May 2012 Tips and Events

Sent: 2012-04-30 21:14:52

May 2012 Tips & Events
from the UCCE Santa Clara County Master Gardener Program
"Spring is Nature's way of saying, "Let's party!"--Robin Williams


May Tips

Straw from the local feed store can be an inexpensive, effective mulch
As the ground heats up, keeping moisture in the soil is crucial for a healthy garden. See more benefits of straw in this article on different kinds of mulch. An added bonus: worms love straw!

Nuture your soil between plantings too
Even if you have nothing planted currently, treat your soil well. In order to keep the soil healthy, it still needs water. You can bury some kitchen vegetable scraps, or incorporate a thin layer of grass clippings (grass clippings that are applied too thickly can create a mat-like barrier) under a thick layer of mulch. Decomposing leaves are a great addition to an empty raised bed.

Be on the lookout for bee swarms
As the weather warms up, bees are more likely to swarm. If you see a swarm, enjoy the sound and beauty first, then call us at the hotline number below (Monday-Friday 9:30-12:30) or contact the Bee Guild. We want your swarms! Bees swarm for a few reasons, but they are all looking for a new place to call home. Bees that swarm are loaded with food and are not interested in stinging people.

Brush up on UC lawn care recommendations
The UC Guide to Healthy Lawns will remind you how much you should be mowing among many other suggestions for a healthy lawn.

Good ideas for companion planting
This article from Cornell University's Department of Horticulture will likely interest most of you: companion planting. An excerpt: "plants change the chemistry of the soil, and influence the types of microorganisms that grow there. They actively compete with other plants for space. Some will poison their neighbor's offspring to maintain a competitive advantage, while others change the environment in ways that benefit other species."

Pay particular attention to watering plants after you put them in the ground
While they will need less attention (and water) once the roots are established, keep a closer eye on the newly planted as the weather warms.

Time to check apple and pear trees for signs of fire blight
This bacterial disease most commonly occurs on blossoms or newly formed shoots and can cause irreparable damage if not controlled. Look for a watery, light tan ooze that exudes from cankers, and for wilting tips on new branches. When found, prune affected parts cutting six to eight inches below the infection. Check the link for pictures.

Wait until after Spring and early Summer to trim your trees
Birds are nesting right now. The babies often don't survive a fall and many die on the ground. Hundreds of birds are brought to the Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley. Those birds will never learn to sing, find food, or avoid predators. Fortunately, trees respond better to dormant pruning anyway. If you're going to prune, check the tree for wildlife before you work and refer to pruning information (PDF) on the UC Center for Landscape and Urban Horticulture website.

Plant large-podded peppers in the same hole
By planting peppers together, not only will you get more peppers per square foot, but the peppers will support each other, look lush and beautiful, and protect each other from sunburn. After planting, you also might want to remove flowers and fruit from the large-podded plants the first four to six weeks to encourage deeper roots and more foliage. Learn more pepper tips by consulting our handout on Growing Great Peppers (PDF).

Tomato Planting Time!
The ground is warming up and it should be about time to plant your tomatoes. For Master Gardener Tomato Tips, see our Growing Great Tomatoes (PDF) one-page reference! For common problems, consult the UC pest notes on tomatoes.
If you want more bees in your garden, plant annuals such as Cosmos or simply allow your herbs to flower
With few exceptions, fruit will not form until pollen from male parts is transferred to the female parts of a flower. Without pollination, flowers may bloom abundantly, but will not bear fruit. Some plants are better at attracting bees and other pollinating insects and animals than others. Give your fruit trees the gift of an insect-friendly environment and give your family a better harvest! We have a culinary herb event (in San Jose and Gilroy) this month to get you started! 


North County Events

Tips for a Bountiful Harvest of Warm Season Vegetables
Saturday, 5/5, 10:00am-11:00am, Free, Palo Alto Demonstration Garden, 851 Center Dr., Palo Alto
Ever wonder how to increase the size of your vegetable harvest? Learn how spacing and timing of planting, pinching blossoms, supporting plants, and mid-season fertilizing can help.

Summer Fruit Tree Care
Saturday, 5/5, 11:15am-12:15pm, Free, Palo Alto Demonstration Garden, 851 Center Dr., Palo Alto
Hear why and how summer pruning of fruit trees and thinning fruit can improve the quality and size of your harvest. Detecting and managing fruit tree pests will be discussed.

Photographing the Garden: Roses, Flowers & Veggies!
Saturday, 5/12, 9:00am-11:00am, Free, Gamble Garden, 1431 Waverley Ave., Palo Alto
This horticultural photography workshop will cover the most important methods to shoot stunning pictures of roses, flowers, and vegetables. Limited seating. No reservations needed.

Growing Cut Flowers
Saturday, 5/19, 10:30am-12:30pm, $31, Common Ground in Palo Alto, 559 College Avenue, Palo Alto
Get introduced to the best of the best, easy-to-grow flowers with staying power. You'll also learn about plants whose foliage is used as the foundation for many arrangements. Register online or call call 650-493-6072.

San Jose and Central County Events

Learn to Grow and Propagate Culinary Herbs
Wednesday, 5/2, 6:30pm-7:30pm, Free, Evergreen Branch Library, 2635 Aborn Rd., San Jose
Learn how to grow and propagate your own culinary herbs. Herbs can add beauty and interest to a space while enhancing the flavor in all your culinary efforts!

Gardening in Containers: Ornamentals and Vegetables
Wednesday, 5/9, 7:00pm-8:30pm, Free, Cupertino Community Hall, 10350 Torre Ave., Cupertino
Learn how to grow ornamentals and edibles successfully in containers. This talk will discuss types of plants that grow well in containers, the best containers and potting material to use, fertilizing, and watering.

Insect Fair at the YSI Science and Nature Center
Saturday, 5/12, 10:00am-5:00pm, $6 (park entry), Science and Nature Center, Sanborn County Park, Saratoga
We're hosting an information table at this family-oriented hands-on affair - bring your questions! Drop by the Master Gardener tables and say hi! Rain or shine!

Habitat Gardening
Saturday, 5/12, 11:00am-1:00pm, Free, Berryessa Branch Library, 3355 Nobel Ave., San Jose
Learn how to create a habitat in your garden fit for beneficial insects, pollinating bees, and beautiful songbirds. You'll learn the basics of habitat gardening, and how to have your own garden certified as a Wildlife Habitat.

Plant Propogation for the Home Gardener
Tuesday, 5/15, 7:00pm-8:30pm, Free, Saratoga Library, 13650 Saratoga Ave., Saratoga
Get acquainted with various types of propagation techniques that can be used by the home gardener including stem, leaf, and root cuttings, layering, and plant division.

Beginning Gardening - From Scratch, No Experience Necessary!
Wednesday, 5/16, 6:30pm-8:00pm, Free, West Valley Branch Library, 1243 San Tomas Aquino Road, San Jose
This talk will cover basic principles of getting started in gardening, including clearing weeds, amending and fertilizing soil, and basic planting.

Garden Tools and DIY Projects: How to Save Some $$$
Saturday, 5/19, 1:00pm-3:00pm, Free, Sunnyvale Teaching and Demonstration Garden, 433 Charles St., Sunnyvale
Learn how to make useful and attractive garden projects with readily available items from your local hardware store and a few tools. We'll talk about some of our favorite tools, and review how to keep them in good condition.

Improving Your Garden Soil
Saturday, 5/19, 2:00pm-4:00pm, Free, Santa Teresa Branch Library, 290 International Circle, San Jose
Learn the importance of healthy soil for growing healthy plants. Topics include evaluating and testing your soil, composting, amending, and mulching.

"Growing Your Yard" - Attract Birds, Bees, Hummingbirds, and Beneficial Insects
Wednesday, 5/23, 6:30pm-8:00pm, Free, Vineland Branch Library, 1450 Blossom Hill Rd., San Jose
Learn about the diversity of plants that attract birds, bees, hummingbirds and more to your yard. We'll also define the term "beneficials" in relation to the plants and organisms attracted to them.

Managing Pests and Diseases in the Edible Garden
Saturday, 5/26, 10:00am-12:00pm, $15 ($10 members GRPG), Guadalupe River Park, 438 Coleman Ave, San Jose
This class will teach you how to deal with pests and diseases common in the vegetable garden in the most earth-friendly way by using the principles of Integrated Pest Management (also known as least-toxic pest control).

Controlling Animal Pests in the Garden
Saturday, 5/26, 12:00pm-2:00pm, Free, Santa Clara Central Park Library, 2635 Homestead Road, Santa Clara
Learn how to identify what animal pest was in your yard by the kind of damage that was done. Find out what attracts which animals, when and why animals are more active at certain times, and different ways to control them.

Water Wizard at Guadalupe River Park
Wednesday, 5/30, 9:30am-1:00pm, Free, Guadalupe River Park, 438 Coleman Ave, San Jose
Join us at this fun event where we'll be hosting an information table - bring your gardening questions or just drop by the Master Gardener tables and say hi!

South County Events

"Growing Your Yard" - Attract Birds, Bees, Hummingbirds and Beneficial Insects
Saturday, 5/19, 10:00am-12:00pm, Free, Saint Louise Regional Hospital, 9400 No Name Uno, Gilroy
A special South County session to learn about the diversity of plants that attract birds, bees, hummingbirds and more to your yard. We'll also define the term "beneficials" in relation to the plants and organisms attracted to them.



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Visit the SCC Master Gardener Program website for additional information including an up-to-date list of events .

The University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) Santa Clara County Master Gardener Program volunteers are trained under the auspices of the UCCE. Their mission is to promote sustainable gardening practices by providing up-to-date, research-based horticultural information to home gardeners.

Master gardener Hotlines for answers to all your gardening questions:

  • (408) 282-3105, Mon-Fri 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
  • (650) 329-1356, Fri ONLY 1:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m. (Closed Dec. & Jan.)
  • Or, send us your question online .

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