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The Real Dirt Blog

  • Amaryllis belladonna, Laura Lukes
    Consider the Lilies…

    Summer is almost over, but it's not too soon to begin planning next summer's garden.  Many bulbs flowering in late spring and summer should be planted this fall and winter: they are available at...

  • Ash on butternut squash, J. Alosi
    Safely Cleaning Wildfire Ash from Yards and Gardens

    The following recommendations for safely clearing ash from outdoor surfaces, including ornamental and edible plants, come from the US EPA, Oregon State University Extension Service, Waste Management,...

  • Garlic growing in raised bed, Kim Schwind
    Dig In: Start a Fall Garden

    Do you associate vegetable gardening with the heat of summer, like fireworks on the Fourth of July or the drone of air conditioners on an August afternoon? The amazing thing about California is that...

  • Sheet mulching around existing plants, Eve Werner
    Find Some Dirt!

    Does growing a vegetable garden sound like something you'd like to do, but you don't feel confident or equipped to do it? Well, here's the deal: find some dirt, and then add plants. It's that simple....

  • Garden guide 2nd edition, in loose-leaf binder, Laura Kling
    Master Gardeners Present Free Live Online Workshops

    The Master Gardeners are offering our Fall series of free workshops online via Zoom, beginning September 10.  Like the in-person, hands-on workshops offered in the past, these six classes will...

  • Grow it Yourself - Plan a Farm Garden Now, CA, 1942, USDA
    “Crisis Gardening” is Green Therapy

    “You're absolutely filthy!” This admonishment of misspent youthful summer afternoons should be considered a compliment for young and old alike in these stressful times, if the filth comes...

  • Kale protected by pepper, J. Alosi
    Thinking Beyond the Thermometer: Plant Cool Season Vegetables Now

    Cool season plants like a warm start, so it's not too early to begin adding some of them to the vegetable garden now. In this way you can extend the harvest of both warm season crops and cool season...

  • Desert Willow blooms, Laura Kling
    The Desert Willow: A Beautiful Small Tree for Native Gardens

    Someone needs to tell the Urban Forests Ecosystems Institute (UFEI) that their tree location map is missing the desert willow (Chilopsis linearis) that was planted at the Master Gardener...

  • Showy milkweed buds, J. Alosi
    Milkweed

    Milkweed is a drought-tolerant and deer-resistant perennial plant named for its milky latex sap. It is a great host plant for many beneficial insects including Monarch butterflies, bees, beetles, and...

  • Buckwheat - E. umbellatum, Demonstration Garden, Laura Lukes
    Three More Wild Buckwheats

    This final discussion of Eriogonum, or wild buckwheat, examines three beauties that are grown at the Master Gardener Demonstration Garden at Patrick Ranch: E. nudum; E. umbellatum; and E. grande var....

  • Sunburn tomato, J. Alosi
    Are Your Tomatoes Feeling the Heat?

    It's hot. Tomatoes like heat, right? Actually, tomatoes like warm weather, between 65 and 85 degrees. When temperatures soar past 95, tomatoes stop growing. In that kind of heat, their flowers fail...

  • California buckwheat flowers sit atop slender, flexible stems, Laura Lukes
    More on Our Wild Buckwheats: The California Buckwheat

    Continuing our focus on select species of Eriogonum (wild buckwheat), this week's discussion features California buckwheat (E. fasciculatum). First, here is a quick review of characteristics common...

  • Ant trail on building exterior, Evett Kilmartin UC ANR
    Dealing with an Ant Invasion

    We often experience ants in our homes when weather conditions change. They are typically looking for food, water, warmth, and/or protection from extreme weather conditions. Ants belong to the insect...

  • Giant buckwheat leaves are soft gray green, Laura Lukes
    The Giant Wild Buckwheat of California

    An astounding number of species populate the wild buckwheat genus Eriogonum - over 250, according to the CALFLORA website. And, due to their propensity to hybridize, active speciation continues as we...

  • Condensation under the plastic, J. Alosi
    Soil Solarization

    Is there an area in your garden where you are battling noxious weeds or other invasive plants? If so, soil solarization is a solution that avoids the use of herbicides and saves you from the on-going...

  • Verbena Fields poppies and bioswale, Laura Lukes
    Discovering Verbena Fields in Chico

    If you seek a peaceful place to explore nature and local history on foot or by bicycle, it may be time to explore Verbena Fields. This 20-acre site was historically a floodplain for Lindo Channel and...

  • Rose Mosaic Virus on rose leaves, Jack Kelly Clark, UC IPM Program
    A Virus in the Garden – Part II

     A virus can reduce a plant's growth, lower its yield, and result in inferior fruit, vegetables and flowers. Viruses are often very host specific. Recognizing symptoms can help you take...

  • Tomato Mosaic Virus, Jack Kelly Clark, UC IPM
    A Virus in the Garden – Part I

    Most gardeners are aware of plant diseases that can wreak havoc in their gardens. If you grow fruit trees, you may be confronted with curled, reddened peach leaves (peach leaf curl fungus). If...

  • Fava beans drying in pods, J Alosi
    Save Seeds for Thriftiness and Self-Reliance in the Garden

    Record numbers of people are gardening this spring and victory gardens are rapidly sprouting across the nation. Now is a better time than ever to learn how to save seeds. People have saved plant...

  • Salad with microgreens, Kim Schwind
    It’s Easy to Grow Microgreens Indoors

    You say you don't have a green thumb, or you don't have a yard for gardening? No problem! You can easily grow fresh, nutritious microgreens all year long in a sunny window in your home. All you need...

Visit the Real Dirt archive for additional articles.

Got Gardening Questions?

Volunteers for our Hotline are working via email to respond to your gardening questions. All responses to your questions will be conducted via email.

Email Us at mgbutte@ucanr.edu (preferred).

Call: 530-538-7201 (leave a message)

Help Us Help You

You never can tell what's at the root of the problem. Below are some questions we may ask when you call:

  • Name of plant
  • Age of plant
  • Soil type (loam, sandy, clay)
  • Current watering methods (drip, sprinkler, hand)
  • Frequency of watering
  • Sun exposure
  • Evidence of insects or other damage – check on both sides of leaves
  • Recent changes that may effect the plant (watering, fertilizing)

Samples and photos related to your question are strongly encouraged. Drop them by the office any time, or email them to:
mgbutte@ucanr.edu