Hero Image
The Latest Dirt - Nov 2023
  • EBMUD Highlights Richmond Low Water Garden
    EBMUD Highlights Richmond Low Water Garden

    Article and Photos by Simone Adair

    East Bay Municipal Utility District recently held a Landscape Advisory Committee meeting at the Richmond Public Library highlighting the Richmond Low Water Demonstration Garden. Kristin Bowman and Jolene Bertetto, Water Conservation Program Managers, brought together members of the public, as well as UC Master Gardeners, staff of The Gardens at Heather Farm, Contra Costa Water employees, City of Richmond parks staff, local landscape architects, and landscape contractors to discuss demonstration gardens and placemaking principles.

  • The Ties that Bind!
    The Ties that Bind!

    By Laura Brainin–Rodriguez

    I became a member of the Executive Leadership Team in July 2023, after being a Co-Lead for the Ask a Master Gardener Project since 2018. I’m now partly responsible for the whole organization rather than a single project. I get a sense of the breadth and scope of what we do for the residents of Contra Costa County by attending Executive Committee meetings.

    For this article, I received input on what makes UC Master Gardeners so unique from leads of 11 of the 18 projects and those CoCoMGs leading incubation/larval projects. I also contacted the Finance Chairs since what they do serves the entire organization in a way that makes the rest of our work possible.

  • An Interview with Bill Miller
    An Interview with Bill Miller

    by David George

    Bill Miller has been a leader all his life. He inspires other UC Master Gardener volunteers with his caring attitude and soft-spoken approach to whatever roles he attempts in the program. His thoughtfulness and dedication are visibly demonstrated as an essential contributor to the Executive Leadership Team. I had the pleasure of interviewing Bill the other day to learn more about his background, his current interests, and his advice on how to be an effective volunteer and a happy one.

  • New Admin Assistant Joins CoCoMGs
    New Admin Assistant Joins CoCoMGs

    By Simone Adair

    Please join me in welcoming our new Contra Costa County UC Master Gardener Administrative Assistant, Diana Garcia–Colmenarez. Diana is also a San José State University graduate student in the Environmental Studies Department, focusing on Fire Ecology and Geographic Information Systems (GIS).

  • New CoCoMGs Share Their Love for Gardening
    New CoCoMGs Share Their Love for Gardening

    By Laura Brainin-Rodriguez

    Ask a Master Gardener wrapped up another stellar season, reaching 8127 people in the 2022–2023 fiscal year. The AAMG season runs from April–October, straddling two fiscal years. While we don’t yet have our numbers for calendar 2023, from April–September 2023, we have already reached 6921 contacts before we add our October numbers.

  • The Family Harvest Farm Demonstration Garden Takes Shape
    The Family Harvest Farm Demonstration Garden Takes Shape

    By Karen Maggio

    The John Muir Land Trust staff (operators of the Family Harvest Farm) and apprentices got their first look at the draft plans for the UC Master Gardener–operated demonstration garden in Pittsburg, CA, on August 30th. The UC Master Gardener team presented both a professionally done full plan as well as a first–phase plan.

  • Cheers to the Growing Gardeners for a Successful 2023!
    Cheers to the Growing Gardeners for a Successful 2023!

    By Steve Carter

    The Growing Gardeners Team has recently concluded a successful 5th season of presenting the popular Vegetable Gardening for Beginners course to a host of budding members of our gardening community. This year, we had four courses and registered 224 students! A testament to the popularity of this course, openings for each were often filed within minutes after registration opened.

  • Speakers Bureau Wraps Up Phenomenal 2023
    Speakers Bureau Wraps Up Phenomenal 2023

    By Gail Burt

    A time to reflect and give thanks…

    As we wrap up another season, I want to thank all the UC Master Gardener volunteers who generously contributed their time and knowledge to help the Speakers Bureau deliver on our mission to distribute home horticulture and pest management information.

  • Living in Wildfire Country: Unexpected Dangers in the Firewise Garden
    Living in Wildfire Country: Unexpected Dangers in the Firewise Garden

    Article and photos by Marilyn Saarni, Resilient Regenerative Firescaping Certified (Rescape, 2020)

    Little lessons learned digging in the dirt. I’ve now converted about 75% of my garden to firewise landscaping. Along the way, I’ve been learning (through painful encounters) about unwise plant choices and maintenance details that require PPE (personal protection equipment—that phrase often characterizes the onset of COVID). I’m passing on some of these lessons here, hoping to save others from stabs, infections and frustration. And it saves you some money, too, as you can avoid adding these plants to your garden but then pay big bucks to remove them.

  • Holiday Party
    Holiday Party


    We’re getting ready to honor our efforts and wonderful members
    for all of 2023’s efforts, so mark this date on your calendar!

    DATE: Monday, December 11, 2023
    TIME: 6-9:00 PM
    PLACE: Pleasant Hill Community Center
    320 Civic Drive
    Pleasant Hill, CA94523

  • Ladibug, Ladibug…
    Ladibug, Ladibug…

    By Pam Austin

    You know the song. But in this case the Ladibug can’t fly home. School Gardens Lead Pam Austin has recently acquired the Lumens Ladibug, an extremely versatile document camera. It is also portable and wireless. This document camera can capture real-time 3D objects and display the project onto a screen or monitor. It is available to borrow, and Pam will provide training.