- Author: Leonard Cicerello
- Editor: Noni Todd
By Leonard Cicerello UCCE Master Gardener
I have lousy soil, but I want to learn how to garden. Deb, Los Osos
The UC Master Gardeners Advice to Grow By workshop this month will be outstanding for beginning and experienced gardeners. Master Gardeners will cover the preparation of your planting site, no matter what you intend to plant.
The workshop will begin by discussing soil types and the characteristics of different soils. Each type of soil influences irrigation differently. Your fertilizing regimen will also differ with each type of soil. Since the microorganisms in your soil are important, you will learn how you to encourage and maintain them.
Most soils can be improved with amendments. Amendments typically consist of organic matter that's mix into the soil periodically. Amendments help to distribute water more evenly, stimulate root growth, and add to the overall health of your plants. As the amendments break down, we replenish them.
The workshop will also discuss composting, one of the most satisfying tasks in the garden. Compost pile are composed of garden waste, kitchen waste, and a little soil and water. Compost piles can be stored on the ground, in a large bin, or in a plastic barrel. Add some water and turn the pile. Mix everything well to distribute the heat that is created. The heat breaks everything down to create the magic compost.
The third portion of the workshop will focus on fertilizing, which involves soil testing for nutrient deficiencies and PH. Participants will learn about different fertilizers, and how and when to fertilize.
To learn more about soils, composting, amending, and fertilizing, join us at the UC Master Gardener Advice to Grow By workshop on Saturday, October 19 at the Garden of the Seven Sister, at 2156 Sierra Way, San Luis Obispo, 10:00 am to noon. We will meet in the auditorium. Garden docents will be available after the workshop until 1:00 p.m.
- Author: Jutta Thoerner
- Editor: Noni Todd
Wild Mock Orange
By Jutta Thoerner UCCE Master Gardener
Size of Shrub: 1-3 feet high, growth habit like a Lilac bush.
USDA hardy zone: 5-10
Bloom description and season: white, 2 inch showy and abundant flowers in March- May. Fragrant orange scent.
Pruning needs: after flowering for shaping as desired.
Exposure: part sun to partial shade.
Water needs: drought tolerant, but watering produces more flowers
When we bought our neighbors property in the fall, much of the landscape was stressed. Come spring, we were surprised by the explosion of white fragrant flowers from the Wild Mock Orange that, with some irrigation, spread quickly in all directions. Today, it is one of the showiest shrubs I have ever owned. The Wild Mock Orange is native to the northwestern USA. It does well in central oakwood lands and in pine forests. The name comes from its resemblance to flowers of an orange tree and, of course, from the lovely orange scent. Butterflies will flock to the bush during flowering. It adapts well to gardens, it's drought tolerant and in the hotter inland areas, it likes part sun and part shade. In coastal areas, full sun is best.
This plant is a fast grower, up to 24” per year. Prevent an out of control look by cutting back branches after bloom approximately 1/3 to 2/3 and cut all dead branches to the ground. Another way to keep this plant in check is to restrict water. The amount of growth and flowers can be directly traced back to how much it's watered. There are many different Mock Orange cultivars. For zone 2-8, check with your local nursery if you want to try a different cultivar than the wild Mock Orange. This is a wonderful background shrub, has no affinity for diseases and will delight you with its early and lasting flowers.
- Author: Andrea Peck
- Editor: Noni Todd
By Andrea Peck UCCE Master Gardener
Common Name of Plant: Zebra Plant
Scientific Name: Haworthiopsis attenuata
Planting Area: USDA Zone 11
Size: Up to 6”
Bloom Season: Summer
Exposure: Indirect bright light.
Pruning Needs: Pruning is not necessary
Water Needs: Grown outdoors, water weekly. Grown indoors, water monthly.
Snapshot: With deep green triangular-shaped leaves, and striking white stripes, the diminutive zebra plant is an eye-catching succulent. Relaxed and easy to care for, it fits seamlessly into a modern style décor. It grows up to a manageable 6 inches tall and spreads by little clusters or rosettes that grow solidly from the main plant. These clusters can be plucked to grow a new plant or allowed to spread out in a mounding horizontal direction. In mild climates Haworthiopsis grows outside. It does not tolerate frost so in colder areas (below 40 degrees), it is best kept in a pot outdoors during the warmer seasons and brought indoors when temperatures dip. This is a low-maintenance plant but in hot weather, it needs irrigation weekly. Be careful, however, as overwatering can be the death of H. attenuata. Particularly, be mindful of water inside the leaves---this plant is prone to rot because excess moisture does not drain easily.
Grown indoors, the zebra plant adds a touch of simple drama and requires less watering. Haworthiopsis blooms during the summer months. Flowers are white and tubular, growing on a long inflorescence. Originating, like its namesake, from South Africa, the zebra plant is best grown in bright, but indirect light. In nature, it thrives under the shade of rocks or other protective objects. Hot, direct sun may scorch the leaves. H. attenuata grows best in a loose, quick-draining soil with a pH in the range of 6.6 -7.5. Place your zebra plant in an area with good air-circulation. Use cactus fertilizer during the summer months for best results. Repot during the spring or summer months. H. attenuata grows at a snail's pace but once this appealing plant reproduces, you'll want to pull off a few to propagate and give to your friends.
- Author: Carol Michael
- Editor: Noni Todd
The Dry Facts
By Carol Michael UCCE Master Food Preserver
I have a bounty of chili peppers in my garden this summer. Can I safely dry excess peppers for use this winter in soups and stews?Nell B, Atascadero
Your cupboards may already be bulging with jars of preserved pickles, fruit jam and jelly, and tomato sauce. Summer's bounty shows no sign of ceasing. Are you wondering what else can be done to preserve fall fruits; save an abundance of fresh herbs for winter use, or turn meat and fish into jerky?
Drying is one of the oldest methods of preserving food for later use. Drying food is simple, and easy to learn. Dried foods are ideal for backpacking, camping, traveling and just for snacking! They are lightweight, take up little space and do not require refrigeration.
Fruit can be dried for trail mix or used as a topping for yogurt and oatmeal; zucchini and carrots can be dehydrated for veggie chips; apples and pears can be turned into delicious fruit chips or leather. Dried tomatoes and chili peppers can be crushed to powder and added to soups, meats and ethnic dishes. Dried food can also be rehydrated and used as an ingredient in many different recipes.
Drying also known as dehydratingis a popular method of food preservation, but make sure you are using research tested techniques such as those found in the National Center for Home Food Preservation's website which is critical for safety when making jerky and will help you create a quality product. A fun way to increase your knowledge of dehydration is to take the upcoming class offered by the UCCE Master Food Preservers of San Luis Obispo County. Different types of dehydrators will be discussed and demonstrated as well as techniques and recipe sharing.
Dehydration: The Dry Facts will be held from10:00am-12:00pm Saturday September 28, 2019 at the UCCE Auditorium, 2156 Sierra Way, San Luis Obispo. There is a $10.00 fee. Pre-registration is required. Class size is limited. Registration: http://ucanr.edu/dryfacts
If you like to preserve food, are passionate about local produce, and enjoy teaching, then becoming a UC Master Food Preserver volunteermight be a great opportunity for you. The next training begins in March. Contact Dayna Ravalin at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.