- Author: Patty Smith
- Editor: Noni Todd
By Patty Smith UCCE Master Gardener
I purchased this iris a few years ago. Wow, has it been a pleasure—providing these enormous showy blooms for several seasons. Alas, the reliable iris has one drawback—it really needs to be divided periodically. Fall is here, the plant has just withered into dormancy, so now is the time.
Begin with a clean, sharp shovel. Move any groundcover away from the iris' tuberous “bulb” so that you can easily see it. The correct name for this plant's propagating part is rhizome. Plunge the shovel straight down, 6 to 12 inches away from the plant the rhizome's skin so it is not damaged. Because these grow at soil level, you won't need to go very deep before being able to lift the rhizome and the root ball.
After lifting the rhizomes, shake off any loose soil and rinse gently. This will let you see the plant clearly and inspect the roots for damage. Trim off any dead or damaged part with a clean, sharp tool and also trim the leaves, leaving about 6”. If any rhizomes are soft, discard those.
Now separate the individual rhizomes from one another. Typically they are only loosely attached to each other. Let the rhizomes dry out in a cool dark place, preferably in shavings to protect them. Once they're dry, find a new sunny spot where you'd like some color, and plant the iris at soil level, with the dry leaves sticking up and the top of the rhizome exposed to sun. Water well, wait, and reap rewards in a few months!
You can also read more about iris separating here:
- Author: Alissa Bright
- Editor: Noni Todd
By Alissa Bright UCCE Master Gardener
Planting Area: USDA zones 3-11, all Sunset zones
Size: 6-18” root with up to 12” tall, 8” wide leafy crowns
Bloom Season: Fall-Spring
Exposure: Full sun
Pruning needs: When seedlings are 1-2” high, thin carrot plants to stand 1” apart
Water Needs: Maintain even uniform moisture at 1” per week throughout growing period
Snapshot: Add color to your harvest & phytonutrients to your plate with nutrient-dense rainbow carrots. Selecting a rainbow variety seed packet over a run-of-the-mill orange carrot seed packet is an effortless upgrade to your garden, rewarding gardeners with slightly different nutritional benefits and subtly varied taste & sweetness in each color. While all carrots are rich in fiber, potassium, vitamin C, & vitamin K, each individual rainbow carrot color contains a bonus set of phytonutrients (antioxidants). Standard orange carrots offer a boost of alpha- and beta-carotene. “Cosmic purple” contain anthocyanins. “Solar yellow” offer lutein. “Atomic red” add lycopene. “Lunar white” contain phytochemicals; arguably the least nutritious but sweetest tasting of the rainbow bunch.
Carrots grow best in cool temperatures, which makes them an ideal fall & winter vegetable.
Prepare garden beds for carrots by loosening 18” of soil & removing any rocks that could disturb root growth. Sow seeds directly into the garden, as they do not transplant well, and add 1/2” of soil over seeds. Regular, shallow watering will keep your rainbow guests thriving, but be patient, as carrots are notoriously slow to germinate. It can take weeks for seedlings to appear.
As carrots mature, attentive gardeners can cover carrot “shoulders”, which push up through the soil, with mulch or soil to prevent greening (which can cause a bitter taste).
Harvest baby carrots 30 to 40 days after sowing, mature carrots 50 to 80 days after sowing. Pull one to check quality before harvesting the lot. To harvest, loosen the soil around the roots and pull by hand. Carrots can patiently wait in the ground up to an additional four weeks. Trim the green tops to store.
We are still here!!!
No in-person workshops for now, but you can view workshops on:
Instagram live at slo_mg or visit our You Tube channel
at “San Luis Obispo County UC Master Gardeners”.
Visit our website; https://ucanr.edu/sites/mgslo/
or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Our physical offices are closed, but you can still call or email questions:
San Luis Obispo 805-781-5939
Arroyo Grande 805-473-7190
- Author: Max Light-Pacheco
- Editor: Noni Todd
By Max Light-Pacheco UCCE Master Gardener
I want to provide an enticing refuge in my yard for wildlife. How can I make this happen? Anne L. San Luis Obispo
What a wonderful idea! In fact, if you want your garden to thrive, you will need a variety of bees, butterflies, birds and other vertebrates to help. It's truly a community effort. A wildlife habitat must include food, water, cover, and shelter for little critters. Such an environment will attract pollinators and other beneficials to your yard. This balance of plants and fauna can reduce the need for pesticides and other chemicals. Increasing the biodiversity will ring beauty into your space and have a community of helpers to help maintain your garden.
First choose plants that provide food and shelter and those that will best fit into your landscape. Native plant species that support wildlife are often energy and water efficient and, perhaps more importantly, create balance in nature as certain plants and animals have evolved together over the centuries.
Water is another requirement for wildlife. A birdbath or ground level water source is sufficient. Another option is to develop a water garden by diverting water into an area to create a wetland for wetland species.
Space is needed for courtship and mating, to bear and raise their young. They need protection from the elements and from predation. Diverse native plant communities provide varied sources of food, cover and space for mating and raising young. Dead trees, brush piles, fallen logs in your yard would closely mimic their natural habitat.
Purchasing prefabricated homes for wildlife is one option, but it's not the same as restoring native plant communities. Always research before you purchase. Any manmade structure will require maintenance.
For further information on creating a habitat for local wildlife, please watch UC Master Gardener's Advice To Grow By on Instagram Live on August 21 at noon. Master Gardener, Susie Silva, will discuss the benefits of using the garden to create a wildlife habitat. Her credo is to “Nurture the nature that we have in our own yards.” The National Wildlife Federation's Wildlife Habitat Certification program at www.nwf.org/garden-for-wildlife. walks you through the process for certifying your garden as a Wildlife Habitat./span>
- Author: Leslie Stevens
- Editor: Noni Todd
By Leslie Stevens UCCE Master Gardener
lanting areas: Sunset Zones 9, 15-24, H1
Size: 8-12 inches high with 2-to-3-foot long trailing stems
Bloom season: Spring through summer
Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
Pruning needs: shear to maintain shape, size and bushiness
Water needs: Relatively drought tolerant once established; requires well-drained soil to avoid rot.
If your garden could use a shot of color and a touch of whimsy, Parrot's Beak could be for you. This tropical perennial derives its common name from its abundance of flamboyant bird-beak shaped flowers in striking shades of yellow, orange and red.
This Canary Islands native thrives in our mild coastal climate zones where it enjoys full sun and nearly frost-free weather. It also prefers cooler nights that promote blooming. In colder winter areas, it can be grown as a summer annual.
Parrot's Beak's long stems covered in fine, silvery-gray leaves make an attractive ground cover. It's also very effective cascading down walls or over boulders. Or better yet, grow this bushy, exuberant bloomer in a large pot where it's sure to become a garden focal point.
This member of the Lotus family is relatively disease free and easy to grow in its proper climate. It will not tolerate water-saturated soils that can lead to root rot. Also monitor plants regularly for aphids, spider mites and mealy bugs. Wash off with strong water spray. If that doesn't work, apply horticultural oil or insecticidal soap.
Now, sit back and admire this handsome prolific bloomer!
- Author: Carol Michael
- Editor: Noni Todd
Preserve Your Tomatoes
By Carol Michael UCCE Master Food Preserver
Our tomato vines are heavy with fruit. We have plenty for sandwiches, salsa and salads.
Can you give suggestions to safely preserve them for winter? Jason R., San Luis Obispo
There are many methods to preserve tomatoes. There's drying, canning, freezing; relishes, plus sauces: catsup, chili, and pasta. The possibilities are endless.
Drying is the simplest and least expensive method of preservation. Drying removes moisture from the food, destroying microorganisms and preventing their growth. It extends shelf life by slowing down natural enzymes that make food soft, and mushy. Drying concentrates their flavor, adding richness to recipes, and it is a great method to preserve cherry, grape, or Roma tomatoes. There are many delicious ways to cook with them! Add to salads, soups, pastas, pizzas, frittatas, sandwiches, and biscuits. They make a quick snack. If you have a dehydrator, set to 140°F, and follow manufacturers' directions. Or use your oven to dehydrate tomatoes. This oven-dried tomato recipe is delicious and easy.
Oven Dried Tomatoes (adapted from www.thekitchn.com)
- cherry, grape, or plum tomatoes
- fine sea salt or seasoned salt
- option; Mediterranean herb mix
Instructions: Heat oven to 200°F or lowest setting. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Slice the tomatoes in half lengthwise. Place them cut-side-up on the baking sheet or a rack to help with the drying process.
- Lightly sprinkle tomato halves with salt, and dried herb mix, if desired.
- Bake for 3.5-4.5 hours, or until the tomatoes are dry, watching so they don't burn. You will know the tomatoes are dried sufficiently when they bend but not snap or break. There should be no sticky areas, and no moisture produced when bent.
- Remove from the oven, cool and store.*
*Place dried tomatoes into an airtight container and allow them to condition for several days at room temperature. Shake or stir daily to allow moisture from less dry pieces move to pieces which are drier. There should be no moisture buildup in the container. Return to the oven or dehydrator for further drying if needed.
Freezer Storage: Spread dried tomatoes in a layer on a parchment-covered baking sheet or plate. Then transfer to the freezer for at least 2 hours. Transfer tomatoes to a freezer-safe bag, squeeze out extra air, or use a freezer safe container. Freeze for up to 3 months.