Time for a fun pop quiz!
- Do you spend a lot of time gardening or thinking about gardening?
- Are you often asked for gardening advice by friends or family members?
- Do you enjoy learning new information about gardening and pest management?
- Are you interested in helping others and giving back to your community?
If you answered an enthusiastic “yes” to these questions and you live in Stanislaus County, please consider applying for the UCCE Master Gardener Program!
What is the University of California Cooperative Extension Master Gardener Program?
The program was created in the 1980's to help extend research-based information from University of California directly to the public. Volunteers are trained to preserve and encourage healthy environments with sustainable gardening, green waste reduction, and water conservation.
How are Master Gardeners Trained?
Master Gardener volunteers spend 5 hours per week for 19 weeks learning about soil, water management, ornamental and drought tolerant plants, landscape tree care, pest management, and much more. Classes are taught by University experts and advisors.
How do you become a UCCE Master Gardener?
We are taking applications for our 2020 class that will start in January. To learn more and apply:
- Visit our Become a UCCE Master Gardener website and read the training information on the page.
- Click on the bright yellow button to fill out our application form before September 8, 2019!
- Attend a mandatory orientation meeting in October
- Interview in November
- Acceptance letters mailed in early December
In Part I, we discussed why mosquitoes bite, and which mosquito species can spread West Nile and Zika virus. Now, let's talk about what mosquitoes need to reproduce, how to prevent them from breeding around your home, and best methods to protect yourself and your family while outdoors.
What do Mosquitoes Need to Breed?
The mosquitoes that spread West Nile virus and Zika need water to lay their eggs. Female mosquitoes can lay their eggs in even the smallest amount of water. Places in your yard that appeal to them include standing water found in ponds, garden pots, children's toys, or even pet water bowls. Eliminating these possible breeding spaces is key to mosquito control.
Watch the video “Don't Let Mosquitoes Breed in your Yard” from UC IPM for helpful tips.
Protect Yourself from Mosquito Bites
There's a plethora of mosquito control and prevention items for sale, but many are ineffective.
When outdoors, protect your skin by wearing long-sleeved pants and shirts, long socks, and a hat. Be aware that mosquitoes can bite through a thin layer of clothing. Also, choose and apply an effective EPA-registered mosquito repellent that contains DEET, picardin, IR3535, or oil of lemon eucalyptus to exposed skin.
You may be tempted to use outdoor sprays to battle mosquitoes. However, this method is only temporary and doesn't help control the source of the problem. The best way to avoid bites are prevention and protection.
Resources: UC IPM Pests in the Urban Landscape. Zika, Mosquitoes, and Repellents. https://ucanr.edu/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=21923
You've probably read a lot lately in the news about West Nile virus and Zika virus. In mid-June, the first human case of West Nile virus in Stanislaus County was diagnosed. This past week, mosquitoes that can carry the Zika virus were found in our county.
Why do mosquitoes bite?
It may surprise you to learn that mosquitoes get most of their food from flower nectar. However, female mosquitoes need a blood meal to produce eggs. If she bites someone while carrying a virus, it can infect that person.
What is the difference between West Nile virus and Zika virus?
West Nile virus is carried by Culex tarsalis or the Western encephalitis mosquito. This species is most active just after sunset. It feeds on birds and other mammals, including humans.
Eighty percent of people infected with West Nile virus do not show symptoms. The other twenty percent may have mild symptoms including fever, headache, body aches, nausea, vomiting, and sometimes swollen lymph glands or a skin rash. One in 150 people infected will develop a neurological illness that may result in death.
Zika virus is transmitted by several species of Aedes mosquitoes. These mosquitoes bite people during the day. Women infected with Zika during pregnancy may have an infant born with microcephaly and other severe brain defects.
Although this mosquito has been found in Stanislaus County, the virus has not been found in California. Aedes mosquitoes can only transmit Zika if they carry the virus.
How can I protect myself and my family?
Stay tuned tomorrow for part II of this blog post, with helpful tips for prevention and protection from mosquitoes.
University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources. UC IPM Pest Notes: Mosquitoes. Taken from http://ipm.ucanr.edu/PMG/PESTNOTES/pn7451.html on August 5, 2019.
Vector Disease Control International. Culex tarsalis-the Western Encephalitis mosquito. Taken from http://www.vdci.net/blog/mosquito-of-the-month-culex-tarsalis-western-encephalitis-mosquito on August 5, 2019.
California Department of Public Health. Zika: What Californians Need to Know. Taken from https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/Pages/Zika.aspx on August 5, 2019.
Over the past few months, gardeners have asked the UCCE Master Gardeners for help with their grapes. They want to know:
- What's this white powdery substance on my grape plants?
- Why are my grapes so small?
- What's causing my grapes to split?
- What can I do to “save” my grape plants?
The culprit is a common grape disease called powdery mildew. This fungus leaves a telltale white powdery coating on plants. It also deforms leaves, shoots, and grapes. Young grapes can be stunted or scarred, and sometimes split open.
We've told gardeners that unfortunately, powdery mildew can't be eradicated. For now, gently hosing down plants weekly with water will help to wash off and kill the spores.
In winter, prune grapes and remove and destroy infected materials. During spring, use fungicides to protect grapevines. Timing is important. Read about how and when to prevent and control this disease in the publication Pest Notes: Powdery Mildew.
Small grapes are a result of too many clusters of grapes on a vine. The clusters will need to be thinned. Sometimes gardeners have trouble doing this. It may feel like you are throwing away perfectly good fruit! However, thinning out grape clusters is a necessary task that should be done in early spring during the first three to four weeks after fruit has set.
Study up on grapes now! Then you'll know what you need to do next year. For information on pruning, thinning, and growing grapes, visit The California Garden Web page Growing Grapes in Your Backyard.
- Author: Ed Perry
Soil solarization is a simple technique that you can use in your home garden to reduce or eliminate many soil-inhabiting pests. Solarization works by heating up the soil in the presence of moisture to temperatures that are high enough to kill many fungi, nematodes, weeds and weed seeds.
In order to solarize your soil, you must leave a clear plastic tarp on the soil surface for 4 to 6 weeks during the hottest part of the year, which of course is now. Black or colored tarps will not allow the soil to get hot enough, so you must use transparent plastic. Polyethylene plastic 1 mil thick is the most efficient and economical, but you must handle it carefully because it rips and punctures easily.
Before laying the plastic down, clean up all weeds, debris and large clods, then level and prepare the soil as for planting. The closer the tarp to the soil, the hotter the soil becomes. Air pockets caused by clods or debris will decrease the effectiveness of the treatment. A smooth, bare soil surface is best.
You must also wet the soil before covering it with the tarp. The moisture causes organisms to be more sensitive to heat and also allows the heat to penetrate deeper into the soil. It's best to wet the soil thoroughly before laying the tarp.
While some pests may be killed within a few days, 4 to 6 weeks of treatment in full sun during the summer is needed to kill most pests with solarization. The highest soil temperatures will occur when the days are long and hot, and when the sky is clear and there is no wind.
Many disease organisms are effectively controlled with solarization, including the fungi that cause Verticillium wilt, Fusarium wilt and damping off of seedlings. Many annual weeds are also controlled, but perennial weeds such as Bermudagrass, field bindweed, johnsongrass, and yellow nutsedge are suppressed but not completely controlled by the procedure. Nematode populations are also reduced, but the heat may not penetrate deep enough to destroy those below the top foot of soil. Nematodes should be controlled well enough for shallow-rooted crops.
Once the solarization is completed and you've removed the tarp, take care not to disturb the soil very much. Turning the soil can bring up living weed seeds and diseases that were too deep to be destroyed by the heat.
Read the publication Soil Solarization for Gardens & Landscapes for more information.