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The Real Dirt Blog

  • 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...

  • School Gardens
    School Gardens – Teaching Kids to Love Science and Soil

    One of the ways the UC Master Gardeners of Butte County serve our community is through their School Gardens Program. Currently this program serves four schools, reaching 300 children a month in a total of twelve first-grade classrooms. (Before the Camp Fire, the program served eighteen classrooms). The School Gardens Program is headed by Master Gardener Vicki Wonacott, in collaboration with Master Gardener Candice Boggs. It began in 2013 when Wonacott, a recently retired elementary school teacher, designed four basic lessons about plants to share with children who were visiting the Master Gardener Demonstration Garden at the Patrick Ranch Museum on school field trips. Those initial four...

  • Frost damaged citrus leaves by Jack Kelly Clark, UC ANR
    Recognizing and Caring for Frost-Damaged Plants

    Plummeting winter temperatures often lead to frost damage in plants. The damage occurs when ice crystals form within plant tissue, damaging their cells. Leaves and tender new growth are usually affected first. Initially, they will appear wilted. Then the wilted growth will turn brown or black and eventually become crispy. This means these affected parts of the plant have died. It is tempting to remove frost-damaged plant growth immediately, but dead material should be left on the plant until the full extent of the damage is apparent in the spring. There are several reasons to wait. By allowing plenty of time for new growth to appear, the extent of any damage will be clearly apparent and it...

  • 5-mile in Bidwell Park by Joyce Hill
    Get Outside: Environmental Education for Kids

    If you have school-age children, you may have noticed that something new is infusing science education in California classrooms. Curricula that explores environmental literacy is being introduced– an explicit acknowledgement of the deep bond between humans and our natural environment. Strengthening this relationship and fortifying awareness of its importance to our current (and future) health and well-being are goals of the Next Generation Science Standards, California's Environmental Principles and Concepts, and the California Environmental Literacy Initiative. All of these new directives are intended to be fundamental components of K-12 science education. The UC Master Gardeners of...

  • 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...

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:
mgbutte@ucanr.edu