 and 8 inches across) that can grow a larger volume of herbs that I use a lot of in my kitchen. I have gifted several three-tiered herb gardens and they are always cute and fun gifts!
Follow these easy steps to plant your own three-tiered herb garden and send our Master Gardeners an email or give them a call if you have any questions, we are here to help!!
-3 pots of different sizes (for example a 14” pot, an 8” pot and a 4” pot) The top and middle pot should have drainage holes for maximum benefits of stacking. The bottom pot is best with drainage holes to ensure proper water, and prevent salt buildup, but it is less important for the plants that can handle soil that is more moist.
-Good potting mix or soil. You can mix some compost in as well. Herbs, like most fruits and veggies do best in well-draining soil that is rich in organic matter. They don't usually need as much fertilizer as other produce, but you can mix a bit of fertilizer in with the soil if you are planting transplants. Fertilizer is not needed at planting time if you are planting seeds.
-Your herbs! You can plant transplants or seeds depending on what you prefer, and how much time you have. There are a wide variety of herbs you can plant, but here are a few ideas:
Top tier: sage, thyme or rosemary if you keep it small, or have a large set of pots
Middle tier: sage, thyme, chives (garlic or onion), marjoram, oregano, fennel (with a larger pot system), dill, green onions, chervil,
Bottom tier: Mint, basil, parsley, cilantro, marjoram, oregano, green onions
Step 1) starting with your bottom pot, fill it halfway with soil. Set your plants (I usually put about 4 or 6 plants on the bottom tier depending on how big your pots are) at an angle facing out a bit. Remember that your plants won't have a lot of room on the surface of the soil, but they will have lots of room for their roots to grow under the pots that are stacked on top. Add soil to your transplants as you would when you are doing your regular planting up to the previous soil line, but leave the level in the middle of the pot a little lower so you can set the second pot on top
Step 2) add your second pot (that has drainage holes) to the center of the first pot. Make sure it's level and sitting securely on top of the soil and begin planting. Repeat the steps above (I can usually fit between 3 and 4 plants on this second level depending on how big the pots are), setting the plants towards the edge of the pot and adding soil to fill up the space, leaving a little bit of an indentation in the center.
Step 3) add your last, top pot! Depending on how small the top pot is you may need to add a bit of soil to the pot before adding your top plant (usually just one plant), or if the pot is small enough it might not be needed. Just make sure the pot has enough room for your plant, and that you plant is high enough in the pot. Plant that plant as you would normally in the center of your pot, adding soil up the previous fill line.
If you are planting seeds on any of the levels you would follow the same steps above, but instead of planting the transplants you add soil to fill the pot (leaving a bit of a depression in the center for the pot above) and then plant the seeds as appropriate for the varieties you are planting.
When you want to refresh a level of your garden you can take the pots apart and repeat the steps above with new additions in empty spaces, or you can just dig down into your pots while they are stacked and replant. You can decide whether you are going to take them apart or not based on your personal preference or on how deep the roots are growing from one pot into the soil below.
In the heat of the summer starting herbs may be a little more challenging from seed, but it can be done if they are protected from too much direct sunlight. Being able to move the tower around easily is helpful if you are trying to start seeds, so you can put them in filtered light until they are a bit more established, then bring them back to your porch or full sun when they are several inches tall.
To care for your pots, add water as needed. Watch for overwatering on the bottom tier and drying out on the top tier as you get to know your new three-tiered herb garden, and there is no substitute for sticking your finger in the soil and digging down about an inch or so to see how dry the soil is before you water. That helps save water and also keeps you from overwatering.
As we are experiencing severe, or worse, drought in California we need to use our water resources carefully. Many of our ornamental shrubs and grasses (is plants a better word here?) can safely have water reduced to conserve water without causing long term damage to them. Our trees, one of our most valuable resources, need to be protected as well, but they can also do ok with strategically reduced water. Growing fruits and veggies take a lot of water so it's important to grow those edibles responsibly. Improper watering, or not enough water, can very quickly lead to problems with fruit set, production and reduced quality and flavor. Herbs are often the same way, and while some types can do ok with reduced water (like rosemary and lavender) most need to be evenly watered to get good leaf production. So, with the drought on everyone's mind you must ask yourself: is growing food at home a good use of water? The answer is yes!! Growing food and herbs at home have many benefits to your mental and physical health! You are also reducing the distance your produce travels from harvest to your kitchen and that can save resources! You can grow the produce you like and engage the family in the activity, having freshly harvested produce right at your doorstep! There are lots of ways to use your water wisely even in your edible garden by using drip irrigation, adding mulch and compost and growing varieties that are suited for your area. The three-tiered herb garden is a great way to have herbs at your doorstep that are easy to care for and take up a small amount of space using minimal resources.
- Author: Debbie Schnur, UCCE San Bernardino County Master Gardener
Have you considered composting in your school or community garden, but don't know where to start? Based on my experience, I can tell you it's easier and more rewarding than you think! In November 2020, a team of San Bernardino County Master Gardeners and trainees embarked on a mission to develop a composting system for the Root 66 Community Garden in Rancho Cucamonga. Now, a little more than eight months later, the system is fully functional, the first compost pile is curing, and the second pile is growing larger by the week. Thanks to committed volunteers, local businesses, and the City of Rancho Cucamonga, the initial composting mission has been accomplished.
What is composting and why is it so important? Composting is a method of decomposing organic waste into a nutrient-rich, humus-like material. When used as a soil amendment, compost improves the biological, chemical, and physical characteristics of the soil. It increases water retention of sandy soils and drainage of clay soils. Adding garden trimmings and food scraps to a compost pile reduces landfill waste and greenhouse gas emissions. In a community setting, composting turns organic waste into an asset to enrich gardens and support local food production.
During the first phase, our team determined the system and site requirements to guide the design of the composting system. We chose a simple 3-bay system constructed of wooden pallets that would be easy and inexpensive to build, use, and maintain.
After the design was finalized in the second phase, our Resource Group began identifying local businesses, organizations, and individuals willing to provide donations and funding to obtain materials, tools, and supplies. At the end of February 2021, we held our first composting workshop to promote the benefits of composting and solicit input from garden and community members about our project plans. To create a safe environment during the COVID-19 pandemic, we held the event outside and followed local social distancing and masking protocols.
By April, we were ready to build the composting system. On a sunny Saturday morning at 8 am, 12 Master Gardeners arrived at Root 66 with their power tools. Fueled by coffee and donuts, the group completed construction and cleanup by noon. Within days, garden members were already asking if they could start composting. Little did we know our work was just beginning.
At the start of the third phase, we needed to educate ourselves about the composting process to avoid health and safety issues. One reference that was particularly helpful was “Community Composting Done Right: A Guide to Best Management Practices”, available on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website, ilsr.org. We decided to use the hot (thermophilic) composting method. Although it requires more work than cold (passive) composting, it produces a finished product more quickly and kills weed seeds and pathogens. The main ingredients of composting are greens, browns, water, and oxygen. Greens are materials high in nitrogen such as fresh fruit and vegetable scraps, garden trimmings, grass clippings, eggshells, and coffee grounds. Browns are materials high in carbon such as wood chips and shavings, shredded newspaper, dry leaves, and straw. The microbes that drive decomposition during composting require the proper amount of water and oxygen to thrive. When the moisture content is optimal, the compost will feel like a wrung-out sponge. When oxygen levels become too low, the compost will begin to smell. Your senses will tell you if you're doing it right!
To prepare to start composting, our team created a site layout plan and composting process flow chart. At the end of May, we officially “cut the ribbon” on the Root 66 composting system and created the first compost pile using free wood chips, plant material from the garden, and food waste from local coffee shops, juice bars, and a brewery.
Once we fully understood the composting process, it was time to share our knowledge with the community. In June and July, the Education Group spent nearly every Saturday morning at the garden, distributing informational flyers and encouraging gardeners to contribute materials for composting. We installed signage in the composting area to show where to leave different types of waste. The City of Rancho Cucamonga supported two public workshops in July by promoting the events through Healthy RC and providing finished compost, seeds, and hand tools to use as giveaways.
The Master Gardener project formally ends at the end of August. To wrap up the fourth phase, our team will complete the project documentation, transfer ownership to the Root 66 Community Garden, and celebrate our accomplishments. As it turns out, this is perfect timing. Root 66 is about to start receiving support from the Community Composting for Green Spaces program to expand its composting operations. Administered by the California Alliance for Community Composting (CACC) and funded by a grant from the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecyle), the program aims to launch or improve community-scale compost sites in six regions, including the Inland Empire.
As I reflect on my first experience of community composting, I realize it not only benefits the environment, it also engages, educates, and empowers the community. It's an opportunity to build strong social bonds and leave a lasting legacy. While community composting requires a concerted, long-term team effort, the process is not particularly complex or costly once the system is set up. So why not get started? For more information about composting at Root 66, contact email@example.com.
Gardening is fun, and it is rewarding, but it also can be time consuming. For many who garden the “time consuming
Here are 10 quick tips to successfully have a garden on a busy schedule:
1) Keep an eye on it! Plant your plants somewhere you can see them! For me and my home herb garden it meant planting them in pots right next to where I park my car when I come home. It is the first thing I see before I go out, and when I come home. This encourages me to do a quick watering (if needed) and check on them before I go inside and get distracted by other things. You can also place your plants along your walkway, or by a front or side door you use often.
2) Keep it small, small can be fabulous! Sometimes I get big ideas and want to grow all of my own fruits and vegetables because I do have the space for that at my family home. That thinking often leads to failure because I am just too busy with life to keep up the pace and see it through. This year and last, I am keeping it small and keeping it all in one area While I'm not living up to my big dreams of growing all of my own produce (yet), by keeping it small and easier to manage I am more likely to succeed with the things I am growing.
4) Set yourself up for success by starting off with the right plants, in the right plant right place right time! Planting “warm season” plants for the summer and “cool season” plants in the winter will ensure that your plants are ready for the season they are being planted for. Check out our monthly online Master Gardenering classes (http://mgsb.ucanr.edu/) about what to plant each month in the garden to learn more! Short on time, have really hot summers in your area, or a short growing season like in the mountains? Find varieties of edibles that have words like “early harvest,” or “heat tolerant” (or “shade tolerant” if you have lots of shade in your area) in their name or description. Early harvest varieties will ripen in a shorter amount of time, meaning less time to care for them and less time for pests or heat to damage them. Heat tolerant varieties are suited to areas that are prone to hot spells and shade tolerant varieties do well in shaded yards. “Disease resistant” varieties (such as ‘VFN' tomatoes) can save frustration, time and disappointment. Herbs are another plant that can add spice and flavor to your life and kitchen and can also be low maintenance.
5) Check on your plants for 5 minutes each day, it is worth it! The best way to keep your plants healthy and happy is to find diseases, pests and weeds early. Spending five minutes can help you catch problems early before they take more time, money and resources to manage. Also, when time is tight, and your mind is full of tasks and responsibilities a short garden break can help refresh your mind and spirits and give you more energy and clarity to get back to your busy schedule! Science backs it up; time outside and with plants is good for your body and mind!!
6) Keep water handy (or set up an irrigation system)! Fruits and vegetables suffer in flavor, texture, and overall health when they are not properly watered. Unlike the case with ornamental non-food crops, allowing edibles to dry out too much induces stress, increasing their susceptibility to pests and diseases. Overwatering can lead to disease-forming pathogens by reducing available oxygen in the rootzone. A cycle of underwatering and overwatering can lead to poor production and flavor and many health issues. Planting your edibles in a location you tend to look at everyday increases your ability to keep your eye on them for drought stress and tackle irrigation issues in a timely way.
7) Hydrozone!Hydrozoning is the placement of plants with similar water needs together. The challenge begins when we plant flowers, shrubs and native plants around our edible gardens to bring in pollinators and beneficial insects. Many drought-resistant plants don't like much (or any) supplemental water once established. It's important to water edible plants on a separate schedule. Unless you're hand-watering, avoid adding a tomato plant to your drought-tolerant shrub-bed, as well.
8) Mulch! Mulch keeps weeds out and reduces water evaporation from soil. It should be applied 3-4 inches deep on top of the soil around your plants and works great for potted plants, as well. Light colored mulch also buffers soil temperatures. It also keeps slugs and snails away.
9) Start with a good foundation (your soil and pots)! If you are short on time, it's important to start off right! Edibles do best with well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter. You can improve soil drainage of heavy clay-based soils and water-holding capacity of lighter sand-based soils by mixing compost or other forms of organic matter (at least 40% by volume) to garden soil at least 6 inches deep.
10) Reach out to our MG helpline! Don't forget that our Master Gardeners are here to help answer all of your plant related questions! We love being plant detectives and solving mysteries. No question is too small or silly! Just email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
11) Ok, I'm going to throw one more tip in there!! HAVE FUN and don't be afraid of making mistakes! That's how we learn and after a few seasons of trying and growing (and reaching out to the Master Gardener Helpline, attending our free classes online and checking out the resources we share on our website, social media and at our presentations) you will be amazed at how much you have learned from even a small garden! You can do it!! Start small, and don't give up.! It's a journey that has life long rewards for your mind and body.
Summer gardens are just around the corner and I am so here for it!! I can't wait to harvest some fresh home-grown tomatoes! I'm looking forward to some sweet, warmed by the sun, fresh off the tree apricots and peaches. I'm delighted to see my deciduous trees leaf out. (One benefit of the dry winter is less mildew on my crape myrtle tree and roses; I'm trying to look on the bright side!). I'm in the glow of spring and don't want it to end. But, long summer days are right around the corner and I am determined to be more prepared this year. Many people planted big quarantine gardens and now the temptation of vacation and the realities of transitioning away from working at home are on the horizon.
Here are some tips and ideas to help you keep those pandemic gardens healthy and happy as we all reenter the world:
1) Did you plant lots of seedlings this spring, or were you so great at getting them to survive and thrive that you have more than you know what to do with? Share with friends, family and neighbors! I always plan to start my own seeds but time gets away from me, so I always appreciate it when friends share their starts with me. I get to follow up on my dreams of summer veggies, and my friends have someone to give some extra plants to…win, win!
2) Heading back to work, or a more normal work schedule away from home? One mistake I made when I was working away from home every day was going to work in the morning when it was cool, underestimating how hot the afternoon had been and how dry my garden plants and trees had gotten while I was away during the day. I arrived home to stressed plants. I should have been more attentive to my morning watering, and watered them all deeply before I headed out. The general rule is to water during the morning, avoiding watering in the afternoon when evaporation rates are highest. Remember that, due to physiological wilt rather than a true water deficit, many plants wilt during hot afternoons because the roots simply can't take up water as fast as the plants lose water through transpiration. Most will perk up by evening. If they haven't they may need water. I love hand watering my plants, but during the summer it's easy to get behind. You might want to consider an irrigation system that can help you out, especially on those really hot days when you don't feel like venturing outside! Soaker hoses are great choices and can be easily connected to garden hoses.
3) Heading on vacation? I know many of us are eager to get out and see the world and family and friends again! While at home for the last year you may have started an amazing garden that now is going to miss you while you are gone! A few tips for traveling: Do you have a crop that will be ready to harvest while you are gone? Consider asking a friend, relative or neighbor to come over and harvest for you. While they are there, they can check on your irrigation system too, or maybe they can help water in exchange for enjoying you harvest. If you are going to set up an irrigation system to water your plants during your travels, you should set it up a few weeks ahead of time so that you can monitor it and make sure it's delivering the right amount of water, and the water is going where it's needed (in the root zone!). Also check the timing of your irrigation and make sure the water is not running off. If it is you may need to cycle your watering system so that it runs for a shorter period of time before its run again (and maybe even a third time) until your plants get the amount of water they need. When you water cycle, the idea is to water soon enough after the previous cycle that the soil has not completely dried out again.
4) You might want to have some shade cloth to prevent heat injury on sensitive plants on days that get above about 105°F, so you don't need to run out at the last minute. You can also use a light colored, light weight sheet in an emergency. Watch the angles of the sun and plan ahead where you might need to add shade cloth on those hot days. Just make sure you have a structure to support it so that it will not squash your plants. If you'll be traveling, spend some time before you leave with whoever is checking on your garden while you're out of town to go over how shade cloth should be used.
Here's a few other suggestions for success this summer that we could all use:
1) We are going into summer dry, dry, dry!! I have been amazed at just how dry (and in some cases almost hydrophobic) my soil is. We are in a drought and that means our trees are facing severe damage if not kept adequately watered. Be sure to water your trees deeply to get them through spring/summer. Under water restrictions, remember to prioritize your trees sand edibles. Your flowers and lawn are much easier to replace.
2) Water early in the morning when evapotranspiration rates are lowest.
3) Applying mulch to your trees and landscape can help keep soil temperatures down and also help keep moisture in and weeds out. In fire-prone areas, avoid organic mulches. Pebbles or rocks are a better idea. Keep mulch away from the base of your trees 3 to 4 inches deep (organic) and 2 inches deep (inorganic).
4) Some native plants, like sages and salvias, go summer dormant to help conserve moisture, but it doesn't mean they need more water if they are well established. When in doubt reach out to our Master Gardener helpline. Our volunteers can help you figure out if your native plant is going summer dormant or if it needs assistance from you.
5) Drink lots of water! Don't forget about your plants, and don't forget to take care of yourself in the heat too!
As always, Master Gardeners are here to help along the way! We will continue to offer our free classes online and look forward to returning to in-person events as COVID-allows. We provide education in the largest county in the continental USA, and travel distance and climate zones vary greatly across its 20,000+ square miles. We have found that offering classes via Zoom save time, energy, and connect people all over the county (and beyond!) with each other. But we also realize that conversing and being together in person is essential and we do look forward to seeing you soon! Our Master Gardener volunteers look forward to reconnecting in person with our many Farmers Market, community garden, and school partners later this summer. We will continue to ensure that our virtual and in-person classes are customized to the time of year, different climate zones in the valley, desert, and mountains and any unusual weather patterns we might have. This helps ensure that when you attend our classes you know you will learn something that will help you out that day, week or month. Check out our June free classes on our website @ http://mgsb.ucanr.edu/; we look forward to seeing you there!