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The Latest Dirt - July 2023
  • An Interview with Kate Verhoef
    An Interview with Kate Verhoef

    by David George and Simone Adair

    Talented Contra Costa UC Master Gardener Kate Verhoef is leaving our program this summer. She plans to travel to Europe, teach part-time, and visit her family in Canada. As much as we hate to see Kate go, we celebrate her many contributions to our program during her tenure. Simone and I met with Kate to gain her perspective on her volunteer years and what our program can achieve going forward. 

  • Volunteer Support Hard At Work
    Volunteer Support Hard At Work

    By Jon Dwyer

    The Volunteer Support project of the Contra Costa County UC Master Gardener’s organization is one of only three of the 15+ projects that are 100% “inward facing,” which means that all of the various activities within the project are in support of the UC Master Gardeners and do not deal with the general public.

  • News From Our Garden
    News From Our Garden

    By Janet Miller

    Even though we just passed over the summer solstice, ushering in our warmest season, it feels like Spring has just begun. With the record–breaking rainfall, which we are grateful for, our garden beds were way too soggy to work at the normal time. 

  • What Happens at Ask a Master Gardener Tables?
    What Happens at Ask a Master Gardener Tables?

    By Laura Brainin–Rodriguez

    Ask a Master Gardener tables are staffed at many of our Contra Costa farmers’ markets and single–day events. At these tables, we offer University of California vetted gardening advice: we show people how to use gopher traps; how to use shade cloth; how to employ hardware cloth to exclude rodents; how to deploy nets to protect fruit trees and supply information on trapping earwigs and snails.

  • Community Gardens – Measuring Success
    Community Gardens – Measuring Success

    By Karen Maggio

    Engaging community, demonstrating best practices, encouraging teamwork, teaching and sharing experiences — this is what we do as UC Master Gardeners, in community gardens throughout Contra Costa County. The many successes we share come in different forms and sometimes defy quantitative measurement.

  • School Gardens Impact Our Communities
    School Gardens Impact Our Communities

    By Kate Verhoef

    Now that my time as School Garden Co–Lead is coming to an end, I’ve been thinking about all the different ways that the School Gardens team has impacted youth, parents, educators and school communities over the last couple of years. There have been one–off but helpful visits to check and repair irrigation systems, consult on pruning, or determine what non–human animal is chomping leaves.


  • Problems with Succulents
    Problems with Succulents

    By Stephanie Hargrave

    Client’s question:
    I live in Walnut Creek and recently had my front and backyard landscaping done. A couple of the cactus plants seem to be dying. They get full sun and initially twice a week water. Now they are on a weekly watering schedule. Please advise.

  • Water Conservation Garden is Grateful
    Water Conservation Garden is Grateful

    By Liz Rottger and Liv Imset

    The Co–Leads of the Water Conservation Garden, Liv Imset and Liz Rottger, thank all the UC Master Gardeners who have been coming out and kick–starting our second season of this new pilot project. We would like to recognize the West County UC Master Gardeners who have been helping us to convert a dead hillside into a vibrant eco–system: Pam Austin, Titania Buchholdt, Trish Clifford, Linda Garcia, Lorene Holmes–Dees, Brian Kerss, Dan Lent, Lauren Maghren with Baby Benjamin, Rachel Maldonado–Aziminia, Ken and Molly Ong, Val Simonetti, Mary Stewart, Barbara Turunen and Vivien Williamson.

  • Bee's Bliss Unhappy in Pleasant Hill
    Bee's Bliss Unhappy in Pleasant Hill

    By Stephanie Hargrove

    Client’s question: I’m wondering if I should prune back my Salvia Bee’s Bliss, I live in Pleasant Hill. The leaves yellowed after the winter, and I thought it was due to too much moisture from the winter rain. Now it’s dried out, so maybe I didn’t give it enough water this spring? How hard should I prune it back, and can I do it now or wait until fall?

  • Get Real in the Garden — CoCoMG South County Gatherings
    Get Real in the Garden — CoCoMG South County Gatherings

    By Kathy Gage

    Several years back, three South County UC Master Gardeners from Alamo, Danville and San Ramon — Bonnie Dwyer (class of 2013), Bob Archer (class of 2019), and Janette Drew (class of 2016) — came up with the idea of hosting early evening informal and unofficial get–togethers for South County CoCoMGs. We’d gather at members’ houses to view their gardens and enjoy each other’s company, sharing appetizers and drinks. In Bonnie’s words, “We are calling it Get Real in the Garden because anyone willing to host is meant to share their garden just as it is…the real garden, not the cleaned–up garden!”