- (Focus Area) Yard & Garden
- Author: Julia Van Soelen Kim
Two years ago today, Sonoma County residents awoke to fire spreading through urban and wild lands across our county, a dark cloud of smoke covering the sky, and ash blanketing the ground. There continues to be much work for our community to collectively recover from the fires--most of it is hard and heavy work, whether it be emotional work, community work, economic work, environmental work. UCCE Sonoma's Produce Safety after Urban Wildfire: Citizen Science Initiative is just one small piece of that body of work.
The project sought to find out if garden and farm-grown produce exposed to ash was safe to eat, mobilized community in the days and weeks after the fire to collect leafy greens from sites across the county for later analysis, formed a unique partnership between UCCE Sonoma, Petaluma Bounty, and a passionate public health researcher, Vanessa Raditz, and ultimately led to a workshop series, a newly published scientific report, a forthcoming toolkit for other communities affected by wildfire to assess the safety of their own unique context, and a collaboration with researchers from UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine to investigate the safety of backyard chicken eggs in fire affected counties.
Today we honor the terrible toll of the fire on this community, and we welcome your participation in our upcoming Post-Fire Food Safety Workshop as a small piece of recovery and learning for the future. The workshop will be held on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019 from 6:00pm-8:00pm at the Environmental Center of Sonoma County, 55 Ridgway Ave., Santa Rosa, CA 95401. Refreshments will be provided. RSVP at ucanr.edu/postfirefoodsafety10.17.19
Sonoma County Fair ~ August 1 - 11, 2019
Come join us daily from 11am to 5pm at our new location on the east side of the Courtyard to answer your gardening questions!
For the first time, we will have information tables on topics ranging from succulents, food gardening, firewise landscaping, worms, bug hotels and more on August 3 & 4th and August 10th & 11th.
Stop by our demo garden or information tables and say hi!
Schedule of Talks/Demonstrations
11am – 1pm – Saving Water in the Garden Master Gardener GardenSense specialists will be in the Courtyard to talk about how to reduce your water use in the garden. You can sign up to have a team of consultants come to your home to discuss landscape options.
1pm – 3pm – All You Need to Know About Soil Come talk with Master Gardeners and learn what makes good soil for plants and how to improve bad soil. Learn the difference between compost and mulch and how to use them.
3pm – 5pm – Caterpillars Make Butterflies Master Gardener experts will talk about the magic of caterpillars and butterflies. Butterflies are losing habitat at an alarming rate. Learn what plants you should have in your garden to create better habitat for butterflies.
1pm – 3 pm – Landscaping for Fire Master Gardeners will Be in the Courtyard to provide information and answer questions on how best to prepare your landscape for potential wildfires. Learn the most important things you need to do to give yourself and your home a better chance.
3pm – 5pm - TBD
11am – 1pm – Good Bug Hotels Master Gardeners will be in the Courtyard to explain how to attract bees and other beneficial insects (the ones that get rid of the bad bugs!) to your garden and provide them habitat and winter quarters so they stay to help in your garden.
1pm – 3pm – Easy-to-grow Succulents Master Gardeners will be in the Courtyard to demonstrate how easy it is to grow succulents. There will be a grow-your-own demo for kids, too.
3pm – 5pm – Worms, Worms, Worms Master Gardeners will be in the Courtyard to talk about the wonders of worm composting and regular composting. Come see how easy composting can be and how good it can be for your garden. Kids of all ages are welcome! Worms will be on hand.
11am – 1pm – Food Gardening Specialists Master Gardeners will be in the Courtyard to discuss edible landscaping and answer all your questions about growing your own food.
1pm – 3pm - TBD
3pm – 5pm - TBD
“Produce Safety After Urban Wildfire” citizen science project
The Northern California fires of October 2017 created poor air quality and distributed toxic air contaminants over the region. Following the fires and the incredible response from local farmers, UCCE Sonoma County embarked on a “Produce Safety After Urban Wildfire” citizen science project to help answer community concerns about whether the safety of local produce might have been impacted by contaminants carried in the smoke and ash from the fire.
With the support of UCCE Sonoma, community members concerned about the impact of toxic smoke on local produce and UCCE Master Gardeners took over 200 samples of leafy greens from 25 gardens and farms across Sonoma County in the immediate aftermath of the fires; in the summer of 2018 the team took soil samples from five of the original sites sampled. Using funding from University of California Agriculture & Natural Resources Division and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, we had produce and soil samples from five sites most likely to have received deposits of toxic air contaminants from the urban wildfire tested for heavy metals, dioxins and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.
Based on preliminary findings, we hypothesize that produce safety was not significantly affected by the fires and may be mitigated by washing produce. Preliminary analysis was inconclusive but did not indicate a high degree of contamination. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons were inconclusive due to high method reporting limits from our laboratories. Heavy metals were of low concern, with no detection of lead, arsenic, or mercury. Nickel was found in 2 of 8 samples at levels exceeding Proposition 65's No Significant Risk Level but which may be mitigated by washing produce. Dioxins were of some concern with concentrations found above background levels from FDA's Dioxin Monitoring Program, but below NSRL.
- It is important to note that over long periods of time, exposure to these chemical groups at very low levels can still contribute to health impacts, including at levels below what our tests are able to detect.
- Numerous health benefits including cancer risk reduction have been attributed to green leafy vegetables. These benefits may outweigh the additional risk from trace contaminants detected in some produce in this study. Quantitative comparisons will be provided in our final report.
- Some individuals have higher risks and may want to be in communication with their healthcare provider to better understand if they should take extra precautions. Individuals at higher risk may also benefit greatly from the high nutrition in green leafy vegetables and fresh produce.
- Best practices for reducing risk include: wearing a respirator mask during poor air quality; washing produce thoroughly in running water; peeling root vegetables, testing soil regularly; containing and amending contaminated soil through sheet mulching, raised beds, and compost.
- Best practices that enhance protective factors and should also be pursued, such as increasing produce consumption to promote healthy nutrition, improve immunity, and support resilience to chemical exposures.
Over the next few months, we will be completing our final report and creating additional tools for communicating these results to concerned community members. In the Spring of 2019, we will be conducting community workshops. Reports, handouts, workshop materials, and the protocols from the study will be made publicly available for use by communities experiencing wildfire in the future./h3>/h3>/h3>
- Author: Lucia G. Varela
Want to know what bug is making holes in the leaves of you shrub or eating your fruit? Or what is the pesky weed you cannot get rid off? The University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources publications have four sets of Pest Identification cards for you. These pocket-size, sturdy, laminated cards can be easily carried with you as a quick reference wherever you need them. The sets are also available as electronic publications formatted for iOS and Kindle compatible devices.
Vineyard Pest Identification and Monitoring
These cards are also available as a separate card set, publication #3538, in Spanish. You can purchase each card set alone or in bundles for a price break. The bundles are perfect for vineyard managers and their crews.
Tree Fruit Pest Identification
The Tree Fruit Pest Identification Card Set is available only as an electronic publication. The set covers major insect and mite pests and several important diseases in California deciduous tree fruits and nuts. Each pest is identified by a description and close-up photographs of important life stages to help you know how and when to look for these pests -- in both growing and dormant seasons. The cards also include descriptions of natural enemies.
Landscape Pest Identification
The Landscape Pest Identification Card Set will help landscape maintenance professionals and home gardeners identify and manage most major common pest problems in the landscape. The 43 cards cover 80 common insect pests and mites and 40 diseases of flowers, shrubs and trees.
Weed Identification and Monitoring
The Weed Identification and Monitoring Card Set is based on the bestselling Weeds of California and Other Western States; this is the perfect pocket-sized companion for anyone working in the field.
Each weed is identified by a description and excellent close-up color photographs of various growth stages with 187 photos in all. On the reverse of each card is a description of growth stages, habitat, distribution and management tips. It also includes handy inch and metric measurement scales. A sturdy rivet keeps the set together so individual cards don't go astray.
Pests of the Garden and Small Farm
A new set Pests of the Garden and Small Farm Card Set is coming out soon. Stay tuned for its release. Currently, there is a beautiful book, publication 3332.
To purchase the card sets or electronic versions, visit the University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources publication catalog. Refer to the table below for the publication and click on the version you want:
- Card set - a deck of cards on a spindle
- E-pub - electronic version for iOS
- Kindle - electronic version for Kindle
Landscape Pest ID Cards
Vineyard Pest ID and Monitoring Cards
Tarjetas de identification de plagas de la vid (Spanish)
Weed Pest ID and Monitoring Cards
Tree Fruit ID Cards
Backyard gardeners, if you still cannot identify that weed, bug or problem with your plant, you can always bring a sample to our Master Gardeners desk. There is a drop box available to leave samples after hours./table>/h3>/h3>/h3>/h3>/h3>
- Author: Karen Giovannini
The UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine (UCD SVM) is providing free egg contaminant testing for backyard chicken owners in the state of California.
Results will be shared individually with each owner, and cumulative results will be summarized and made available to the general public.
We are testing eggs for two different types of contaminants.
Fire Contaminant Testing
Heavy Metal Contaminant Testing
Due to observation of high environmental lead levels in parts of California, there is concern that backyard chickens are being exposed to a level that could pose a public health risk. UCD SVM is interested in testing eggs from these birds for various contaminants such as Pb, PCBs, and PBDEs.
Instructions for submitting eggs
If you are interested in submitting eggs, please drop off at UCCE Sonoma County or ship 2-6 eggs (6 eggs max) from your flock, with tissue around each egg, placed in an egg carton, and wrap (bubble), include information below, secure the carton and ship in a box with packing peanuts. See pictures below for examples of how to pack the eggs for shipping.
Requested information to include (or use attached form):
- Address where hens reside (Street name, City, Zip -- we do not need the number of the address)
- Number of hens in flock
- Date eggs were collected
- Length of time you have owned the chickens
- Age of chickens
- Year the house/building the chickens are kept by was built
- Optional: your email address to receive results
Drop off eggs at UCCE Sonoma County* or ship them to:
UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine
1 Shields Drive
Bldg VM3B Room 4007
Attn: Dr. Maurice Pitesky
Davis, CA 95616
If you would like assistance with shipping costs, please contact Anny Huang at the UCD SVM Cooperative Extension at firstname.lastname@example.org BEFORE shipping. We can generate a shipping label for you and email it to you to print and stick on your package.
If you have any other questions or comments, please contact Dr. Maurice Pitesky at the UCD SVM Cooperative Extension at email@example.com or 530-219-1407.
*UCCE Sonoma County office hours: M-F 8am-Noon, 1pm-4pm.
Packing eggs for shipping
Eggs are mailable in domestic mail subject to the following general conditions:
- They are individually cushioned.
- They are otherwise packed to withstand shocks encountered during normal Postal Service handling.
When you're shipping eggs, the USPS asks that you individually cushion each egg. Use bubble wrap to avoid breakage and shock-proof packaging material such as shredded paper to cushion the individually bubble-wrapped eggs. Pack your individual eggs closely but not too tightly.
See Free USPS Supplies for boxes./h2>/h2>