As everyone is still sheltering in place to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 many groups have suspended all activities. The UCCE Master Gardeners are hoping to open their demonstration gardens and begin their gardening classes as soon as permissible. But in the mean time we thought we would send you all something to pass the time and maybe inspire you to get outside in your gardens.
We hope to resume classes and open garden days in June but will follow public health and UC recommendations as released. Please check our website for up-to-date schedules for future events.
Don't forget to wash, wash, wash your hands, singing the following to the tune of Gonna Wash That Man Right Out of My Hair from the musical South Pacific.
I'm gonna wash those germs right off of my hands,
I'm gonna wash those germs right off of my hands,
I'm gonna wash those germs right off of my hands,
And send them down the drain.
Other ways to connect with Master Gardeners
in your county.
While all of our gardens are currently closed due to the current COVID-19 situation, and our activities remain halted through May 31st, our UCCE Master Gardeners are still available to answer your questions! When leaving phone messages, be sure to include your contact information so they can get back to you with answers. You can also explore our online resources, including monthly gardening tips, original articles written by UCCE Master Gardeners in Amador, Calaveras, El Dorado, and Tuolumne Counties, and even a gardening radio show, by visiting ourUCCE Master Gardeners of Central Sierra websiteanytime!
by Pamela Bennetts, UCCE Master Gardener of Amador County
“The flowers that bloom in the spring, tra la, Bring promise of merry sunshine— As we merrily dance and we sing, tra la, We welcome the hope that they bring,” (Gilbert and Sullivan)
We can all use a lot of hope these days as we “socially distance” and “shelter in place”. Where better to find hope, though, than in a spring garden? While we may not gather together, we can go into our gardens or go for a walk and admire others’ gardens.
In our (previously) fast-paced world we seldom took “time to smell the roses” much less look at them. I’ve found that with meetings canceled or handled on Zoom, lunch dates postponed and shopping curtailed there is a lot more time to relax in the sanctuary of my back yard. I can sit in my front garden and greet neighbors as they pass by. How delightful is it to spend the afternoon basking in the sun with a cup of tea and a good book?
Parents, I realize a lot of you are overwhelmed with “distance learning”. Use your garden or landscape as an outdoor classroom. For the little ones, help them identify all the colors or variations of colors they see in the garden. Have they noticed how many shades of green there are? They could also create fairy gardens: in a container have them plant a few small plants (maybe dig up a couple from your yard) and decorate with some rocks. If you have some dollhouse furniture, add that.
For older kids, turn it into a math lesson while they calculate the size of a spring garden and measure distances as they plant their seeds. For science, graph the growth of the plants. In a few months it will turn into a cooking lesson. For Physical Education, good old weeding will get them moving. A friend actually thanked her weeds on Facebook recently for getting her out into the fresh air and getting her yard weeded!
by Maggie Murphy, UCCE Master Gardener of Calaveras County
Did you know that Victory Gardens originated during World War 1 as
‘War Gardens for Victory’? They were first developed in the United States in March 1917 before we entered the war. The National War Garden Commission was formed and the war garden campaign launched with slogans like ‘Dig forVictory’. The altruistic purpose was to alleviate the severe food shortage experienced by our starving allies in Europe. Americans were encouraged to grow their own fruits and vegetables so that more food could be exported. School grounds, parks, backyards and vacant lots all became gardens.
With World War 2, Victory Gardens reemerged. Around one third of the vegetables produced in the U.S. came from victory gardens. It was emphasized that the produce from gardens would help lower the price of vegetables needed to feed the troops, that commercial crops could be diverted to the military and transportation resources redirected from food towards moving troops and supplies if you would grow your own. Food rationing brought in the additional aspect of gardening as food security. Victory gardens were also considered a morale booster. In a time of great stress, everyone could do something productive to contribute to success.
Victory Gardens are making a comeback. Across the news networks, gardening sites and university extensions we are hearing of Victory Gardens 2020. Our own UCCE Master Gardeners of Calaveras and Tuolumne joined together to create a Facebook community group. It recently expanded to include Amador and El Dorado counties and is now Central Sierra Victory Gardens 2020.
Stay close to home, be outdoors, get some sun and exercise and be productive – grow something edible. De-stress with other local gardeners by connecting through social media and sharing your progress, questions, trials and successes. Other gardeners grasp the joy in watching your seedlings grow or the horror the sight of a gopher generates. In the spirit of Victory Gardens, the focus of the group is onveggie, fruit and herb gardening.
By Don Bojnowski, UCCE Master Gardener of Calaveras County
From our coastal scrub and valley grasslands, to our chaparral and oaken foothills, and up to our giant sequoias and high Sierra, California remains one of the most diverse flower habitats in the world. It provides essential plants for attracting bees, butterflies, and other pollinators. The monarch butterfly is especially attracted to California native milkweed.
In spring, monarchs head north, and in fall, four generations later, they fly back to overwinter in Mexico. Monarch butterflies begin as eggs that hatch into caterpillars. They eat their eggshells before devouring the milkweed plants they were born on. Molting four to five times, the caterpillars eat their shed skin as they gain 2700 times their original weight in a stage that lasts only 9-14 days.
A monarch caterpillar can eat an entire milkweed leaf in less than five minutes. Twelve hours before shedding its skin for last time, the colorful, fat caterpillar spins a silk thread to hang on. After wiggling upside down - like Houdini in a straitjacket - the outer skin hardens into a protective chrysalis. Two weeks later, the black-orange-and-white magnificent monarch butterfly emerges. For us, the colorful pattern is beautiful, but it warns predators to steer clear of a foultasting and poisonous meal.
Master Gardeners are still volunteering but at their home during the “Shelter in Place” order. We have a wonderful group of volunteers that have always worked behind the scenes to provide home gardening advice based on research. Below are some of the resources.
The hotline is a phone number where you can leave your home gardening question and a Master Gardener will get back to you sometime during the week. The Hotline number is (209) 533-5912. Home gardening questions can also be answered by email, just go to the Ask a Master Gardener survey and enter your question.
The Tuolumne Master Gardener Facebook page provides current information on available local resources and it too can answer gardening questions. There is a wonderful community of gardeners that interact with each other and have fun doing it.
If you like listening to the radio, the Master Gardeners of Tuolumne County produce a 30 minute weekly radio show called “Over the Garden Gate.” The show is broadcast through the Sonora Community Radio Station at kaad-lp.org or can be found at the FM channel of 103.5. The show is aired every Thursday at 10:30 am and also rebroadcast on Saturday and Sundays at 9:30 am. Listen to any of our archived broadcasts on our Over the Garden Gate webpage.
Sherwood Demonstration Garden
by Sue McDavid, UCCE Master Gardener of El Dorado County
As I write this, the COVID-19 virus has greatly impacted what we as Master Gardeners like to do . . . interact with the public. However, this too shall pass and in the meantime, there are many solo activities we can do to pass the time and, of course, getting out in your own gardens is one of them.
The demonstration garden was due to reopen to the public again in April, but this is on hold until further notice. Fortunately, before restrictions were put in place, one project in the garden was able to be completed – our pergola/outdoor classroom. As you can see from the accompanying photo, this 24' x 35' structure was an ambitious undertaking and one we hoped to have 100% ready to use by the end of April. However, the basic structure was finished near the end of February. Many, many thanks to Master Gardeners, Paul Brink, Cheryl Turner and Sheri Burke for climbing up and down those tall ladders to place string lines, measure level grades over and over, guide the beams into place and put in dozens of screws. Jan Sherwood and I stayed on the ground being the go-fors and tool gatherers. Most importantly, this structure could not have been built without the expertise of Mike Burke, Sheri's husband, coming out numerous times with his backhoe to dig footings, hoist all the heavy beams up in the air to be placed into position and general knowledge of so many construction issues. He even helped build the retaining wall in front of the pergola after digging the footing for it!
The pergola/outdoor classroom is going to be a huge asset for us in presenting our public education classes, hands-on demonstrations, hosting various tour groups and the like. When totally completed, there will be pavers on the floor, electrically-operated side screens, a weather-resistant fabric roof, equipment for PowerPoint presentations and tables that can be converted to benches; the seating capacity will accommodate approximately 80 people. We are very excited about this and hopefully, it won't be long before we're in business and open again to the public.
By Sandy Hendricks, UCCE Master Gardener of Amador County
It’s time to start asking the question, is now the time to start my summer garden? There are things to consider before you plant. Is the soil too wet to work outside? What are the nighttime temperatures? What are the soil temperatures?
If the soil is not too wet to work outside, then there are things to be done to prepare your soil for planting.
First, remove all dead debris that may have accumulated over the winter. Remove all the old leaves and dead material off the soil.
Remove mulch, if you have used it in your garden. The mulch can remain out of the garden until the plants are established. Mulch will help the soil to warm up, it’ll help conserve water and in the hot summer it will keep the plant’s roots cool. Weed-free straw is a good, affordable garden mulch.
Are you planting in the ground? Do you have raised bed? Both will need some amendments. The best amendment would be compost. Compost is like a time-released fertilizer and can be added to the soil as a topdressing. You don’t want to till too deep. That would disturb all the lovely microorganisms living in the soil. Those microorganisms work in the soil to break down nutrients that the plant needs to survive.
The University of California working in cooperation with County Government and the United States Department of Agriculture.
Should you need assistance or require special accommodations for any of our educational programs, please contact us at 530-621-5502.
It is the policy of the University of California (UC) and the UC Division of Agriculture & Natural Resources not to engage in discrimination against or harassment of any person in any of its programs or activities (Complete nondiscrimination policy statement can be found at http://ucanr.edu/sites/anrstaff/files/215244.pdf ). Inquiries regarding ANR's nondiscrimination policies may be directed to UCANR, Affirmative Action Compliance & Title IX Officer, University of California, Agriculture and Natural Resources, 2801 Second Street, Davis, CA 95618, (530) 750-1397.
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