- Author: Melissa G. Womack
If you have seen a butterfly native to Orange County fluttering its wings along a flowerbed searching for nectar, chances are the same species has been found in the garden of UC Master Gardener volunteer Heather Hafner. But that wasn't always the case. For more than two decades, Hafner played professional volleyball on the sunny beaches of Southern California. If it wasn't for a related sports injury, she might have never been introduced to the adventure of attracting butterflies and pollinators into her garden.
While recovering from surgery, Hafner decided to refresh her landscape and visited a local nursery. Slowly shuffling down the aisle and waiting for help she overhead an employee at the nursery showing a customer a monarch egg on the underside of a leaf. Captivated by the possibility of taking home a butterfly for her garden, she optimistically purchased the plant with a monarch egg and patiently waited.
After learning about the many challenges monarchs face to survive, Hafner quickly began to explore how to support monarchs and other butterflies in her garden. She watched videos, read books, and attended workshops and events with the UC Master Gardener Program of Orange County. Hafner was determined to learn everything she could about what butterflies are native to her area and how to build a habitat to support them. Then she got to work. Her goal is now to provide a larval host plant for as many local butterflies as possible.
Her small garden in Irvine, Calif., offers a food source for more than 30 kinds of butterflies. "If I can't eat it, or it's not food for a butterfly – then it doesn't go into my garden," says Hafner, "For me to give up real estate in my garden, I want to know that it is serving a purpose and supporting local butterflies and other pollinators."
She has planted many host plants and trees for almost every type of butterfly found in Orange County. Some of her plants include pipevine, passionvine, hollyleaf cherry, fennel, rue, popcorn cassia, figwort, monkeyflower, Snapdragon, lupin, licorice, California lilac, penstemon, puellia, California buckwheat, bladderpod, and deerweed. She specializes in milkweed (Asclepias) and propagates 12 kinds from seed with differing soil, soil temperature, stratification, and watering requirements. Like any gardening journey, it has been a series of wins and losses.
Her passion for butterflies brought her to the UC Master Gardener Program in search of native plant propagation techniques. Still, she also knew she wanted to make a larger impact in her community and encourage others to help build pollinator habitat in their landscapes. Hafner was accepted into the UC Master Gardener Program of Orange County and completed her training in 2019.
As a UC Master Gardener volunteer, Hafner first focused a large part of her volunteer efforts on the propagation, orchard and youth garden teams. Today, she serves as the co-lead of the youth demonstration garden at the South Coast Research and Extension Center (REC), where they are installing a monarch conservation exhibit with the three native milkweeds and some non-natives to show how non-natives can be responsibly used (cut them back when natives go dormant). Her goal is to help conserve the Western monarch butterfly, which is dwindling in numbers.
She quickly fell in love with the beauty of a diversified garden. "I love monarchs … but my garden wouldn't be the same without the diversity of the other butterflies and pollinators," says Hafner. While not all butterflies arrive at the same time, they are all welcome in her garden.
For the past year, Hafner has expanded her volunteer efforts and used skills from her professional career as a teambuilding facilitator to help improve the diversity of the Orange County program's volunteers. Being a trained facilitator helped her recognize who was missing or underrepresented in the program, which is primarily white and female. She ran a comprehensive outreach campaign to help recruit new volunteers that included geographical, ethnic, economic and chronological age diversity. She called newspapers and community centers in the corners of Orange County to recruit volunteers who were more representative of the people the county serves. Her recruiting efforts and strategy resulted in the county's largest and most inclusive class (58 trainees).
Hafner was most proud of the fact that the program in Orange County now has members who speak 10 languages: Vietnamese, Mandarin, Korean, Spanish, Urdu/Hindi, Portuguese, German, French, Italian and Farsi. These new UC Master Gardener volunteers will create presentations in their native language for outreach into their communities. "I think it's important that UC Master Gardener volunteers represent the community we live in," says Hafner, "and I think this year we delivered on that."
The UC Master Gardener Program is proud to recognize Heather Hafner as a 2021 Gardener with Heart for the impact her volunteer work is making in her community. "Without Heather's incredible contribution, our first virtual UC Master Gardener training class simply could not have happened," says program coordinator Randy Musser, "and our program in the future will benefit greatly because of its new, more diverse members."
Gardeners with Heart are nominated by local county leadership for their stewardship of the UC Master Gardener Program during the pandemic period, their diversity equity and inclusion leadership, and their digital superstardom.
- Author: Karey Windbiel-Rojas
- Author: Belinda J. Messenger-Sikes
Instructions for making homemade mixtures to control pests are easy to find online and in social media, and it's tempting to make your own home remedy when pests invade. Doing so may seem like a natural, organic, and non-chemical solution, but did you know that what you are mixing is considered a pesticide? A pesticide is any mixture used to kill, destroy, repel, or mitigate a pest.
Pesticide mixtures of household ingredients like dish soap, garlic, and vinegar (Figure 1) may seem harmless and safer than storebought formulated pesticides, but they can actually pose unrealized risks.
What is the Concern with Homemade Pesticides?
While ingredients in home remedies are items we might eat or use in the kitchen, the mixture of them is not tested for
For example, some online sources describe making a homemade insecticide from the tobacco leaves found in cigarettes and tout it as “natural” or “organic.” While cigarettes are readily available for purchase, the resulting concoction (a pesticide) made from tobacco is extremely concentrated and highly poisonous to humans and pets. There are many additives used in producing products such as cigarettes, soaps, or detergents and these ingredients are not always known to the consumer.
Another concern is the potential hazard created during the mixing and making of home remedies. Even while natural, some ingredients become more toxic during the process of cooking the mixture, which may concentrate the ingredients and increase risks of harmful health side effects due to inhalation of fumes or contact with skin.
No Instructions for Use
Commercially available pesticides (Figure 2) are required by law to have a label with instructions on use, mixing, storage, and first aid. Home remedies don't have instructions for specific dilution or use rates, nor do they identify how often mixtures should be applied. Home remedies also contain no guidance about wearing protective equipment like gloves or how to properly store the mixture.
Homemade mixtures are stored in containers that are either not labeled with what's inside or lack the required label information registered pesticides contain. Each year, poison control centers report poisonings of children and adults from drinking pesticides that have been stored in food or drink containers. Without a label and knowledge of how a mixture can affect people when exposed, first aid information isn't available. To prevent accidental poisoning, pesticides should never be mixed or stored in food or drink containers even if the container is marked.
Are home remedies effective?
Because homemade pesticides vary greatly in their makeup and are not tested through rigorous research studies, there is no data to support whether they consistently control targeted pests. Unlike commercial pesticides that must show their efficacy data before being registered, homemade remedies lack scientific studies to show that they are effective.
Applying ineffective homemade pesticides can make pest problems worse, may not control the pest, could be harmful to the plant, or contaminate waterways. In addition, a homemade pesticide sprayed in the garden may kill the “good bugs” as well as the targeted pest insects. Many commercial pesticides are formulated to work only on specific pests or groups of pests.
Many home remedies specify using dish soap mixed with other ingredients to kill insects, plant diseases, or weeds. Dish soap, which is a powerful detergent, can injure desirable plants by stripping the waxy layer off the leaves. Commercially available insecticidal, fungicidal, and herbicidal soaps, which are registered pesticides, are highly effective against the targeted pest and will not damage plants when used correctly. These products cannot be made at home with common household ingredients.
Are home remedies legal?
The U.S. Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) covers the use of homemade pesticides. According to FIFRA, in order to legally apply a material as a pesticide it must be either registered with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) or be exempt from registration. There is a list of active ingredients (the part of a pesticide that affects the pest) that can be used in pesticide products without requiring registration; these are called minimum risk or 25(b) products) The active ingredient list allows the use of single chemicals, like sodium lauryl sulfate (found in soap), as unregistered pesticides, but does not include commercial products like dish soap that may contain other ingredients, such as viscosity modifiers, preservatives, and pH adjusters.
Alternatives to pesticides
Many pests in the home and garden can be managed without pesticides. In a garden, grow plants suited to the environment and keep them healthy with proper irrigation and fertilization. Weeds can be controlled by hand-pulling, mulching, or weeding tools. For more information, see the UC IPM Home and Garden pages.
- Author: Marisa Coyne
It's reappointment time for the UC Master Gardener Program! Before the reappointment process begins we would like to say thank you. Our dedicated volunteers are the heart of the UC Master Gardener Program. You make our program impact possible. We hope you'll join us for another year of extending research-based home horticulture, pest management, and sustainable landscape information to Californians.
Despite significant challenges brought on by COVID-19, the UC Master Gardener Program continued to support its communities. Thanks to the efforts of UC Master Gardener Program volunteers:
- Orange County improved recruitment efforts resulting in the largest trainee class in its county history – led by Gardener with Heart, Heather Hafner.
- Los Angeles County improved farmer's market and public event outreach to Cantonese and Mandarin-speaking Angelenos – led by Gardener with Heart, Jennifer Kwoon.
- Solano County strengthened a relationship with a local resource conservation district and nature center, encouraging residents to move their bodies during the shelter-in-place period – led by Gardener with Heart, Tina Paris.
UC Master Gardener Program volunteers can build on their excellent work during the 2020-21 program year by reappointing for 2021-22. Annual reappointment is required for all volunteers working with UC Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR). Please read this update thoroughly and direct any questions regarding the reappointment process to your program coordinator, advisor, or county director. Reappointment takes place from June 1 through July 31. The process for reappointment can be done in 4 easy steps!
Step One: Select "Please Complete!" in VMS
• Log into VMS, https://vms-mg.ucanr.edu
• Select "Please Complete!" under "Reappointment" in right column of your VMS home screen
Once you complete reappointment, the reappointment window will no longer appear on your VMS screen.
Step Four: Submit Insurance Fee (if required in your county)The UC Master Gardener Program requires a $6.00 fee to cover accident and injury insurance. This fee is collected locally by county personnel, paid for by county fundraising, or combined with a county membership fee. All active, limited-active volunteers should contact their local UC Cooperative Extension program coordinator, advisor or county director for more information about local county requirements and, if required, how to submit payment.
Reappointment Tips and FAQs: Below please find a few examples of commonly asked reappointment questions. Learn more by reviewing the 'Step-by-Step Guide to Completing Reappointment (for Volunteers).'
Q1: Who must complete the reappointment process?
The reappointment process is mandatory for all UC Master Gardeners with the following status and achievement including:
Active AND Limited Active
- First Year Master Gardener
- Master Gardener
- Gold Badge
- Platinum Badge
Q2: I did not complete my minimum required volunteer and continuing education hours during the 2020-21 program year. Am I still eligible for reappointment?
Volunteers always have the option of reappointing even if they have not completed the mandatory minimum volunteer and continuing education hours. Individual circumstances may vary. Read through the options below and connect with local UC Master Gardener Program personnel to determine which action is most appropriate for your situation:
- Volunteers may select the "Not Completed Hours, Seeking Reappointment" option when completing their reappointment process. These volunteers work with their coordinators to makeup hours, as appropriate during the subsequent program year.
- COVID-19 continues to have an impact on planned activities across the state. As a result, the UC Master Gardener Program created some hours flexibility for the 2020-2021 program year. Because COVID-19 affected programs differently at the local level, use of the hour flexibility is at the discretion of the local program. Volunteers should contact their county personnel to learn more.
- Finally, some volunteers may be experiencing barriers to participation that will not immediately resolve. These volunteers will select the "Seeking Limited Active status" option when completing their reappointment process. Limited Active volunteers must complete reappointment (including submission of their insurance fee), but are not required to complete hours during their Limited Active year. Per 2021 statewide guidance, reappointment to limited active status may exceed one year with no expectation of 'making up' hours once back on active status.
Q3: How many hours do I need to volunteer for reappointment?
The minimum hours required to remain an active UC Master Gardener volunteer are:
• 25 hours - Volunteer
• 12 hours - Continuing education
Note: First-year UC Master Gardener volunteers are required to complete a minimum of 50 volunteer hours (with no continuing education requirement) during their first full year as UC Master Gardener Program volunteers. The expected completion date for these initial hours may have shifted due to COVID-19. Volunteers should contact their county personnel to learn more.
Please contact your local UC Cooperative Extension program coordinator, advisor or county director for more information about hours flexibility being offering for the 2021-21 program year.
Q4: What is the date range for calculating hours for reappointment?
Hours should be reported for the period of July 1, 2020 - June 30, 2021.
Q5: Where do I send my payment?
Please check with your local UC Cooperative Extension program coordinator, advisor or county director about where and how to submit payment. The statewide office does not collect fees or payments directly from volunteers for reappointment.
Tulare and Kings Counties
Aliya Bayless is originally from Baku the capital city of Azerbaijan, located along the Caspian Sea, but has been a resident of Visalia, Calif. since 2006. Aliya grew up in the city, but learned to love plants (mostly house plants) from family members including her grandmother, father and aunt. When she was an adult, her dad finally bought a piece of land that he had dreamt of for many years. It was on this new property that he started his own garden with a lot of fruit trees and berries. Aliya helped him as much as she could, but like many gardeners, her main job was pulling weeds.
Aliya joined the UC Master Gardener Program in 2016 when she decided to start her own garden and, in her words, “didn't know anything about gardening.”
“Since then I've learned a lot of about gardening, met amazing people and enjoyed every minute of volunteering. I'm very excited to start my new journey as a program coordinator and hope that I will be able to help with the program and future projects,” says Aliya. Aliya will be located at the UC Cooperative Extension office in Tulare County, please join us in offering a huge warm welcome to Aliya!
Sutter and Yuba Counties
Julie Bowen was borne in Topeka, Kansas to a U.S. Air Force Serviceman, so she moved often and unfortunately did not garden until she was an adult. Julie fell in love with gardening when she purchased her first home with beautiful azaleas in Yuba City, Calif. She was able to make starts from the azaleas she loved and move them to her new property outside of Marysville. Julie now lives outside Marysville in an extremely small community of Hallwood.
“Once we moved to our five acres, from that moment, the love of gardening blossomed!” says Julie. On her property she has alpacas, a llama, miniature donkeys, her devote rottweiler, Ruger and a wonderful husband, Brock.
Julie retired from PG&E in 2015 after a 35-year career of educating customers on energy efficiency, agricultural pump-tester, senior customer outreach specialist and many other titles throughout the years. For the last six years of her career, she was on a special project for a new rate with developing communications, educating large commercial, industrial customers and PG&E account reps of a new electric rate. (Many customers were able to realize savings.)
In 2018, Julie's husband encouraged her to apply to be a UC Master Gardener in Sutter-Yuba after he saw an ad in their local newspaper. Julie was accepted to the UC Master Gardener Class of 2019. Julie accepted the Sutter-Yuba assistant program administrator role for 2019-20, and the program administrator role for 2020-21.
Julie is an eclectic gardener with azaleas, star magnolias, lilac, daffodils, tulips, iris and a family orchard with cherry trees, almond, peach, plum, fig, lemon, orange, apple and Fuyu persimmons. Last Spring, she built 11 raised beds with tomatoes, Armenian cucumbers, loofah, Japanese eggplant, basil, melons and over-producing artichokes. Please join us in offering a huge warm welcome to Julie!
UC ANR Staff and the APHM Planning Team, are hosting online educational programs and activities to celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Month throughout May. All events are open to all UC ANR employees and volunteers. 2021 UC ANR's Asian Pacific Heritage Month Meetings Registration link.
- The Asian Pacific Identity: Experiences and Stories
May 4, 3-4pm
- Asian Pacific Farmers in California: Past and Present
May 11, 3-4pm
- Violence in Asian Pacific Communities: Exclusion, Internment and Hate Crimes
May 18, 3-4pm
- Supporting Our Friends and Colleagues: Bystander Intervention Training by Hollaback!
May 25, 3-4pm
Florence Nishida "Growing Asian vegetables in Los Angeles"
The thriving business was lost when the family, along with 120,000 Japanese Americans, were interred during WWII. After their forced displacement, the family returned to Sacramento and re-established Oki Nursery, expanding the business to include ornamentals. Over the years, Oki Nursery employed thousands, teaching, encouraging, and supporting future generations of nursery professionals. In further support of the industry, the family-integrated technology into plant production, pioneered overhead irrigation, mechanized containerized nursery production, and more.
Additional readings and resources:
- A master gardener transforms a South L.A. food desert into an edible oasis (LA Times) Interview of Florence Nishida for the LA times about her passion for teaching her community the joys of gardening and growing edible plants and a co-founder of the LA Grounds demonstration garden. Florence has been a champion for food access and food security in Los Angeles.
- Oral History Interview with George Oki, Sr. created by the Florin Japanese American Citizens League and published as part of California Revealed from California State University, Sacramento. Also hosted by the University of California as part of Calisphere.
- Bok Choy Isn't ‘Exotic' (Eater.com) - "A young generation of Asian-American farmers is reclaiming Asian vegetables — and in the process, their own culinary heritage."
- How Asian Americans Use Kitchen Gardens To Reclaim Their Heritage (Huffpost.com) “Growing produce that's common in Asia has become a radical act of cultural preservation.”
- Peach Farmer's Daughter by Brenda Nakamoto, the story of a third-generation Japanese American woman growing up on her family farm in rural California. Available through book retailers and Amazon.com.
Are you a UC Master Gardener Program volunteer or a member of our community with a story to contribute to the Celebrating California Gardens blog series marking Black History Month, Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, Hispanic Heritage Month, and American Indian Heritage Month? Reach out to Melissa Womack, Statewide Marketing Coordinator, at email@example.com to share your idea!