- Author: Laura Lukes
Educating the public about the best gardening practices for our region is the primary mission of the UC Master Gardeners of Butte County. A terrific example of our educational outreach was on tap at the first offering of our Fall 2019 Public Workshop series. This 90-minute workshop focused on getting the most out of our Gardening Guide and Three-Year Garden Journal, a publication full of useful information, seasonal tips, and regional plant wisdom specific to Butte County.
Designed with journaling and record keeping in mind, the interactive part of the Guide follows the seasonal introductions. Each of the thirteen weeks of the season is given a two-page layout which features three lined columns, each to be headed by the month and year of use, and filled in by the user as they wish. On the left side of each two-page layout is a short, pertinent article. Helpful tips and items of interest appear on the lower right.
All-in-all this Gardening Guide is a handy resource for gardeners of all abilities and preferences. But lecturing about what's in the Guide is one thing – getting us into it hands-on is another, and as a good teacher, Hill knew how important it was to engage us in this educational material. To that end, she had prepared a series of garden-, plant-, and climate-related questions, each of which was printed out and pasted onto colored construction paper. Colors were coded by season, and workshop participants were grouped by season/color to locate the answer to each question within the Guide.
About two-thirds of the workshop participants had brought their own dog-eared (or hardly used) Garden Guides with them – the others were able to purchase them on site before we began. Within our groups, we began to leaf through our Guides – the cleverly formulated questions directed us variously to the table of contents, planting guides, pest tables, and task lists.
A former community college instructor myself, I valued group work as an educational tool, and learned to gauge the success of an exercise by the level of noisy interaction occurring in each group. Judging by that criterion, Hill's color-coded questions were a success – we were discovering, learning, and helping each other. Better yet, we were using the Guide as it was intended.
A second benefit of group work is when each team shares the outcome of its investigation. And here is where even more learning occurs – individuals share experiences and knowledge – all of us tapping into expertise that would not have been available in a traditional lecture-oriented class.
The Garden Guide and Three-Year Garden Journal is currently available in Chico at Magnolia Gift and Garden, the Patrick Ranch Gift Store, the Butte County Cooperative Extension Office in Oroville and all Master Gardener workshops.
To learn more about UC Butte County Master Gardeners and our upcoming workshops and events, and for help with gardening in our area, visit our website. If you have a gardening question or problem, call our Hotline at (530) 538-7201 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Butte County Master Gardeners, June 5, 2015
The guide also includes a garden journal organized from spring through winter with space to keep track of your own garden over three years. You may want to keep track here of new plants, bloom dates, frost dates, average temperatures, pests and beneficial insects observed, and other types of practical information. Keeping a journal from year to year encourages successful gardening: creating a history of plants and gardening practices that were successful encourages you to continue with them; while noting which ones did not work well prevents you from repeating those mistakes. The journal pages provide ample space for adding sketches or photographs of your garden areas over the course of the year, as well.
Each seasonal section in the Gardening Guide and Three-Year Garden Journal includes a list of produce harvested during that period, alongside a list of tasks and suggestions for garden preparation. Each month includes a specific list of gardening tasks and tips for planting, maintaining the garden, and dealing with garden and orchard pests and diseases. Each month also features a native plant that is at its best in terms of blooms or foliage at that time -- helpful for those who plan to add more native plants to their gardens.
The appendix section includes several useful charts and diagrams, including vegetable planting guides geared specifically for the Chico area and the foothills; detailed information on caring for fruit and nut trees in our area; varieties of fruit trees that are resistant or susceptible to disease; and illustrated charts of common garden pests and beneficial insects.
The idea for the Butte County Gardening Guide and Three-Year Garden Journal arose from our experience in producing a yearly garden calendar from 2011 - 2014. The calendars were popular and we had many repeat customers every year. But we learned that most customers did not actually use the calendars as calendars; instead they turned to the gardening information, keeping the calendars permanently for reference as part of their garden library.
This discovery led us to develop a garden guide worthy of a garden reference guide. We incorporated into it ample space for garden journaling, because we have found that our own gardens improve dramatically when we keep a garden journal. Our Gardening Guide and Three-Year Garden Journal is designed with spiral binding so it will lay flat and can easily be written in without breaking the binding.
The guide costs $25 (including tax) and will be sold at Master Gardener booths at farmers markets in the area and other public events where we have a booth; at all of our workshops or talks where selling is permitted; and at the Patrick Ranch Museum gift shop, right next to our Demonstration Gardens. For information on Butte County Master Gardener public talks and workshops, please see our website at ucanr.edu/sites/bcmg.
If you liked the Butte County Master Gardeners' calendars, you will love the new Gardening Guide and Three Year Garden Journal. It has been designed, written and edited by local Master Gardener volunteers, with multiple contributions by JosephConnell, FarmAdvisor Emeritus, Butte County Cooperative Extension. The guide features cover and full-page illustrations by local artist ChrisFicken and has been printed locally by Graphic Fox. Proceeds from the sale of this publication will support the Master Gardeners' Demonstration Gardens and public education programs.