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Posts Tagged: UC Master Gardeners

It's Pollinator Discovery Day Sunday at UC Davis

Pipevine swallowtails at the UC Davis Arboretum. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Meet the pollinators, And meet the UC Davis researchers, UC Master Gardeners, students and community members who study them or promote them. That's...

Pipevine swallowtails at the UC Davis Arboretum. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Pipevine swallowtails at the UC Davis Arboretum. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Pipevine swallowtails at the UC Davis Arboretum. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

A honey bee foraging in mallow at the UC Davis Arboretum. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A honey bee foraging in mallow at the UC Davis Arboretum. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

A honey bee foraging in mallow at the UC Davis Arboretum. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

UC Master Gardeners among 'most valuable' gardening resources

Central Valley magazine is published by the Fresno Bee.
UC Master Gardeners of Fresno County are celebrated in the March issue of Central Valley magazine. The issue is focused on gardening, ranging from growing one tomato plant on an apartment balcony to tending numerous raised beds that produce a bounty of produce for the family table.

"Locally, there are plenty of resources for the budding home gardener," wrote reporter Cyndee Fontana-Ott. "One of the most valuable is the UCCE Master Gardeners of Fresno County."

On the cover of the magazine is UC Master Gardener Rose Pipkin. Master Gardeners Michael Harman and Charlie Hindles are pictured inside along with beauty shots of the Garden of the Sun, the Master Gardeners' one-acre ornamental and food production demonstration garden at the Fresno Discovery Center, 1750 N. Winery, Fresno.

The magazine includes a two-page spread on two upcoming UC Master Gardeners of Fresno County activities: A series of garden seminars at the Fresno Home & Garden Show at the Fresno Fairgrounds March 2-4, and the Master Gardeners Spring Garden Tour April 21.

In her introduction to the gardening issue of Central Valley magazine, editor Carey Norton writes about her personal experience on the Master Gardeners Spring Garden Tour. 

"What I love is that within every showcased garden are docents who can answer questions about the plants themselves and what it might take for a gardening novice like me to attempt to grow them," Norton wrote. "And if I'm confused about just what it is that I'm looking at, each and every plant is meticulously labeled, so I know what I'm seeing."

Many UC Cooperative Extension offices in California have UC Master Gardener programs. To find your local program visit http://mg.ucanr.edu/FindUs.

 

Posted on Monday, February 26, 2018 at 8:55 AM
Focus Area Tags: Food

Replanting the Sierra Nevada after an ecological catastrophe

Given California's changing climate, should Sierra Nevada residents replant pine trees after so many died during the 2010-2016 drought? The short answer is yes, says Susie Kocher, UC Cooperative Extension forestry advisor.

“We have every reason to believe that pines will continue to be an important part of mixed conifer forests in the Sierras,” Kocher said.

Dead trees can be seen in the foreground and on the distant mountain side. (Click on photos for higher resolution.)

Kocher spoke at a meeting for UC Master Gardeners, volunteers who provide landscape advice to the public in California. Questions have been coming in to Master Gardener hotlines from mountain residents wondering what to do after unprecedented tree loses in the last few years.

Most California forests are suffering from severe overcrowding due to 100 years of aggressive fire suppression and selective harvesting of the largest and most resilient trees. They were then subjected to five years of drought.

“There were just too many stems in the ground,” Kocher said. “The drought was very warm, so trees needed more water, but got less. These were optimal conditions for bark beetles.”

Western pine beetle is a native pest that attacks larger ponderosa pine and Coulter pine trees weakened by disease, fire, injury or water stress. Bark beetles are tree species specific, so other beetles target other species of trees in California's mixed conifer forests. Typically, bark beetles bore through tree bark and create long winding tunnels in the phloem. An aggregating pheromone attracts additional bark beetles to the tree, and heavily attacked trees invariably die.

Healthy pine trees can fight off bark beetle attack by secreting pitch. Trees weakened by drought are unable to fend off an attack. In this photo, a pine beetle is stuck in pitch that oozed from the tree.
 
Evidence of bark beetle attack are exit holes on the outside, left, and winding galleries under the bark.

During the drought, 102 million Sierra Nevada trees died from bark beetle attack or simply lack of water; 68 million of those died in 2016 alone. But after the abundant rainfall in the 2016-17 season, the bark beetle population seems to have crashed.

Landowners with 20 acres or more may be eligible for a state cost-sharing program to remove trees, reduce the fire hazard and replant new seedlings. Landowners in mountain communities who wish to revitalize their properties can contact local UC Master Gardeners for recovery advice.

UC Master Gardeners are plant enthusiasts who have passed an intense training program presented by UC academics. They participate in continuing education annually to update and maintain their knowledge. More than 60 Master Gardeners from Mariposa, Madera and Fresno counties gathered in Oakhurst in October to learn from UC scientists how to work with mountain homeowners whose towering trees have died. Similar training sessions, all funded by a grant from UC Agriculture and Natural Resources, were held in El Dorado and Tuolumne counties in June.

UCCE specialist Jodi Axelson points out bark beetle damage.

“There is life after beetles,” said Jodi Axelson, UC Cooperative Extension forestry specialist at UC Berkeley.

“Eco systems are stretched, and then they come back,” she said. “You must remember the time scale of forest change is long and pines have been a major species in the Sierra Nevada for at least 28,000 years. As long as there have been pines, there have been bark beetles.”

The scientists suggest that people who own forestland take a step back and assess the landscape after their dead trees have been removed.

“We're seeing a lot of young cedar and white fir surviving the drought. Oaks seem to be doing really well,” Kocher said.

She suggests landowners thin young trees so available sun and soil moisture are focused on the healthiest trees. Water seedlings that are receiving more sun than before to reduce stress. Planting native conifers is the best option. Due to climate change, she recommends choosing trees from a slightly lower elevation to hedge against warmer temperatures in the future.

Pines are adapted to the California forest, but may need help to regenerate. When the ground is moist in the late fall or spring, plant seedlings 10 to 14 feet apart. New trees should be planted well away from homes to maintain defensible space and at least 10 feet from power lines.

“Please don't set them up for future torture,” Kocher said. “That's just sad.”

UCCE forestry advisor Susie Kocher, center, speaks during a field trip to a forest where many trees were killed by bark beetles.

To help the new trees become established, cover the ground around the tree, but not touching the bark, with two or three inches of mulch and irrigate weekly during the dry season for the first few years.

Questions about special circumstances may be directed to local UC Master Gardeners. Find the local program here: http://mg.ucanr.edu/FindUs/

Pouch fungus is evidence of a bark beetle kill. The beetles carry fungus into the cambial layer of the tree on their bodies. On recently killed trees, small white conks, the fungus' fruiting body, issues from bark beetle tunnels.
 
UC Master Gardeners learn from experts about replanting conifer forests.
 
Posted on Wednesday, October 25, 2017 at 1:13 PM

UC Master Gardeners' 5 tips to boost beneficial bees

With a little care and planning, anyone can make their little corner of the earth safe and friendly for bees.

UC Master Gardener volunteer Clare Bhakta of San Joaquin County shared bee-friendly strategies during a community workshop in August, extending the reach of research information developed by UC Agriculture and Natural Resources.

"Lure bees in," Bhakta said. "If you make it comfy, they will come."

UC Master Gardener Clare Bhakta leads the "Buzz about Bees" workshop in San Joaquin County.

Bhakta is a newly minted Master Gardener, having graduated in June from the intensive training program presented by UC advisors and specialists. She is part of the San Joaquin County MG speakers bureau; the "Buzz about Bees" was her inaugural engagement.

"We want bees in our gardens," Bhakta said. "Ninety percent of flowering plants and 75 percent of human crops depend on pollinators, including bees. Bee pollination makes about $15 billion in human food in the United States each year."

What's good for bees also attracts other pollinators. Here a yellow butterfly lands on lantana in the San Joaquin County demonstration garden, 2101 E. Earhart Ave., Stockton.

About 1,600 species of bees are found in California, many of them natives. Most of the bee species live independently, occupying holes in trees trunks or branches, or in the ground. Their sizes range from inch-long metallic black bumble bees to tiny sweat bees 3 millimeters in length. These species rarely sting since they don't have hives to protect. 

California's most recognizable bee is the European honeybee, imported from the Old Country by settlers in the 1600s. The insects serve as efficient pollinators and produce more honey than they can use themselves - offering humans an abundance of natural golden sweetener with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.

Bees work hard to produce honey. It takes 2 million flower visits - about 55,000 flight miles - to make a pound of honey. An individual worker bee lives just six weeks and produces about one-twelfth of a teaspoon of honey in her lifetime.

Sharon Butler is the president of the Ripon Community Garden. She attended the UC Master Gardener workshop to get research-based information on bee-friendly gardening.
 

Sharon Butler, president of the Ripon Community Garden, attended the free workshop. The 2.5-acre garden at the corner of Vera and Doak avenues has dozens of raised garden plots. The community just added several bee hives. Butler asked at the workshop about an unexplained phenomenon in their first honey harvest. 

"A couple of racks had dark spots with honey that had a cinnamon taste," she said.

Bhatka said the variation was probably the result of nectar from different plants.

"I wish I knew what plant it is, I'd plant a lot more," Butler said.

The Ripon Community Garden allows local families to grow food, and allocates four beds to grow fresh vegetables to distribute to local senior citizens.

Creating a bee friendly garden may go against the grain for tidy gardeners. Bees don't prefer the well-trimmed plants and homogeneous color scheme of a formal outdoor space.

"Bees love herbs," Bhakta said. "I let my sage go crazy this year and I couldn't believe how tall they got."

Marbles give bees a place to land and sip water.
Bees like a wide variety of plants that bloom from early spring to late fall planted in clumps to minimize their travel time. Sweetly aromatic blooms, particularly blues and yellows, will attract the most bees. 

For best results, don't over garden. Follow these five tips from the UC Master Gardener program:

  1. Rather than cover all soil with mulch, leave open areas for ground nesting bees.

  2. Keep a few dead tree stumps or branches. Particularly if it has holes, it makes an ideal nesting site for solitary bees.

  3. Let plants "go to seed," even when they begin to look overgrown and leggy.

  4. Provide a shallow water source. Filling it with pebbles or marbles allows the bees access to the water.

  5. Avoid using pesticides. Visit the UC Integeted Pest Management website for environmentally sound methods of controlling pests and weeds.

 

Posted on Monday, August 28, 2017 at 8:37 AM
Tags: bees (82), pollinators (44), UC Master Gardeners (9)

In Pursuit of the California Dogface Butterfly

Bohart Museum of Entomology associate and dogface butterfly expert Greg Kareofelas (left) shows a California dogface butterfly to Rob Stewart of

Few people have seen California's state insect in the wild, but now thousands will this week--on TV. The California dogface butterfly, Zerene...

Bohart Museum of Entomology associate and dogface butterfly expert Greg Kareofelas (left) shows a California dogface butterfly to Rob Stewart of
Bohart Museum of Entomology associate and dogface butterfly expert Greg Kareofelas (left) shows a California dogface butterfly to Rob Stewart of "Rob on the Road" at the Shutamul Bear River Preserve. (Photo by Fran Keller)

Bohart Museum of Entomology associate and dogface butterfly expert Greg Kareofelas (left) shows a California dogface butterfly to Rob Stewart of "Rob on the Road" at the Shutamul Bear River Preserve. (Photo by Fran Keller)

The Shutamul Bear River Preserve near Auburn, Placer County, encompasses 40 acres and is considered
The Shutamul Bear River Preserve near Auburn, Placer County, encompasses 40 acres and is considered "the" best habitat for the dogface butterfly. (Photo by Fran Keller)

The Shutamul Bear River Preserve near Auburn, Placer County, encompasses 40 acres and is considered "the" best habitat for the dogface butterfly. (Photo by Fran Keller)

Rob Stewart of
Rob Stewart of "Rob on the Road" takes a selfie with a California dogface butterfly. (Photo by Greg Kareofelas)

Rob Stewart of "Rob on the Road" takes a selfie with a California dogface butterfly. (Photo by Greg Kareofelas)

Bohart Museum of Entomology associates Fran Keller (left) and Greg Kareofelas pose with Rob Stewart of
Bohart Museum of Entomology associates Fran Keller (left) and Greg Kareofelas pose with Rob Stewart of "Rob on the Road." Keller, an entomologist with a doctoral degree from UC Davis, is an assistant professor at Folsom Lake College, and Kareofelas is a naturalist/photographer.

Bohart Museum of Entomology associates Fran Keller (left) and Greg Kareofelas pose with Rob Stewart of "Rob on the Road." Keller, an entomologist with a doctoral degree from UC Davis, is an assistant professor at Folsom Lake College, and Kareofelas is a naturalist/photographer.

This is the group, including UC Master Gardeners, who toured the dogface butterfly habitat. Rob Stewart of
This is the group, including UC Master Gardeners, who toured the dogface butterfly habitat. Rob Stewart of "Rob on the Road" is kneeling, front left. Many wore butterfly shirts. Justin Wages, Placer Land Trust manager, is back row, fourth from left.

This is the group, including UC Master Gardeners, who toured the dogface butterfly habitat. Rob Stewart of "Rob on the Road" is kneeling, front left. Many wore butterfly shirts. Justin Wages, Placer Land Trust manager, is back row, fourth from left.

Posted on Tuesday, July 11, 2017 at 5:28 PM

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