SLO Tribune Articles - Master Gardeners
By Sarah Arana UCCE Master Food Preserver
I received a pressure canner as a birthday gift. What can I preserve in it? Anita M. Cayucos, CA
What a thoughtful present! Having a pressure canner gives the home preserver several more options for “putting up” food at its peak freshness. Pressure canning increases the variety of foods you can preserve. It's the ultimate tool for batch cooking! This piece of culinary equipment provides you the ability to make soups, stews, pasta sauce, chili, beans, broth, and meat ready for heating and serving in a matter of minutes on a night when your too tired or busy to cook. It's the ultimate in “fast food”. Set aside a day for pressure canning, and you'll reap the benefits all year long. Before you begin, get familiar with basic pressure canning principles.
Pressure canning is the only safe method of preserving vegetables, meats, poultry and seafood. They are low in acid and must be prepared in a pressure canner. Jars of food are placed in 2 to 3 inches of water in a pressure canner which is heated to a temperature of at least 240° F. This temperature can only be reached using the pressure method. Bacteria called Clostridium botulinum is the main reason why pressure processing is necessary.
A pressure canner is a specific piece of equipment for food preservation. It is a heavy pot with a lid that closes airtight. The lid has a vent, a pressure gauge and a safety fuse. The pressure canner also has a rack to keep jars off the canner bottom. Because each type of canner is different, read the manufacturer's directions before operating.
When looking for information on preserving food, don't use old pamphlets, outdated cookbooks, or untested recipes on the internet. Best sources for current information on research and processing instructions are publications made by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Cooperative Extension Services, and home food processing equipment manufacturers. Taking a class from a certified Master Food Preserver is highly recommended if possible. The UCCE Master Food Preserver Program of San Luis Obispo County is offering an Advanced Canning class on Saturday, September 22nd from 10am-12pm, which will be highlighting pressure canning. This class is open to all levels of canners. Register here: http://ucanr.edu/advancedcanning
By Norman Smith
The Citrus leaf miner does most of its damage to the flush of new growth on citrus that occurs during the warm summer months, although it does not damage the fruit. Feeding damage occurs on the leaves.
The citrus leaf miner is a microlepidoptera (a small moth) that lays eggs on the new growth. These eggs hatch into tiny larvae that will feed inside the leaf beneath the epidermis, with the mines getting bigger and bigger as larvae grow. When this mining happens to young developing leaves, the leaves deform as they grow and look unsightly. But that is pretty much where the bad news ends. If left alone, that branch with the unsightly, deformed leaves will develop normal flowers and leaves the following year.
The citrus leaf miner is not active until after the spring flush of flowers and leaves have developed so those are not in jeopardy. Basically, the damage is cosmetic and does not affect the trees ability to set, size and ripen normal fruit. Therefore, we do not recommend any type of chemical control for this pest. However, pheromone treatments are commercially available to home gardeners. The pheromone treatment won't eliminate all ovipositing females, but it may lower their numbers so that damage is not as extensive.
One additional note, if you do see mining on the peel of a citrus, that would be interesting and you should inform San Luis Obispo County Ag Commissioner's office. The citrus peelminer will mine the peel of citrus as well as the leaves. But it is not known to occur in San Luis Obispo county. It is prevalent in the Coachella Valley and San Joaquin Valley and finding it here would be problematic for commercial growers in this region. Growers would likely have to treat for citrus peel miner to prevent a downgrade of marketable fruit. Read about the differences between citrus peelminer and citrus leafminer here - https://anrcatalog.ucanr.edu/pdf/8321.pdf
About the author: Norman Smith was the Fresno County Entomologist for 30 years. I now enjoy working in my garden, traveling with my wife, golfing and bowling, taking insect collecting trips in the US and overseas in the tropics, and working on some personal research of some small wasps. I also enjoy working with and for the UC Master Gardener program in SLO.
Norman Knows Thrips
By Norman Smith UCCE Master Gardener
If you have citrus trees, you've probably seen damage from this bug, but not the bug itself. This is damage by citrus thrips, a very small insect that likes to hide inside protective places such as inside orange blossoms and young flushes of leaf growth. Careful searching can expose them, but most have no idea this insect is even there until it's too late. The overwintering generation becomes active during the bloom period for citrus in late spring. They confine their activity to the blossoms, feeding on the small developing fruit inside the blossom, mostly around the stem. They have rasping sucking mouthparts, scraping the surface of soft, developing fruit and leaves and then sucking up the sap as it leaks out.
Unfortunately, this scars the young fruit and leaves and as they grow, this scarring can cause a cosmetic defect to the fruit and deform some mature leaves. If you are a commercial orange grower, cosmetic damage to the fruit is not a good thing. It will likely lower the grade and ultimately the price for his fruit. So commercial growers are likely to treat for citrus thrips to avoid this damage. But you, as home growers of citrus, do not have to worry about scarred fruit. The scarring does not affect the taste or size of the orange. In fact, the scarred fruit may be sweeter. Since the majority of damage occurs on the southwest side of the tree, the warm side, this is likely true as these fruits will ripen sooner and be sweeter when picked.
As far as the deformed leaves are concerned, they may be unsightly but the majority of leaves on the tree are not deformed and the few that are will not affect the ability of the tree to set, size and ripen the oranges. The reason for this is that when the tree blooms, a major flush of new leaves also emerges, but since the thrips are inside the blossoms, these leaves are not damaged and develop normally. It is only the newer growth that occurs later in the season that thrips will infest and damage. They will enter and feed on the newly expanding growth, hiding between the tiny developing leaves and damaging them. These leaves will be able to produce food for the fruit, despite their unsightly appearance; the branch they are on will produce normal blossoms and leaves the following year, and after a year or two, the deformed leaves will fall off the tree. It is for this reason, that we do not recommend that backyard growers of citrus treat for this insect. The damage is merely cosmetic, and the tree will continue to grow normally, and set and produce normal fruit.
Autumn Garden Chores
by Tami Reece UCCE Master Gardener
Now that my plants have passed their peak, what should I do to prepare for winter? Karen P. San Luis Obispo
Autumn is the perfect time to clean up your garden from the past season and plan for the next planting cycle. Begin by taking a walk through the garden with paper and pen in hand. Make note of what worked last year and what did not. Are there new plants or planting combinations you want to try? Did you have too many vegetable beds in the spring or did you want more flower beds for color? Take notes on any areas needing an irrigation adjustment. Or, are there plants that would perform better in a different location?
Relocating plants is best done in the cooler fall temperatures as most will be going dormant. Clean up debris to avoid harboring insects and diseases during the winter months and mulch to protect plant roots from frost and freezes. Consider planting a cover crop to add nitrogen to the soil and to help keep weeds down. Bare root plants such as roses or trees will be arriving at the nurseries. Be selective and be sure the plant fits the intended location. Remembering right plant, right place will save you time and money in the long run. It is easy to plant a tree too close to a house, power lines, or fences when it's small and takes up little space. Always allow room for the full-size plant of tomorrow, not just the 1 gallon size of today.
For more information on how to prepare your garden for the coming months, the UCCE Master Gardeners is holding a Rejuvenate Your Landscape workshop on Saturday September 15, 10:00 am to 12:00 p.m. in the Garden of the Seven Sisters, 2156 Sierra Way, San Luis Obispo. Make sure to bring a hat and water as sometimes mother nature can surprise us with one last blast of summer! Visit our website to register http://ucanr.edu/sites/mgslo/ . Garden docents will be available from noon to 1:00 p.m. to answer gardening questions./span>
Plants We Love
By Jackie Woods UCCE Master Gardener
Common name: Night Blooming Cactus, Golden Torch Cactus, Torch Cactus
Latin name: Echinopsis spaciana
Size of plant: 2 – 2 ¼ inches wide and as tall as 4 - 7 feet.
Bloom description and season: Large, plate-size, white fragrant flowers that bloom only once and usually at night. They bloom when temperatures consistently exceed 70 degrees (F).
Exposure: Full sun to partial shade.
Water needs: Above 70 degrees (F), Echinopsis enjoys regular watering.
USDA Hardiness: 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b, 10a, 10b
Sunset Zone: 12, 13, 16, 17, 21, 22, 23, 24
Description: Torch cactus is a slow growing, long, lean and beautiful cactus native to South America. Characterized by a columnar body with 10 - 15 ribs, Torch Cactus has areoles (small area on cactus that produces hairs or spines) that are 1-2 inches apart along the rib margins with 1-2 cm long spines. Flower arise from the areoles. This particular cactus grows well in areas where temperatures are consistently 70 degrees (F) or greater. Torch cactus prefers well-drained soil, does well in containers and rock gardens and while drought-tolerant, prefers regular watering, especially during its blooming season. Blooming in the spring, the stunning, large flower blooms at the end of a trumpet-shaped stalk and opens at night, day, or both, but only lasts for one day. The nocturnal flowering habit suggests adaptation to moth and bat pollinators. Torch Cactus tolerates colder temperatures and even seem to enjoy it, but they must be sheltered from freezing temperatures as their water-filled bodies will freeze. Torch cactus can be propagated by removing the cactus offset or ‘pup' and transplanting. Offsets should be allowed to callus prior to planting in a pot of cactus soil mix or well-draining gritty medium. The container need be just slightly bigger than the offset. Take care to cover one-third to one-half of the base with soil. Keep in indirect, bright sunlight and water enough to keep the soil slightly moist.