The UC Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners of Stanislaus County have taught adult classes at local libraries since April of 2022. Now, we are excited to present our Vermicomposting Class in June that will be fun for the WHOLE family!
Vermicomposting is the process of using red wiggler worms* to help eat kitchen scraps. Join us for this class to learn interesting facts about these worms, how to make your own “worm hotel,” and which foods the red wiggler worms eat that can help turn your kitchen scraps into compost for your garden!
In addition to presenting information about vermicomposting, you'll be able to “meet” a few live worms and see them in action in a worm bin. Kids of all ages will love "meeting" the worms, so be sure to bring them. We hope you can attend at one of these local Stanislaus County Library locations:
Sat, 6/3 at 2:00 p.m. – Empire Library
Tues, 6/6 at 6:00 p.m. – Salida Library
Thurs, 6/8 at 1:00 p.m. – Patterson Library
Sat, 6/10 at 2:00 p.m. – Riverbank Library
Mon, 612 at 6:00 p.m. – Ceres Library
Tues, 6/13 at 6:00 p.m. – Oakdale Library
Mon, 6/26 at 5:30 p.m. – Modesto Library
Wed, 6/28 at 6:00 p.m. – Turlock Library
*earthworms don't like to be disturbed, so they are not used for vermicomposting./h3>
- Author: Anne Schellman
Who are the UC Master Gardeners?
UC Master Gardeners are trained volunteers that help the public by teaching classes, attending outreach events, working in our demonstration gardens, answering our help line, and more!
How are UC Master Gardeners Trained?
Classes are taught by University experts on water management, soils and fertilizers, ornamental and drought tolerant plants, landscape tree care, vegetable and fruit tree care, integrated pest management, to name a few.
Program requirements include weekly reading and quizzes, and a final exam. All “tests” are open book, and collaboration on assignments is encouraged. Trainees are provided any needed assistance by Master Gardener mentors.
When does the Program start?
The weekly training program starts in January and ends in May of 2024. The training is held from 8:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. once a week for 18 weeks. (Trainees must complete 50 hours of instructional time to graduate.)
How Can I Apply and what is the Deadline?
Visit Become a UCCE Master Gardener website page for answers to frequently asked questions, and to download an online application. The application deadline is August 18, 2023. If you miss the deadline, please apply to be put on a waiting list.
Last week I sent an email to people that signed up for our interest list. If you did not receive it, your email could not be delivered, bounced back, or was incorrect. (I received several of these notifications.) Please first check your spam, and then contact me if you believe your email may have been problematic.
*You must be a Stanislaus County resident to apply to this local program. For other county programs, visit http://mg.ucanr.edu/FindUs/
photos by Anne Schellman
While fairies are mythical, hummingbirds are real-life winged fairies of our gardens. We tend to think of just bees and butterflies as pollinators, but the tiny, jewel-like birds also play a crucial pollinator role. Hummingbirds co-evolved with native nectar plants, each benefiting the other. A keystone species (a species which other species in an ecosystem largely depend on, so if it disappeared the ecosystem would be severely altered), hummingbirds pollinate at least 20% of specialized indigenous plant species.
Hummingbirds have a very high metabolism and must eat all day. They consume about half their body weight each day while feeding. Nectar from 1,000-2,000 flowers provides 20% of a hummingbird's daily diet, which they drink with a fringed forked tongue in their long beak. Insects provide the bulk of their diet, which includes beetles, aphids, gnats, mosquitoes and wasps.
The smallest hummingbird, the Bee hummingbird (Mellisuga helenae), is a native of Cuba. With a body about an inch long, it weighs the equivalent of 1/4th teaspoon of sugar! The “large” Giant hummingbird (Patagonia gigas) of western South America is about eight inches long (20 cm), weighing less than half of most sparrows.
California has about nine species of hummingbirds with four commonly seen species in the Stanislaus County area listed here in order of most abundant to the least:
- Anna's hummingbird (Calypte anna): This permanent year-round resident is a common sight in many of our gardens. The colorful red-headed male is the largest and most prominent of our local hummingbirds. The fastest of all hummingbirds, it can fly up to 60 miles per hour. Males perform a death-defying courtship dive, plummeting to the ground at speeds and accelerations that put jet pilots to shame. Females build the nests and care for the young alone, having three broods a year.
- Rufous hummingbird (Selasphorus rufus): With its beautiful orange-red gorget (a hummingbird's brilliant throat feathers), these migrating birds are a beautiful sight in local gardens in the spring and fall. Unlike the green body feathers of other common species in our area, the male has copper-colored feathers. Nesting further north than any other hummingbird, they fly up to 2,000 miles (3,200 km) during their migratory journeys to Canada.
- Black-chinned hummingbird (Archilochus alexandri): Another migratory species, it spends winters in Central America while nesting here in the summers. The male has a black face with a purple gorget at the base of the chin. The female builds a well-camouflaged nest in a shrub or tree.
- Costa's hummingbird (Calypte costae): The smallest and least common of our local hummingbirds, it breeds and nests here in summers, spending winters in Baja California/western Mexico area. The male has a colorful purple gorget and neck.
A Hummingbird Friendly Garden
To make the sugar syrup combine one-part white cane sugar to four parts boiling water and let cool. Do not use honey, molasses, brown sugar, agave, artificial sugar, etc. as these can be harmful to hummingbirds. Food coloring is unnecessary since the red color of the feeder will attract the birds. If possible, place the feeders out of direct sunlight. Refill and clean feeders every 3-4 days (more frequently in hot weather) with a bottle brush, hot water, and a little white vinegar (which retards mold). Extra sugar syrup can be stored in refrigerator for a week or so.
In addition to sucrose, nectar provides additional sugars (glucose and fructose), along with compounds such as carbohydrates, amino acids, vitamins and oils which sugar feeders cannot provide. So, flowering plants that produce nectar should also be present in your garden to give hummingbirds a diverse, nutritious diet. Hummingbirds favor flowers that are tubular, in red, orange or bright pink colors. Some good choices include penstemons, fuchsias, red salvias, and bee balms.
A hummingbird friendly garden should also include trees and bushes for perching, hiding and nesting, water for drinking and bathing, and safety from domestic cats.
An excellent plant list resource provided by UC Agriculture & Natural Resources (UC ANR) and Master Gardener is Plants that Attract Hummingbirds – Zones 8 and 9: https://ucanr.edu/sites/UC_Master_Gardeners/files/287098.pdf
Both the local Rufous hummingbirds and Black-chinned hummingbirds are among those considered to be at risk (https://www.audubon.org/news/how-climate-change-threatens-hummingbirds).
By providing backyard sanctuaries with feeders and native plants we can help support these valuable feathered fairies of our gardens, so they can continue to delight us and pollinate our plants.
Denise Godbout-Avant has been a UCCE Master Gardener with Stanislaus County since 2020./h3>/h3>/h3>/h3>/h3>
Giving Day is tomorrow! Has our program made a difference in your life? Have you attended a class, gained information from reading a blog post, or asked a question of our Help Line? If so, please consider making a donation to our program! All dollars given go to the UC Cooperative Extension Master Gardener Program in Stanislaus County. We rely on donors like you to help us purchase much needed materials for our office, demonstration gardens, and outreach events and to fund scholarships for workshops and training classes.
Join us at noon on May 18 and be the first to give—or visit us anytime tomorrow as we highlight the impact of our program across the state. Tomorrow, on UC ANR* GivingDay, donate to the UC Master Gardener Program to extend research-based knowledge and information on home horticulture, pest management, and sustainable landscape practices to the residents of California.
Spread the word to friends and family who also want to make an impact. Make your gift then share your support on social media using #GivingDay. It's the generosity of individuals and volunteers like you that support our efforts to share gardening expertise in communities across the state. Our goal is to inspire 500+ Californians to give.We hope you're one of them! Giving Day ends at noon on May 19, so please make your contribution today!
*Cooperative Extension operates under the umbrella of a larger, statewide organization called UC ANR or Agriculture and Natural Resources.
- Explored the history of lavender and its uses.
- Learned about different types of lavender and how to grow them.
- Snacked on goodies made from lavender, like lavender lemonade and shortbread.
- Made a lavender wand.
- Took home a lavender sachet and lavender plant.
We hope you will join us for a relaxing time, while making new friends and learning all about this rejuvenating herb. This year, the Lavender Committee will be giving away lavender eye pillows instead of sachets.
Where: Stanislaus County Agricultural Center, Harvest Hall rooms AB&C, 3800 Cornucopia Way, Modesto, 95358.
When: Saturday, June 24 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Note: 30 spaces available
Questions? (209) 525-6862
Sign up online: https://ucanr.edu/lavender/2023
Master Gardener Instructors: Nancy Robinson, Heidi Aufdermaur, Bonnie Jones-Lee, Connie Gardener, and Janet Wickstrom.
If you cannot afford to pay full price for this workshop, please contact Anne at (209) 525-6862 or firstname.lastname@example.org for a partial scholarship (while supplies last).
*lavender wands can be placed in clothes drawers or cabinets to release a fresh scent and may last for years. Or keep your wand near your desk and inhale its relaxing fragrance when needed.