Assembly Room, A. K. Smiley Public Library
About the Author
The author retired from the County of
San Bernardino after 21 years in various executive positions. He received a Bachelor of
Science Degree in Mechanical Engineering from Carnegie Institute of Technology in 1961.
After graduation he joined the US Air Force and was assigned to The Air Force Rocket
Propulsion Laboratory where he worked on the development of advanced rocket propulsion
systems. After 5 1/2 years service he moved to Redlands where he worked for Lockheed
Propulsion Company as a systems engineer.
He has worked with several
community non-profit organizations as a volunteer and officer of the organization
including the San Bernardino county Museum Association, the Boy Scouts of America and
local American Diabetes Association chapter
This paper describes the University of California Cooperative
Extension Master Gardener Program through the eyes of a Master Gardener Trainee. The
leadership team, initial orientation, text, schedule, classes and resources used are
described as two trainees progress through the program. Some specific descriptions of
subjects taught and their underlying principles taught are included. Positive benefits of
the program to individuals and the community at large are also discussed.
Master Gardener, University of California
Cooperative Extension, Oleander, Ceanothus, Redlands.
FROM OLEANDER TO CEANOTHUS IN 18 WEEKS
came for me leave the Air Force Kathy and I looked at a number of locations. We were
delighted with Redlands and accepted a position with Lockheed Propulsion Company.
1967. We spent 5 ½ years in the Air Force much of it in the Mojave Desert at Edwards Air
Force Base. I had visited Redlands several times during my tour at Edwards and thought
that it was a beautiful town. Redlands was filled with green, lush and relaxing
landscaping and friendly people.
here in late March, found an apartment and began house hunting. Kathy would go out with a
realtor looking at houses and then take me to see the ones that she liked the most.
evening after I got home she particularly raved about a house that she had visited that
morning. She was particularly impressed with its landscaping and rose garden. The trees in
front sheltered the yard like a park.
in on our oldest daughters first birthday. Once we settled in we took stock of the
yard. It had five citrus trees in a tight plot and spread throughout the yard was a cherry
tree, an apple tree, a peach tree, an apricot, a pear and a fig tree. It also had four
maple, an oak a fruitless plum and two deodars not to mention about 28 rose bushes and two
90 foot long rows of red and white oleander bushes. One row was on the Ford Street side of
our lot and the other hid us from the next-door neighbor under the 4 ash and 2 birch
trees. Grape vines covered the back fence.
little gardening experience but believed that we could take care of and possibly improve
the yard. Kathy had always paid much more attention to gardening than I but California was
new to both of us. She found the Sunset Western Garden Book and began to
found out that beautiful yards take a great deal of maintenance. Rose gardens need careful
pruning and grow bountiful crops of weeds. Ash trees are very dirty meaning that if you
swept out the driveway it was fully covered in leaves by the time your company came an
hour later. Fruit trees are not long lived. Eventually we only had the citrus and the fig
To make a
long story short our children, jobs and volunteer activities took priority over our
beautiful yard and the yard showed it. Through the years we managed to stabilize the lawn
and plant a limited number of flowers but we were not able to maintain the showcase
quality that we originally purchased.
children grew and left we again started to think about improving the yard but werent
quite sure of where to start.
A NEW START:
were forced late in the year 2000 when our two Oleander rows turned brown.
sample leaves and branches down to the County Cooperative Extension office. Their expert
diagnosed Oleander Leaf Scorch. Oleander Leaf Scorch is a relatively new disease found
mainly in Southern California. It is caused by the same bacterium that causes Pierce's
disease in grapevines and almond leaf scorch.[i] An exotic pest called the glassy wing sharpshooter
spreads this bacterial disease. It was accidentally
introduced into California over a decade ago. [ii] There is no known cure.
Cutting the plants back allows temporary recovery but they eventually die.
years our oleander provided a sound barrier from growing traffic noise, and a privacy
shield that required little attention and no irrigation water. It did require significant
pruning too keep the sidewalk clear. We had the bushes removed and sadly stared at the
resulting picture of a cedar wood fence and a clear view of our neighbors backyard.
This was a real shock after 30 plus years of green shield. The street noise seemed to get
didnt have any immediate alternatives. We drove around town and looked for choices.
These seemed limited and required irrigation. Lack of irrigation was a feature of the
oleander that we had always liked.
After 2 1/2 years we selected
Photinia a hedge plant commonly known as red tip that would grow quickly,
provide color, sound shield and privacy. We saw many healthy plants and hedgerows around
town. The Photinia leaves are glossy dark green, with a coppery orange new growth. It
needs water so I extended our sprinkler system to include a drip zone, dug 30 holes,
planted the Photinia, and put in a dripper for each individual plant. I intended to plant
the remaining line of Photinia in the spring.
years our side yard had deteriorated and needed help. It contained ivy, a deodar, an
olive, an acacia and many weeds that I simply mow to maintain some semblance of upkeep.
The Sunset Western Garden Book and walking through nurseries
One day I
saw an announcement in the Daily Facts about a talk on ornamental grasses. We thought that
it might provide us with ideas to help our side yard. We watched a slide show of a yard
less than two blocks from ours that had been completely renovated in about three years. We
liked the ideas but werent sure how to use them in our yard.
During the break we found a small
brochure that offered an 18 week Master Gardening class. The brochure brought back an old
In the early 1980s I was the
County General Services Administrator. We provided support for the University of
California Cooperative Extension County Office.
One day the head of the Cooperative
Extension Program Mike Trujillo told me about new program. It was called the Master
Gardeners Program. The University would teach people gardening skills and
certificate those who graduated. In return the students would volunteer to help others by
teaching and by answering a hot line responding to gardening questions from
I wished then that we had the time to
take this course.
met the young lady fresh out of college who was hired to lead this effort. Her name was
Janet Hartin. I noticed on the class announcement that she is still responsible for this
up that night.
Gardener program began in Snohomish County, Washington, in 1972. The Cooperative Extension
advisor was unable to handle all the incoming calls from home gardeners and initiated the
use of trained volunteers. The Master Gardener Program in California was started in 1979
with pilot projects in Sacramento and Riverside. There are now over 6,000 trained Master
Gardeners in California and approximately 60,000 Master Gardeners in 45 States and Canada.
Bernardino County Master Gardener program began in 1984 and over the history of the
program, over 45,000 home horticulture questions have been answered by trained Master
Gardeners servicing the hotline, which can be reached at (909) 387-2182. Additionally,
master gardeners conduct school garden programs and participate in many public service
Interested residents of San
Bernardino County who want to become a Master Gardener can contact the hotline and request
a brochure. Training classes are conducted bi-annually. Advanced training for current
Master Gardeners is offered monthly in the Redlands area as well
attended our first class on September 29, 2003, learned about the structure of the
program, and about our responsibilities.
Gardeners are trained volunteers who are agents of the land grant universities in each
state offering the program.
teaches practices based on scientific research and master gardeners are only to provide
advice proven and documented in this manner.
Trainees receive, on average, 50
hours of introductory training in all facets of plant science including arboriculture
(ornamental woody plant selection, establishment and care; deciduous and subtropical fruit
tree selection, establishment and care; soils and irrigation assessment and management;
lawn grass selection, establishment and care; plant pathology; entomology; weed
identification and control; general integrated pest management guidelines; composting;
plant propagation; and, many other relevant topics. Most states offer extensive advanced
training classes in more specific aspects of home horticulture, field trips to botanical
gardens, nurseries and other venues of interest, and provide a useful conduit for home
horticulturists to receive objective, research based information from a reliable source.
Gardener Certificate cannot be used as part of a business.
To obtain our initial certification
we had to attend 18 classes nights 16 of which had outside lectures and pass two
examinations. We also had to provide 50 hours of volunteer service prior to June.
must be renewed annually with 18 hours of continuing education and 20 hours of volunteer
OUR LEADERS AND CLASSMATES
Hartin from cooperative extension was our professional leader. She began the program in
1984 after graduating from the University of California Riverside.
Hoberley Schuler were our volunteer organizers. They became Master Gardeners in one of the
early classes and have maintained the enthusiasm to be active since.
Robert and Hoberley signed up
students, secured classroom facilities, organized student activities and generally managed
a myriad of details to keep the class together.
We also noticed that they also seemed
to plan and lead the monthly meeting of the Inland Empire Master Gardeners Club. We later
found that they are officers of the Inland Master Gardeners Club and have led many other
Fifty-six people had enrolled in the
class. They were from all over southwestern San Bernardino County. They came from the high
desert, the mountains and the valley from Rancho Cucamonga, San Bernardino, Lytle Creek
and all cities of the East Valley.
THE CURRICULUM & CLASS
text the California Master Gardener Handbook.[iii] contains 22 chapters with
two appendices and is 702 pages long. It is clearly one on the most comprehensive
documents on gardening available. Recognized experts authored each chapter.
class schedule and program outline included 16 class nights, two exams and two additional
nights for class presentations.. This schedule was modified due to events as the classes
progressed. We heard from academics, economists, nursery managers, irrigation specialists,
foresters, wholesale tree distributors and many other knowledgeable individuals including
studied basic botany and horticulture everything from the plant genus and species to the
pitfalls of using common or popular names of plants.
discussed how to buy plants at nurseries. I had never thought of taking a plant out of the
pot at the nursery to see if it was diseased or if it was already root bound. Ive
always wanted to buy the most mature plant not the little one that hadnt really
isnt dirt it is soil. It is made up of sand, silt, and clay in varying proportions
and how they affect water holding capacity and allow plant growth. We saw a demonstration
of how water is absorbed into various types of soil.
management was the focus of many lectures.
saw how residents, cities, and commercial developers waste water and in the process
contribute to pollution. Photographs illustrated poor landscaping designs that waste water
by overspray into street or fail to prevent the runoff of water and chemical fertilizers
into public drains creeks and the ocean.
our dry climate we import water to support our needs. We saw examples of how to retain
water on the property being irrigated. Examples of drought tolerant plants that need
little water were emphasized.
University of California has developed tables that provide guidelines for lawn irrigation
needs each month of the year. We used these tables to calculate how long a sprinkler
system should run. We also discussed how to measure the output of a sprinkler system, and
when tweaking is needed to optimize water use.
Weeds and undesirable grasses need to
be removed in advance. Lawn Damage can be caused by improper basic care such as:
Too much water will leach the nutrients
from the soil.
Too little water will dry the grass and
cause it to turn brown.
Improper fertilizing can lead to lawn
damage or disease. Fertilizer should be applied in adequate but not excessive amounts at
the right time.
Improper mowing. Grass should be cut
high and only cut back by 1/3 each time it is mowed.
Dog urine contains too much urea and
will burn the grass.
Too much foot traffic will compact the
soil so that the root cannot sustain the grass.
A thick thatch will also stunt the
Closely mow the remaining turf and
remove the clippings. The soil should be loosened for seeding or plugs.
aerate to allow penetration of the soil by water and air. Then aerate the soil.
Then seed. fertilize, and irrigate.
Keep the soil moist with frequent light irrigations until the grass is well established.
INTEGRATED PEST MANAGEMENT
The pest management section discussed
the identification and control of pests. Our university specialist in pest management
emphasized the principles of Integrated Pest Management
Basic rules for successful pest control
the problem. Everyone has a different impression of what the problem is. If you wait
until a tree is defoliated to start looking for the problem you are going to lose it.
Select a Proper Management
Strategy. These might include:
Physical or mechanical control
Cultural controls. This means to plant
pest resistant plants, rotate crops, or maintain cover crops to minimize dust that would
Biological controls - the simplest
example being lady bugs to control aphids.
Chemicals applied specific to the
pest at the right time in is life cycle.
Monitor the condition of the garden
continuously visually and through the use of traps.Use the results of your monitoring
efforts and keep records for future suppression efforts.
Pest Management combines several control methods, such as resistant
plant varieties, cultural practices, biological controls, and the least-toxic pesticides,
for long-term management of pests. This encourages methods that provide long-term
prevention or suppression of pest problems with minimum impact on human health, the
environment, and non-target.organisms. Its principal components
Identify the specific pest before
taking any action if you don't know what the pest is your efforts to control it will most
likely fail. Most insects arc not pests.
Use proven methods for detecting,
monitoring, and predicting pest outbreaks
Know the biology of the pest and its
ecological interactions with hosts, natural enemies and competitors.
Use ecologically sound methods of
preventing or controlling pests
Some insect damage can be tolerated.
Most backyard gardens can be managed without the
use of pesticides. Oily soaps, horticultural oils, or microbials will handle the usual
After an overview of insect anatomy
and classifications our entomology class focused on how to diagnose an insect problem. The
speaker then talked about the advice we should give our future advisees'?
Most problems are caused by factors other than insects or
The cause of poor plant performance may not be evident on
the plant sample given for diagnosis. For example, wilted leaves may be caused by a pest
attacking roots, The presence of insects or mites does not always mean that they are the
real cause of the problem.
If the entire plant is dead, the chances are high that
insects or mites are not the cause of death. Insects and mites seldom kill their host
plants, but there are a few exceptions.
Most insects and mites are specific in their choice of
host plants. Some are general feeders, but the majority are not. Knowing the name of the
affected plant is therefore extremely helpful and frequently essential because most
reference literature is found under the plants name.
When people notice a pest problem and seek advice, it is
often too late in that particular growing season to take corrective action. A pest insect
may be gone, and only the damage remains.
People tend to magnify the actual size of an insect. Do
not make recommendations based on the client's verbal description, it is important to see
the damage and the insect itself to avoid incorrect identification. Incorrect
identification leads to ineffective control measures unnecessary expense, and potential
damage to beneficial insects.
When in doubt, do not make a diagnosis.
Tree selection is one of the most
important investment decisions a home owner makes when landscaping a new home or replacing
a tree lost to damage or disease. Most trees outlive the people who plant them Therefore
the impact of this decision is one that can influence a lifetime. Match the tree to the
site and both lives will benefit. 5
Before you select a tree a number of
factors need to be considered.
Why is the tree being planted? Do you want the tree to
provide shade, fruit, or seasonal color, or act as a windbreak or screen? Maybe more than
one of the above?
What is the size and location of the planting site? Does
the space lend itself to a large, medium, or small tree? Are there overhead or below
ground wires or utilities in the vicinity? Do you need to consider clearance for
sidewalks, patios, or driveways? Are there other trees in the area? Think about the size
and shape of the mature tree
Are there any city requirements for tree setback or
limitations on curb trees?
What are the soil conditions? Is the soil deep, fertile,
and well drained or is it shallow, compacted, and infertile?
What type of maintenance are you
willing to provide? Do you have time to water, fertilize, and prune the newly planted tree
until it is established or will you be relying on your garden or tree service for
Asking and answering these and
other questions prior to beginning the selection process will help you determine the
"right tree for the right place."
specific trees were discussed and we used the Sunset Western Garden Book to
select landscape trees for various locations in this region.
always dug large holes and added lots of potting soil. The class taught us that the local
soil should be used and fertilizer not used at the time of the planting. Plants need to
survive in the local soil conditions
of trees is also critical. Tight staking will eventually weaken a tree so that it can
never stand on its own. We saw photographs of trees planted inappropriately that
were stressed and with little prospect of reaching maturity.
the lecture was from a UCR specialist. Most of the issues and solutions were common to the
other subjects we studied.
outlined and briefly discussed many issues currently confronting agriculture.
Biotechnology is modifying the
food on the market.
Microbes & food
Pollution caused by agriculture
Nutrition provided by food
Organic approaches to
Reducing water use
quality is critical. Soil should:
Accept hold and release water and
Promote root growth
Maintain soil diversity with an
active culture of nutrients microbes and insects.
Respond to management
is a highly desirable addition to the garden:
It buffers soil PH, water
nutrients, and soil temperature.
Supplies slow release nutrients,
worms microbes and soil aggregates. . It also recycles green waste that would otherwise go
can be a useful tool but should be used wisely.
Most soils only require nitrogen
and phosphorus. More complete fertilizers are not necessary.
course outline periodically changed. Our local mountains were struck with heavy wildfires
during Santa Ana winds in October. This event had been widely anticipated for a number of
had experienced continuing drought for several years. The drought had weakened the pine
forest in our mountains. Bark beetles invaded years ago but the drought weakened trees
became particularly susceptible to their attack and hundreds of thousands of trees were
dead. Large portions of communities turned brown with dead trees. They became tinder for
any potential wildfire.
county, state and federal government initiated efforts to cut down dead trees in the
forest. Timber cutting had been discouraged for years and few local resources existed to
carry out the effort. Private property owners had to cut down trees on their own property.
Few cutters were available to the private owners and the costs were extremely high.
the Santa Ana winds came the fires. Tens of thousands of acres of forestlands burned
across the entire range of San Gabriel and San Bernardino National Forests as well as a
major conflagration in San Diego County. Thousands of homes were destroyed in the
least five of our classmates homes were consumed in the fires. Other classmates had
to evacuate but survived without damage.
watched the news intently expecting the worst and it got very bad. The storm finally
abated when a wet weather front came through just before the fires reached Running Springs
and after Big Bear was evacuated.
aftermath of the fires came to the class in several forms.
university brought speakers to us in an effort to anticipate future questions to Master
Gardeners about fire defenses and recovery from the damage.
Tom Scott the UCR area natural resources wildlife
specialist for Southern California was our speaker. He is an expert on fire ecology,
management and policy.
He described wildfires as a circle rather than an event.
They will occur when the fuels exist. He described the interface between homes and wild
lands as complex. He described the fires as a storm not a battle and most often only
Mother Nature can end the progression of a major fire.
talked about what Master Gardeners should tell people who ask for advice.
Do no harm. Dont create new
problems in restoration efforts. Change of drainage could increase erosion problems in
future storms. Planting non-natural plants could make the next fire worse. He used the
example of well intentioned foresters will dropping grass seeds to prevent after fire
mudslides but creating dry wild grasses to feed the next fire.
Separate the protection of the
house from recovery of the landscape.
Make a plan
To create defensible space.
Deflect but dont stop
Use methods with proven success
Know your risks of living
in the wildlands. Where are the slopes, canyons and streams?
Keep track of problems that
could affect your property. After rains mudslides from loose unrestrained soil above your
property can have devastating effects.
Watch the weather
Drive to an old fire to see how
recovery occurs to understand the cycle of recovery and learn about your plants.
there were many good ideas discussed the class leaders also looked for methods to gather
information and to develop better university based advice for future wildfire situations
concerning reduction of damage and recovery. They wanted feedback from the hotlines to
further understand what residents were facing.
of our classmates brought a PowerPoint presentation of their home in Waterman Canyon and
described how she planned to replant the property.
wondered a about the wisdom of living there. During the night of the Panorama Fire that
occurred Thanksgiving weekend in 1980 I drove through Old Waterman Canyon with several
county fire chiefs and saw the still smoldering homes the fire destroyed. Twenty three
years later history had repeated itself. I
suspect it will again.
class graduation requirement includes 50 hours of community volunteer service as a master
gardening student. This was not to be physical labor but to take an advisory form. At each
class projects were announced that qualified to meet this requirement. Given our position
as students we werent sure that we should be giving out much advice. We eventually
found a number of projects that let us learn with others and share our knowledge.
first helped a gardening cleanup at Crafton Elementary School. When we arrived we were
asked to prune the roses. We had pruned our own roses for years but had not yet received
our rose pruning training. The leader told us that the roses had been trimmed with hedge
shears and that anything would be an improvement. She was right. They were in bad shape.
eventually found that one of our volunteer class leaders Emily Bueerman was leading an
effort to improve the gardens in the school both for aesthetic purposes and as a teaching
aide. The gardens were being used to teach California history, gardening skills and an
understanding of where food comes from. She has become a district wide leader and is
helping volunteers at each school take charge.
Inland Empire Master Gardeners sponsor gardening at 21 schools in the Redlands Unified
School District. This includes all elementary, middle, the three high schools and the
Grove Charter School.
Elementary School now has a landscaping plan and a garden area that describes various
aspects of California history.
various methods of plant propagation were discussed in some detail. We now feel reasonably
competent growing plants from seeds and through the use of cuttings. Splitting and
dividing plants has always worked for us. Layering and grafting are future projects.
with many subjects in many fields the devil is in the details you only learn by doing.
Much of our volunteer time has been dedicated toward the propagation of plants for sale at
gardens shows and for school projects. We propagated using cuttings, repotted plants as
they grew and split and divided many plants.
had lost most of our fruit trees and never replaced them. There were several reasons
We could never eat all of the
fruit before it rotted; therefore, we had a surplus of birds and varmints that we
Picking them was difficult as the
We found that as other trees
matured we simply did not have the space for multiple fruit trees.
deciduous fruit tree speaker represented a wholesale nursery that sells to local retail
nurseries. He seemed to have a solution that overcame all of our issues.[iv]
BACKYARD ORCHARD CULTURE IS NOT COMMERCIAL ORCHARD CULTURE
years, most of the information about growing fruit came from commercial orchard culture:
methods that promoted maximum size for maximum yield but required 12-foot ladders for
pruning, thinning and picking, and 400 to 600 square feet of land per tree. Tree spacings
had to allow for tractors. Most people today do not need or expect commercial results from
their backyard fruit trees. A commercial grower would never consider using his methods on
a 90 ft. x 100 ft. parcel, so why should a homeowner?
BACKYARD ORCHARD CULTURE IS HIGH DENSITY PLANTING AND SUCCESSIVE
the length of the fruit season means planting several (or many) fruit varieties with
different ripening times. Because of the limited space available to most homeowners, this
means using one or more of the techniques for close-planting and training fruit trees;
two, three or four trees in one hole, espalier, and hedgerow are the most common of these
techniques. Four trees instead of one means ten to twelve weeks of fruit instead of only
two or three
offers the additional advantage of restricting a tree's vigor - a tree won't grow as big
when there are competing trees close by.
BACKYARD ORCHARD CULTURE MEANS ACCEPTING THE RESPONSIBILITY FOR
Small trees yield
crops of manageable size and are much easier to spray, thin, prune, net, and harvest than
large trees. And, if trees are kept small, it is possible to plant a greater number of
trees, affording the opportunity for more kinds of fruit and a longer fruit season.
The only way to
keep most fruit trees under twelve feet tall is by PRUNING, and the most practical method
of pruning is SUMMER PRUNING. In BACKYARD ORCHARD CULTURE, tree size is the grower's
responsibility. Choose a size and don't let the tree get any bigger. A good height is the
height you can reach for thinning and picking while standing on the ground, or while
standing on a low stool.
Two other important
influences on tree size are irrigation and fertilization practices. Fruit trees should not
be grown with lots of nitrogen and lots of water. Some people grow their fruit trees the
way they do their lawn, then wonder why the trees are so big and don't have any fruit!
stated if you grow more fruit than you want or need; select several fruit trees that will
bear fruit at different times; plant two, three, or four trees very close together (within
18 inches), prune them so that you can reach all fruit without a ladder. Then let it grow
still were not satisfied that we had found a good oleander replacement that would fit our
climate and our desire for low watering demands.
Jet, the Nursery Manager from the Rancho Santa Ana Botanical Garden in Claremont, was our
speaker spoke on a broad variety of California native plants. It was a simple slide
presentation but her knowledge of each plant was extensive.
specifically talked about oleander replacements. We liked the Blue Cascade Ceanothus or
California Lilac. It grows to a height of 6 to 8 ft and a diameter of 6 feet and can be
trimmed as a hedge. The flowers were a brilliant blue. The botanical garden had a seasonal
sale but they did not necessarily have the ceanothus.
Class we did a Google search for Ceanothus Blue Cascade. We found one nursery
near Temecula that specialized in California Native Plants. However, while their catalog
listed our plant they had none in stock. We decided to stop on our way back from a trip to
Pilitas Nursery is small and by any standards had a minimal physical plant. It was on old
Highway 395 about 10 miles south of Temecula. There is a large selection of one gallon
plants, a fence, a small wood shed serving as an office (with solar power for the computer
and credit card machine) and a Porta-Potti.
physical plant is in stark contrast to their website. The website was developed from their
catalog, Manual of California Native Plants, into 5000 pages of pictures and
information. It is an extremely comprehensive catalog of how native plants can be used.
The catalog includes plants ranging from A to Z.
entire stock was of California native plants. Most of the plants discussed at our class
were in stock. They carried ceanothus but not specifically the blue cascade that we were
looking for. We told the manager our need and she suggested the Ceanothus Tassajara Blue.
This plant tolerates full sun, and part sun. It is an evergreen with a pleasant fragrance,
and it is edible.
plants in stock are small and we werent sure they would grow tall enough for our
need. That was a simple solution. She took us to their mother plant. It was about 20 feet
behind the office. It stands about 8 feet tall and about 8 feet in diameter. It would do!
selected all 12 plants that were available in stock. They will ultimately form a hedge
that should exceed 60 feet in length. We also picked a butterfly plant, a sage and a Lions
nursery gave us detailed planting instructions that entailed literally flooding the holes
for several days. The plants are in and I am now installing an irrigation system to water
on a limited basis. The nursery advised that they should not be watered at all once they
final two weeks were set aside for student reports and the final exam. The students were
to provide a report on a project or a subject of special interest. Our fellow students
were an accomplished group. We found that most were already accomplished gardeners.
of students designed and had begun projects that they had thought about for a long time.
Others shared their favorite tools or tips to make better gardens.
most memorable talk was from the skunk man. This student from Lytle Creek is
the community handyman. One of his callings is skunk removal for neighbors. He brought his
tools of the trade and gave us a complete demonstration fortunately without the skunk. His
knowledge and obvious experience was superb. He was well versed in how not get sprayed
while trapping and relocating the skunk in his pickup. Most of the class was rolling in
laughter before he was done.
developed and carried out a plan to replant our front planter that has been struggling for
years. I showed how I repaired our sprinkler system that sprung a leak and created a front
yard swamp while we visited our sons family in Florida for 11 days during early
this class with a need to change many parts of our landscaping scheme. After 18 weeks of
classes and monthly continuing education classes we have hopefully found a replacement for
our long dead oleander bushes and have planted the ceanothus or California Lilac bush.
Currently the plants are about 1 foot tall and seem to be growing rapidly
yard has thriving grass again. I have followed the guidance given by our classes and it
works. We are reducing water use
are starting to feel comfortable in answering other peoples questions.
FEW THOUGHTS ABOUT THE PROGRAM:
classes we attended were conducted under the auspices of The University of California
Cooperative Extension. This organization focuses on farm, 4-H, nutrition, family and consumer sciences
issues through research, publications and outreach to educate end users or basically
families who want to live a better more productive life.
The Extension has farm, advisors based in most county
offices. In addition, they conduct research and coordinate advisors activities. They
develop and publish much important information that needs to be spread.[v]
In our Master Gardening experience a single advisor has
used the statewide resources to create a volunteer core that brings people together to
learn and to help others. We had access to many experts that taught us skills that we
wanted to learn. This volunteer organization and these graduates will teach others and
improve their communities in ways that formal organizations cant.
For years I had admired the benefits or the 4H program
for children. I had never quite appreciated the full breadth of the programs sponsored and
the methods used to reach the residents of California. Certainly this is a program that
benefits us all and improves the knowledge we use to live our daily lives.
[i] UC IPM Online
University of California Agricultural and Natural Resources
California Master Gardener Handbook, University of California Agriculture and Natural
Resources Publication 3382 Second Printing 2002
[iv] Dave Wilson Nursery http://www.davewilson.com/homegrown/BOC_what-is.html
University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE), http://ucanr.org/CES.CEA.shtml