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How Little We Know About Monarchs...

How little we know about monarch butterflies, Danaus plexippus... And how long misinformation can linger... Take the news about the overwintering...

Monarchs overwintering in the Natural Bridges State Park, Santa Cruz, in 2016. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Monarchs overwintering in the Natural Bridges State Park, Santa Cruz, in 2016. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Monarchs overwintering in the Natural Bridges State Park, Santa Cruz, in 2016. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Posted on Tuesday, January 25, 2022 at 4:02 PM
Focus Area Tags: Environment, Innovation, Natural Resources

Wood Chips and More Wood Chips

After the atmospheric river rain dump last November, I started walking through water puddles in my backyard. “These low areas could be raised with some wood mulch,” I thought.  I had ordered wood chips before at https://getchipdrop.com so I decided to order a load of FREE WOOD CHIPS. Unfortunately, free has its price when you order the load can be up or more than 20 cubic yards. How much is a cubic yard? It is equal to 27 cubic feet. So, 20 x 27 equals 540 cubic feet or 270 plus wheelbarrow trips. 

When you go to the website check off what you will accept in the load. Next, make sure you have somewhere to put the wood chip load.  I have a long driveway so there is plenty of space for chips.  I got a text shortly after that and a load of chips would be coming tomorrow.  I had planned to take the car out of the garage prior to delivery. But the load was at my doorstep at 7:45 AM. I should have gotten the car out of the garage, but I said,” surely I can move enough chips to get it out in a day.” Hah, who was I kidding? Take the time and move the car. Remember that's 270 plus wheelbarrow trips!

Needless to say, with the help of a neighbor, I was able to make a hole big enough for my car to get through, it only took three days.

Why wood chips? Wood chip mulch can provide excellent water retention.  In drought times, this could be a lifesaver for your plants. The savings alone in water are worth using wood chips as mulch.  I also use wood chips to keep weeds in check.  You can also add a layer of cardboard before you lay down the layer of wood chips, this will further inhibit weed growth. Eventually, the wood chips break down leaving organic material for your plants.

Well, I definitely forgot how much time and effort 270 wheelbarrow trips take. It's a good thing I have time on my hands, a sturdy wheelbarrow, and a strong back. My suggestion is to have friends come over to help, better yet have them bring trucks and share the wood chips.  Free, free, free!

photo by Brenda Altman
photo by Brenda Altman

Posted on Tuesday, January 25, 2022 at 10:12 AM

The 'Type Writer' That Saved a Career and Helped Develop One at UC Davis

Can you imagine typing a huge grant application on an 132-year-old "type writer?" Make that 986 pages or a four-inch-thick document. Everyone who...

A hand of UC Davis distinguished professor Bruce Hammock rests on the Odell
A hand of UC Davis distinguished professor Bruce Hammock rests on the Odell "type writer." (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

A hand of UC Davis distinguished professor Bruce Hammock rests on the Odell "type writer." (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

This image, taken in 1915, shows Judge William Thomas Hammock and daughter Maude working in his office. She is using the Odell
This image, taken in 1915, shows Judge William Thomas Hammock and daughter Maude working in his office. She is using the Odell "Type Writer.' They are the grandfather and aunt of UC Davis distinguished professor Bruce Hammock.

This image, taken in 1915, shows Judge William Thomas Hammock and daughter Maude working in his office. She is using the Odell "Type Writer.' They are the grandfather and aunt of UC Davis distinguished professor Bruce Hammock.

A chalkboard details some of the work that UC Davis distinguished professor Bruce Hammock is doing. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A chalkboard details some of the work that UC Davis distinguished professor Bruce Hammock is doing. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

A chalkboard details some of the work that UC Davis distinguished professor Bruce Hammock is doing. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Posted on Monday, January 24, 2022 at 4:10 PM
Focus Area Tags: Economic Development, Environment, Innovation

Farmers invited to tour cover crops in Sacramento Valley March 3

Sarah Light, standing in a field of white mustard cover crop, will discuss research on the benefits and challenges of growing cover crops.

Farmers and ranchers are invited on a tour to learn how to use cover crops to build soil health. A full-day tour of several cover crop sites in orchards and annual crop fields in the Sacramento Valley is being offered on March 3 by the Western Cover Crop Council's Southwest Region Committee.

“The goal of this tour is to demonstrate ways to use cover crops effectively in annual crops and orchards in the Sacramento Valley,” said tour organizer Sarah Light, UC Cooperative Extension agronomy advisor.

“This tour will cover a range of topics, including cover crop selection, equipment needed to manage cover crops, considerations for cover cropping in the region, and the importance of building soil health,” said Light, who is also chair of the Western Cover Crop Council's Southwest Region Committee and a board member of the Western Cover Crop Council.

Cover crop species, cultivars and mixes including legumes, grasses and brassicas will be showcased in Colusa County, with farmers, UC Cooperative Extension specialists and researchers giving presentations.

The tour bus will depart from the Colusa County Cooperative Extension Office at 100 Sunrise Blvd., Suite E, Colusa, CA 95932 at 8 a.m. and return at 7:30 p.m.

Participants are currently limited to 50 farmers and ranchers. If space is available after Feb. 1, others may join. ?The $50 registration fee includes morning refreshments, transportation, lunch and dinner. To register or to see the agenda, visit https://surveys.ucanr.edu/survey.cfm?surveynumber=36190.

Nitrogen fixation of legumes cover crops is one of the topics that will be discussed on the tour. Photo Sarah Light
Posted on Monday, January 24, 2022 at 2:01 PM
Tags: cover crops (7), Sarah Light (5)
Focus Area Tags: Agriculture

Growing Strong in January-Microgreens!

I recently attended a Zoom meeting, ‘Kitchen Garden Chat', hosted by UCCE Master Gardener-Yolo, Treva Valentine.  In this monthly class, Treva discusses and answers questions about anything edible that can be harvested or planted during the month the class meets.

I was initially uncertain about what January gardening would bring, so I was pleasantly surprised when Treva spoke about microgreens; the deliciously edible seedlings of a wide assortment of vegetables, such as radish, broccoli, celery, spinach, and more. Even better, they are packed full of nutrients. Microgreens can be used in a small salad and are a delicious complement to many other dishes, such as a chicken stir-fry, varieties of pasta, and stacked sandwiches.

I learned that microgreens can be grown outdoors in a small, protected greenhouse. However, it may be best to grow them indoors where the temperature can be controlled and more constant. Treva recommends providing microgreens with at least 4 hours of sunlight or artificial lighting. The more hours of light, the faster they will grow.  If you do use artificial light, do not exceed use past 18 hours, since plants need at least a few hours of darkness to simulate natural planting and grow in length while seeking light.

To get started, Treva recommends:

  • Shallow tray with a dome to retain humidity.
  • 1 to 1.5 inches of lightweight, sterile growing medium, like seed starter, germination mix, or a homemade mixture of materials like perlite and coco coir.
  • Seeds: begin with smaller seeds and make sure they are safe (certified organic seeds). 
  • If using larger seeds, soak them for at least 4-6 hours to help loosen the seed coat to begin the germination process.
  • Sprinkle a lot of seeds onto the soil - the seeds can touch each other.
  • Apply a light dusting of the soil medium over the seeds.
  • Water the seeds using a gentle stream – a spray bottle usually does the trick.
  • The soil needs good drainage, so put something underneath the tray to capture the water.
  • Warming pad: put the seed container on top of the warming pad, and make sure it is plugged in and turned on since the seeds need warmth, not necessarily the sun, to propagate.
  • Once the first seed begins to sprout, provide a light source, such as placing on a bright windowsill or an artificial grow light.
  • Depending on the type of seeds, they usually take 2-3 days to germinate and should be ready to harvest in 2-3 weeks.
  • It is time to harvest when the first 1-3 true leaves emerge after the first two leaves (cotyledon) appear.
  • Cut the microgreens (cotyledon included) around one inch above the soil line and wash to remove soil.
  • Unlike ‘cut and come again' lettuces that pop back up after cutting, once you clip the microgreens they are done; so, if you would like a consistent supply, plant seeds every few weeks.
  • Microgreens are not the best for storing, but you can place them in an airtight resealable plastic bag or container and store them in the refrigerator.  Keep dry by placing them between paper towels.   

Here are some easy to grow microgreens to consider: 

o   Radish – grows especially fast and has a slight peppery flavor.

o   Broccoli – mild and somewhat bitter flavor.

o   Clover – both nutty and sweet flavor.

o   Celery – strong celery flavor.

o   Spinach – has a lighter taste than its mature leaves.

o   Arugula – mild flavor compared to the mature leaves.

o   Pea – has a wonderful, nutty flavor and tends to taste like sweet, summer peas.

Having a winter garden of microgreens is a simple task and easy to cycle through a variety of tasty choices during the month. I hope you can explore this gardening option and discover yummy combinations of flavors this season.

 

Treva's Kitchen Garden Chat is currently via Zoom every first Saturday, except for October, which is on the second Saturday – through November, 2022. 

Zoom link:  https://ucanr.zoom.us/j/98028723763.  Hope to see you there!

 

 

Warming pad - P.Pashby
Warming pad - P.Pashby

Grow light and warming pad - P.Pashby
Grow light and warming pad - P.Pashby

Set up for microgreens - P. Pashby
Set up for microgreens - P. Pashby

First True Leaves - Cilantro - P.Pashby
First True Leaves - Cilantro - P.Pashby

Posted on Monday, January 24, 2022 at 12:14 PM

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