- Author: Janet Hartin
Dear Community Members and UCCE Partners Throughout San Bernardino County,
I hope this finds all of you and your families well and staying healthy. Please note that, due to COVID-19 concerns, all UCCE San Bernardino County face-to-face program activities, classes, and other events scheduled through April 30, 2020 have been postponed, canceled, or converted to zoom meetings or other distance learning formats. However, our academics, program managers, and community educators remain on the job and available to assist you via phone and email. Volunteer Master Gardeners continue to address your home horticulture inquiries through their telephone (909)387-2182 and email helplines (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Thank you for your understanding and your flexibility as we continue to provide research-based information in new and novel formats during this difficult time. Follow us on twitter (@MGPSanBern and @UCANRJHartin) and visit our website http://cesanbernardino.ucanr.edu/ for more updates including our Fiscal Year 2019/2020 Annual Report.
Have you ever thought about the parallel between preventive health care for people and integrated pest management (IPM) for plants? Both implement specific measures that reduce the risk of exposure to disease-causing organisms. According to experts, implementing preventive measures such as ‘physical distancing' (I prefer that term over ‘social distancing'), washing our hands thoroughly and regularly, covering our mouths when we cough, not touching our face, etc. greatly reduce our chance of contracting COVID-19.
In the plant world, IPM practices and principles that promote healthy plants greatly reduce the chance of damage from diseases and other pests. With a little extra time on your hands, implement these IPM practices for a healthier garden and landscape: match plants to their preferred climates and microclimates; select disease resistant plant varieties; provide well drained, healthy soil amended with compost and other organic products when appropriate; apply the right amount of water and nutrients at the right time, etc.
A ‘silver lining' of adopting these practices is that the need for pesticides is greatly reduced which keep our waterways clean, and preserves (and even enhances) populations of beneficial microbes, pollinators and wildlife.
Here are some other ‘silver linings' that I want to share with you in hopes they will provide some inspiration for you to ‘landscape greener' during what I hope is some extra downtime.
• Fewer vehicles on the roads has temporarily improved our air quality. With some extra time on our hands, we can all contribute to a more permanent solution by planting a tree or two! Trees store carbon dioxide that reduces pollution, cool urban heat islands, provide shade, reduce interior energy use and costs, provide habitat, connect us with nature, and beautify our neighborhoods.
• Improve the health of your landscape trees by loosening tight tree stakes and ties and adjusting sprinklers to keep tree trunks dry. Your trees depend on you!
• Stay in touch with family, friends, and even co-workers at a distance via 'walking chats' that improve our physical health and even reduce stress by increasing the “feel good” hormone serotonin. Keep it up and it just might earn you a place in the “100 mile a month walking club.”
• With more time to catch up on reading, consider downloading free UC ANR publications such as: ‘Sustainable Landscaping in California' anrcatalog.ucanr.edu/pdf/8504.pdf that provides tips on water savings, use of soil amendments and mulch, reducing pesticide use, and more.
• More time on our hands provides an opportunity to stock our ‘little free library' with vegetable and flower seeds for our neighbors. Don't have an official ‘library'? Build your own ‘seed sharing box!' Or, donate seeds and plants to a local food bank or other non-profit.
I hope that you and your loved ones stay well and healthy! We will get through this together.