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The Real Dirt Blog

  • Neighborhood Habitat Certification Sign, Altacal Audubon Society
    Every Yard Counts – Altacal Audubon’s Neighborhood Habitat Certification Program

    We know that we are losing wildlife habitat. We know that birds and pollinators are in trouble. The good news is that our home gardens can be part of the solution, by conserving water and protecting native wildlife through Altacal Audubon's Neighborhood Habitat Certification Program. Altacal's goal is to support community members interested in converting unused lawns to natural, drought-tolerant California landscaping and habitat. Altacal Audubon Society, serving Butte, Glenn, and Tehama counties, is the local chapter of the non-profit National Audubon Society. Altacal's mission is to “promote awareness, appreciation, and protection of native birds and their habitats through...

  • Deer by Kim Schwind
    Deer Resistant Garden Strategies

    Butte County offers an abundance of beautiful places to live. Our urban areas are surrounded by farmland, open space, foothills and the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and along with this wildland interface comes wildlife. Smaller creatures like squirrels, raccoons, and opossums may raid your home fruit trees, but ask any gardener who lives where there are deer and they will tell you that browsing deer are their number one gardening problem. Deer can be destructive to home gardens, landscape plants and trees, orchards, vineyards, and vegetable gardens. They not only graze along the ground, they can also stand on their back legs to reach young shoots and leaves from trees. Deer are browsers....

  • Chickens by Joyce Hill
    Master Gardeners Present Free Gardening Workshops

    Twice a year, the UC Master Gardeners of Butte County offer a series of workshops designed for the home gardener. The line-up for Spring 2020 includes a number of new topics, in addition to those back by popular demand. The series began February 12th with a workshop on starting vegetable seeds. The rest of the workshops are outlined below. Unless otherwise noted, workshops take place at the Master Gardener Demonstration Garden at Patrick Ranch (10381 Midway, between Chico and Durham). While the workshops are free, registration is required in advance; see details on registration at the end of this article. What Your Weeds Are Telling You & Weed Identification (Saturday, Feb. 22). This...

  • Lavender flower bracts, UC ANR
    Edible Flowers: Fragrant and Tasty Treats

    Edible flowers can be found in many backyard landscapes and herb gardens. Many annuals and perennials produce flowers with culinary potential. Roses (rosa spp.), lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), and apple blossoms are well-known perennials with edible flowers. Borage (Borago officinalis), calendula (Calendula officinalis), garden sage (Salvia officinalis), scarlet runner bean (Phaseolus coccineus), nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus), and pansies (Viola x wittrockiana) are perhaps the best-known annuals that can be used in this way. Before eating any flowers make sure you have properly identified them as being edible. Since many plants have similar names, always use the scientific name when...

  • Heirloom tomatoes by Kim Schwind
    Heirloom Tomatoes

    Heirloom tomatoes are open-pollinated varieties which were either introduced commercially before 1940, or grown from seeds that have been passed down at least 50 years through several generations of a family, religious, ethnic, or tribal group, without the plants crossing with another variety of the same species. Seeds from an open-pollinated variety produce offspring that are identical to the parent plant. As long as cross-pollination can be prevented, seeds that are saved will produce identical tomatoes year after year. Seed saved from a hybrid tomato plant or from cross-pollinated plants will not generally grow true to type. Heirloom tomatoes come in a multitude of sizes, shapes,...

  • Kids watching the plants grow by Karina Hathorn
    School Gardens – Teaching Kids How to Grow Their Own Food

    “I want them to all feel like they know how to grow food,” says Vicki Wonacott, describing the fundamental goal of the UC Master Gardeners of Butte County School Gardens Program. This program brings how-to horticultural knowledge to first-graders in four of our local elementary schools. Why first graders? According to Wonacott (a retired elementary school teacher), at that young age children are easy to engage, they retain their sense of wonder at scientific phenomena, and they are just plain fun to work with. In addition, the School Gardens Program imparts basic biological and botanical information. For Wonacott, this is science teaching at its best. The classroom visits...

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: