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Posts Tagged: Master Gardener

Mexican Feather Grass: Invasive Beauty can be Deceiving



Mexican Feather Grass (Nassella or Stipa tenuissima) is a wildly popular ornamental grass used by home gardeners and landscape design professionals. Mexican Feather Grass is loved for its graceful, delicate and fine texture – it grows out in a cascade like a beautiful fountain. Plus it is extremely drought tolerant adding to its allure. It's no wonder this ornamental grass has been enthusiastically used in home landscapes. But - don't be fooled by this invasive beauty!

Mexican Feather Grass (Nasella or Stipa tenuissima) is popular in home landscapes because of its drought tolerance.
Mexican Feather Grass Named Invasive

Mexican Feather Grass was recently added to PlantRight's list of invasive plants in California. It produces tens of thousands of seeds, which are dispersed by wind, water or contaminated soil – as well as via automobiles and animal droppings. The seed-bank can persist for more than four years and the plant commonly self-sows in California. Mexican feather grass is capable of overcoming native plants and animal species once it becomes established.

It crowds out pasture grass species as well as native grasses in coastal areas and is found in all landscapes, including: urban spaces, agricultural areas, forests, open grasslands, riparian zones, disturbed land, and shrublands.

Working to Stop Distribution

PlantRight works with leaders in the nursery industry, conservation groups, plant scientists and professional landscapers to find cost-effective ways to stop the sale of invasive plants and Mexican feather grass is at the top of their list. PlantRight is currently working with one of the top growers of Mexican feather grass to stop the sale of 14,000 plants that are ready to ship to retailers. These 14,000 plants are capable of producing more than 980 million seeds each year. 

PlantRight Recommended Alternatives:

To learn more about Plant Right and how they are working to stop the distribution of Mexican feather grass, visit


Posted on Monday, June 30, 2014 at 8:37 AM

No Blues for California Blueberries

Summer is upon us, and nothing quite says summer more than eating freshly picked blueberries or using them in delicious desserts.  California blueberry growers can find an additional treat - the newly published UC IPM Pest Management Guidelines for blueberry on the UC IPM web site.  California is quickly becoming a top producer of blueberries, and the new guidelines can help with management information on blueberry pests such as thrips, light brown apple moth, and spotted wing drosophila with additional information on pesticides and resistance. 

Blueberries in bloom at the Kearny Agricultural Research and Extension Center, University of California. (Photo credit: Jack Kelly Clark) © University of California
It may be hard to believe but as of 1996, blueberry production was limited to colder states like Washington, Michigan, New Jersey, and Oregon, where naturally acidic soils and winter climates suit the traditional highbush varieties. As recently as 1997, California blueberries were only growing on less than 200 acres across the state. According to the latest CDFA statistics, 2012 continued to show what has been an increasing trend for California blueberries, with more than 40 million pounds harvested, $133 million sold, and plantings in more than 4,700 acres spanning San Joaquin, Tulare, Kern, Ventura, and Fresno counties.

In 1995 the University of California Small Farms Program and cooperating farmers started evaluating low-chill southern highbush varieties in San Luis Obispo and Ventura counties. They found that “low-chill” southern highbush varieties offered the most promise for extended season production on the central coast. By 1997, Kearney Agricultural Center trials found that southern highbush cultivars were also well adapted to the semiarid climate of the San Joaquin Valley. Further evaluations identified the best yielding and flavorful cultivars. Initial and ongoing UC Small Farms studies have escalated California blueberry production swiftly up the learning curve, providing California farmers of small to moderate operations a niche in a very competitive market.

Blueberry field trial in San Joaquin county, located on a cooperator's land. © University of California
Today, California blueberries are harvested from May through July in the San Joaquin Valley and January through May on the central coast. While consumer demands are on the rise and profits can be excellent, producing and harvesting blueberries in California is expensive. It can run over $10,000 per acre to prepare a field because successful cultivation in many areas necessitates soil and irrigation water acidification and adding tons of mulch per acre. Specialized equipment, labor-intensive pruning, and pests like light brown apple moth, thrips, and spotted wing drosophila can add substantially to cost. Therefore, getting the right information and planning is imperative. While the UC Small Farms Program continues to develop field and market research for blueberry production in California, growers can also turn to the newly published Pest Management Guidelines for blueberries.


Posted on Friday, June 20, 2014 at 9:37 AM
  • Author: Jodi Azulai, UC Statewide IPM Program
Tags: blueberries (1), IPM (10), Master Gardener (32)

Experience Yosemite and Surroundings at Conference Tours

The 2014 UC Master Gardener Program Conference offers several opportunities for you and your guests to experience Yosemite and the surrounding area through tours featuring must-see destinations and gardens in Yosemite, Mariposa, Madera and Fresno County. Experience this region of California as you've never been able to before!


Loofa Farm & Mount Bullion Vineyard

The loofa is a member of the Cucurbitaceae family. Contrary to popular belief, loofas grow on a vine, not in the ocean.  Located in the Yosemite foothills, this tour of a working loofa farm is scheduled one week prior to harvest!  Handmade crèmes, lotions, soaps and loofahs are available for purchase, and of course, all products are grown and crafted on site.

Following the loofa farm tour you will travel to Mt. Bullion Vineyard, where grapes are grown, fermented, barreled, aged, bottled and cellared.  A visit to the winery is by appointment only. Lunch will be provided at the winery.   The tour also includes transportation to and from Tenaya Lodge. 


Gardens of the Central Valley

Clovis Botanical Garden is the only botanical garden in the San Joaquin Valley. It is a one-acre water-wise demonstration garden that showcases beautiful plants and landscapes appropriate for the hot summers and cool winters of California's Central Valley. While strolling through the garden learn about the “Sensational 70”, plants friendly to Central Valley landscapes which are attractive, water-wise, and non-invasive.  Enjoy lunch at the home and garden of one of our own Master Gardeners of Fresno County. 

The Forestiere Underground Gardens is a Fresno City and county historical site and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Explore the underground maze of rooms, courtyards, and passageways reminiscent of the ancient catacombs. See unique fruit-producing trees, shrubs, and vines growing underground – some over 90 years old. Water, wine and snacks on the return trip to the Tenaya Lodge.  Arrive back at the Lodge in time for the Cowboy Dinner, Train Ride, and Campfire.

Campfire & Train Ride
All Aboard! An exciting four mile railroad excursion at Yosemite Park's South gate on Highway 41.  Ride into history where powerful locomotives once hauled massive log trains through the Sierra Mountains and where mighty lumberjacks felled the timber and flumes carried the lumber to the distant valley below. 

The Sierra National Forest's majestic woods provide the backdrop for this narrow gauge journey back in time.  Peer into the past! A New York steak, chicken or vegetarian dinner with all the fixins' is included in the price, and a no host bar is available. Enjoy a campfire under the stars while you listen to a local guide tell stories of times past.  

 This is just a small sampling of the many exciting tours offered at this year's conference. Don't miss this incredible opportunity to explore this part of California with your fellow Master Gardener friends and family. Click here to learn about all of the conference tours offered!


Posted on Thursday, June 12, 2014 at 11:40 AM
Tags: California (4), Conference (16), Master Gardener (32), Yosemite (5)

Get Creative with Silent Auction Donation Items

Do you have a delicious local delicacy or a favorite gardening tool? 
Are you an artist with a unique masterpiece?
Do you have a vacation home a fellow Master Gardener could enjoy?
Are you a crafter that loves to build birdhouses or design fairy gardens?

Get creative, have fun and help support a program you love!

Please consider donating items for the 2014 UC Master Gardener Conference silent auction. The silent auction is a unique opportunity to raise funds that help offset costs and provide scholarships for attendees at future UC Master Gardener conferences.

“Growing Together” is the theme of this year's conference and can be incorporated into a variety of exciting donation ideas, including a county basket.

Donating silent auction items is easy

Work with your coordinator and designate a member in your county responsible for collecting donation(s), forward contact information to Marcia Rosenberg, silent auction coordinator. Once you have determined the items your county will donate (recommended minimum value $50 ) - download the Silent Auction application and return no later than August 1, 2014.  

Return application: 

Attn: Marcia Rosenberg
RE: Silent Auction
Fax: 559.225.5482

Visit the conference website to learn more details about the silent auction and how to package silent auction donation baskets.  We are grateful to have generous and dedicated University of California, Cooperative Extension (UCCE) Master Gardeners and are looking forward to hearing from you!

Posted on Friday, April 4, 2014 at 1:49 PM

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