Master Gardeners are trained, non-paid teaching staff certified to extend practical horticultural information to Napa County residents. These volunteers receive an intensive 88-hour training program over a 3-month period to become certified.
I have been checking the Farmer’s Almanac and other sources like the National Weather Service to try to predict what kind of weather we will have this coming winter. Will it be almost flooding, downpours, freezing or a drought?
When it comes to making decisions about new plants for your garden, consider combinations of the following types: California natives, plants that aid pollinating insects and plants that attract beneficial insects.
The multiplication of plants, known as propagation, is an entertaining and rewarding part of gardening. Many people are familiar with growing and multiplying plants using seeds. This method is useful but can be time consuming and, depending on the plant, difficult.
Mama Monarch arrived on June 28. She spent a full week laying eggs on my milkweed. As I watched her, she told me to move aside as she had 400 eggs to go.
Many of us think of August as a time to harvest tomatoes. I’d like to suggest that August and September are also the ideal planting time for fall, winter and spring crops.
This year has been one of the hottest on record, and next year is likely to be even hotter. As the temperature rises, gardening can become increasingly challenging. There are a few easy things you can do to help your garden beat the heat this summer.
When you ask a Master Gardener a question about almost anything, quite often the answer will be, “It depends.” It’s not that we don’t know the answer, but rather that we need more information to answer correctly. This is especially true when it comes to a question about fertilizing vegetable…
Fennel is a Mediterranean plant that has been introduced to the U.S. Over many years, it has naturalized in our area. Recently, I saw an anise swallowtail butterfly visiting my fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) so I went out and looked for eggs and babies. The babies look like bird droppings as th…
If you are a home gardener in Napa Valley, you can successfully grow olive trees. Olives are one of the most popular trees in the valley, and with a few pointers extrapolated from University of California research and other sources, you can enjoy their beauty in your own landscape.
The heat is on, and our gardens are bursting with delightful treats. If you are like many people in the valley, you are looking at your upcoming vegetable harvest and wondering what you are going to do with it all.
In recent years, the plight of the honeybee has made international headlines due to alarming colony losses. When many folks hear the term pollinator, the honeybee quickly comes to mind. While honeybees are indeed an invaluable pollinator resource, there are many other pollinator species with…
One summer when I was about 10 years old, I had two farms. One was a lizard farm, with a variety of lizards that I had captured and put in a big box. I had alligator lizards and blue bellies. That adventure ended when a lizard bit my mother on the finger. Goodbye, lizard farm.
I have a manure farm in my backyard. Before you decide to move on to another article, you should know that my farm is small, only about two square feet in size. It consists of a plastic bin in which live hundreds of small, red worms. Known as “red wigglers”, they are different from the earth…
There were some benefits to the lavish rainfall we experienced this winter and spring. First, Napa residents got proof that the flood-control project worked. Second, and just as important to a rose gardener, the frequent rains washed off all the aphids that like to prey on emerging rose buds.
West of St. Helena in the Napa Valley sits a lovely garden surrounding a small house with a large porch and big picture window. I had an opportunity to speak with the owner, Glenn, about how this idyllic spot came to fruition.
It’s time to get into the garden. Whether you are planning a new garden, renewing an old garden, adding color and interest for summer or hoping to grow award-winning produce, now is the time to get started.
A few years ago, back during the drought, I was ready to give up on hydrangeas. They were the coal-mine canaries of my yard, the first to droop if they were dry, and after the first few years not blooming much.
As a grandmother of three darling children, I worry about so much: Are they happy? Are they healthy? Are they eating good food? Are they getting enough exercise? Are they learning enough math, science, reading, writing, art? Do they think I am the best nana in the whole world?
Flowers in the spring make me happy. When my grandmother was alive, she often had cut flowers from her garden on the piano, arranged in a vase that belonged to my great-grandmother. I have wanted to recreate the serenity of that picture in my mind. So when I get seed magazines early in Febru…
When should you plant your garden tomatoes? Every year the seedlings arrive in nurseries and big-box stores by the middle of February. These tomatoes have been grown in a hothouse and do not like cold feet. They also prefer warm leaves, so don’t put them out too early.
Ah, springtime. It’s that time of the year when a gardener’s thoughts turn to… tomatoes. Of all the vegetables you can grow in a summer garden, nothing beats vine-ripened tomatoes. They are so superior to the winter tomatoes at the supermarket that you can’t even compare.
Your garden may look like an oasis of tranquility, but it is a hotbed of activity. It is home to billions of soil organisms involved in a drama of life and death, creation and destruction. These life forms, and the underground world they help create, are the key to a healthy, productive garden.
With this season’s deluge of wet weather, thoughts of a bountiful summer harvest might seem far away. However, the emergence of some buds in trees and slightly higher day and night temperatures serve as a gentle reminder that spring is imminent.
Spring and fall are opportune seasons to plan and create a new garden. On Saturday, Feb. 25, U. C. Master Gardeners of Napa County will host a public workshop on drip irrigation and garden design (details below). Please plan to attend if you are plotting a new landscape or revamping an exist…
Do you know a UC Master Gardener of Napa County? You may and not even realize it. We are short, tall, thin and not so thin. We are older, younger, retired and still working. We live in Calistoga, Pope Valley and American Canyon and all points in Between.The one thing we have in common is a p…
I haven’t always appreciated leeks. I grew up in a home where we never ate them, so I didn’t encounter leeks until I was an adult. For many years, I considered them kind of exotic and cooked with them only occasionally. Gradually, I came to appreciate their unique flavor and sweetness and be…
Weeds aren’t the only troublesome invaders in many Napa Valley gardens. Several other plants, not usually thought of as weeds, can be equally problematic. These thugs are the larger plants, shrubs and trees that, if left undisturbed, can spread into native habitat and crowd out native species.
Armed with a little knowledge and time, any homeowner can prune his or her own fruit trees. Here’s a multi-point primer to get you started, beginning with some actions to take well before you prune.
Napa has a well-kept secret: the demonstration garden at Connolly Ranch maintained by the UC Master Gardeners of Napa County. I am there almost every Thursday morning pulling weeds, trimming plants and caring for the succulent and container gardens. The camaraderie among the volunteer garden…
They have been waiting patiently, and now their time has come. Creatures that love the wet weather are finally able to come out and do what they do best: make you miserable.
What do the blue chicory flowers blooming in meadows and vineyards, the pansies in your window box and the honey-scented blossoms on your lemon tree have in common? You can eat them.
Often in our gardening endeavors, it is only the plant itself that we know. However, beneath the soil we cultivate is a vast network of other natural helpers, working hard to ensure the right environment for plants to grow.
‘Tis the season, and possibly you are planning to decorate your home for the coming holidays. Take a stroll through your garden and look at all the beautiful plants growing there. Some of them might work well in a wreath for the holidays.
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Usually I peruse December seed catalogs for tried-and-true selections or interesting newcomers in the vegetable and flower sections. But after growing statice for the first time this year, I am examining the everlasting options more thoroughly. Everlastings are flowers, grasses and foliage t…
Some of my earliest memories are from gardens. My family had a small gardening plot in our large back yard where my mother planted carrots, greens, cucumbers and peppers and oversaw a small strawberry patch.
Last summer, some friends were visiting my butterfly garden. A third-grader was with them and he had many questions. The big question came when I said that butterflies go through metamorphosis.
Many gardeners think that only large-scale farms or vineyards can benefit from cover crops. However, even home gardeners are now recognizing the wisdom of growing these fall-planted crops. Not only are cover crops easy to plant, most types can just be ignored after seeding.
Many people in Napa Valley have a Meyer lemon or Key lime tree. While these are good fruits with many culinary uses, there is a much wider world of citrus to consider for your garden.
My new favorite book is “Cool Flowers” by Lisa Mason Ziegler (St. Lynn’s Press). The subtitle of Ziegler’s book is “How to Grow and Enjoy Long-Blooming Hardy Annual Flowers Using Cool Weather Techniques.” That’s a long description, but with autumn upon us and winter around the corner, this l…
Suddenly, it feels like winter. Well, not really, but the mornings are definitely brisk now and the days have cooled off. We’ve had a smidgen of rain. Plants have stopped blooming. What are the butterflies and bees to do?
I have a shovel obtained from a friend who inherited it from his grandfather. Since the 1800s, this shovel has been used in many gardens, and it still sees regular action around my house. It is proof of the longevity of a high-quality, well-cared-for tool.
October is a colorful month filled with ripe but dwindling summer produce. Tomatoes are at their reddest, hoarded and appreciated; peppers are hot crimson and sweetly gold. Cucumbers are finally big, but the vines are slowing down. Squash and melon plants have sprawled and are looking spent …
In the midst of drought, our home’s well-watered green grass was the source of comment from our ecologically minded friends and neighbors. Early-morning water was seen cascading down our slope into the gutter, subject to comment.
It happens every year. There’s a moment when suddenly I notice that the light has changed. Days are shorter and shadows are longer. Chinese pistache trees begin to turn color and the squirrels in my garden go nuts.
After 80 years, my father still remembers hollyhocks in his grandmother’s garden, now long gone. Tall, fuzzy stalks with bright blossoms and large, palm-shaped leaves towered 10 feet tall, or at least they seemed that high. The ruffled flowers had wide, cherry-red petals and sunny yellow pis…
Long ago (2737 B.C.) and far away (ancient China), Emperor Shen Nung, already an herbalist, observed that people who boiled their drinking water remained healthier than those who did not.
This has been a beautiful, bountiful year for butterflies in my garden. I have been hand-raising butterflies for many years now. It’s my effort toward giving them a better chance at life.
You live in beautiful Napa Valley surrounded by wineries and vineyards. Some of your friends and neighbors have a few grapevines or a small vineyard and make a little bit of wine each year with a label that declares it’s their wine from their vineyard.
All too soon, it seems, the seasons pass by. While we are harvesting summer peaches, we need to start planning for the fall. Fortunately, Napa Valley’s mild Mediterranean climate gives us some flexibility in planting dates. Nevertheless, planning now for cool-season crops will allow you to m…
Recently I went into my vegetable garden to visit the squash bees. They come out every year at this time when plants in the Cucurbitaceae family bloom. Cucumbers, melons, squash and pumpkins are just a few of the cucurbits they visit to gather pollen. The males just hang around to breed so t…
Every year, it seems there is a new “pest du jour” to combat. In Napa County, we’ve had the olive fruit fly, glassy-winged sharpshooter, European grapevine moth and vine mealybug. Now we have the brown marmorated stink bug (Halyomorpha halys) or BMSB.
A tour of the Napa Farmers Market and my garden indicates that canning season is here. The pickling cucumbers are ready to go, and in another month or so, paste tomatoes will be ready.
I was raised in the desert, in a landscape with more cactus than trees. So I especially appreciate the many trees that thrive in Napa Valley. On a hot summer day, it’s a joy to be able to hang out under a tree in the shade. Several varieties are particularly suited for local home and patios.