- Author: Melissa G. Womack
Missy Gable, Director of the UC Master Gardener Program and horticulturalist, is hosting a monthly Q&A Facebook Live series to answer gardening questions and give seasonal gardening tips. Join us on Facebook Live for the very first episode scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 27 at 11 AM PST.
Facebook Live is an authentic and interactive way to interact with our audience in real time. It also allows the ability to build value, trust and raise brand awareness of the UC Master Gardener Program. Share the Facebook Live opportunity on your personal and local program pages and tune in to the UC Master Gardener Program Facebook Live broadcast! Let us know in the comments section what topics or questions you would like answered on Thursday or on future Facebook Live topics.
- Author: Melissa G. Womack
June 18 - 24, 2018 is National Pollinator Week! National Pollinator Week is a time to recognize and celebrate the importance of pollinators. Worldwide, approximately 1,000 plants grown for food, beverages, fibers, spices, and medicines need to be pollinated by animals in order to produce the goods on which we depend. Support pollinators in your home or a community garden with these 13 ways to make your landscape more pollinator friendly. Visit pollinator.org for more information.
- A variety of plants will be ideal for providing diverse sources of nectar and pollen. Choose at least 20 different plant types, or fewer if the types of plants are highly attractive to pollinators. Don't forget that night-blooming flowers will support moths and bats.
- Help pollinators find and use your garden by planting in clumps, rather than just single plants. Think about "landing zones."
- Include plants native to your region. Natives are adapted to your local climate, soil and native pollinators. If you want to see some locals, plant some natives!
- Overlap flowering times between seasons and use a wide variety of plants that bloom from early spring into late fall.Pollinators are in a constant search for new resources. Choosing plants with overlapping flowering times from February to October will allow bees and pollinators to continually forage in your garden.
- Consider plant climate zones. Plant for success! A plant's native climate range is important in determining if it will be attractive to bees visiting your garden (and if your plant will grow well in your garden or not!)
- Design a garden that has structure. The arrangement of plants in your garden will influence your ability to observe and enjoy pollinators. Plant the tallest plants in the back with the smaller ones in the front.
- Plant in the sun. Bees prefer to visit flowers in the sun, so avoid planting your pollinator-attracting plants in the shadier parts of your garden.
- Reduce or eliminate pesticide use in your landscape, or incorporate plants that attract beneficial insects for pest control. If you use pesticides, use them sparingly and responsibly. Pesticides can kill bad insects as well as beneficial insects like bees, ladybugs and other predators of garden pests.
- Don't' forget about nesting bees! Not all bees have a hive. Make sure to leave some areas for bees to build their nests (either in bare ground or in prefabricated cavities in wood). It's ok to leave part of your garden un-mulched for ground-nesting insects to discover.
- Leave dead tree trunks and branches in your landscape for wood-nesting bees and beetles. By leaving dead trees, or at least an occasional dead limb, you provide essential nesting sites for native bees, but make sure these are not a safety hazard for people walking below. You can also build a bee condo by drilling holes of varying diameter about 3 to 5 inches deep in a piece of scrap lumber mounted to a post or under eaves.
- Provide clean water for pollinators with a shallow dish, bowl, or birdbath with half-submerged stones for perches.
- Create a damp salt lick for butterflies and bees. Use a dripping hose, drip irrigation line, or place your birdbath on bare soil to create a damp area. Mix a small bit of salt or wood ashes into the mud.
- Provide a hummingbird feeder and add to nectar resources. To make artificial nectar, use four parts water to one part table sugar. Never use artificial sweeteners, honey, or fruit juices. Place something red on the feeder. Clean your feeder with hot soapy water at least twice a week to keep it free of mold.
Tips for how to make a pollinator garden originally published on the UC ANR Pollen Nation website.
- Author: Lauren Snowden
Gardening has always been a part of my life, I can remember working in the yard and vegetable garden with my grandmother and mother when I was a young child. Certain trees, flowers and vegetables still bring back great memories of different people and places I've lived or visited.
In the course of my job as the statewide training coordinator for the UC Master Gardener Program I'm always interested to know how volunteers started gardening or what their favorite plant is. People's faces light up as they talk about what or who influenced them to take up gardening as a hobby, lifestyle or even as a career. Many of us have cherished plants we received as gifts or had passed down to us from fellow gardeners or family.
Sharing your passion
The UC Master Gardener Program boasts over 6,000 volunteers who have spent 5.4 million hours working with and educating the public about home gardening. This dedication to volunteering and love of gardening is passed on in many families, resulting in multi-generational UC Master Gardener volunteers like Camille White and her mother Pat Bremmer. Camille and Pat are a mother daughter volunteer duo with a combined 25 years of volunteer service with the UC Master Gardener Program of Sutter-Yuba Counties.
“I love all kinds of plants and flowers and with much help from my mom I joined the UC Master Gardener Program…She (mom) is such an amazing talent when it comes to plants,” said Camille. They both volunteer to work the office hotline and attended the 2014 UC Master Gardener conference together in Yosemite. They just recently returned from a cruise where they had time to admire a Double Oleander in Key West Florida.
Gardeners excel at sharing so it comes as no surprise that they not only share their gardening know how but also their plants. Whether gardeners grow too many plants, tomatoes or zucchini they can always find homes for them, well maybe not the zucchini. Elizabeth Middleton, of Seal Beach, Calif. was gifted with violets from her husband's grandmother, Karen Hardy, who received the violets from her own mother.
Elizabeth and her family have been lovingly keeping them alive and moving them from home to home since 1976. The violets have struggled from time to time with the climate conditions and new locations however they have been divided and distributed to more family throughout the years. Four generations have grown these particular violets, the nostalgia they bring is one of peace and love, that all is right in the world for the family. Planted in a pot, or in the landscape this special flower is something to be nurtured.
Gardening with others can create positive connections and cultivate a closer relationship between people and the environment. Gardening also engages all the senses, enhances fine motor development, teaches patience and offers unique learning opportunities.
Melissa Womack and her daughter started to garden together on a small scale by creating a Fairy Garden. “Starting a fairy garden,” explained Womack “began as a day project to get outside and create something together. Years later it has evolved into a special place for my daughter and I to connect without any distractions. Every part of the process is fun for us - from designing the tiny landscape, crafting treasures and imagining the fairies visiting our magical little garden. There have been many giggles and great memories made, I hope that we continue this tradition for many years to come! ”
Thank you to all whom have shared their love of gardening, extra plants, been and continue to be that special influence in someone's life. You have helped someone realize that nothing tastes better than fresh tomatoes from their garden or that planting a tree and watching it grow is amazing.
A tip of the trowel to my grandmother and mother this Mother's Day who gave me my start in gardening. Without their influence, care and patience I would not have gone through UC Master Gardener training and become a volunteer, nor would I be making a career in a field that I love!
- Author: Melissa G. Womack
- Author: Missy Gable
Dedicated to Rascal Snowden.
Some of us garden for ourselves, others for our children and pets. When it comes to gardening for your fur friends, especially cats, catnip is the first thing that most people think of. Catnip (or catmint), Nepeta cataria, is in the mint family, Lamiaceae. Members of this aromatic family include many common herbs like rosemary, basil, thyme, oregano, lavender and perilla. Nepetalactone is the compound in catnip that gives it a fragrance. Not all cats respond to nepetalactone but those that do are drawn to the garden to sniff, roll around and generally enjoy the plant.
Traditional catnip, Nepeta cataria, should be planted with caution. It re-seeds readily and therefore requires a fair amount of maintenance to keep the plant from getting out of hand. Fortunately, there are numerous kinds of catmint that a gardener can choose from, all with the same cat alluring nepetalactone.
Look for a catmint with valuable landscape qualities such as a long blooming period and maneagable growth habit. All Nepeta attract pollinators, are drought tolerant, rabbit and deer resistant, and according to the American Chemical Society may help repel mosquitos from the garden.
A common and favorite catmint is Walker's Low catmint (Nepeta racemosa ‘Walker's Low'). This particular catmint was the 2007 Perennial Plant of the Year and is an attractive garden showstopper with a soft gray-green foliage and bright lavender-blue flowers. It is suitable in Sunset zones 1-24 and does not reseed like other Nepeta racemosa.
Many gardeners use Walker's Low catmint as a groundcover although with flower spikes 2-3 feet tall, it can easily be placed farther back in a planting bed and still get attention. This easy to grow catmint tolerates full sun and morning sun with afternoon shade.
If you are looking to give your garden some “cattitude”, take a little time to look into the many catmints available and which one is most suitable for your space.
- Author: Sheila Clyatt
In fact, it is the 2017 UC Master Gardener Conference, in Long Beach, and we have descended on a very "posh" hotel with our sneakers, jeans and short practical fingernails. We stand out so much that it is almost humorous. We are a jovial crowd, relaxed and invigorated by the audible buzz of information and humor relayed at every gathering.
Some of the returnees appear to take everything in stride but I am so excited about this event that I push all fear aside and talk to every UC Master Gardener volunteer I meet. I am relieved to establish that UC Master Gardeners are totally approachable, love to share information and some can talk longer on the subject of compost then I can. That is quite an accomplishment.
What is so awesome about this event, is that when entomology is discussed instead of glazed over eyes, my fellow attendees become hypervigilant to the subject and even interject with commentary. These are my people!
I had wanted to attend UC Master Gardener conferences in the past, including the 2014 event in Yosemite. But each year after filling out the application, adding the cost of hotel and transportation I'd determine it's not within my budget. This year with the help of the funds raised by the previous silent auction made available to all UC Master Gardeners volunteers, combined with the cheap airfare on JetBlue I was able to attend.
Witnessing what other UC Master Gardeners were doing in their counties was both inspiring and reassuring. We might not be geographically close - but our goals, efforts and intentions were all in alliance. This comradery of meaningful contribution buffered both my stamina in the program and my commitment to its goals.
I hope that I might be fortunate enough to attend another UC Master Gardener conference in the coming years, and if so, I hope to see you there!