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The Real Dirt Blog

  • 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...

  • Left to right-ratchet, anvil, 2 types of bypass hand pruners, 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...

  • Crown whitefly colony on oak leaf. Jack Kelly Clark, UC IPM
    Leaf-sucking Whiteflies

    Whiteflies are small, white-winged, low flying insects that flit erratically when disturbed.  Ten species are common in California.  Whiteflies feed on many crops, weeds, ornamentals,...

  • Berm with flat flagstone wall. Cindy Weiner
    Landscaping with Berms

    Landscaping berms are mounded hills of soil that can serve multiple functional and aesthetic purposes in the garden. A berm can be placed to block or change the flow of water across the property. It...

  • Puncturevine flowers. Jeanette Alosi
    Ouch! It’s Puncturevine!

    Puncturevine (Tribulus terrestris) is an attractive green plant with small yellow flowers commonly seen growing prostrate along the side of the road.  A native to Southern Europe, it's also...

  • Yellow starthistle. Joseph DiTomaso, UC IPM
    Yellow Starthistle

    Summer has arrived and so has the dreaded, prickly presence of yellow starthistle, Centaurea solstitialis.   Reports indicate that yellow starthistle infests between 10 and 15 million acres...

  • Bermudagrass can thrive in heavily compacted soil. Jack Kelly Clark, UC IPM
    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;...

  • Yellow yarrow. Laura Kling
    Firewise: Fire Resistant Plants

    The devastating Camp Fire of 2018, along with the numerous fires North State residents have experienced since then, have led many of us to focus on creating a defensible fire-resistant landscape...

  • Defensible Space. Cal Fire
    Firewise Landscape Maintenance

    Even when homeowners have created a defensible space, the job of protecting their home from fire is never done.  There will always be ongoing and annual jobs to do.  Additionally, there are...

  • Patch of showy milkweed. Jeanette Alosi

    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,...

  • Merlo Park sculpture of children at play. Debi Durham
    Sterling City’s Clotilde Merlo Park

    Nestled in the old mill town of Sterling City at an elevation of 3500 feet is Clotilde Merlo Park, a special place known by only a few. And many of those who do know about this place have never taken...

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