UC Master Gardener classes                                                          View this email in your browser
Spring is just around the corner! We've just added a pruning class at our demonstration garden in Watsonville--bring your pruning shears and practice on our shrubs and trees! 

You are invited to join us at any of our classes aimed at local home gardeners. Some locations have limited seating, so please sign up early. We look forward to meeting you and answering your questions!

Get Ready for a Spectacular Spring
Spotlight: Invasive French Broom

Pruning in Action! | March 16 | Watsonville
Wildlife Pests of the Garden | March 24 | Felton

Container Gardening Basics & Beyond | April 7 | Felton
Introduction to Edible Landscaping | May 18 | Santa Cruz
Planting & Caring for Succulents | June 2 | Quail Hollow

Home Composting Workshop | March 23 | Salinas
SAVE THE DATE: Spring Gardening Fair | April 13 | Pacific Grove

Click here for a complete list of our classes and events. 

In the Garden

Get Ready for a Spectacular Spring

Central coast gardeners anticipate a spectacular spring this year, thanks to drenching rains that have saturated the soil and filled our reservoirs to the brink.

Winter doesn’t officially end till March 20th, and the ongoing rains have kept most garden beds too soggy for digging. But luckily, there are plenty of things to do for home gardeners itching to get growing.  

Start Seeds Indoors
Get a jump on spring by planting warm-weather vegetable and flower seeds indoors. Tomato, pepper, squash, corn and cucumber seeds planted now will be ready to transplant into the garden in six to eight weeks, when longer days and warmer overnight temperatures will encourage rapid growth.

Place your seedling trays in front of a sunny window, and try warming them on an electric seed-starting mat for quicker germination.

Garden centers offer vast selections of seeds, but don’t be seduced by pretty seed-packet photographs alone. If you are gardening in the coastal zone, choose shorter-season varieties bred to bloom and ripen in our cool summer weather.

Be Picky About Tomato Seeds
In years past, coastal gardeners were limited to cherry, Early Girl and bland San Francisco Fog tomatoes. But a wide variety of short-season tomatoes is now available, including cherry, paste and salad varieties. Tried-and-true coastal tomatoes include Sungold and Chadwick cherries, Caramello, Stupice, Cherokee Purple, Juliet and Lemon Boy salad tomatoes.

A delicious new variety called Tasmanian Chocolate does very well in cool summer areas. And of course there’s the tasty and reliable Early Girl - the coastal gardener’s tomato insurance policy – along with her close relative First Lady.

Check seed packets for a “days to harvest” number – which in the case of tomatoes will range from about 55 to 110 days. Tomatoes with a “days to harvest” number of 55 to 85 are usually a good bet for cool coastal gardens, and those with higher numbers tend to thrive in warmer areas further from the coast.

Consider Smaller Peppers
Pepper plants love hot weather, but small-fruited varieties such as Jalapeno, Serrano, Padron, Shisito and mini- or lunchbox-size bell peppers can do very well near the coastline.  

Sow Seeds for Color
Hardy spring flowers such as bachelor buttons, clarkia, cosmos, scabiosa and California poppies can be seeded directly into the garden now – just be sure to keep the planting area moist until seedlings are visible.

Heat-loving summer flowers including marigolds, sunflowers, zinnias and echinacea can be started indoors and planted outside in six to eight weeks.

Fertilize and Weed
March is also a good time to apply the first annual round of fertilizer to deciduous and citrus fruit trees, and flowering shrubs like roses and hydrangeas. Hold off on fertilizing camellias and azaleas until they are done flowering.

And of course, keep on weeding! The hierbas malas in our gardens are loving the rain every bit as much as the fruit and veg, and weeding now when the soil is soft and the invaders are small will forestall much bigger problems when the growing season kicks into gear.

-  Maria Gaura, UC Master Gardener

French broom - Genista monspessulana

Spotlight: Invasive French Broom

Spring is a great time to fight back against invasive French Broom! Seedlings are easily pulled by hand and larger plants - while tougher to tackle - are easier to uproot from rain-moistened soil. 

My paternal grandmother was French and I grew up as a Francophile loving the language, art, wine, and literature. Living in Martinique and now in California, I’m drawn to farmers markets and casual picnics of baguettes, cheese, and fruit. But my hikes in Monterey Bay chaparral, deciduous or evergreen forests, grasslands and roadsides have revealed a sinister aspect of invasive vegetation, French broom (Genista monspessulana). Don’t let those cute little yellow flowers fool you, this aggressive Mediterranean has conquered North American wild lands from Southern California to British Columbia.

French broom shrubs can grow to 16 feet tall and live 10 to 15 years, producing legumes that disperse thousands of seeds into the air with the explosive bursting of the ripe seed pods. A large proportion of those seeds remain dormant after dispersal, reinforced by hard seed coats that resist germination. This seed bank in the soil (and the continued commercial sales of broom plants in California) is responsible for the expansion of broom populations along the West Coast. Cutting back the shrub to ground level isn’t the solution either—those wicked plant can sprout anew from their root crowns. French broom is toxic to some livestock; experiments with goat grazing and herbicides have met with mixed success.

Along our central coast, it takes vigilance, strong arms, and weapons to pull those deep-rooted aggressors from the native soil. Because most broom seeds germinate during our rainy season, I find the best time to launch an attack against broom is in the spring while the ground is still damp and I can pull the small seedlings out by hand. For mature shrubs, I use a big weed wrench to uproot them, then monitor the area for the next few years to pick off the seedlings before they flower. As they say in France: “Cherchez la petite bête!” Don’t just complain about it; find the little beast and weed it out!

-  Judith Connor, UC Master Gardener

March Classes


Pruning in Action!

UCCE Demonstration Garden | Watsonville
1430 Freedom Boulevard, Suite E
Watsonville, CA 95076

Intimidated by pruning? Learn proper pruning techniques and practice on fruit trees and shrubs in our demonstration garden! Bring your pruners and learn to make the right cut with confidence. Participants will learn about the different types of pruning cuts and how they are applied to young and mature plants.

Save Your Seat for Pruning in Action!


Wildlife Pests of the Garden

Quail Hollow Ranch | Felton
800 Quail Hollow Road
Felton, CA 95018

Wildlife that roam your garden can be a joy to behold but can cause great frustration when they ruin parts of your garden. Learn integrated pest management methods for controlling vertebrate pests. This class will explore pest behavior, identify the damage they cause and management strategies using traps, barriers, deterrents and by incorporating pest-resistant plants. We will be covering common pests including gophers, squirrels, voles, rats, deer, and birds.

NOTE: There is no cost for the class, but Quail Hollow Ranch collects $3 for use of the facilities.

Save Your Seat for Wildlife Pests of the Garden

Upcoming Classes


Container Gardening Basics & Beyond

1:00 pm - 3:00 pm

Quail Hollow Ranch | Felton
800 Quail Hollow Road
Felton, CA 95018

This class covers how to pair the right pot with the right plants and where to place it for optimal growth and vigor! Home gardeners with small spaces, balconies or large yards can enjoy growing plants in a variety of vessels. Explore container types and sizes, potting soils and amendments, light and water requirements, pruning and integrated pest management techniques to support a thriving container garden. Whether you are growing food or ornamental plants, singular specimens, mass plantings or trees, this class will cover the keys to keeping your potted plants flourishing.

Note: There is no cost for the class, but Quail Hollow Ranch collects $3 for use of the facilities.

Save Your Seat for Container Gardening Basics & Beyond


Introduction to Edible Landscaping

10:00 am - 12:00 pm

Costanoa Commons | Santa Cruz
335 Golf Club Drive
Santa Cruz, CA 95060

Designed for beginners and intermediate gardeners, this course will cover introductory topics including why to do it, why not do it, how to do it and what to plant. We will provide ways to add a single edible to your existing landscape, add edibles to container gardening, and creating a small 100 sq ft patch. 

Note: Seating is limited to 25 for this class.

Save Your Seat for Edible Landscaping


Planting & Caring for Succulents

1:00 pm - 3:00 pm

Quail Hollow Ranch | Felton
800 Quail Hollow Road
Felton, CA 95018

POPULAR! Learn about the fascinating varieties of succulents, planting techniques, soil selection, propagation by cuttings and divisions and ongoing care including watering, fertilizing and pest management. Everyone will get hands-on instruction planting succulents in a pot they can take home. Please bring a special container with a drain hole for your planting. Class includes a succulent swap, so everyone is invited to bring succulent cuttings to share with one another for our plantings and to take home.

Note: There is no cost for the class, but Quail Hollow Ranch collects $3 for use of the facilities.

Save Your Seat for Planting & Caring for Succulents



Backyard & Worm Composting Workshop

10:00 am - 11:00 am

Rancho Cielo | Salinas

710 Old Stage Rd
Salinas, CA 93908

UC Master Gardeners of Monterey and Santa Cruz Counties is proud to offer a composting workshop in conjunction with Salinas Valley Recycles. This one-hour workshop is offered at no-cost and bilingual. Turn kitchen scraps and yard trimmings into rich soil amendment. There will be an opportunity to join a raffle for a worm bin and redworms.


Smart Gardening Fair & Plant Sale

9:00 am - 3:00 pm

Jewell Park | Pacific Grove

Central Avenue and Grand Avenue
Pacific Grove CA 93950

Save the Date!

Our Smart Gardening Fair is a free educational event on Saturday, April 13th, at Jewell Park in Pacific Grove. It is a colorful marketplace of “all things gardening” with a special focus on sustainable and water-wise practices! Watch our calendar of events for more details coming soon.
Presentations: Beekeeping | All About Herbs | Edible Landscaping
Live Demonstrations: Orchids | Pruning 101 | Pruning Strategies | Succulents
Plant Sale: Herbs | Succulents | Salvias | Tomatoes | Peppers | Artichokes
and more!
Copyright 2019 UC Master Gardeners of Monterey and Santa Cruz Counties

Our all-volunteer organization offers no-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 © 2019 UC Master Gardeners of Monterey and Santa Cruz Counties, All rights reserved.

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