UC Gardening Blogs
June 18 - 24, 2018 is National Pollinator Week! National Pollinator Week is a time to recognize and celebrate the importance of pollinators. Worldwide, approximately 1,000 plants grown for food, beverages, fibers, spices, and medicines need to be pollinated by animals in order to produce the goods on which we depend. Support pollinators in your home or a community garden with these 13 ways to make your landscape more pollinator friendly. Visit pollinator.org for more information.
- A variety of plants will be ideal for providing diverse sources of nectar and pollen. Choose at least 20 different plant types, or fewer if the types of plants are highly attractive to pollinators. Don't forget that night-blooming flowers will support moths and bats.
- Help pollinators find and use your garden by planting in clumps, rather than just single plants. Think about "landing zones."
- Include plants native to your region. Natives are adapted to your local climate, soil and native pollinators. If you want to see some locals, plant some natives!
- Overlap flowering times between seasons and use a wide variety of plants that bloom from early spring into late fall.Pollinators are in a constant search for new resources. Choosing plants with overlapping flowering times from February to October will allow bees and pollinators to continually forage in your garden.
- Consider plant climate zones. Plant for success! A plant's native climate range is important in determining if it will be attractive to bees visiting your garden (and if your plant will grow well in your garden or not!)
- Design a garden that has structure. The arrangement of plants in your garden will influence your ability to observe and enjoy pollinators. Plant the tallest plants in the back with the smaller ones in the front.
- Plant in the sun. Bees prefer to visit flowers in the sun, so avoid planting your pollinator-attracting plants in the shadier parts of your garden.
- Reduce or eliminate pesticide use in your landscape, or incorporate plants that attract beneficial insects for pest control. If you use pesticides, use them sparingly and responsibly. Pesticides can kill bad insects as well as beneficial insects like bees, ladybugs and other predators of garden pests.
- Don't' forget about nesting bees! Not all bees have a hive. Make sure to leave some areas for bees to build their nests (either in bare ground or in prefabricated cavities in wood). It's ok to leave part of your garden un-mulched for ground-nesting insects to discover.
- Leave dead tree trunks and branches in your landscape for wood-nesting bees and beetles. By leaving dead trees, or at least an occasional dead limb, you provide essential nesting sites for native bees, but make sure these are not a safety hazard for people walking below. You can also build a bee condo by drilling holes of varying diameter about 3 to 5 inches deep in a piece of scrap lumber mounted to a post or under eaves.
- Provide clean water for pollinators with a shallow dish, bowl, or birdbath with half-submerged stones for perches.
- Create a damp salt lick for butterflies and bees. Use a dripping hose, drip irrigation line, or place your birdbath on bare soil to create a damp area. Mix a small bit of salt or wood ashes into the mud.
- Provide a hummingbird feeder and add to nectar resources. To make artificial nectar, use four parts water to one part table sugar. Never use artificial sweeteners, honey, or fruit juices. Place something red on the feeder. Clean your feeder with hot soapy water at least twice a week to keep it free of mold.
Tips for how to make a pollinator garden originally published on the UC ANR Pollen Nation website.
California Invasive Species Action Week – Let’s work together to be better, do better, and grow better.
Words like 'invasive plants' or 'weeds' often have a negative connotation for a good reason. Both words describe plants growing where they are not wanted or welcome. Plants that have a propensity to spread quickly result in habitat loss for native plants, insects, birds, and other animals. This is incredibly destructive to our natural environment and the landscape that Californians love to call our own.
Fast spreading invasive plants can quickly and dramatically change a plant community from a diverse one to a monoculture. When these plant communities shift, wildlife loses food, water and shelter resources and are forced to move out or perish.
Unfortunately, this description is not an over-dramatization. As Californians, we must communicate frankly about the impact of invasive plants in our environment. This is an important issue that can easily grow out of control. One of the biggest challenges with invasive plants is that they oftentimes have desirable features, like beautiful flowers or a spreading habit that quickly covers a barren patch in a home landscape.
Well-intentioned people have sold, purchased, propagated, and harvested plants that are known to be invasive. When done so knowingly, the gardener may use the excuse that they will watch the plant and not let it get out of control. Unfortunately, there is no way to monitor a plant that is distributed by wind, birds and other sources. It may be possible to monitor that your plant doesn't ‘escape' to the neighbor's garden but what about the seeds that blew off in the wind and established on a hillside two miles away?
Paying attention to signage and programs that identify invasive plants is an important part of caring for our environment. When questions about weeds and invasive plants arise, the UC Master Gardener Program is available locally to support good decisions and help us all be stewards of a healthy California.
Trained and certified volunteers utilize the vast network of information and expertise of the University of California to support gardeners and concerned citizens. You can reach your local county program online at mg.ucanr.edu/FindUs/.
It's Invasive Species Action Week – let's work together to be better, do better, and grow better.
California Invasive Plant Resources:
- California Department Fish and Wildlife
- Weed Research & Information Center (UC ANR)
- UC Integrated Pest Managment
Spend your lunch learning about invasive species. Brought to you by UC Agriculture and Natural Resource and the California Invasive Plant Council, come hear from the experts about emerging tree pests, aquatic invasive species, and invasive weeds and fire.
- Shot hole borers and other threats to California's trees (June 5, 12:10 - 1pm)
- Quagga mussels, nutria and other threats to California's water bodies (June 6, 12:10 - 1pm)
- Invasive plants and fire in California (June 7, 12:10 - 1pm)
Join from a PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone or Android device:
Please click this URL to join. https://ucanr.zoom.us/j/401190822
Or join by phone:
Dial(for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location):
US: +1 (646) 558-8656 or +1 (669)900-6833
Webinar ID: 401 190 822
It's reappointment time for the UC Master Gardener Program! Before the reappointment process begins we would like to say thank you. Our dedicated volunteers are the heart of the UC Master Gardener Program and we wouldn't be able to make such an incredible impact without you.
We hope you consider joining us as a volunteer again this upcoming program year. If the answer is yes, just follow the simple steps to reappointment below. Reappointment starts June 1 and is completed in the Volunteer Management System (VMS). Questions about reappointment? Contact your Program Coordinator, Advisor or County Director.
Step One: Select “Complete Agreement Now” in VMS
- Log into VMS, vms.ucanr.edu
- Select “Please Complete” under Volunteer Agreement and Release in right column of VMS home screen
Step Two: Complete all three sections to fulfill county requirements for participation
Step Three: Verify Date Completed Displays and Print a Copy for your Records
Quick Tips and FAQ's:
Who must complete the reappointment process?
The Appointment process is mandatory for all UC Master Gardener volunteers including:
• Limited Active
• Gold Badge
• Platinum Badge
How many hours do I need to volunteer for reappointment?
The minimum hours required to remain a certified UC Master Gardener volunteer are:
• 25 hours - Volunteer
• 12 hours - Continuing education
Note: First-year UC Master Gardener volunteers are required to complete a minimum of 50 volunteer hours (no continuing education requirement) before the next certification cycle.
What is the date range for calculating hours for reappointment?
The program year is July 1-June 30, 2019. Hours currently being reported during the reappointment period are from July 1, 2017-June 30, 2018.
Where do I send my payment?
Please check with your county coordinator, director or advisor about fees and where and how to submit payment. That statewide office does not collect fees or payment directly from volunteers for reappointment.
Gardening has always been a part of my life, I can remember working in the yard and vegetable garden with my grandmother and mother when I was a young child. Certain trees, flowers and vegetables still bring back great memories of different people and places I've lived or visited.
In the course of my job as the statewide training coordinator for the UC Master Gardener Program I'm always interested to know how volunteers started gardening or what their favorite plant is. People's faces light up as they talk about what or who influenced them to take up gardening as a hobby, lifestyle or even as a career. Many of us have cherished plants we received as gifts or had passed down to us from fellow gardeners or family.
Sharing your passion
The UC Master Gardener Program boasts over 6,000 volunteers who have spent 5.4 million hours working with and educating the public about home gardening. This dedication to volunteering and love of gardening is passed on in many families, resulting in multi-generational UC Master Gardener volunteers like Camille White and her mother Pat Bremmer. Camille and Pat are a mother daughter volunteer duo with a combined 25 years of volunteer service with the UC Master Gardener Program of Sutter-Yuba Counties.
“I love all kinds of plants and flowers and with much help from my mom I joined the UC Master Gardener Program…She (mom) is such an amazing talent when it comes to plants,” said Camille. They both volunteer to work the office hotline and attended the 2014 UC Master Gardener conference together in Yosemite. They just recently returned from a cruise where they had time to admire a Double Oleander in Key West Florida.
Gardeners excel at sharing so it comes as no surprise that they not only share their gardening know how but also their plants. Whether gardeners grow too many plants, tomatoes or zucchini they can always find homes for them, well maybe not the zucchini. Elizabeth Middleton, of Seal Beach, Calif. was gifted with violets from her husband's grandmother, Karen Hardy, who received the violets from her own mother.
Elizabeth and her family have been lovingly keeping them alive and moving them from home to home since 1976. The violets have struggled from time to time with the climate conditions and new locations however they have been divided and distributed to more family throughout the years. Four generations have grown these particular violets, the nostalgia they bring is one of peace and love, that all is right in the world for the family. Planted in a pot, or in the landscape this special flower is something to be nurtured.
Gardening with others can create positive connections and cultivate a closer relationship between people and the environment. Gardening also engages all the senses, enhances fine motor development, teaches patience and offers unique learning opportunities.
Melissa Womack and her daughter started to garden together on a small scale by creating a Fairy Garden. “Starting a fairy garden,” explained Womack “began as a day project to get outside and create something together. Years later it has evolved into a special place for my daughter and I to connect without any distractions. Every part of the process is fun for us - from designing the tiny landscape, crafting treasures and imagining the fairies visiting our magical little garden. There have been many giggles and great memories made, I hope that we continue this tradition for many years to come! ”
Thank you to all whom have shared their love of gardening, extra plants, been and continue to be that special influence in someone's life. You have helped someone realize that nothing tastes better than fresh tomatoes from their garden or that planting a tree and watching it grow is amazing.
A tip of the trowel to my grandmother and mother this Mother's Day who gave me my start in gardening. Without their influence, care and patience I would not have gone through UC Master Gardener training and become a volunteer, nor would I be making a career in a field that I love!
While the UC Master Gardener Program has been around since the 1980s, thankfully our technology has changed with the times. Most recently, the Volunteer Management System (VMS) received its long overdue upgrade – we've launched version 3.1!
Great feedback was collected from volunteers and coordinators to lay the foundation for the new system. VMS 3.1 maintains all the functionality of the old system with up-to-date branding and design. Additionally, VMS 3.1 has many of the new features YOU requested.
Check out what's new!
- Updated hours display (year and lifetime)
- User-centric navigation
- Automatic alerts and reminders
- Search bars
- ... and so much more!
It's exciting to have a system designed specifically to meet the needs of the UC Master Gardener Program. Enjoy the new features built just for you! If you have any feedback for future improvements, please submit your comments through the Feedback Survey at ucanr.edu/vmsfeedback.
If you have any questions about the new system, help is only a click away. Check out our VMS help page, which includes a new VMS User's Guide and How-To videos for commonly used functions. See for yourself at: ucanr.edu/sites/vmshelp.