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Robbing Runaway Potatoes

I planted three varieties of garlic last October. As I watered my crop one morning, I noticed that the plants from one variety are not doing as well as the other two. They're a lot smaller and look like they were not getting enough water. Puzzled, I started poking around it. Lo and behold! I found a blue potato, and another, and another. Many years ago, I bought some seed blue potatoes, the ones meant for planting. Fast forward, they are now in a lot of places in the garden.

https://vric.ucdavis.edu/pdf/potato_growingpotatoes.pdf

I grabbed my garden fork and started digging. With help from my garden assistant chicken, Brownie, I dug, she scratched, until we were both exhausted. We got multiple sizes from medium-sized potatoes to bead-size pieces. When we were done, I had enough potatoes to mash for two meals.

And hopefully, the garlic plants will do better with less competition for water and space.

https://vric.ucdavis.edu/pdf/garlic.pdf

photo by Tina Saravia
photo by Tina Saravia

Posted on Thursday, May 28, 2020 at 11:38 AM

Meet Andrea Guggenbickler, Outstanding Academic Advisor

Andrea Guggenbickler, who received her bachelor's degree in global disease biology (GDB)  in 2018, has won a staff academic advising for her work in the GDB program.

Way to go! Andrea Guggenbickler, staff academic advisor for the Global Disease Biology (GBD) major, part of the UC Davis...

Andrea Guggenbickler, who received her bachelor's degree in global disease biology (GDB)  in 2018, has won a staff academic advising for her work in the GDB program.
Andrea Guggenbickler, who received her bachelor's degree in global disease biology (GDB) in 2018, has won a staff academic advising for her work in the GDB program.

Andrea Guggenbickler, who received her bachelor's degree in global disease biology (GDB) in 2018, has won a staff academic advising for her work in the GDB program.

Hummingbird-What I know, What I Thought I Knew, and What I Learned

Female seen nesting 3-6-2020
Downy chicks 4-6-2020
They will be flying soon 4-11-2020

I never heard a peep and rarely saw the female!  In fact, the babies remain quiet which is their protection. 

The female feeds them in 3-5 seconds and then is out of there!

I dare not get too close for fear I would scare them out too early 4-14-2020
Empty nest 4-17-2020

In truth, I knew very little about hummingbirds except they are great pollinators, I did not have any feeders and the attraction to my yard was our water fountain or so I thought!  It was when I started the Master Gardener program and was blessed with a nest right at my front door that I truly became fascinated and wanted to know more.

I spotted a male Anna hummingbird with a beautiful red rose-colored throat called a “gorget” which helps to attract mates and defend his territory.  Changes in color depend on the refraction of light from the angle as you see it.  It glimmers like a suit of armor depending on the presence of light. 

On to mating.  Females love those beautiful gorgets of virility and take into consideration how much food is available in the prospect's secured territory.  If all is met, she mates, and already begins building her nest.  After mating, she finishes her nest, lays 2 eggs as she is only capable to care for two chicks.  The driven off male takes off to mate with a few other females.  It usually takes 2 to 3 weeks to hatch and the baby hummingbirds stay in the nest up to 22 days.  After that, Independence!, and they take off to find their own food.  So fast!  But since they only live 3 to 5 years and are mature at 1 year, life flies as fast as they do.   

The Nest!  The female works 6-10 days to build her nest and it appears quite sturdy. It comprises of spider silk, pine resin, thistle and dandelion fluff.  The outside is camouflaged with lichen and moss.  Sometimes the female or another female may come and use it again SO I have forbidden anyone to remove or touch it! It is possible for 3 broods during hummingbird season and I hope to be blessed again.  Recycling at its best!

Nectar feeders are quite the treat, but the hummingbird's mainstay are insects and pollen nectar from flowers. Nectar from flowers is for her and regurgitated insects and aphids are for her chicks.

 

Build it and they will come!

This is a Crassulaceae, Kalanchoe uniflora (see photo above) that produced a bounty of tubular pollen and nectar-rich flowers.  I was fortunate to gain quite a few shots of her feeding.

Since the Anna hummingbird may be a year-round resident, consider planting so that all the seasons are represented with flowers for pollen nectar and insects.

Avoiding insecticides/pesticides are tremendously important because of the harmful effects if ingested, not to mention reducing the very food source for the hummingbird!  80% of the hummingbird's diet consists of flower nectar, insects, and spiders.  Pests such as aphids are fed to their nestlings.  Remember!  Spider webs are often plundered for nesting material as well as that easy insect treat a web might trap!

Keep those feeders clean!

Bacteria vectors come from the hummingbirds to the feeders, so it is a sound practice to hot water clean regularly. Beware!   On those hot days, sugar water can become fermented turning into toxic alcohol.   Nectar feeders are hugely popular but how about an overripe banana on a fruit feeder to attract fruit flies?!  Hummingbirds will eat every fly and what a treat to watch!  Hmm!

 Research and more information:

Bug Squad and Entomology:  https://ucanr.edu

https://hummonnet.org   

https://hummingbirds.vetmed.ucdavis.edu 

https://audobon.org

 

hummer on flowers
hummer on flowers

Posted on Wednesday, May 27, 2020 at 12:39 PM

'All You Mead Is Love!' Enroll in UC Davis Online Course by Monday, June 1

A honey bee foraging on yellow starthistle, a weed farmers hate but beekeeper, honey enthusiasts and mead makers love. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Picture this: A honey bee foraging on yellow starthistle (Centaurea solstitialis), an invasive weed that farmers absolutely hate but one...

A honey bee foraging on yellow starthistle, a weed farmers hate but beekeeper, honey enthusiasts and mead makers love. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A honey bee foraging on yellow starthistle, a weed farmers hate but beekeeper, honey enthusiasts and mead makers love. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

A honey bee foraging on yellow starthistle, a weed farmers hate but beekeeper, honey enthusiasts and mead makers love. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Due to coronavirus pandemic precautions, the UC Davis mead courses are now online, and Mead Making 201 is scheduled June 22-23 and June 25-26. The deadline to register is June 1. (Photo courtesy of Honey and Pollination Center)
Due to coronavirus pandemic precautions, the UC Davis mead courses are now online, and Mead Making 201 is scheduled June 22-23 and June 25-26. The deadline to register is June 1. (Photo courtesy of Honey and Pollination Center)

Due to coronavirus pandemic precautions, the UC Davis mead courses are now online, and Mead Making 201 is scheduled June 22-23 and June 25-26. The deadline to register is June 1. (Photo courtesy of Honey and Pollination Center)

Posted on Tuesday, May 26, 2020 at 5:15 PM
Focus Area Tags: Agriculture Food Health Innovation

Grazing and Prescribed Burning for Fire Safety - Virtual Meeting on July 2

Cattle Grazing

Please join us for a virtual meeting to hear results from a study investigating how livestock grazing influences fire safety. We will also discuss...

Posted on Tuesday, May 26, 2020 at 1:40 PM

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