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Posts Tagged: UC Master Gardener

New Year, New Garden! January Gardening Tips

January is a great time to maintain, clean, and sharpen your garden tools. Photo © UC Regents.

Happy New Year from the statewide UC Master Gardener Program. Gardening in January can be a challenge with the cold weather and shorter days. However, January can be an excellent month for garden maintenance and preparing your landscape for spring and summer.

From giving your garden a makeover to planning for a vegetable garden, there are endless opportunities to stay active in the garden in January. What steps can you take to improve your garden this month? Here are a few tips to get you started:

  1. Watch weather reports. Accordingly, protect your plants from frost and other weather conditions. Cover them when necessary and adjust watering both for cooler temperatures and for seasonal rains.

  2. Don't forget about your houseplants. Make sure to keep your houseplants watered, as they tend to dry out from indoor heating during the winter months.

  3. Clear dead plants and debris. Give your garden a clean look for the New Year and allow more space for new growth. Don't forget to pull out weeds.

  4. Keep your garden tools sharp and clean. Avoid rust and dullness and prepare for the pruning that takes place in January and February.

  5. Prune dead or damaged branches. Since January is the dormant season, it is the ideal time to prune. Prune your fruit trees while avoiding apricot and cherry trees. For more instructions on how to prune, check out this pruning guide.

  6. Start your vegetable garden indoors. Expand your growing season and start seeds, you can plant cabbage, chard, broccoli, cauliflower, and spring lettuce, to name a few. You can also start them in a cold frame or greenhouse.

  7. Plant flower bulbs. Get a jump start on planting flower bulbs this month, which can lead to a longer spring bloom!

  8. Plan your spring and summer vegetable garden. Design a garden plan now to prepare for spring planting. A great first step is to draw a map of your garden on grid paper and consider which seeds you want to plant and where.

January is a time of new beginnings, including in your garden. By preparing now, you can expect fantastic results in the spring and summer months.

Ask your local UC Master Gardener Program

January can be an unusual time in the gardening world, but we are here to help. For more gardening help and local county resources, click here to Find a Program. You will be redirected to your local county website and contact information. UC Master Gardener volunteers are available to help answer questions for FREE about your garden. 

Posted on Wednesday, January 4, 2023 at 11:52 AM
Tags: Gardening (22), Tips (2), UC Master Gardener (2), Winter (1)

Hispanic Heritage Month: Collaborative Spanish Project Grant Awarded

The majority of resources offered through the UC Master Gardener Program are only available in English, so when an internalUC Agriculture and Natural Resource (UC ANR) grant arose to develop online educational resource materials in other languages it was the perfect opportunity to expand its gardening resources for Spanish speakers. UC ANR and UC ANR-affiliated academics and staff from across the state submitted proposals for review in hopes of getting projects funded and out into their communities.

Extending the UC Master Gardener Programs' reach and impact to non-English speaking audiences is key to achieving the program's mission of reaching all Californians. According to the 2019 census data, the most common non-English language spoken in California is Spanish; 28.8% of the overall population of California are native Spanish speakers. For this reason, building the UC Master Gardener Program's resources in Spanish is a significant priority area.

Award with a twist

While evaluating the proposals, Strategic Initiatives leaders discovered four proposals with similar gardening themes, and after careful consideration granted the award but with a little “twist”. The four proposals would be combined to form one collaborative project. The proposals shared common goals and had overlapping scope, so the Director of the UC Master Gardener Program, Missy Gable, was charged with coordinating a collective effort to develop food gardening resources in Spanish and distribute these new resources through the UC Master Garden Program channels.  

Thanks to shared goals a creative team formed, including awardees: 

  • Dr. Lucy Diekmann, Urban Agriculture and Food Systems Advisor in Santa Clara County
  • Mimi Enright, UC Master Gardener Coordinator in County
  • Maggie Reiter, former Environmental Horticulture Advisor in Tulare/Kings Counties
  • Dr. Yu Meng, Youth Family and Community Advisor in Imperial County 

Collaboration and unexpected outcomes

With a spirit of collaboration, the group worked alongside UC Master Gardener volunteers, local community organizations and partners, and UC Communication Services News and Outreach in Spanish staff to create and release a series of food gardening videos in Spanish.

The project also funded a comprehensive vegetable gardening resource that is set to be released in 2022 in both Spanish and English. The teamwork didn't stop here though, YFC Advisor, Dr. Yu Meng initiated the development of a new UC Master Gardener Program in Imperial County so collaboration will continue and expand to meet the needs of residents in our southernmost locations.

Vídeos de jardinería en español (Gardening videos in spanish)

The statewide UC Master Gardener YouTube channel is now hosting a playlist of videos in spanish titled, Vídeos de jardinería en español . These videos are available for individuals or local programs to share on social media, websites, or anywhere the program is reaching the gardening public.

Full YouTube playlist link: https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PLw6OczuNHpWDc1YzCKXqj2PYQnDTl6Hx9 

A special thank you to those working in front of and behind the camera and computers to get these videos produced. The videos have already reached thousands of people in communities across California and beyond!  

Join us LIVE

UC ANR and the UC Master Gardener Program are joining the celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, Sept. 15 through Oct. 15. Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated nationally to acknowledge Latinos' contributions and vital presence in the United States. UC ANR has already held several zoom forums and there are three more to come. The below events will be presented in Spanish.

Links to join will be sent to registrants prior to each event. Registration required: https://surveys.ucanr.edu/survey.cfm?surveynumber=35503 

  • Oct. 6, 1-2:30 PM - Zoom community forum in Spanish
    Be better parents, how to make your kid a leader.
    Guest speakers: Claudia Diaz – 4-H youth development advisor

  • Oct. 13, 1-2:30 PM - Zoom community forum in Spanish
    How to have a successful vegetable garden
    Guest speaker: Master Garden Volunteers from UCCE Contra Costa County

  • Oct. 15, 1-2:30 PM - Zoom community forum in Spanish
    The power of a nutritional meal
    Guest speakers: Susana Matias Medrano/Nutritional Science & Toxicology/ UC and CE Berkeley

2019 US Census, https://www.census.gov/programs-surveys/acs/news/updates/2019.html 
Data USA, California. https://datausa.io/profile/geo/california
UC ANR Employee Blog, https://ucanr.edu/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=29017

Posted on Monday, October 4, 2021 at 10:59 AM
Focus Area Tags: Yard & Garden

Hispanic Heritage Month Happenings

UC Agriculture and Natural Resource (UC ANR) and the UC Master Gardener Program are joining the celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, From Sept. 15 through Oct.15, Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated nationally to acknowledge Latinos' contributions and vital presence in the United States.

Over the coming weeks UC ANR will hold several zoom forums with topics ranging from how to stop the implicit bias towards Latinos and other ethnic groups, what do we need to know to better understand the Latino community. To the indigenous migrant workers, who are they? What are the most pressing needs? These communities were hit hard by COVID-19.

Registration is required for these events (links provided below), however they are being recorded and posted to the Hispanic Heritage Month 2021 website for those who can't make it. 

Hispanic Heritage Month Honorees

We are celebrating three Latino UC ANR professionals in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month. Congratulations to Liliana Vega, Leticia Christian, and Gersain López, each have an informative, short 2 minute video explaining their work and will be part of a forum on Sept. 29. They were chosen for being Latino professionals who serve their communities while always upholding UC ANR's public values of academic excellence, honesty, integrity, and community service. Watch the honorees videos below.





Zoom Forums

All the zoom forums will be from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Wednesdays and moderated by Ricardo Vela, manager of News and Information Outreach in Spanish (NOS).

The below events will be presented in English. Links to join will be sent to registrants prior to each event. Registration Required: https://surveys.ucanr.edu/survey.cfm?surveynumber=35590

  • September 15, zoom forum, 1-2:30 PM
    One size does not fit all! – Myths, Stereotypes and Discrimination against Latinos.
    Guest speaker: Victor Villegas /Oregon State University/Latino advocate.
    Testimonies from: Christian Gomez Wong, Beatriz Nobua-Bherman and Bertha Teresa Felix-Simmons.
  • September 22, zoom forum, 1-2:30 PM
    Indigenous Migrant Communities – “The forgotten ones in the age of COVID19”
    Guest speakers: Arcenio López/ Exec. Director Mixtec Indígena Organization Project (MICOP)

  • September 29, zoom forum, 1-2:30 PM
    Meet the HHM 2021 Honorees
    Guest speakers: Katherine E. Soule /Liliana Vega – 4-H; Tuline N Baycal/Leticia Christian – CalFresh Healthy Living, UC; Jairo Diaz/Gilberto Magallon/Gersain Lopez – Desert Rec.

The below events will be presented in Spanish. Links to join will be sent to registrants prior to each event. Registration Required: https://surveys.ucanr.edu/survey.cfm?surveynumber=35503

  • October 6 zoom community forum in Spanish, 1-2:30 PM
    Be better parents, how to make your kid a leader.
    Guest speakers: Claudia Diaz – 4-H youth development advisor.

  • October 13 zoom community forum in Spanish, 1-2:30 PM
    How to have a successful vegetable garden
    Guest speaker: Master Garden Volunteers from Contra Costa County UCCE.

  • October 15 zoom community forum in Spanish, 1-2:30 PM
    The power of a nutritional meal
    Guest speakers: Susana Matias Medrano/Nutritional Science & Toxicology/ UC and CE Berkeley


Registration and Website Links

Please help us make this year's celebration a success, spread the word about the events.

Those interested in attending the September forums should register here.

For the Spanish community forums, please register here.

For more information, Zoom backgrounds and phone wallpapers


Questions, Contact:

Ricardo Vela, rvela@ucanr.edu, (951) 660-9887

Posted on Tuesday, September 14, 2021 at 2:27 PM
Focus Area Tags: Yard & Garden

National Volunteer Month: Gardeners with Heart - Diversity Equity and Inclusion Leaders, Part 2

In April, we celebrate National Volunteer Month, honoring all of the contributions that volunteers make in our communities. All month long, the UC Master Gardener Program will feature stories of exceptional volunteers, or Gardeners with Heart, making a difference in California's community, school, demonstration, and research gardens. While the past program year presented many challenges to program delivery, the surge of interest in gardening has never been higher. The passion and support of UC Master Gardener volunteers have been essential in the program continuing to serve our mission.

Today, we celebrate Gardeners with Heart whose diversity, equity, and inclusion leadership has transformed program delivery, outreach, and administration. These volunteers embody the UCANR Strategic Goal to Improve Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI) through their commitment to serving audiences historically underinvested by Extension and developing the community engagement and cultural competency of their fellow volunteers. Because of the nature of COVID-19 restrictions, many of our Gardeners with Heart nominated in the community stewardship category also display outstanding technological skills, using new virtual platforms and approaches to support their efforts.

Jennifer Kwoon (left), displays a variety of stone fruit at the while volunteering at the Alhambra Farmers Market in Los Angeles County. Jennifer’s many contributions to the UC Master Gardener Program, include analysis of volunteer applicant demographics, service on the newly formed Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Task Force, and extending garden information in Mandarin and Cantonese. [Photo taken pre-COVID].

Jennifer Kwoon – Los Angeles County

Jennifer is an amazing UC Master Gardener Program volunteer from the Los Angeles County class of 2019! She's always looking for ways to use her skills to help the UC Master Gardener Program grow and be more helpful to the diverse communities here in Los Angeles County. Before the pandemic, Jennifer could often be found volunteering at the Alhambra Farmers' Market, sharing gardening information with our community. As a fluent Mandarin speaker who also understands Cantonese, she has helped the program reach Chinese-speaking community members with which the program previously had limited interaction.

In recent months, Jennifer has been very active in Los Angeles County's recently formed UC Master Gardener Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Task Force. Last fall, Jennifer approached UC Cooperative Extension (UCCE) staff and offered to analyze program data to help us have a better understanding of the trends in diversity of UC Master Gardeners and trainees over time and of course, we were happy to take her up on this offer!

"I am deeply honored to be nominated for the 2021 UC Master Gardener Program Gardeners with Heart volunteer recognition. Like many people, the global pandemic changed my perspective on how I could still be involved and continue to serve my community in this year of isolation,” says Jennifer, “In addition to a lover of all things green, I am also a fervent proponent for justice and equity. So as a data scientist, it seemed like a natural step to assist the UC Master Gardener Program in Los Angeles County in analyzing years of UC Master Gardener Program applicant and volunteer data to help build a more diverse, inclusive, and welcoming program for all. The UC Master Gardener Program's DEI initiatives are a result of the combined efforts of many caring, dedicated, and extremely generous people. I am privileged to work among them and am continuously inspired by their warmth and commitment to the community.”

Jennifer's contributions have added a layer of awareness to the entire UC Master Gardener Program in Los Angeles, and in turn on every project, by highlighting the urgent need for improvement in terms of diversity, equity, and inclusion in every aspect of our program. Jennifer offered her advanced data analysis skills to analyze anonymous UC Master Gardener applicant data from 2010 through 2020 to illustrate the gaps in our applicant selection process concerning diversity, equity, and inclusion. After Jennifer painstakingly analyzed ten years' worth of program data and presented her findings to the group, the DEI Task Force made practical suggestions based on those results. “Jennifer's work was foundational to allowing us to see where we need to improve our volunteer outreach to reflect the diversity of Los Angeles County better. She also promoted cultural competence, relationship building, and communication among our volunteers,” explains program coordinator Valorie Borel. Along with DEI task force members, Jennifer helped design a final project for 2021 trainees, which prepares them to support diversity, equity, and inclusion in their volunteer work.

Despite the pandemic, UC Master Gardener Program volunteers Deb Helleseth, Elissa Bunn, Muriel Stephenson, Karen McNeil, and Suzanne Surburg continued to visit the Sherwood Demonstration Garden in El Dorado County (when allowed by local and state guidelines) to film videos and online educational content for community partners.

Sherwood Demonstration Garden ‘Veggie Team' - El Dorado County

In 2019, the UC Master Gardener Program launched a partnership with Motherlode Rehabilitation (MORE), a non-profit that provides services to adults with developmental disabilities and empowers individuals with disabilities to enhance their quality of life. Twice a month, MORE clients visited the Sherwood Demonstration Garden to learn about gardening and nutrition with UC Master Gardener Program volunteers, including Kitty Howard and the Veggie Team: Deb Helleseth, Karen McNeil, Elissa Bunn, Gail Fulbeck, Barbara Brydon, Muriel Stephenson, Dave Hale, and Suzanne Surburg.

“When COVID-19 hit, MORE participants could no longer visit the garden, so the ‘Veggie Team' pivoted,” explains program coordinator Tracy Celio. Despite not being able to meet in person, UC Master Gardeners continued to engage MORE clients. A team of volunteers developed learning opportunities and videos to share about various gardening topics and projects like how to build a birdhouse and growing succulents. “Our partnership with the UC Master Gardener Program has had a significant impact on our clients. It opened up a whole new hands-on experience, and our clients learned about where food comes from, how it grows, and the miracle of harvesting. UC Master Gardeners treated our clients with such respect that they felt part of the community. While in-person activities had to pause because of COVID-19, UC Master Gardeners actively supported MORE clients. We can't wait to return in-person to the garden!” says Susie Davies, Chief Executive Officer at MORE.

In addition to this community partner work, the 'Veggie Team' kept the Sherwood Demonstration Garden thriving in 2020. Their work enabled the UC Master Gardener Program in El Dorado to donate large quantities of vegetables to local food banks, launch community training on Facebook Live, produce videos for the public, and develop contact-less gardening kits for existing community projects.

Thurman Howard, UC Master Gardener Program volunteer in Riverside County has been instrumental in the creation of the Diverse Community Projects, an umbrella effort combining projects focusing on the needs and priorities of communities often underinvested by Cooperative Extension. Here Thurman works with a fellow gardener and member of the Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians Tribe, to discuss management of the Soboba Elders Garden.

Thurman Howard – Riverside County

In 2020 UC Master Gardener Program volunteer, Thurman Howard, joined fellow UC Master Gardener volunteers in Riverside County to create a new program effort: Diverse Community Projects. Diverse Community Projects is an umbrella effort combining several existing projects with new ventures, designed to engage and support communities often underinvested by Extension. The project focuses on partnerships with organizations serving Black, Hispanic/Latino/Latinx, Asian and Asian American, Pacific Islander, Native American, and people with disabilities. "For many years UC Master Gardeners in Riverside County have been involved in reaching out to various communities to provide gardening assistance and information. However, we have become increasingly aware that several ethnic populations are either not served at all or who are considerably underserved," says Thurman.

According to fellow volunteer, Georgia Renne the team increased outreach to their existing project serving Women Infants and Children (WIC), a federal Special Supplemental Nutrition Program. Currently serving nine WIC offices throughout Riverside County, the team is now working to expand its footprint. They have developed materials in Spanish, recruited bilingual volunteers and speakers, and partnered with Beaumont Head Start to provide education and bilingual assistance in a local children's garden. These efforts have increased UC Master Gardener Program contacts in the Latino community in Riverside by 1000%! In addition to work with WIC and Headstart participants, the Diverse Community Projects team, collaborates closely with Faith Temple, a predominately Black congregation located in an ethnically diverse community of Black, Asian, and Hispanic families. UC Master Gardener Program volunteers worked with congregants to develop a one-acre community garden and orchard and gardening programming in collaboration with Cal Fresh and the Faith Temple's garden committee.

Thurman worked with his team to support the 'Cultivating Inclusion Garden' located in Murrieta, Calif. to help address the need for vocational skills for people with disabilities. UC Master Gardener Program volunteers organize and train community volunteers on how to manage the citrus orchard and several raised beds for vegetables. Volunteers then work alongside adults and children with disabilities to care for plants and harvested produce to be donated to local food banks. From July 2020 to January 2021, this orchard produced over 2 tons of citrus for their local food pantries.

Finally, Thurman Howard's years-long personal relationship with the Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians in the San Jacinto area resulted in the development of a community resource garden, the Soboba Elder's Garden. Thurman's approach to this partnership reflects his deep respect for community partners, humility, and understanding of the importance of trust-building. "At the beginning of this project,” says Georgia, “Thurman worked to visited with Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians tribal members twice per week to discuss soil building, project goals, and project budget.” As a result, the Soboba Elders' Garden today has become a huge success. The site now has multiple fields planted with seasonally appropriate crops, a robust composting and vermiculture program, and various types of irrigation. The Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians has nominated several members to complete the UC Master Gardener Program training and funded a full-time coordinator to deliver garden produce to tribal members. Current plans include planting a summer crop of corn, beans, pumpkins, and yams or sweet potatoes as requested by the Elders. In the late spring of 2021, members continue to harvest crops daily with a bumper crop of carrots, beets, mustard greens, onions, and three varieties of lettuces.

About National Volunteer Month and Gardeners with Heart

During National Volunteer Month (April 1 - 30), the UC Master Gardener Program celebrates its 6,000 incredible UC Master Gardener volunteers and their contributions to California communities. Throughout the month, we will feature stories of special volunteers or Gardeners with Heart from across the state who use their skills to improve program delivery. Gardeners with Heart volunteers were nominated by their local county leadership for their stewardship of the UC Master Gardener Program during the pandemic period, their diversity equity and inclusion leadership, and their digital superstardom. To nominate a Gardener with Heart in your program or county, complete this online survey 



Special appreciation to UC Master Gardener Program coordinators Valerie Borel (Los Angeles) and Tracy Celio (El Dorado) and lead volunteer Georgie Renne (Riverside) for contributions to this story.



Posted on Wednesday, April 21, 2021 at 10:00 AM
  • Author: Marisa Coyne
  • Editor: Melissa Womack
  • Author: Valerie Borel
Focus Area Tags: Yard & Garden

LIVE: Planting Right with Plant Right Talk

UC Master Gardener Program and PlantRight have partnered for a LIVE Facebook and YouTube talk about invasive plants on Jan. 19at noon. Invasive plants harm the environment and cost California millions of dollars to monitor and manage each year. Almost half of invasive plants in the state get their start through the nursery trade, and many invasive plants are still legal to sell today. Educating people on the impact of invasive plants is just a small piece of removing them from the environment.

What is PlantRight?

PlantRight is a program that works together with the nursery industry, conservation, science, and government agencies to identify and help nurseries voluntarily phase out invasive plants. For each invasive on the list, PlantRight suggests safer, regionally appropriate alternative plants. PlantRight's goal is to teach everyone from landscapers to home gardeners how toplant “right”. Learn more about PlantRight at www.PlantRight.org. Stay up on the latest from PlantRight by following them on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram

UC Master Gardener Partnership

The partnership between the UC Master Gardener Program and PlantRight supports planting the right plant in the right place. The right plant in the right place leads to a healthier environment and healthier plants. Because of UC Master Gardener volunteer efforts, PlantRight can survey plant nurseries all over California.  Armed with clipboards, cameras, and data sheets, specially trained volunteers collect and report to PlantRight. The information volunteers gather is vital to PlantRight for three main purposes:

  1. Tracking the sale of invasive plants currently on the plant list and retiring those that have been mostly phased out of retail.
  2. Helping PlantRight determine whether or not to add candidate plants to the plant list.
  3. Informing industry outreach strategy with information about sales in different regions and store types.

UC Master Gardener volunteers play a vital role in educating the public on right plant, right place, and helping PlantRight survey California's plant nurseries.

Planting Right with PlantRight, LIVE on Jan. 19

The UC Master Gardener Program is celebrating this great partnership by hosting a free LIVE talk titled Planting Right with PlanRight. No registration is required. The discussion will be live-streamed to Facebook and YouTube on Tuesday, Jan. 19 at noon. Guest speaker, Alex Stubblefield, PlantRight Project manager, will be educating us on invasive plants in California and offering plant alternatives as well as the importance of the annual plant survey.

LIVE talks are an authentic and interactive way to interact with our audience in real-time. Share the Facebook and YouTube Live opportunity with your friends on social media and tune in to the UC Master Gardener Program LIVE broadcast! In the comments section below, let us know what topics or questions you would like answered on Tuesday, Jan. 19, or ideas for future LIVE topics. The event will be recorded and available for later viewing for those who can't make it. Attention UC Master Gardener Volunteers: Whether you join LIVE or watch the recording, be sure to record your continuing education hours in the Volunteer Management System.

Ask your local UC Master Gardener

For more gardening help and local county resources, click here to Find a Program. You will be redirected to your local county website and contact information. UC Master Gardener volunteers, staff, and our extended community's health and safety is our number one priority. Many UC Cooperative Extension offices are offering only phone and virtual services but are here to help, be sure to check your local program for resources. Thank you for your understanding.


Posted on Tuesday, January 12, 2021 at 2:05 PM
Focus Area Tags: Yard & Garden

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