- (Public Value) UCANR: Promoting healthy people and communities
- Author: Carmen Kappos
“Overwatering is the number one killer of houseplants,” says Mr. Ernesto Sandoval, Manager and Curator of the UC Davis Botanical Conservatory. Overwatering encourages disease, pests, and can smother roots that need oxygen. With overwatering, roots can die and rot.
When to water depends on many things: the type of plant, the amount of light, temperature, the potting mix. All these things have an effect on when the plant will need water. So how to tell when to water?
Here are some good tips on determining when to water your houseplants.
- Your finger is a really good moisture meter. Use your finger to check for moisture in the top 1” of potting mix.
- Leafy plants: let the potting mix start to dry until barely moist between watering.
- Succulents and stem succulents: the top 1” of potting mix should feel mostly dry between watering.
- Get familiar with how heavy the pot is right after watering, dry potting mix is much lighter in weight than when it is wet.
- Dry potting mix is also lighter in color than wet potting mix.
- Water so that some water drains out the hole in the bottom. This ensures that the water has gone into the entire pot and has reached the root zone.
- Do not let the pot sit in water, empty the saucer or tray after watering. Drained water contains salts and minerals that can be reabsorbed into the pot. This briny water is not good for the roots.
- Pots can be elevated with material like pebbles, in the tray, to keep the pot from touching drained water.
- Usually tap water is ok to use for most houseplants, however softened water contains salt that will quickly kill plants. Water with Boron should not be used on container plants.
- Water from wells may be ok to use, it depends on the amount of minerals dissolved in the well water.
- If there is a buildup of crusty minerals on the pot or potting mix, gently remove the crust and flush out the pot with clean water that does not have minerals, then let drain.
- Use a well-draining potting mix. Most commercial potting mixes hold too much water. Small pumice rock sold at plant nurseries can be added at half the total volume to improve drainage in potting mixes.
The UC Davis Conservatory houses over 3000 plants in more than 150 different plant families. Responsible for the care and development of the collection, with a degree in plant biology, Mr. Sandoval has watered and cares for many plants. In his video talk on houseplants Mr. Sandoval advises to err on the side of under watering. Check out his talk on houseplants at: https://youtu.be/n60Iia0XxUE
Bonus tips from the editor: If you're seeing lots of little gnats buzzing around the pot, you're probably keeping the plants too wet. Seeing lots of burned edges on leaves? Either you have accumulated salts or may be getting plants too dry between waterings.
- Author: Dustin Blakey
I was out last night above the river to take some pictures, and I noticed that as the sun went behind the mountains I was joined by some unwelcome visitors: mosquitoes.
I suspect they were males as I didn't end up with any bites, and they were mostly hovering above me. A few landed so I squished them. I don't know what kind they were other than "generic mosquito." I was in the same area last week and didn't encounter any, so I think it's just starting.
All this to say, it's probably worth thinking about taking typical mosquito precautions when recreating outdoors in the evening away from town. Here is some information about mosquitoes from UC IPM.
The Owens Valley Mosquito Abatement Program has a good page on Facebook that updates progress. You can like their page to keep informed. https://www.facebook.com/OVMAP/
- Author: Dustin Blakey
In times of crisis and stress people often try to help each other out by passing along information they have gathered. This is a commendable act, usually done with the best of intentions. But with the proliferation of information sources available to us now, it is easy to pass incorrect information.
Even if one's intentions are good, it is possible to do harm by spreading misinformation. Please do due diligence in checking any information you wish to share with others to ensure it is accurate and up-to-date. Some of the information being spread online now is not only ineffective, it can be dangerous. (Do not consume bleach!)
These are some reliable sources of information about the COVID-19 virus.
- CDC's COVID-19 Main Page: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/index.html
- California Dept. of Public Health (CDPH): https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/Pages/Immunization/ncov2019.aspx
- CDPH Press Releases: https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/OPA/Pages/New-Release-2020.aspx
- Travel Guidance from CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html
- Social Distancing: https://hub.jhu.edu/2020/03/13/what-is-social-distancing/
- COVID-19 Tracking Map (Johns Hopkins): https://www.arcgis.com/apps/opsdashboard/index.html#/bda7594740fd40299423467b48e9ecf6
- Inyo County Public Health Dept: https://www.inyocounty.us/services/health-human-services/public-health-and-prevention-division
- Mono County Public Health Dept: https://monocovid19-monomammoth.hub.arcgis.com/
If you see a post on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or email that sounds especially intriguing, perhaps it's different than what you've been hearing, I recommend checking with the website snopes.com to see if it is a hoax. It's not infallible, but is a good test for hoaxes. An easy way to to this is to type part of the title or text of the post into Google and add the word snopes.com at the end.
Don't forget that gardening can be a relaxing way to enact social distancing!/h3>
- Author: Bobbie Stryffeler
Have you read “The Princess and the Pea” written by Hans Christian Anderson? If so, you know from the story only a princess would be so sensitive as to feel a pea under twenty mattresses and twenty eider-down beds.
A pea was used to determine if the young lady who claimed to be a princess was actually so. Most likely the princess was tested against an early heirloom pea that was cultivated for dry seed, much smaller than today's modern garden varieties.
Throughout time humans have enjoyed peas. Primitive garden peas have been found in excavations dating back to the Stone Age and to ancient Troy. They were grown for cereals, porridge, and eventually became a delicacy of the aristocracy. In 1696 Madame de Maintenon described the pleasures of peas, “the subject of peas, continues to absorb all others, the anxiety to eat them, and the desire to eat them again, are the three great matters which have been discussed by our Princes for four days past…It is a fashion and madness.”
It wasn't until the 18th Century that commoners like you and me were allowed to enjoy luscious, green peas.
One of my favorite vegetables included in cool-season crops is the garden pea. This is how I approach the art of growing and savoring peas.
Like other cool season vegetables, peas prefer cooler soil temperatures to germinate, and they sweeten best in cooler air temperatures. Peas can tolerate frost and are actually less sensitive to freezing in spring.
A proper planting of peas begins in a sunny location with well-drained soil that has a pH of 5.8 to 7 which is common in Bishop but can be challenging for some of our outlying areas. The soil should be workable, tilled to about 8 inches. Avoid soggy compacted soil as this may be a sign to wait longer to sow seeds. Fertility needs for peas are low and excess nitrogen will only encourage more foliage and fewer blossoms.
It is a gamble to predict exactly when to plant peas in our variable climate. This year February is bringing dry weather with cold to freezing night time temperatures. I seeded one small crop of peas on January 11 when the soil was workable. I will sow another crop this February, and most likely, another in March with hopes that all or some will provide a harvest.
If you plant peas each year, it is a good idea to rotate locations in the garden. Peas and other legumes grow in a symbiotic relationship with soil dwelling bacteria, enhancing soil fertility by a nitrogen fixation process. This basically means last year's pea garden site will be a great spot to plant something else. Proof this occurs is in the nitrogen-containing nodules found attached to the roots once the harvest is over.
Germination occurs in soil temperatures as low as 40 degrees to approximately 60 degrees. Naturally germination on the low end will be slower. Days to maturity vary from 58 days to 70 days, and as I mentioned before, I will have three plantings, which include at least three varieties of peas.
I typically plant along a five-foot-tall trellis a couple of the taller varieties. This year will include British Wonder, Sugar Daddy, Burpeeana Early, and whatever else I find. If you're short on space the smaller bush varieties are just as tasty, and they don't need trellising.
Birds and squirrels love pea sprouts so beware! Netting or row cover helps prevent their pesky snacking. One spring I forgot that I wasn't the only princess who favored peas, in just one day a whole bed of sprouts were cleaned off.
The sweet flavor of peas is best if they are consumed soon after harvest.
A few years ago a friend presented me with a lovely bouquet of pea tendrils, I was hesitant but found they added a delightful crunchy sweetness to tossed salads. Needless to say, I now plant extra peas just for the tendrils. I've read that the Sugar Magnolia variety produces tall, eight foot plants and clusters of messy tendrils.
In 2020 we commoners are privileged to plant and savor fresh peas as we choose. I promise nothing you buy at the market will compare with home-grown!
- Author: Alison Collin
Recently gardeners have become more aware of the importance of gardening sustainably, but while they might enthusiastically nurture worm bins under the kitchen sink, learn about the benefits of mulching, measure their greens and browns carefully when creating their compost piles and shy away from using peat moss, often scant attention is paid to other aspects of caring for our soils and the planet.
About to plant some seeds indoors I went to my stash of cell packs, carefully saved from previous plant purchases, only to find that they had been subjected to a blast of desert sun and had all partially melted. They were so distorted that I could not re-use them, and since that particular plastic is not recyclable in our area they ended up in the landfill. When I finally got my seeds planted and watered, I then discovered that the plastic seed tray leaked from a split in one corner.
Large sheets of plastic that I had used to solarize some newly landscaped plots were completely rotted by the ultra violet light disintegrating into messy shreds, and what does one do with drip irrigation tubing with clogged emitters? Although I can perhaps find a use for a few feet of it, the rest has to go to the dump. And then of course I will have to buy more in order to grow my vegetables.
As I tidy my garden ready for spring I find pieces of old green plastic ties (they always seem so much kinder to soft stemmed tomatoes than string), a plastic watering can displaying torn holes in the top, an empty plastic sack that held commercial compost, and an old plastic tarp that had at one time covered my compost heap but which now has more holes than threads per square inch. There is insect netting that had disintegrated in the sun after just two years use, some white plastic storage buckets that likewise fell apart and numerous plant labels, their alluring colored pictures still visible – epitaphs for treasures now in plant heaven. And so it goes on.
We are constantly being exhorted that as modern scientific gardeners we should get away from the temptation of gardening like our grandparents. However, my grandfather had no plastic products that I can remember and yet had a model market garden with prodigious amounts of beautiful quality fruits and vegetables of all sorts.
My grandfather's seed trays were made from thin wood, and instead of plastic shade cloth he used wooden lathe, his raised beds were built of concrete blocks and were covered with large, glass Dutch lights in a wooden frame. Hoses were made of rubber, watering cans, pails and spraying devices were galvanized metal, and plant pots including enormous rhubarb forcing pots were terracotta. He had only one arm so his main method of transport was a pony and cart. The rotted stable manure mulched and fed anything that grew. The garden was bordered by a thick hawthorn and blackthorn hedge which provided numerous nesting sites for insect eating birds which acted as the main form of pest control. I think that he could have taught modern horticulturists a thing or two about sustainability.
I do appreciate the lightness of plastic as opposed to metal, but I think that with some thought and planning I should be able to reduce my use of plastic in the garden quite significantly.
Are you ready to join me?