- Author: Jutta Thoerner
- Editor: Noni Todd
By Jutta Thoerner UCCE Master Gardener
I moved to a rural area this year so we can have a big vegetable garden, but I am ready to give up! Everything I planted has been eaten or destroyed. Travis, Paso Robles.
Keeping your vegetables, flowers or other perennials safe from vertebrates, large or small, can be a challenge. Exclusion in the form of a fence is a great way to keep animals like deer, pigs, and rabbits at bay. The fence should be up to 12 feet tall, “non-climb” wire with the bottom partly buried so animals cannot dig under. If a permanent fence is not possible, protect areas that are animal favorites; for example, rose bushes. These areas can be fenced in with a few bamboo stakes and chicken wire. Another option often seen with sheep and poultry are electric woven fences which you can move around your property as needed (great for raccoons and possums).
Four-legged or feathered thieves can threaten fruit trees once fruit has set, but inexpensive netting can save your harvest. If you are establishing a new perennial garden, protect young plantings for 1 to 2 years with fencing or netting.
Gophers and squirrels are challenging burrowing animals. Trapping is a good way to gradually rid your property of these vertebrates. If gophers are abundant, plant veggies in raised beds lined with gopher wire and use gopher baskets when planting perennials and trees. Squirrels are attracted to brush and rocks piles, so begin by eliminating these nesting sites. Enlist the help of natural predators by establishing owl and raptor boxes. These projects are perfect for the fall and winter months, so come springtime, the only one enjoying the fruits of your labor will be you and yours!
To learn more about protecting your garden from vertebrate pests, please join us at the UCCE Master Gardener Advice to Grow By workshop on Saturday, June 15, in our demonstration garden at 2156 Sierra Way, San Luis Obispo, 10:00 am to noon. If inclement weather, it will be moved to the auditorium. Garden docents will be available after the workshop until 1:00 p.m./span>
- Author: Polly Nelson
- Editor: Noni Todd
By Polly Nelson UCCE Master Gardener
California Fuchsia (Zauschneria, or Epilobium canum)
Planting Zone: Sunset 2-11, 14-24; USDA 7-10
Size: 0.5-4 feet, depending on cultivar; equal width
Bloom season: Late summer to fall
Exposure: Full sun to part shade
Pruning needs: Prune established plants to the ground after fall bloom, lightly prune tips in spring to encourage bushy growth.
Water needs: Low once established, but some varieties bloom better with occasional summer water.
Narrative: California fuchsias offer a punch of color and nectar for hummingbirds in the hot days of late summer and fall. Blooms are tubular in shape, just right for hummingbirds, and generally are scarlet to orange but some varieties have pink or white blossoms. This shrubby perennial has lance-shaped, 0.5-1.5 inch gray-green leaves. It is not picky about soil and tolerates containers and areas with little irrigation.
For new plantings, dig a hole one inch less than the depth of the container and two times the width; fill with water and it let soak in. Center the root ball, back-fill halfway with native soil and water, finish back-filling and build a basin to prevent run off. Water well. Irrigate well for the first year until it is established.
Propagated with seeds, stem cuttings, or divided plants. Sow seeds in good potting mix, barely covered, and keep moist until germination. Stem cuttings may be taken any time. Choose an area near the growing tip with several leaves included. Divisions should be made in fall or winter, after bloom is completed. Separate several stems with roots and rhizomes attached; water well in the new locations. Continuously remove seedlings and young shoots you don't want, as some varieties can grow aggressively and crowd other plants in the area.
California fuchsia pairs well with native grasses, sedges, milkweed and native sages. Look to California fuchsia to line a path, spill over a wall or join your native garden for a splash of color.
- Author: Leslie E. Stevens
- Editor: Noni Todd
By Leslie E. Stevens UCCE Master Gardener
PERENNIAL PINCUSHION FLOWER
Planting Zone: Sunset zones 1 – 10, 14 – 24
Size: 1-1/2 – 2-1/2 feet high, 1 – 2 feet wide
Exposure: full sun except in hottest areas where it needs partial shade
Bloom season: spring through fall
Pruning needs: deadhead spent flowers to encourage more blooms
Water needs: moderate water once established
Snapshot: These cheery bloomers earn their common name from the tiny stamens that stick up from the flower's round center, mimicking a pincushion. They are available in shades of blue, lavender, pink or white flowers making them a valued addition to perennial beds.
The clumping perennial features lance-shaped grayish-green foliage supporting long-stemmed blooms that wave in the breeze and add movement to the garden. They also make excellent cut flowers.
Scabiosa prefers good drainage and is subject to rot in water-logged soils especially in winter. Otherwise, it is an easy-care plant with few disease or pest problems. It requires little if any fertilizer under normal growing conditions.
The plant spreads slowly over time, rewarding the patient gardener with a bounty of new offshoots. Regular deadheading assures a long boom season. Thin plants every three-to-four years to avoid overcrowding.
Scabiosa grows easily from seed and also is normally available as small container plants at local nurseries during the growing season. It is particularly well-suited to San Luis Obispo County's milder summer climate areas.
An added bonus—butterflies love them!
- Author: Maria Murrietta
Applications are now being accepted for the 2020 UC Master Gardener training class.
The training class teaches research-based sustainable landscape practices. Certified Master Gardeners then extend that knowledge to residents of SLO County through workshops, newspaper articles, garden helplines, social media and other outreach efforts.
Topics covered during the training include botany, soils, entomology, irrigation, propagation, and more. The training classes are taught by subject matter experts and academics from the University of California and Cal Poly.
UC Master Gardeners are making a difference in our community.
Here's what we accomplished in 2018.
- Water Conservation:
Workshop attendees have improved their home drip irrigation systems, learned how to use their irrigation timers and have decreased the amount turf area in their yards.
- Pest Management:
Attendees reported an improvement in their pest monitoring activities and have reduced the amount of pesticides they use in the garden.
- Right Plant, Right Place:
Attendees have also improved their plant selection practices. Selecting the right plant for the right place reduces the amount of inputs needed, such as your time and money, for plants to thrive.
Additional benefits reported include an increase in edible gardening, increased donations to the local food bank, and more time spent gardening and outdoors in general.
Apply today to become a UC Master Gardener and join us in teaching best practices to home gardeners.
Being good stewards of managed and natural landscapes helps to protect natural resources for all.
Is the UC Master Gardener Program right for you?
- Author: Linda Lewis Griffith
- Editor: Noni Todd
by Linda Lewis Griffith UCCE Master Gardener
Common Name: California Narrowleaf Milkweed and Mexican Whorled Milkweed
Planting Zone: USDA 7-10
Size: 3-5 feet tall, with narrow 5-inch long leaves and 5-inch white or lavender flower clusters
Bloom Season: Summer
Exposure: Full sun. Produces fewer flowers if planted in the shade.
Pruning Needs: None
Water Needs: Drought tolerant once established. Able to survive in clay soils and seasonal floodplains.
Narrative: Milkweed is a native perennial that ranges from Southeast Washington and Idaho, through California, Oregon, Nevada and into Baja California. It is found on dry ground and sunny areas in valleys and foothills. Milkweed is deciduous and will die back in the winter. It is deer resistant and an excellent choice in bird and butterfly gardens, as well as native plant and drought tolerant gardens. It is crucial not to use any pesticide on or nearby this plant as doing so will be fatal to the insects it attracts.
Milkweed plays a crucial role in the life cycle of Monarch butterflies. Females lay their eggs on the underside of young healthy leaves. When the eggs hatch, larvae feed on the plants, generally eating them to the ground. It's advised to plants milkweed in clumps because, when caterpillars feel threatened, they “play possum” and drop to the ground. They may not be able to find their way back up the milkweed stems unless plants are densely packed.
Milkweed contains a white, gummy sap that is poisonous to livestock. The toxin, cardenolide, induces vomiting in low doses and death in larger amounts. As a result, milkweed was once classified as a noxious weed and efforts were taken to eradicate it. Cardenolide is the same chemical that makes the caterpillar's flesh distasteful to most animals. Monarch, Queen and Viceroy butterflies are all poisonous and have developed similar wing patterns that warn predators of their poisonous properties, hence protecting them from predation.
Milkweed is easily propagated by collecting seeds after the pods have ripened and sewing them directly into the ground in the fall./h1>/span>