UC Master Gardeners of Monterey
and Santa Cruz Counties
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Welcome to our newsletter, featuring practical, hands-on classes designed for local home gardeners. Some class locations have limited seating. We encourage you to register early.

Defending Your Garden with Integrated Pest Management (IPM) 
Almost Spring: What to Do Now

Integrated Pest Management: Gophers, Deer, Birds | March 8 | Felton
Integrated Pest Management: Aphids, Caterpillars, Snails | March 21 | Watsonville
(CLASS FULL) Care for Beautiful Dahlias | April 11 | Santa Cruz
Click here for a complete list of our classes and events

Smart Gardening Fair & Spring Plant Sale | April 4 | Pacific Grove
Garden Tour | June 6 | Santa Cruz County

Contact us through our Hotline

In the Garden

Defending Your Garden with Integrated Pest Management (IPM)

The weather is lovely and the nurseries are filling with tender, tasty seedlings so tempting to take home and plant. But you’re not the only one who finds those seedlings delicious. Do yourself a favor and use an ounce of prevention to eliminate a pound of cure later.  Prevention is a key principle of Integrated Pest Management (IPM). 

Your foe by land: Gophers
Spring is gopher breeding season so a run, usually inhabited by a solitary, territorial party of 1 may contain a family of 4. The best prevention is to EXCLUDE them by using underwire. Not the kind in ladies undergarments, underwire that creates a barrier around the root zone. This can be done by lining your raised beds with hardware cloth or planting in gopher baskets. Both of these options can be pricey and labor-intensive. If you rent or can’t afford or haven’t gotten around to one of these preventative solutions, it’s time to escalate to traps. Learn all about how to monitor and trap gophers and deal with other vertebrates, such as deer, at our Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Vertebrates! Sunday March 8 class at Quail Hollow Ranch in Felton.

Your foes by air: Birds and flying insects
Sparrows and finches LOVE a newly planted bed of seedlings and can take out a planting in a day. During the warmer months, butterflies, moths, and flies lay eggs on them that hatch into Very Hungry Caterpillars. EXCLUDE them by covering your bed with reemay or agrifabric. Another trick is to use ‘tule’, the fabric that wedding veils are made of: it’s cheap, light as a feather, and lets water and sunshine in while keeping birds and insects out. 

Your foes by sea? (perhaps slime): Slugs and snails
Before you lay that agrifabric over the bed, sprinkle a barrier of iron phosphate or “Sluggo” to prevent slugs and snails from getting settled in. Sluggo and Sluggo Plus are organic materials certified by the Organic Materials Research Institute (OMRI) and work like a charm. Sluggo Plus will also take care of earwigs. If you have raised beds with wooden borders you can try copper tape around the perimeter to EXCLUDE slugs and snails - they won’t cross over it. Our Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Invertebrates! Saturday March 21 class in Watsonville will cover strategies to address snails and slugs, aphids, and caterpillars.

Be a smart and proactive gardener by using the core IPM principle of prevention through exclusion via mechanical barriers.  You’ll have the most exclusive garden in town. 

-- UC Master Gardeners Delise Weir and Trink Praxel

Almost Spring: Things to Do Now

It's a busy time of year for Central Coast gardeners as the first (official) day of spring arrives. Our dry February has led to predictions of drought this summer. Here's what you can do now:


  • The cool, dry early February, combined with warm, dry days approaching March have broken dormancy on many fruit trees. Once blossoms have emerged, it is too late to use dormant sprays.
  • With our dry February, take care to water new plantings. Check moisture levels about 2-3 inches deep. Water if you discover the soil is dry. Add mulch to minimize weeds and reduce evaporation, being mindful of keeping mulch 6 inches away from tree trunks and plant stems.
  • Cool-season vegetables are still a go in early spring. Lengthening days will encourage your plants to grow much faster than those planted in winter! But know unseasonal temperatures may cause vegetables to bolt. Look for slow to bolt varieties.
  • Start seeds for late spring and early summer plants. Because birds can be a problem, sow a generous amount of seed. You can opt to cover the area with reemay or other agrifabric (see tbis month's Integrated Pest Management article above) to exclude them--you can always thin seedlings later!
  • It's not too late to find perennial vegetables at the nursery, such as asparagus. Plant asparagus crowns now through early spring. They require 2-3 years to develop a strong root system. Resist the urge to harvest spears the first year, harvest lightly the second year, and they will feed your family for many years.
  • Cut down winter cover crops and gently turn them under the soil before they seed and/or 3-4 weeks before you intend to plant to give it enough time to decompose.
  • Don't have a cover crop? Build soil health and drought resilience by incorporating organic matter, such as compost, and mulch deeply.
Additional Resources

Upcoming Classes


Integrated Pest Management: Vertebrates (Gophers, Deer & Birds)

1:00 pm - 3:00 pm

Cost: $5

Quail Hollow Ranch County Park
800 Quail Hollow Road, Felton, CA 95018

Integrated pest management (IPM) is a process you can use to solve pest problems in your garden while minimizing risks to people and the environment.  Early spring is a time to focus on the most active vertebrate pests - gophers, birds, and deer – all of which can do significant damage in a short period of time.
Learn how IPM strategies can be used to control these specific pests. We will cover the basic steps of IPM which help you identify the pest and its impact, learn various control options available, and find the least toxic approach that will work. 

This class includes both a lecture portion and a stroll around the ranch looking for signs of vertebrate activity, with opportunity for hands-on activity to find gopher runs and practice properly setting gopher traps.

This is part of our special IPM class series. Part 2 covers invertebrates. Stay subscribed to be notified of future classes.

NOTE: Quail Hollow collects $3.00 for use of the facilities, which is included in your class fee. 

Save Your Seat for IPM: Gophers, Deer & Birds


Integrated Pest Management: 
Invertebrates (Aphids, Caterpillars & Snails)

10:00 am - noon

Cost: $5

UCCE Extension Office Auditorium
1430 Freedom Blvd., Suite E
Watsonville, CA 95076

Integrated pest management, or IPM, is a process you can use to solve pest problems in your garden while minimizing risks to people and the environment. 

This class will focus on a handful of common invertebrate pests - aphids, thrips, caterpillars and snails – all of which can do significant damage in a short period of time in your spring garden.
Join us to learn how IPM strategies can be used to control these specific pests. We will cover the basic steps of IPM which help you identify the pest and its impact, learn various control options available and find the least toxic approach that will work.

This class will include classroom time and hands-on activity in the UC Master Gardeners Demonstration Garden to find and identify insect and snail damage.

This is the second of our special IPM class series. Stay subscribed or check our website for future classes.

Save Your Seat for IPM: Aphids, Caterpillars & Snails


Care for Beautiful Dahlias

9:30 am - 11:30 am

Cost: $5

Common Roots Farm
335 Golf Club Drive
Santa Cruz, CA 96050
This class is FULL. However, walk-ins will be accommodated on a space-available basis only.
Learn how to plant, grow, and care for beautiful Dahlias with Kristine Albrecht, president of the Monterey Bay Dahlia Society. Kristine launched her Blackbird Farm in 2007 while planning to reclaim a half-acre on the east side of Santa Cruz. The weed-choked plot had been fallow for several years before Kristine planted over 1,000 diverse tubers. Her beautiful blooms have won regional and national awards including the best small bloom at the national show and both the Derrill Hart Award and the Lynn P. Dudley award for her own cultivar, KA's Cloud. In 2012 and 2016 Kristine was awarded the trophy for the largest dahlia shown in the U.S. Locally you can see many of her blooms at the Santa Cruz County Fair and at the Monterey Bay Dahlia Show. 
NOTE: This class location has limited seating of 30.
CLASS FULL for Growing Great Dahlias


Saturday, April 4: 10:00 am - 5:00 pm
Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History
165 Forest Avenue, Pacific Grove
Our annual Smart Gardening Fair and Plant Sale will be held at the Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History. With speakers, gardening demonstrations and our spring plant sale, this fun and educational event celebrates all things gardening with a focus on sustainable, water-wise gardening. Read more 

Ask a Master Gardener!

Have questions about your garden but can't meet us in person? We are here to help! Submit your questions to our Hotline here!
Quail (c) Maria Gaura
Copyright 2020 UC Master Gardeners of Monterey and Santa Cruz Counties

Our all-volunteer organization offers low-cost gardening and landscaping advice to home gardeners in our beautiful Central Coast region. For more information on classes, resources and advice, please visit our website.
Copyright © 2020 UC Master Gardeners of Monterey and Santa Cruz Counties, All rights reserved.

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