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The Real Dirt Blog

  • A mini hedgerow incorporating a number of native plants. Eve Werner
    Residential Hedgerows

    If you are planning to put some new plants in the ground now so they will be established when spring comes around, consider planting a hedgerow.  In urban and suburban areas, fences or hedges...

  • Fuyu persimmon purchased bare-root and planted. Jeanette Alosi
    Planting Bare-Root Fruit Trees

    There are several advantages to planting bare-root trees: they are usually less expensive, easier for gardeners to transport, and they will grow their roots entirely into native soil (rather than...

  • Tulips and Grape Hyacinth add color and beauty to an early spring garden. Marijke Dixon Wood
    The Hidden Beauty of Fall-Planted Bulbs

    Autumn has finally arrived!  We have shorter cooler days, and the leaves are turning brilliant Fall colors. Gardeners with some foresight and planning can use this time of year to plant bulbs...

  • Feijoa (pineapple guava) flower, edible petals turned upwards. J. Lawrence
    Edible Extras: Don’t Throw It Away If You Can Eat It!

    Each year, the U.S. throws away between 30% and 40% of the food produced for human consumption (over $161 billion worth). Roughly 20% of the total volume of waste sent to landfills is food. If you...

  • Early Spring blooms of collinsia, poppies, and lumpinus growing from seed directly sown in the Fall. MIchelle Graydon
    Starting from the Ground Up: Steps to Turning a Garden Space into a Habitat

    Do you have an undeveloped garden area you'd like to turn into a landscape that grows native plants and supplies habitat and food for pollinators? Perhaps you'd like to do most of the work yourself,...

  • Carniverous pitcher plants (nepenthes) and sundews (drosera) at the CSUC Greenhouse. Michelle Graydon
    CSU Chico’s Campus Greenhouse is a Hub of Discovery and Learning

    Located between playing fields and pickleball courts along a popular bikeway into the main CSU Chico campus, the Biological Sciences Greenhouse is a state-of-the-art botanical and agricultural...

  • Moonshine Yarrow is an easy-care perennial in our area. Brent McGhie
    How to Keep on Gardening as We Get Older

    “Gardening becomes increasingly difficult as we age, yet the garden beckons as strongly as ever,” notes Butte County Master Gardener Kay Perkins. Our bodies become less limber and agile,...

  • Valley Oak. UC Regents
    Living With Oaks in the Home Landscape

    No doubt you have seen many species of oaks living in wild areas of Northern California.  But native oaks can also be attractive and beneficial additions to the home landscape. There are...

  • Espaliered fruit trees in January 2021 at Patrick Ranch. Laura Kling
    Espalier Gardening

    There is a bit of ancient Rome and a taste of old Egypt at the Master Gardener Demonstration Garden at the Patrick Ranch. Butte County MGs are practicing espaliering, the early horticultural art of...

  • Blueberries growing in Chico. Laura Kling
    Growing Blueberries

    If you've been wanting to grow your own blueberries, fall is a good time to plant a blueberry bush (or two, or three) in our climate.  Many hybrid Southern highbush blueberry varieties have been...

  • A display of succulents in containers.  Container gardening is a new workshops in the Master Gardeners Fall Workshop Series. Jan Burnham
    Succulents: Make Your Own Plants!

    Butte County has a Mediterranean climate where drought conditions occur naturally from May to October. A wide variety of succulent plants have become popular across the country in recent years, and...

  • Leaves and twigs make excellent additions to the compost pile. J.C. Lawrence

    Many backyard gardeners are familiar with composting, a process which recycles yard trimmings along with vegetable and fruit scraps from the kitchen.  Compost, a humus-like soil, results from...

  • Garden tools carefully stored, J. Alosi
    Garden Tools

    People new to gardening often ask what tools are needed to maintain their gardens. It's easy to become overwhelmed by the scope and variety of garden tools available in stores, online, and in garden...

  • King Alfred daffodils. UC Stratewide IPM Project. Jack Kelly Clark
    Daffodils from January to April

    It is time to order spring-blooming bulbs from the many catalogs that may be turning up in our mailboxes.  Daffodils are perhaps the easiest bulbs to depend upon for a colorful display that can...

  • Winter kale and summer zinnias. Jeanette Alosi
    Think Beyond the Thermometer and Start Fall Crops 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...

  • Flowering aprium grown on espalier trellis structure at the Master Gardeners' Demonstration Garden. Michelle Graydon
    Master Gardener Fall 2023 Workshop Series

    A new season of Master Gardener Workshops is about to start! The series begins with a two-parter designed to help us make the most of our summer produce: “Canning Fruits & Pickles: The...

  • The dried flowers of sulfer-flowered buckwheat. Jeanette Alosi
    High Summer in the Native Plant Garden

    We Californians understand the concept of summer dormancy: “Those hills aren't brown, they're beautifully golden!” We know that the cycle of seasons plays out a bit more dramatically...

  • Ripe pluots ready to pick. Laura Kling
    Pluots for the Home Orchard

    A great choice for the home orchard is the Pluot, a plum-apricot hybrid.  Pluots (pronounced plew-otts) are like plums in flavor and texture, but are sweeter and less acidic.  Many pluot...

  • Vegetables in the Edible Landscape garden at the Master Gardeners Demonstration Garden at Patrick Ranch. Laura Kling
    The Master Gardener Program: Its History, Local Projects, and How to Join

    Are you interested in becoming a Master Gardener?  The UC Master Gardeners of Butte County will begin training a new class in mid-January 2024.  Graduates of the 17-week course will join...

  • Jars of jams, jellies, and chutneys in a well-stocked pantry. J.C. Lawrence
    Food Preservation

    It's peak season for fruits and vegetables from now through September: peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, peaches, apricots, plums, berries … the list goes on and on.  It's not unusual for a...

Visit the Real Dirt archive for additional articles.

Got Gardening Questions?

Visit or call the Hotline

Tuesday 9am-12pm
Thursday 1-4pm

Call: 530-552-5812

Or drop by: The Butte County Cooperative Extension Office
5 County Center Drive, Oroville, CA 95965

Email Us

Email your questions to us at mgbutte@ucanr.edu. Include a description and photos of the problem. See "Help Us Help You" below for what to include.

Catch us in person

Look for us at local farmers markets or at one of our information booths at community events. Check out where we'll be on the Events page.

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