Posts Tagged: gardening
Fall is the time to plant spring-flowering bulbs. As the cooler temperatures start to arrive in many parts of the country, the last thing on many people's minds is planting flowers for spring color in the garden. But, now is the perfect time to plant bulbs that will pack a punch of color to help usher out winter blues.
Start with a trip to your local nursery. When purchasing, look for heavy, dense bulbs with no decay, mold, or fungus. Bulbs should smell fresh and be free of cuts and bruises. Plant classics like daffodils and tulips or branch out with other textures, colors and heights with Fritillaria, Allium, Anemone and more.
Lasagna planting technique
The bulb planting technique of layering is also known as planting “lasagna-style.” Planting bulbs “lasagna-style” involves layering different bulb varieties in the same pot. Each bulb planted is selected based on its blooming times, planting depth and color.
By overlapping bulb bloom times you can create pots of long-lasting flowers and color. For three waves of bloom, select bulbs that bloom in early-spring, mid-spring, and late-spring. Bulb packages list bloom date information on the labels. When making bulb selections, consider choosing bulbs with overlapping bloom times so that the planting remains colorful all season.
Planting and positioning bulbs
Plant bulbs like you are making lasagna! Plant the largest bulbs approximately 8-inches deep, smaller bulbs 5-inches deep, and so on. Be sure to read the bulb package for planting depths. Potting soil is the “sauce” and used as the layer under and over your bulbs.
- Choose a container that is at least 12-14 inches deep, with good drainage.
- Select a potting soil that includes a slow release fertilizer OR add bone meal to your potting soil according to the package instructions. Bone meal is rich in Phosphorous and will promote fall root growth.
- Add a 2-3 inch layer of soil and then plant the largest bulbs approximately 8-inches deep, smaller bulbs 5-inches deep. Be sure to read the bulb package for planting depths. Large sized bulbs may include (king Alfred) daffodil, allium, and tulip.
- Potting soil is the “sauce” and is used as the layer under and over your bulbs. Once the first layer of bulbs is in, add another layer of potting soil about 2-3 inches deep. Measure the depth from the top rim of your pot down, you should have about 6” more to plant.
- The next layer will be a bulb that is planted about 6 inches below the surface, examples include Dutch hyacinth or a jonquil Narcissus. Leave approx. ¼” space between each bulb. Remember to not overcrowd bulbs as they will swell once watering begins.
- Add more “sauce” and cover previous bulbs with about 1” inch of soil.
- The next layer will finish your container off with bulbs, look for smaller bulbs like grape hyacinth and/or crocus. Remember to leave a little space in between bulbs.
- Top off with five inches of potting soil and add some pansies or other colorful cool weather annuals to maintain seasonal interest.
- Finally, add mulch and water regularly.
Lasagna bulb combinations
- Pansy and mulch (top)
- Mulch (top)
- Grape Hyacinth
- Large Allium (bottom)
- Thyme (top)
- Daffodils (bottom)
A beautiful spring show of blooms
As spring arrives, place your container in a spot with high visibility and enjoy the waves of colorful flowers as they emerge, bloom and die back. As each new layer of blooms appears, the previous layer's leaves will remain. You can clean up faded or dead flowers, but don't remove the leaves as they provide energy back to the bulb for next year's growth. This is a great project to do with children and share the experience as each flower variety goes through its life cycle.
Recipe for Bulb Lasagna by Carolyn Neumann (published Sept. 17, 2012)
A display of bulbs blooming at different stages of growth. Bulbs shown are purple crocus, pink, yellow and purple hyacinth, yellow double ruffle daffodil and tulips. Photo: Lauren Snowden
As 2020 comes to a close, I'd like to express my deep appreciation and thanks to all of our UCCE San Bernardino County Master Gardener volunteers who have given the ‘gift of their time' to provide credible information to the gardening public. Even during COVID, they've found creative and safe means to continue reaching the public by converting face-to-face classes and workshops to online opportunities.They've gone above and beyond their expected volunteerism by helping those in need during these difficult times by working with our partners to distribute free seeds, trees, and wattles (for erosion control) and ensuring a happy holiday season for children and adults in need through a gift drive. Through COVID, the UCCE Master Gardeners have maintained their email and phone helplines to help county residents solve their gardening quandaries (linked here) firstname.lastname@example.org and (909)387-2182.
Master Gardener volunteers helped thousands of county residents landscape more sustainably, grow food in home, community, and school gardens, and deepen their appreciation of nature. They:
- Taught classes on drought-resistant landscapes and growing food in home, school, and community gardens
- Hosted ‘Ask the Master Gardener' sessions
- Provided education to community and school gardeners
- Distributed gardening information and answered questions at Farmers' Markets, community fairs and other events
- Answered home gardening questions via email and phone helplines
- Shared gardening information through social media
- Helped promote planting trees to cool urban heat islands in underserved neighborhoods and communities
- Helped take research data on the 'trees for tomorrow' project
- Published the monthly Master Gardener newsletter (thanks Phoebe, Debbie, Maggie, Robin, Sue and contributing authors!)
A special ‘shout out' to our monthly 2020 ‘Spotlight' Master Gardener volunteers for their extraordinary service:
I'd also like to recognize our dozens of non-profit partners including Inland Empire Resource Conservation District and the County of San Bernardino.
And, last but far from least, I'm forever thankful to UCCE San Bernardino County Master Gardener Coordinator Maggie O'Neill whose passion, heart, and expertise keeps the program thriving!
Happy Holidays to All!
MG citizen scientists
For the past three months, COVID-19 and social distancing requirements have changed the way the UC Master Gardener Program serves our mission to extend trusted gardening information. With a resurgence of interest in gardening, UC Master Gardener volunteers adapted to the pandemic using new and innovative ways to share gardening support and help.
This is the fourth feature of a four-part blog series. Read our earlier posts about how volunteers in Amador County learned new skills and quickly brought program resources online in Part 1 of this 4-part series. Explore how volunteers in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties created the “Great Tomato Plant Share' in Part 2 of this 4-part series. San Diego County was featured in Part 3 of this 4-part series for how quickly they adapted and brought classes online for UC Master Gardener trainees.
Join us as we celebrate the innovation, creativity, and flexibility of UC Master Gardener volunteers and county staff during this unique time!
SAN LUIS OBISPO
Across the state program coordinators for the UC Master Gardener Program have been working tirelessly to stay up to date on local and state health guidance, support volunteers with the transition to online training, maintain relationships with community partners, and more. In some counties, the ‘new normal' for county-based employees have included work at emergency response facilities.
In San Luis Obispo County, Maria Murrietta is serving her community as a disaster service worker. Twice a week from March through June, Murrietta has delivered food from the food bank to high-risk residents in San Luis Obispo County. These vulnerable residents are unable to venture out to get supplies or groceries because they are following strict self-quarantine guidelines. The disaster service program is the result of a collaboration between the Food Bank Coalition of San Luis Obispo and San Luis Obispo County.
At noon every Tuesday and Friday, Murrietta joins delivery drivers at one of five food delivery hubs throughout the county. Once Murrietta reaches her pick-up location, she collects two bags of food (one full of dry goods, the other packed with produce) for each adult, in each home on her list. Site leaders provide delivery drivers with route information, special instructions, and face masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer to ensure their safety and the safety of residents.
Upon arrival at each residence, Murrietta makes contact by phone or at a safe distance, with each recipient to ensure they received the delivery. “Having that brief contact with the recipients has been so gratifying,” says Murrietta. “I've visited many of them multiple times and they were all so appreciative of the extra help. Lots of ‘bless you' and ‘thank you' and reminders to ‘be careful out there'. Even neighbors of the recipients have thanked me for helping their community members. One home in particular always leaves a different handwritten thank you note taped to her front door. I take a photo of each one. One resident at a senior facility told me about the wonderful soup she makes with the big bag of produce she receives.”
Murrietta is confident that the produce being delivered is of high quality – because a portion of it is grown by volunteers in San Luis Obispo County. The UC Master Gardener Program of San Luis Obispo County has been harvesting and donating fresh fruits and vegetables to the food bank since 2016. Last year was its best year yet with more than 1100 lbs. of fresh produce donated from its vegetable beds and fruit orchard.
“UC Master Gardener volunteers have been working hard to keep this up during the statewide shelter-in-place order. They were among the first groups to be approved as essential workers - according to the early UC ANR guidelines - so they could continue this vital work,” says Murrietta. “They continue to adjust as the procedures continue to change, even when, for a short time, the food bank stopped accepting donations from non-commercial growers. During this brief break, our lead UC Master Gardener volunteer went to work and found two additional locations in our region that were happy to accept fruits and vegetables - the Salvation Army food pantry and our local homeless services center!”
Murrietta reports that demand at the food bank has tripled since March 2020 and that seed racks at two local nurseries are nearly empty. “Food insecurity is not a new topic, but is a new concern for many people for the first time,” explains Murrietta. In San Luis Obispo County, residents can benefit from UC Master Gardener Program harvests, in the form of produce donations, and from gardening education that the volunteers provide to the public. “I think this time of COVID-19 has highlighted the importance of what UC Master Gardeners can offer a community, and it has reminded UC Master Gardener volunteers of how important their work is,” notes Murrietta. “Their skills and knowledge and their desire to contribute go beyond helping other gardeners have a pretty landscape!”
While COVID-19 has affected all communities and volunteers differently, the resilience, creativity, and flexibility, of UC Master Gardener volunteers and coordinators alike, continues to inspire and impress. The stories featured in this four-part series here are a small snapshot of the innovation and strength that this food community and garden education community has to offer.
Please note: Reappointment for the 2020/2021 Program Year began on June 1st and ends July 30th. The UC Master Gardener Program celebrates and appreciates ALL volunteers, regardless of their ability to contribute hours during this unprecedented time. Volunteers who choose to remain active and reappoint will be approved, regardless of the number of volunteer or continuing education hours completed this year. Volunteers will not be responsible for making up any incomplete volunteer and continuing education hours in the following program year. However, all volunteers must complete reappointment to remain active or limited active in the UC Master Gardener Program.
It may seem odd to see seventy-five people at a hotel conference center learning about insects and rats on vegetables, but not if you are a UC Master Gardener. The UC Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program (UC IPM) in partnership with the UC Master Gardener Program just wrapped up the Vegetable Pests and Solutions train-the-trainer series. More than 340 UC Master Gardener volunteers from across the state took part in the regional trainings offered in Fresno, Orange, Placer, San Luis Obispo and Sonoma counties.
The advanced UC IPM training offered a hands-on, train-the-trainer experience that increased participants' knowledge of insect pests of vegetables, vegetable plant diseases and disorders, and vertebrate pests of gardens and homes. One of the highlights of the training was Human-Wildlife Interaction Advisor, Niamh Quinn, showing a taxidermy collection of vertebrate pests at the Orange and San Luis Obispo County workshops. Being able to handle and observe the different markings, colors and claws on certain animals makes future identification easier as participants learned the signs to look for when identifying vertebrate pest damage in the vegetable garden.
UC Master Gardener volunteers were lead through exercises that mimic questions commonly received from the public. Some of the questions had a photo, others just a sparse description that volunteers worked together to solve using online IPM resources and materials provided at the training. The exercises were designed to challenge and expose the learner to different types of scenarios and tools they can use in the future.
Outreach and Education
The UC Master Gardener Program's mission is to extend research-based information, by attending advanced trainings such as this, volunteers are even more prepared to contribute to the program's mission. With exposure and practice using new resources and materials training attendees have the tools and knowledge needed to educate the public on vegetable pests and solutions including scripted PowerPoints, activities, handouts, and vegetable pest identification card sets. One attendee reported “As a first year UC Master Gardener, this training helped me become more comfortable and more confident researching answers for pest management questions.”
At the conclusion of the training volunteers convened with their fellow county volunteers to talk about their plans to take new found knowledge back into their communities. Some of the great ideas generated were:
- offer seasonal pest problems workshops
- include a “Need Help Solving Pest Problems?” flier for all events
- add IPM tips to newsletters and social media
- integrate IPM into presentations as appropriate or relevant to topic
- add signage for damaged or diseased plants with IPM solutions in demonstration gardens
- share IPM toolkit at farmers markets and demo garden events
How We are Making a Difference
One portion of the agenda was focused on how the UC Master Gardener community is making a difference. With 6,000+ volunteers serving more than 517,000 Californians per year the impact of the UC Master Gardener volunteer effort is truly amazing. Through statewide program evaluation efforts the impact in sustainable landscaping, food gardening and community well-being is now being analyzed and reported in the programs annual report. Volunteers can see the impact they are having statewide and be proud of being part of a group that social changes they are seeing in their local communities.
As active volunteers and life-long learners UC Master Gardeners are a powerful educational tool and inspiration for others not only in the garden but in the volunteer community. Statewide educational offerings like UC IPM's train-the-trainer series help hone the diagnostics skills while building confidence in the subject matter.
The next statewide training opportunity for UC Master Gardener volunteers will be the 2020 UC Master Gardener Conference, Sept. 28 –Oct. 2, 2020 at the Granlibakken, Tahoe. The conference is the beginning planning stages and taking speaker and topic suggestions, click here to suggest a speaker or topic.
In the heart of San Mateo County sits a garden gem, The Gardening Education Center, a 5,000 square foot growing space established by the UC Master Gardener Program of San Mateo County. This green garden space was approximately three years in the making, which included fundraising, planning, and actively working the land.
In the spring of 2018, when the site was unveiled, UC Master Gardener volunteers went to work. The plan was to prepare the space for a small (4-5 fruit tree) orchard, three large raised bed planters for seasonal flowers and vegetables, and separate specialty in-ground beds featuring natives, succulents and other drought tolerant plantings.
Prior to the planting, UC Master Gardener volunteers sheet mulched with cardboard and wood chips. This assisted in smothering the invasive groundcover that had taken over the overgrown neglected space.
Unbeknownst to UC Master Gardener volunteers, there was significantly more Bermuda grass than was initially suspected. Bermuda grass seeds can be an aggressive, the grass itself is tough and persistent. Over the next few months the grass eventually crept in and completely took over. Drastic measures were needed to eradicate the pesky weeds so the committed volunteers accepted the challenge and made a plan to eradicate the invasive grass without utilizing chemicals.
The plan of attack included eradicating as much Bermuda grass as possible from the very compacted and dry soil as naturally as possible. They scraped the top few inches of the soil off of the area to get rid of as many rhizomes and stolons of the pernicious Bermuda grass.
They worked tirelessly to remove the Bermuda grass, and prepared the soil for compost tea and cover crop planting. By removing the Bermuda grass it made a huge difference in the look, health and overall maintenance of the garden space.
The following eight cool season cover crops were chosen for the first planting because of these benefits:
In the end, UC Master Gardener volunteers produced a harvest of plenty. They learned the finer points of making compost extract using premier compost and applying it to the soil to introduce microbial life into the soil, attracting beneficial fungi, nematodes and earthworms. Not only were they able to plant diverse cover crops that crowded out the weeds, they were also successful in reaching their goal of treating the 1,600 square foot space of garden soil with no pesticides.
The Gardening Education Center has been open to UC Master Gardener volunteers since last spring, as they work to create the infrastructure to accommodate classes for the public. There are three greenhouses onsite that are currently growing plants for the UC Master Gardener Program of San Mateo and San Francisco Counties.
Compost Class pictured above, front row from left to right: Mark Foulard, Norine Cepernich, Terry Messinger, Maggi Lim, Cathy Vreeberg, Gaye Torjusen, (and standing) Nancy Kruberg, Terry Lyngso, and Steve Maskel. Second row from left ot right: Patty Deering, Linda Dvorak,Kathy Stamm, Kate Sweetman, Carol O'Donnell, John O'Hara, Charlie Akers, Charlene Landreau, Ginny Piazza, Cynthia Nations, Nick Landolfi, Janet Gilmore, Yana Maloney, and behind Yana, John Bassetto (Norine's husband and heavy equipment operator).
Many thanks to this group of volunteers, who have led the efforts and plan for The Gardening Education Center space and whom have spent countless volunteer hours! They have put a lot of thought into making this an excellent learning process for all. We would like to especially recognize Terry Lyngso, whom donated compost, seeds and paving stones to the project.