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Welcome Accepted Master Gardener Applicants!

What do more than a dozen community and school garden organizers, members and directors of 15 non-profit boards, several K-12 teachers, a department chair from Loma Linda University a, retired USDA senior marketing manager, a sociologist, an anthropologist, a handful of IT and human resource managers, a structural engineer with a second career as a public health educator and 40 other San Bernardino County residents have in common? They all have a desire to give back to their communities and were recently accepted into our UC Cooperative Extension San Bernardino County Master Gardener program.

The Master Gardener 'class of 2021' hails from all parts of the county including Yucca Valley, Victorville, 29 Palms, Running Springs, San Bernardino, Redlands, Chino, Montclair, Chino Hills, Running Springs, Pinion Pines, Colton, Rancho Cucamonga, Rialto, and Ontario. They will be brought together for the first time ever in the history of the program entirely via Zoom! In exchange for the horticulture knowledge they receive during the 18-week training class, each has agreed to volunteer 50 or more hours helping county residents landscape more sustainably and grow fruits and vegetables in home, community, and school gardens.

Please help Master Gardener Coordinator Maggie O'Neill, our 150+ current Master Gardeners, and me welcome these new students into our program. I am excited to get to know them and inspired already by their passion and giving spirit. Besides helping residents landscape more sustainably, this year the Master Gardener program will focus heavily on helping county residents develop home, school, and community gardens. This closely aligns with the increased interest county residents have in growing food and adopting healthier lifestyles. Master Gardeners are in the process of developing vegetable planting guides for our three main climate zones (valley, high desert and mountains), ‘how to' videos on planting, growing, and harvesting cool and warm season vegetables, and conducting workshops (via zoom for the time being) to help current and new home, community and school gardeners become even more successful. And, of course, Master Gardeners will continue to staff our email and telephone helplines and hope to resume staffing their Farmers' Markets booths as soon as it is safe to do so!

I'm looking forward to another great year!

school garden san bernardino master gardener university of california
school garden san bernardino master gardener university of california

Master Gardener San Bernardino University of California 3
Master Gardener San Bernardino University of California 3

Master Gardener San Bernardino University of California 2
Master Gardener San Bernardino University of California 2

Posted on Tuesday, September 1, 2020 at 9:18 PM
Focus Area Tags: Agriculture, Environment, Food, Health, Yard & Garden

Meet August 'Spotlight' UCCE Master Gardener Brenda Spoelstra

Brenda helping youth learn to garden at Micah House 3

I became a University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) Master Gardener in San Bernardino County in January of 2019. I had learned about it from a friend who is an instructor with the UCCE Master Food Preserver program. She knew I liked...

micah house veggie garden 1
micah house veggie garden 1

Posted on Friday, July 31, 2020 at 7:45 PM
  • Author: Brenda Spoelstra
Focus Area Tags: Environment, Food, Health, Yard & Garden

Applications of Organic Mulch Result in Enhanced Tree Growth and Water Savings

I hope all of you and your loved ones are staying well and healthy as the pandemic continues.  Involving yourself in outdoor activities is not only a great way to escape 'cabin fever' and improve your physical health but it is also good for you psychologically, as well.   

A silver lining for me over the past few months has been the opportunity to summarize results of some research studies including an update from a mulch trial that I'll report on virtually rather than live at the American Society for Horticultural Science conference (that was to be held in Orlando). I thought you might be interested in the results.

The objective of the research project was to measure the impacts of organic mulch treatments on the growth and health of four species of low maintenance, drought-tolerant landscape trees under deficit irrigation. Species selected were Parkinsonia x ‘Desert Museum' (it's thornless!); Chilopsis linearis ‘Bubba' (Desert Willow) (beautiful magenta flowers!), Pistacia ‘Red Push' (hybrid from P. atlantica and P. integerrima with brilliant orange fall foliage), and Prosopis glandulosa ‘Maverick' (thornless). Trees were planted in a randomized complete block experimental design in at the Chino Basin Water Conservation District (CBWCD) in Montclair in October, 2016. Half of the trees received 4” of organic mulch and half did not. Trees were transplanted from 15-gallon containers and irrigated with recycled water at 80 percent of reference evapotranspiration (ETo) the first 12 months.

Irrigation was reduced to 50% ETo in November, 2017 which was maintained until May 2020, when irrigation ceased. While the study continues through October 2020, there are some interesting early results.  Organic mulch applications enhanced growth with no loss in quality in the Pistacia, Prosopis glandulosa, and Chilopsis linearis trees while growth was actually better in the Parkinsonia trees that did not receive mulch. This may be due to the fact that its trunk and branches actively photosynthesize as well as its leaves. Parkinsonia leaves also feature sunken guard cells, providing another form of drought avoidance. Furthermore, they develop deep root systems and may not need the added benefit of reduced soil evaporation in the top few inches of soil provided by the mulch. While all of the species selected have wonderful attributes, the Parkinsonia 'Desert Museum' has all the best traits of its palo verde heritage including having no thorns and a continues bloom throughout summer.

A huge thanks to our UCCE San Bernardino County Master Gardener team (led by Irene) who take data quarterly on the trees, recording trunk circumference at 6" and 3'. This is another great example of the breadth and depth of the contributions of our wonderful volunteers!

The four species of landscape trees in this study are part of a larger study at University of California, Riverside to determine the ability of 12 species of landscape trees to mitigate impacts of climate change. While I'll be long retired, growth and health data of all species will continue to be evaluated through at least 2035. The study at CBWCD provided the opportunity for a mulch/no mulch treatment for four of the most promising species which was space-limited at UCR.

Below are plot photos from October 2016 (right after planting), July 2020 (no irrigation for 3 months), a mature 'Desert Museum' tree in prolific bloom (photo credit to Dr. Bob Perry, Emeritus Professor, Cal Poly Pomona), and a mature Chilopsis linearis 'Bubba' from our UCR plot.  


Plot overview (2020)

Chilopsis linearis ‘Bubba' (Desert Willow)

Save the date We will be hosting a virtual UCR Field Day on September 3, 2020 featuring our drought-tolerant landscape plots at UC Riverside that was to be held live last May.  More information is forthcoming but it will provide at least four hours of continuing education hours and a chance for you to ask questions of Dr's  Amir Haghverdi, Don Merhaut and myself.

Have a wonderful August in your garden!


Posted on Sunday, July 26, 2020 at 1:06 PM
Focus Area Tags: Environment, Natural Resources, Yard & Garden

UCCE San Bernardino County Master Gardener Spotlight: Doug Arnold - High Desert Master Gardener

Doug Arnold - June 2020 Spotlight Master Gardener!

Doug Arnold is 100% home-grown and has been a UC Cooperative Extension (UCCE) San Bernardino County Master Gardener in the High Desert since 1997. Doug and his wife have lived in the High Desert since 1982. He enjoys DIY projects, such as building raised...

Posted on Monday, June 1, 2020 at 5:39 PM
Focus Area Tags: Yard & Garden

UCCE San Bernardino County Master Gardener Spotlight: Vikki Gerdes - A Master Gardener Dedicated to Water Wise Gardening

Vikki's Water-Wise Moonlight Garden

I recently spent a delightful morning with UC Cooperative Extension (UCCE) San Bernardino County Master Gardener Vikki Gerdes, chatting in her light-filled kitchen over coffee and cookies about why she loves gardening and the UCCE Master Gardener...

Posted on Wednesday, March 25, 2020 at 1:26 PM
Focus Area Tags: Environment, Innovation, Natural Resources, Yard & Garden

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