- Author: Anne Schellman
This event was created by Amber O'Brien-VerHulst, Library Assistant for the Modesto Library Teen and Children's Department who did an amazing job! After library staff welcomed in the “Hogwarts students,” they were “sorted” into their respective houses of Gryffindor, Slytherin, Ravenclaw, or Hufflepuff. Next, the students had the opportunity to:
- Make a “Rememberall”
- Visit the Room of Requirements
- Take an “Herbology” class with UC Cooperative Extension Master Gardener volunteers
In the second Harry Potter book called “The Chamber of Secrets,” Harry and his friends take a class called “Herbology.” During one class, their assignment is to repot a magical creature called a mandrake. This plant resembles a small, grouchy baby and has an earsplitting, dangerous scream.
In our Herbology class, the students safely repotted “Aragog's grandbabies,” which were actually spider plants. In the story, Aragog was a very large spider that Harry and Ron met, so we thought these plants were an appropriate choice for the activity. Kids of all ages enjoyed learning about spider plants, naming their spider, and planting it in a pot to take home. Special thanks to MJC nursery for donating the plants!
Speaking of plants, did you know you can study horticultural science in Modesto?
To learn more, stop by the MJC east campus Environmental Horticulture Department to see the classrooms and inviting study lounge, https://www.mjc.edu/instruction/agens/ehs.php and then visit the MJC Nursery and purchase affordable plants grown by students. To learn more, visit their Facebook page at. https://www.facebook.com/MjcPlantNursery/
In closing, if you haven't been to the library lately, winter is a great time to snuggle up with a good book! If you don't have a library card, apply for one at a local branch (there are 11!) in Stanislaus County. Check the website for hours and locations at https://www.stanislauslibrary.org/.
- Author: Denise Godbout-Avant
With their complex social structure and “waggle dance” to inform hive members where food sources are located, honeybees are fascinating creatures.
But honeybees are not the only bees flitting about the flowers on our crops and in our gardens in search of nectar. There over 4,000 species of bees in California.
There are over 1,600 species of native bees in California. Unlike honeybees and Bumble bees, most are solitary in nature, and do not produce honey or wax for consumption by others. In North America, only the European honeybee and Bumble bees build hives and live in colonies.
There are 3 basic types of bee nesting:
- Ground nesting bees, which make up 70% of bees. Mining bees are an example of these.
- Stem and wood nesting bees, such as leaf cutter bees or mason bees, make up another 30% of bees.
- Colony nesting bees, such as honeybees and bumble bees make up less than 1% of all bees in North America.
Bees are in Trouble
Some ways you can help:
- Plant a garden full of flowering plants to attract bees and other important pollinators. Make sure you have something bloom during the spring, summer, and fall seasons.
- If you use a pesticide, choose one that is less toxic such as a horticultural soap or oil.
- Provide a space for nesting bees, with bee houses and bare patches of soil.
Upcoming Bee Talk
Date: Wednesday, September 14
Time: 3:15 – 4:15pm
Location: Modesto Junior College West Campus, 2201 Blue Gum Ave., Science Community Center in room 115
Denise Godbout-Avant has been a Master Gardener in Stanislaus County since 2020.
- Author: Denise Godbout-Avant
My teacher commented the deadline for doing the assignment was coming up and I wouldn't get an ‘A' in English if I didn't complete the project. I responded I didn't know of any science books to read. He suggested I go to the school library.
I told the librarian of my situation and she guided me to a book about honeybees. I liked bees (though I'd been stung once!) but knew little about them other than they spent time around flowers. That book revealed the complex and fascinating world of honeybees to me. I was enthralled. I have been enamored with bees and science ever since. I eventually obtained degrees in science and education which led to a worthwhile career that included being a biology instructor, museum educator and lab technician. All because of a book on bees. . .I am forever grateful to my 6th grade teacher and the school librarian.
All About Bees Talk
As a Stanislaus County Master Gardener, I have the privilege of joining fellow Master Gardener Heidi Aufdermaur in presenting a talk on “All About Bees,” to share my love of bees. Learn why they're so valuable, different kinds of bees, (there are over 1,600 native bees in California!), their life stages and habits, why they're in trouble, and how home gardeners can help bees thrive. I hope you'll join us!
When: Tuesday, April 26, 2021, 6:00-7:30 p.m.
Where: Harvest Hall Rooms D & E at the Agricultural Center at the corner of Crows Landing and Service Road in Modesto
Address: 3800 Cornucopia Way, Modesto, CA 95358
Instructors: Master Gardeners Heidi Aufdermaur and Denise Godbout-Avant
Questions: call (209) 525-6862
Sign Up online: http://ucanr.edu/bees/2022
Denise Godbout-Avant has been a Stanislaus County Master Gardener since 2020.
- Author: Ed Perry
Container gardening is popular both for growing annual and perennial flowers, herbs and certain vegetables. When discussing the topic with gardeners, nearly everyone agrees that the best growing media to place in the container are the mostly organic potting soils readily available at retail nurseries and garden stores. However, some gardeners still insist on adding a layer of gravel or other coarse material in the bottom of the container in the belief that drainage will be improved. I recently came across an article entitled "The Myth of Drainage Material in Container Plantings," by Linda Chalker-Scott, Ph.D., Extension Horticulturist and Associate Professor at Washington State University. According to Chalker-Scott, "This is just one of those myths that refuses to die, regardless of solid scientific evidence to the contrary."
Chalker-Scott writes that nearly every book or web site on container gardening recommends placing coarse material at the bottom of containers for drainage. The materials most often recommended for this practice are sand, gravel, pebbles, and pot shards. Some of these recommendations are quite specific and scientific sounding. To illustrate her point she refers to this piece of advice from a 1960's book on container plants: “Adequate drainage is secured by covering the hole in the bottom of the pot with a piece of broken flowerpot, concave side down; this in turn is covered with a layer (1/2" to 1" deep) of flowerpot chips. On top of this, a 1/4" to 3/8" layer of coarse organic material, such as flaky leaf mold, is placed.” The advice seems to make perfect sense, says Chalker-Scott, and it's presented so precisely. After all, we know that plants need good drainage, so their roots receive adequate oxygen, and we also know that water passes through coarsely textured material faster than it does fine material So, what's not to like?
Chalker-Scott then explains that nearly 100 years ago, soil scientists demonstrated that water does not move easily from layers of fine textured materials to layers of coarser textured materials. Since then, similar studies have produced the same results. Additionally, one study found that more moisture was retained in the soil underlain by gravel than that underlain by sand. Therefore, the coarser the underlying material, the more difficult it is for water to move across the interface. Imagine what happens in a container lined with pot shards! Chalker-Scott states that, despite popular belief, gravitational water will not move from a fine textured soil into a coarser soil until the finer soil is saturated. Roots suffocate in saturated soil, because water replaces oxygen in the soil pore spaces, and roots require oxygen. Concludes Chalker-Scott, since the stated goal for using coarse material in the bottoms of containers is to "keep soil from getting water logged," it is ironic that adding such material will do just the opposite. The bottom line: fill the container from bottom to top with a well-drained potting soil, and don't block the drain hole.
Ed Perry is the emeritus Environmental Horticultural Advisor for University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) in Stanislaus County where he worked for over 30 years.