Applications Now Being Accepted for the University of California Cooperative Extension Master Gardener Program “Trees for Tomorrow Start Today” Project.
University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) San Bernardino County is currently recruiting adults (18 and over) who are interested in becoming volunteers for our "Trees for Tomorrow" project. Complete training is provided online through a 50-hour Master Gardener training class taught by subject matter experts. Master Gardener volunteers will provide research-based information on the selection and care of heat, drought, and pest resistant trees and help our non-profit partners and community leaders enhance tree canopy cover in our most vulnerable neighborhoods. (To date, we are proud to have partnered with the Inland Empire Resource Conservation District, CA Climate Action Fellows and many non-profit organizations, communities, ESRI, and others to give away over 600 trees in the last year!)
Applications to become a UCCE Master Gardener volunteer for this project are open through August 31, 2022. UCCE Master Gardener “Trees for Tomorrow” Volunteer Application link: http://ucanr.edu/u.cfm?id=287
Questions about the application process or the volunteer opportunity? Contact UCCE Area Environmental Horticulturist Janet Hartin at email@example.com
Why volunteer for this project? We are facing unprecedented times due to climate change and urban heat islands increasing temperatures in our communities. One of the solutions to a "cooler, greener, tomorrow" is through tree planting and proper selection and long-term care of heat, drought, and pest resistant trees.
Why trees? Shade produced by a single tree can reduce surface temperatures of asphalt and other impervious surfaces by up to 65 degrees F. Trees also lower air temperatures; enhance pollinator and wildlife habitat; absorb pollutants; reduce energy use and related costs (homes, offices, vehicles); beautify neighborhoods; absorb and store carbon dioxide; and provide many other ecosystem and societal benefits.
You can make a difference like never before enhancing tree canopy cover in our neighborhoods. Do you want to learn more about what UCCE Master Gardeners do for San Bernardino County residents and communities, find out what upcoming events they are hosting, or have them answer your horticulture questions Here's your pot of gold: https://mgsb.ucanr.edu/
Why did you decide to apply to the UCCE Master Gardener program in San Bernardino County?
I decided to become a UCCE Master Gardener because I was interested in improving my knowledge in pesticide -free food production. I had been growing vegetables and fruit trees but a lot of experimentation and trial-and-error was involved. The UCCE Master Gardener program provides researched based gardening information and training that MGs can then share with diverse communities in a variety of settings.
Tell us about the “climate-ready” landscape tree mulch/no mulch research project you've led for the past several years.
As of February of 2019, I meet up with a group of several UCCE Master Gardeners to measure tree trunk circumference as part of a citizen-science project. The trees for this climate-ready tree study are located at the Chino Basin Water
Note from UCCE Lead Researcher Janet Hartin: Irene and her team (MGs Wayne Borders, Christian Ordaz, Roger Lai, Esther Martinez, Judy Scott, Debi Adams and Kit Leung) have played a critical role in identifying the impacts of mulch vs no mulch on drought, heat, and pest resistant trees that stand up to the challenges of climate change. Properly selected and cared for landscape trees cool urban heat islands, provide shade and habitat, and - at maturity - absorb and store carbon produced by the burning of fossil fuels. The four species of trees (‘Bubba' desert willow, ‘Maverick' mesquite, ‘Red Push' pistache, and ‘Desert Museum' palo verde) included in this project were selected from a larger project at UC Riverside due to our interest in determining the impacts of mulch on tree growth and development and water conservation due to less soil evaporation. Irene's team has meticulously taken quarterly data on tree circumference at two heights and photographed the trees throughout the project.This is just another example of how UCCE Master Gardeners help UCCE's mission to develop
I would tell a San Bernardino resident interested in becoming a MG to apply to the program. They will find that the decision to learn further about gardening and sustainable landscaping will not only enrich their own life but also that of those they share the information with. They will also likely make new friends with others who are also passionate about nature.
It's only right that our University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) San Bernardino County Master Gardener ‘Trees for Tomorrow' team of volunteers are our featured ‘Spotlight' Master Gardeners for September, 2021. They provided vital education to Redlands residents receiving gratis trees through a multi-partnership grant obtained by Inland Empire Resource Conservation District Manager Mandy Parkes.
It's an honor and privilege to recognize UCCE San Bernardino County Master Gardener Project Leader Debbie LeDoux and her dedicated team of 'Trees for Tomorrow' volunteers: Zhibo (Sandy) Anderson; Consuelo (Connie) Davis (pictured); Pam O'Connell; Gail Sefl; and Husam Yousef. These dedicated Master Gardeners were tasked with helping residents select, plant and care for drought, heat, and pest tolerant trees. (Species including Chilopsis linearis 'Bubba', and Pistacia x 'Red Push' were selected due to their excellent performance in our University of California/United States Forest Service research project as 'climate-ready' trees able to withstand harsh conditions related to our changing climate.) Working with a team of California Climate Action Corps volunteers, civic leaders, Common Vision Coalition, and other groups, nearly 100 trees were planted in yards and parks lacking the preferred 25% tree canopy cover.
Trees can cool urban heat islands by 50 degrees Fahrenheit or more during spring and summer, creating welcome oases in hot inland communities. With spring 2021 temperatures so high they broke previous records on multiple dates, the project is especially timely and necessary.
In addition to proper tree selection, trees require the right long-term care. Master Gardeners will continue to provide advice on irrigation, pruning, fertilizing and pest control to residents receiving trees long after the trees are planted. This is critical since an average urban tree lives less than 20% of its potential lifespan due largely to poor care. The long-term engagement of Master Gardeners with residents is as important as is selecting the right species.
UCCE Master Gardeners are all volunteers, giving of their time and talents to enhance the quality of life for individuals and families who call San Bernardino County their home. Each Master Gardener is required to complete a rigorous 18-week training class complete with exams, class projects, and lots of participation! Due to COVID-19, volunteers had to master key horticultural concepts during the first ever all on-line training class. Only recently have they been able to meet fellow Master Gardener graduates and, in some cases, the Redlands residents they mentored through the tree canopy enhancement project. They truly exemplify community spirit and all it takes to successfully work together under adverse conditions. Kudos to each and every one of you from Master Gardener Coordinator Maggie O'Neil and myself! You are creating a cooler, greener and healthier environment for our children's children.
I asked the honored Master Gardeners their thoughts on the project. Here's what they had to say:
“The Redlands tree canopy project was the best volunteer project ever. In the midst of Covid-19, horrific politics and way too many good byes, it was a truly joyous experience. The legacy of being a part of the group that promoted healthy sustainable trees, knowledge of how to plant and care for them, tips on maintaining their health and beauty was the absolute best. For me as a Master Gardener, it was so much fun. I loved the site walks and getting to help our participants select the perfect sustainable trees for their properties. What started as a one-on-one visit often expanded to an enlarged group of neighbors and extended family. I got to give out many handouts and publications and promote our excellent Master Gardener program. I got to share our helpline email and phone numbers. I love the fact that I have been asked to revisit sites to see how great they are doing (once to make sure the tree did not look funny!). I receive emails every now and then asking me questions and showing me pictures of "Our Trees.” So much fun, Janet. Thank you. By far the coolest project ever! Pam O'Connell
There are a few things that really made an impact on me.1) It was rewarding to attend the Zoom presentation you developed that provided education to various professionals on the importance of planting sustainable trees. I found it to be open and inclusive allowing for good interchange of ideas and concerns.2) There are many beautiful trees that are sustainable.3) Reaching out to the community to offer beautiful, sustainable trees was a worthwhile way to show how various organizations can work together to benefit the community while trying to improve our environment.4) When dealing with homeowners that belong to an HOA, additional time and communication may be needed to assist them in obtaining approval for trees from their HOA's. Connie Davis
"I see tree planting efforts similar to what a trend of the future is to combat climate change and increase awareness of the importance of trees and tree canopies in our neighborhoods. Not only that but I see this project expanded to other cities in the county of San Bernardino. The continuity of this project is so valuable so that we can see the positive impact on the environment and the well-being of San Bernardino residents in the coming decades. I see this important work being organized and well-coordinated by involving the appropriate stakeholders at all stages of the planning project. It is about time to give back what we have taken for tens of years!" Husam Yousef
It was rewarding to see local homeowners excited about planting trees and grateful for the program providing them. Gail Sefl
THANK YOU ALL! Janet Hartin and Maggie O'Neill
- Author: Margaret J O'Neill
When summer is here and the list of edible fruits and veggies that can be planted in Southern CA is at its shortest,
-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
-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
-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
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.
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.
Do you have Spring Fever? If you have adequate space, why not leave a legacy to your children's children by planting a tree? When the right species is planted in the right location with the right care, landscape trees can be enjoyed for 100 years or more. Landscape trees cool urban heat islands, absorb carbon dioxide, filter toxic chemicals from soil preventing them from polluting our waterways, reduce soil and water erosion, reduce internal energy needs and related costs, provide habitat, and beautify neighborhoods.
Spring is a much better times to plant a container landscape tree in California than is summer. Trees incur far less stress if they've been in the ground several weeks rather than having to immediately adapt to high summer temperatures. Cooler weather allows plants to establish roots in their new ‘home' before the harshness of summer sets in. (Deciduous bare-root fruit trees, on the other hand, should be planted during the winter when they are dormant.) Choose recommended species for your climate and micro-climate.
Choose trees based on your Sunset climate zone (more precise than USDA zones for California since they include impacts of high temperatures as well as low temperatures) and your microclimate (shade, soil conditions, space, etc.). Four of my favorite search engines that allow one to search by multiple criteria (size, water needs, flower color, ecosystem functions, pest susceptibility, etc.) are: Inland Valley Garden Planner: https://inlandvalleygardenplanner.org/; Cal Poly, Pomona: https://selectree.calpoly.edu;California Native Plant Society: http://www.cnps.org/cnps/grownative/lists.php; and WUCOLS IV (Water Use Classification of Landscape Species): http://ucanr.edu/sites/WUCOLS
Avoid circled, girdled roots. Remember to inspect the root system of container trees. Avoid purchasing specimens with severely circled and girdled roots. Root pruning will not solve the problem and the resulting tree is much more prone to failure later. This occurs because the upper portion of the tree continues to grow and expand while the root system lacks the breadth and architectural strength to support the tree. Many times a tree will look fine for several years and - seemingly - very suddenly topple in winds that otherwise it could sustain with a more adequate root system. Only when the tree falls does the owner actually notice firsthand that the root system is the same size it was when the tree was planted years before!
Check drainage before you plant. Dig a hole where you are planning on planting the tree, fill it with water, and make sure it completely drains within 24-hours. If it doesn't drain, don't plant a tree there. In some cases, trees are carefully selected based on species and location only to perish ten or more years later due to poor drainage and water-logged soil. Trees often die in these situations due to a lack of aeration setting them up for disease-causing fungal pathogens.
Planting the tree. Dig a hole at least 2-1/2 times the width of the container (in clay or compacted soils make the hole at least 4-5 times wider) up to two inches shallower than the depth of the tree in the container to compensate for settling. Use a shovel or trowel to roughen the soil on the sides of the hole to encourage root growth into the native soil. Remove the tree from the container along with any loose soil that covers the lower part of the trunk. Carefully place the tree in the planting hole, keeping the trunk flare (the area where the trunk widens and connects with the roots) 1-2 inches above the existing grade. Gently fill the hole with the same soil that was removed. Do not add soil amendments or compost, another common cause of circled and kinked roots.
Water the tree regularly until established (one or more seasons). Water immediately after planting making sure to moisten the entire root system and a few inches below it. Many recently planted trees die due to the common misconception that they require little or no water if they are native or low water using species! Recently transplanted trees have a small volume of roots that dry out very quickly. Water newly planted trees regularly through the first season. Trees in sandy soils require more frequent watering than do trees in heavier soils with appreciable clay content. Heavier soils absorb water slower but retain it longer and should be watered longer but less often. (After trees are fully established, irrigation frequency should be reduced but more water should be added during each irrigation.)
Avoid staking trees unless necessary. Stake trees only if they were staked at the nursery and/or if they are planted in a wind-prone area. Remember to loosen ties on nursery stock before they girdle the trunk. Gently secure any tree requiring staking with two opposing flexible ties on the lower half of the tree, allowing the tree to gently blow in the wind to encourage lower trunk strength. Avoids taking trees tightly, restricting flex. As the tree matures, remember to loosen ties and aim for removing stakes entirely if the tree is self-supporting.
Pruning. Avoid heavy pruning at the time of planting. Remove only broken branches, crossed branches and suckers at the base of the tree.
Fertilizing. Most trees have received adequate nutrition in the nursery and do not need fertilizer at the time of planting.
Mulching. Apply a 2-4 inch layer of mulch three or more inches away from the tree trunk. Organic mulches such as woodchips and compost should be applied and maintained at a depth of 3-4 inches to prevent weed seeds from sprouting. Inorganic mulches (gravel, pebbles, etc.) should be maintained at 2-3 inches. In fire-prone areas, organic mulches near the urban/forest interface should be avoided. Remember to irrigate below the mulch.
For more information on tree planting and care and all other home gardening and landscape topics, contact the UCCE San Bernardino County Master Gardener Helpline at firstname.lastname@example.org