April in Sonoma County
- All events, including library talks, through end of April are canceled.
- We are not currently accepting walk-ins or specimen drop offs at our Master Gardener Information Desk at the UCCE Sonoma office. Please send an email with your inquiry to email@example.com. Our Information Desk team is checking the emails regularly and will respond to your questions as soon as possible.
- Master Gardener Farmers' Market tables scheduled in March are also canceled.
BBY 2020 is Canceled
Sonoma County Master Gardeners’ plans for a Bloomin’ Backyards tour of six Petaluma gardens on May 17, 2020 have been canceled due to the COVID-19 crisis and its unknown outcome. More information about how to proceed is being developed and will be posted here as it becomes available.
Protect our birds: Bird Nesting Season is Here
Growing a Thriving Vegetable Garden with Less Water
The Food Gardening Specialists (FGS) of the UCCE Sonoma Master Gardeners are excited to present water-wise food gardening strategies. Given our hot, dry summers along with the prediction of extended drought, we can’t afford to waste a drop. This video demonstrates how home and community gardeners can grow a thriving vegetable garden with less water. In addition, this video is complemented by a planting scheme and a drip system instruction and shopping list that reflect the 4x8-foot demonstration vegetable bed in the video. Click here for these documents along with additional helpful documents for food gardening with less water.
Ask a Master Gardener
Questions and Answers from the Helpline
Watch to Learn What Master Gardeners Do
Master Gardener-staffed Help Desks are located
at Sonoma County Farmers' Markets and Fairs
Master Gardeners are volunteers trained by the UC Davis Cooperative Extension.
Sonoma County Master Gardeners will provide environmentally sustainable, science-based horticultural information to all of Sonoma County’s population. We strive for diversity and inclusion in all aspects of our organization.
UCCE Farm Advisor: Stephanie Larson, County Director
SCMG Coordinator: Mimi Enright
Harvest for the Hungry Plant Sale
Good news! Harvest for the Hungry is still having a plant sale. However, the format will be different to make sure are all safe.
The virus situation is changing rapidly. Harvest for the Hungry will post more information on their website and facebook page in early April.
All workshop events through end of April are canceled
|CANCELED: Growing Berries in the Home Garden - Healdsburg||4/4/2020|
|CANCELED: Insects in Your Garden - Windsor||4/4/2020|
|CANCELED: Is Your Garden Ready for Our Climate? - Sebastopol||4/4/2020|
Sundays with Sue
By SCMG Sue Lovelace
March 29, 2020
Because we live in a moderate climate, this is a great time to be planning and planting a food garden. Cool season plants like lettuce, kale, chard, peas, potatoes, onions, and beets can be planted now to be enjoyed late spring, early summer and beyond, depending on your climate. Planting these vegetables strategically to save space for warm season plants like tomatoes, peppers, beans, squash, melons, and cucumbers enables one to enjoy eating cool season crops while the others grow. Also, if you know the future placement of a tomato or bean tower, planting a cool season plant to enjoy its shade later is a good ploy.
I know so many of you are already eating from and enjoying the benefits of a food garden. However, I would like to provide some basic information for those who may be planting their first garden or have not planted a food garden in a long while. Whether you’re planting your Victory Garden in a container, in a raised bed or directly in the soil, as long as your garden has 6-8 hours of sunshine, you are pretty much good to go.
Proper sustainable practices always start with the soil because good biological activity (micro and macro organisms, bacteria, fungi, etc.) in the soil will support healthy plants by providing nutrition, drainage and the ability to hold moisture, among other things. Compost is the magic here. If it’s a new bed, incorporating 5-6 inches of good quality compost with your current soil is needed. Otherwise, adding 1-2” inches on top and gently working in while planting will be sufficient. Minimal disturbance of the soil, sometimes called No-Till, helps keep the team of organisms, listed above, intact and interacting with the soil.
Planting the right plant at the right time is important as a warm season plant will simply sit in a soil that is not warm enough (65-80 degrees) and not grow if air temps are less than 65 degrees (growth delays also above 95 degrees). Warm season plants also love longer days. Cool weather crops grow best in air temps of 55-75 degrees and thrive in soil that is 60-65 degrees. Knowing how large your plant will grow will help you with spacing. However, if you will be harvesting leaves when a plant is less than full growth, your spacing can be less. Some of the best salads, smoothies and stir fries can be enjoyed with immature leaves. Speaking of leaves, enjoy leaves like broccoli and beets, as well as their flowers and roots. The stems and leaves of warm season vegetables are not edible (best to inquire about any plant if you’re not sure).
I’d like to add a few words about irrigation. Vegetables do best in soil that’s consistently moist, not soaked. Using your finger or chopstick to check for moisture around the root zone is an indicator for knowing that you are watering enough. Employing a drip system that can be hooked up to your faucet or to an irrigation system is very efficient in providing water directly to the plant. Many local nurseries or irrigation venues can help you set up a simple faucet connection or even one that has a timer, or you can hand water at the base of the plant until human contact is desirable (overhead watering is not generally effective in keeping root zones moist).
The last basic step in creating your sustainable Victory Garden is mulching, which is covering the ground, the soil around your vegetables (or anywhere else in your garden). Mulch, which can be straw, extra compost or even dried leaves or shredded newspaper, keeps moisture in the ground and also helps regulates temperature changes. It also preserves the vital life that we’ve helped encourage in the soil, and carbon is kept in the soil instead of being released in the air.
Have a good, purposeful and relaxing week. Take care and be safe.
“A Victory Garden today can be any garden with a purpose that you define personally. That purpose can be a family project to raise food for your household or a community effort to grow produce for a local food bank or whatever else you see as a need.” Rose Hayden-Smith ( A historian of war-time writing)
Master Gardeners in Print
The Garden Doctors
Dana Lozano & Gwen Kilchherr, The Press Democrat
Webmasters: Kim Roche, Stan Pawlak
Website Editor: Penny Fink
Food Gardening Editor: Open, please apply!
Staff Photographers and Videographers:
Cie Cary, Electra de Peyster,
Coby Lafayette-Kelleher, Laura Salo Long