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The Real Dirt Blog

  • Edible Garden plan by Eve Werner
    Master Gardeners Plan Edible Garden

    An alley of sage plants; an area devoted to California natives; a courtyard plaza for reflection and relaxation; raised beds for vegetables; arbors and trellises covered with berry and grape vines. All of these are included in the plans for the Edible Garden in the Master Gardeners Demonstration Garden on the grounds of the Patrick Ranch Museum. The design for the Edible Garden has been completed, and planting should begin in the near future. Meanwhile, the plans themselves provide plenty of inspiration for those looking to add more edible components to their own home gardens. Over thirty types of plants will be featured, from trees and shrubs to herbs and grasses. At least one part of...

  • Garden Guide and journal pages by Laura Kling
    Journaling Workshop Showcases Master Gardeners’ Educational Mission

    Educating the public about the best gardening practices for our region is the primary mission of the UC Master Gardeners of Butte County. A terrific example of our educational outreach was on tap at the first offering of our Fall 2019 Public Workshop series. This 90-minute workshop focused on getting the most out of our Gardening Guide and Three-Year Garden Journal, a publication full of useful information, seasonal tips, and regional plant wisdom specific to Butte County. Joyce Hill, a Master Gardener and lifelong educator who teaches teachers how to teach, led the workshop. Before delving into her carefully devised learning activities, Hill gave a quick outline of the Guide which was...

  • Colorful perennials and shrubs by Cindy Weiner
    Improve your Home’s Curb Appeal by Removing the Lawn

    A short drive around Chico's various neighborhoods will convince you that people love their front lawns. They must, because the lawn is the most prominent landscape feature for the vast majority of homes. And yet, we seldom see people outside actually using their front lawn spaces. Maintaining a lawn just to view through your front picture window wastes time, energy, water and money. According to a 2011 study sponsored by the California Department of Water Resources (the “California Single Family Water Use Efficiency Study”), the average household in the state uses 360 gallons of water per day, around 50% of which is used outdoors. Replacing the lawn with waterwise landscaping...

  • California bush anemone by Cindy Weiner
    Conjure Up A Moon Garden

    What is a moon garden? It is a garden that incorporates reflective surfaces, light-colored flowers, fragrant plants, and peaceful sounds, all meant to be enjoyed by the light of the moon. It is the perfect garden spot for busy professionals who don't have time during the day to enjoy their gardens. When designing a moon garden you need to select a site that is easy to access at night or can be viewed through a window. It must, of course, be a location that is touched by moonlight. A moon garden can be as simple as a small cluster of potted plants and flowers on a deck or patio, or as elaborate as a carefully-designed area in the landscape. If possible, find a quiet corner away from road...

  • Clover thrives in soil with low nitrogen by Jack Kelly Clark, UC Statewide IPM Program
    What Weeds Can Tell Us

    Every gardener knows that weeds are just plants in the wrong place. Webster's dictionary defines a weed as “a plant that is not valued where it is growing and is usually of vigorous growth; especially: one that tends to overgrow or choke out more desirable plants.” In nature, weeds play an important role. They can resist conditions like drought, acidic soil, lack of humus, and mineral deficiencies. Weeds protect our topsoil from eroding away in heavy rains and strong wind. They provide a cover and shade for soil microbes and insects. Some weeds, those with large root systems or a taproot, penetrate deep into subsoil, breaking up compaction, which helps drainage and new growth....

  • Johnsongrass mature plant, UC ANR
    Managing Johnsongrass, a Legendary Weed!

    Johnsongrass (Sorghum halepense) is a common sight throughout our hot dry Butte County summers. It is also considered to be one of the world's most noxious perennial weeds. Johnsongrass forms dense showy bunches of vegetation three to six feet tall along pathways, in and around orchards and gardens, in open fields, and near waterways. In California, Johnsongrass is found in the Central Valley, Cascade Range foothills, Western California, and the Sierra Nevada foothills to about 2600 feet. Under certain conditions, its leaves produce a toxic acid which is poisonous to livestock. This non-native weed arrived in Texas in the 1830s and by the late 19th century was recognized as a problem in...

Gardening Questions?

Visit or Call the Hotline

Wednesday 9-12pm
Thursday 1-4pm

Call 530-538-7201

Or, drop by the Butte County Cooperative Extension Office
2279-B Del Oro Avenue 
Oroville, CA 95965

Catch us in person at local Farmers’ Markets or at one of our informational booths. Check out where we'll be on the Events page.

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

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: