- Author: Lowell Cooper
Since I pick up plants from here and there I am always being surprised. I found this particular plant in its small form, an Echium fastuosum, It is a very popular part of the city landscape in Benicia. Very easy to see in its blooming stages by the side of the road. I thought that would be nice to have closer to home. I purloined one from a street near my house, popped it in the ground, and forgot about it. At least I lost track of it for a few months and then I realized that it was getting larger and larger and taking advantage of good soil and general fertilizer to get bigger and bigger. I thought, well this will be nice to see grown up fully.
Besides, it was another relative, I assumed because the foliage was similar. But there was something different about it. Little by little, it developed into a spike – and it didn't stop growing. I felt like this was right out of a fairy tale – it just didn't stop getting taller. Finally, I was dwarfed by a handsome spike which it took a bit of investigating to pin down: Echium wildpretii. Affectionately, Tower of Jewels. To add to my surprise, I noticed a couple of other specimens in other parts of Benicia. It turned out not to be so rare after all.
My main point here is the fun and value of surprises to be found in the garden. Sometimes the truth is not revealed until the growth is over and done with.
- Author: Jenni Dodini
There is nothing like a blank canvas to tease the mind of an artist, and there is nothing like a neglected backyard of a newly acquired home to tease the mind of a master gardener. That is where the impetus for this blog started. My friend said that "all the trees in the backyard are diseased and need to come out" followed by the wish list of what to replace them with. When she got to a pomegranate tree, I said that we could make a tree from a cutting off Steve's parents tree that will not die despite many attempts by Steve's dad over the years to kill it. He thinks that it either came courtesy of a bird or maybe it was planted while his mother lived there as a child. Anyway, it is still alive and well and producing nice fruit every year.
So, step 1 in the process was to ask permission from Steve's dad to take a cutting from the tree. Permission was given, leading to step 2.....( I usually have an ulterior motive when asking him gardening questions.) I wanted to get him outside for an "expert consultation" but the weather has not co-operated much lately. He gets a kick out of requests for "expert consultation" as only an old farmer would. What I basically wanted was for him to show me how to pick a good branch to take the cutting from so that I could be successful in starting a little tree.
Well, so much for that. On to step 3--- DO YOUR RESEARCH. I went to the CA Master Gardener Handbook, chapter 5, Propagation, GardeningKnowHow.com, NC State Extension, and Missouri Botanical Garden, and of course, our ANR site for said research. Here's what I found: Cutting propagation is the preferred method for pomegranate trees as if grown from seeds, the resulting tree may not resemble the tree from which the fruit originated. Growing from a cutting guarantees that the resulting tree will be the same species and cultivar as the parent tree. The hardwood cutting should be done in the late winter ( the timing is right ), the cutting should be made from year old wood that is 1/4 to 1/2 inch in diameter and cut to a length of about 10 inches. THEN dip the cut end in rooting hormone. One can either use the greenhouse method to wait for the roots to develop in rooting medium or plant it directly into the desired permanent location -- full sun, well-draining loamy soil, with the node above the soil level. I also found that one should take the cutting in the early morning with clean, sharp pruning shears. Also, use a pencil, or a chopstick, to make a hole for the cutting so that the rooting hormone is not knocked off the cutting. If rooting the cutting in a pot or in the greenhouse, make sure to maintain high humidity to keep the rooting medium moist.
Now for step 4 -- "JUST DO IT"!
- Author: Brenda Altman
Got a question about plants, pests, soil, or bees? Drop by the Vallejo farmers market and visit the Master Gardeners table on the South East corner of Marin and Georgia Streets. We are there from 9 am until 2 pm every Saturday except when it rains (we don't have a tent).
Master Gardeners Pat Chapman and Betsy Buxton are the mainstays of the table. Other frequent Master Gardeners are Trisha Rose, Darrell Schramm, Brenda Altman, Sally Thompson and others. Betsy brings all the flyers she can stuff into two rectangular plastic containers. Our whole 6' table is covered with information flyers and pamphlets mostly in English with a handful in Spanish. Betsy also brings a number of well dog-eared reference books.
On one given July Saturday, the group of Betsy, Trish, Darrell and myself handled questions dealing with Powdery mildew on Sycamore leaves, Chocolate Spots on Fava Beans, Tomato plant leaf damage from Weed Control Sprayed on a nearby lawn and other fun gardening issues. It helps if the questioning gardeners either bring in a picture of the leaves or fruit or bugs in question.
People drop by and might say “I have this long lasting problem and no one has been able to help me.” Which probably means I asked my neighbor or the postman and they don't know. Sometimes we don't know where the answers lie until we ask more questions from the puzzled gardener. Other times we all might have different ideas but it is surprising how with a brief discussion come up with some good answers. Of course, we always give out pertinent information from the flyers Betsy has provided and tell the gardener to do research on the ANR UC Davis website. We also encourage our newly made friends to report back to us with results good or bad.
The questions are interesting and even though I might have an idea on the answers, but I listen to our group discussion and keep an open mind while we all are digging into the research books. Being a new Master Gardener I usually am hesitant in saying “it's definitely this,” I'll say, “it more than likely this,” or “try this and come back and give us feedback.” of course I say “check the website.” Sometimes the inquirer will forget a key clue and remember it when she gets home which would change the answer.
The fun part is when a satisfied member of the public comes by to thank Betsy personally for home gardening advice.
Whether you are a master gardener or just a novice gardener come by our table and share your gardening knowledge or tell us of your next gardening project. If you are interested in becoming a Master Gardener or just want to take upcoming classes or seminars we also can help you with that too.
- Author: Tina Saravia
Beautiful wood chips galore!
I've been waiting for months. Then one day, in a seemingly serendipitous circumstance, I got a giant load of wood chips. We happened to be walking in the neighborhood in the middle of the day, which we don't usually do. The tree trimmers were just arriving. I asked them for the tree chips once they were done.
I could've gotten two loads if I had the room in the extra driveway.
It so happened that our next door neighbor needed to mulch a large area, so he got the second load.
We've been slowly working to spread the wood chips around the yard. We have a concrete area that gets flooded in heavy storms. That's been covered with a hill of wood chips to absorb the water. We also use the wood chips to cover muddy paths in the garden, and the chicken run.
The best part is, we also have enough wood chips to mulch everywhere, around the shrubs and the trees, the vegetable beds. The new mulch will continue to cut down on weeds, save us on watering and protect the plants from extreme temperatures.
Speaking of vegetable beds, I have to be careful not to mix the fresh wood chips into the soil as the woods chips will tie up nitrogen and make it unavailable to the plants. It's a mulch - goes on top; not a soil amendment - which mixes in with soil.
Here's a link that talks more on mulches: http://cesantaclara.ucanr.edu/files/238922.pdf
- Author: Betty Victor
It's that time of year again. The UC Master Gardeners of Solano County are going to be at Home Depot in Fairfield, to answer any gardening questions you may have.
If you are new to our area Home Depot is located at 2121 Cadenasso Dr., next to Target.
Also, if you don't know or have not heard about us, we are all volunteers from every walk of life, retired people, people who still are employed but all have one thing in common, gardening.
The Master Gardeners are part of the UC Cooperative Extension who have gone through a 16-week training on most garden information, for us and the public. We then set up information tables at different locations in Solano County: Fairfield, Vacaville, Vallejo, and Benicia.
When you see one of our information tables you can stop by and get information on a variety of subjects, plants, lawn, fertilizer etc.
Starting March 23 this year we will be at Home Depot in Fairfield. Depending on the weather, our table will be set up either in the outside garden or inside.
We will be there every other Saturday from 9 am until 1 pm. The time is an hour earlier than in previous years giving you an hour earlier in the summer before it gets hot to start your gardening projects.
We have information on How to Attract Pollinators, “good bugs” and the least toxic pest control to safely get rid of the “bad bugs”. We have pest notes on almost every insect, good and bad, a vegetable planting guide just to name a few of the material we have. All the information on gardening is free.
We also have a newsletter Seeds for Thought and how to get on our blog, Under the Solano Sun. The information for both newsletter and blog is created by Master Gardeners. Ask about signing up to receive these, if we forget to ask you.
So remember starting March 23 until Oct 3 of this year the Master Gardeners will be at Home Depot, Fairfield every other Saturday. Stop by and have a look at the information we have, or even just to say “hi".