February 2009 Tips and Events


Sent: 2009-01-31 12:23:20


February 2009 Tips & Events
from the UCCE Santa Clara County Master Gardener Program

"In seed time learn, in harvest teach, in winter enjoy." --- William Blake

Tip: Start your tomatoes and peppers by seed now.
Can you believe it's already time? We Master Gardeners have planted more than 10,000 peppers and more than 13,000 tomatoes in anticipation of this year's Spring Garden Market which will take place on April 4 this year. If you start your own pepper seedlings, they will need to be kept warm on heating mats and under lights to germinate. Maybe you'd prefer we do the work?

Event: Seed Starting and Direct Seeding
Saturday, February 7, 10 a.m.-11 a.m., Free
Palo Alto Demonstration Garden, 851 Center Dr., Palo Alto, 94301, Directions (PDF)
February is a great time to start seeds indoors and prepare your vegetable beds for direct seeding. Learn some techniques and get a jump on your spring vegetable garden! To register, call (650) 493-6072.

Tip: The last part of February is the time to prune fuchsias.
There may be some frost damage on your fuchsias that you want to prune out. You will also want to take off some of last summer's growth. Make sure to leave at least two or three healthy leaf buds on each branch. Fuchsias have a tendency to get leggy, but if you frequently pinch the tips of the branches during the spring and summer it will force side growth, making the fuchsia bushier. Pick off flowers as they fade. Check out the American Fuchsia Society's website for more information, especially their winter care page.

Event: Pruning Ornamental Shrubs and Trees
Saturday, February 7, 10 a.m.-noon, Free
MetroEd Erikson Adult Ed Center, 4849 Pearl Ave., San Jose, 95136 (Room to be announced), Directions
Come hear expert advice on pruning and maintaining a beautiful landscape at home. You'll learn how to avoid the "uglies" and "Gee, it will grow back again, won't it?" problems with pruning your ornamentals.
Space is limited. Phone the MetroEd/Erikson office at (408) 723-6450 during regular business hours to sign up, or email RitaB@metroed.net.
Instructor: Master Gardener Sue Bell

Tip: Embrace the chilly weather.
Many of our fruit trees rely on cold temperatures in the dormant season for a healthy fruit set. Chill hours refer to the hours of time a deciduous fruit or nut tree spends with temperatures between 32 and 45 degrees F. Chill hours are necessary to break dormancy, which is the state of rest that these trees enter during the winter months in response to growth inhibitors. Different varieties of trees need different numbers of hours to break dormancy. Most of northern California gets between 800 and 1,500 hours each year, but some of the warmer coastal and Bay side areas may receive fewer.

Check before purchasing fruit and nut trees to make sure that your area gets enough winter chill for the trees to bloom and set fruit. Some varieties such as apricots are unlikely to bear if they do not receive enough chill hours. If you are in a low chill area, look for trees that are tolerant to your climate. The Fruit and Nut site at UC Davis has a list of low chill trees and a weather tab that lists totals of chill hours. Look for the link to the paper Temperate Tree Fruit and Nut Varieties for the Home Landscape, (PDF) which lists varieties that do well in our area. Or, consult our list of fruits for Santa Clara County.

Event: Fruit Tree Varieties
Saturday, February 14, 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., $27
Common Ground, 559 College Ave., Palo Alto, 94306, Directions
Learn which varieties of peaches, nectarines, plums, pluots, apricots, apples and pears are the delight of connoisseurs. Be introduced to the best of the best-tasting deciduous fruits that grow in this area and learn where to find sources for the plants.
Instructor: Master Gardener Nancy Garrison

Event: Start Your Garden From Seeds
Saturday, February 14, 9 a.m.-11 a.m., Free
Gamble Garden, 1451 Waverly St., Palo Alto, 94301, Directions
Come learn how to start seeds indoors, sow seeds directly in soils, and proper planting methods. Organic veggies will be the main topic. Other topics include, beneficial flowers such as Marigolds and gourmet edible flowers such as Nasturtiums. A sampling of seeds and seed starting mediums will be part of a hands on demonstration. The instructor will provide data downloads to those who bring USB drives.
Instructor: Master Gardener Bekah Stratton

Tip: Plant more lettuce.
If you planted lettuce in the fall, those plants may be producing thornier leaves by now that taste a tad bitter. Lettuce (PDF) is one of the plants that do well by seed and once you get used to replanting, or succession planting, you can have salad nearly year-round.

Event: Growing Orchids Successfully
Wednesday, February 18, 7 p.m.-8 p.m., Free
West Valley Library, 1243 San Tomas Aquino Rd., San Jose, 95117, Directions
Learn from Santa Clara County Master Gardeners how you can grow orchids successfully. If you already grow orchids, bring your own orchid to the talk and find out what you can do to make it grow better. Growing orchids is easier than you think and very rewarding. Come to this talk to be inspired!
Instructor: Master Gardener David Giroux

Tip: Some grocery store produce is worse than others.
The not-for-profit Environmental Working Group publishes a list of 43 fruits and vegetables in order of pesticide loads. Consult this list to help plan your garden and your shopping list. Lettuce, which is so easy to grow, ranks in the top ten most pesticide-loaded produce products with spinach close behind.

Event: All About Irrigation--When & How to Water
Tuesday, February 24, 7:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m., Free
Los Altos Library, 13 S. San Antonio Road, Los Altos, 94022, Directions
Most gardening problems are related to incorrect watering: either over-watering or under-watering. Irrigation systems can seem mysterious and hard-to-control. Come learn about this aspect of gardening and eliminate the guessing. All types of irrigation will be discussed: hand-watering, sprinklers, automatic sprinklers and sprays, soaker hoses and drip irrigation. You'll have an opportunity to put together drip irrigation components to learn how easy it can be.
Instructor: Master Gardener Tina Dinitz


Visit the SCC Master Gardener Program web site for additional information.

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.
  • Or, send us your question online

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