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The Latest Dirt - July 2022

Ask A Master Gardener Summer News

By Bill Miller

What Are People Asking Us? Apparently, this is the year of the earwig! We are inundated with inquiries about what to do about this rather daunting looking creature. Then, of course, there are numerous questions about rats, gophers, moles, mice and men. What else do we hear at the AAMG Farmers Market tables? Here is just a taste.

Photo by Bob Archer. John Fike and Bill Miller answer a client’s question at the “Made in the Shade” event at Shadelands in Walnut Creek, CA.
Photo by Bob Archer. John Fike and Bill Miller answer a client’s question at the “Made in the Shade” event at Shadelands in Walnut Creek, CA.

  • Q: “What if a black widow bites me. How bad would that be?” A: “Bad.”
  • Q: “Are pincher bugs and earwigs the same…and can they do you harm if they get ahold of you?” A: “Yes and No.”
  • Q: “I’ve got this apple tree, and something is feasting on the leaves. What could it be?” A: “What do the leaves look like, what sort of damage? Aha! That’s a great question for our Help Desk! Send them a photo”
  • Q: (After a lengthy and heartfelt conversation about what to plant, how to compost, how much water and how long one should irrigate, and other immeasurable questions), the interested client asked:
  • Q: “Are you single?” And the judiciously trained AAMGs responded with our pat answer… A: “That depends!”

And the stumper of the month—

  • Q: “How do you make seven into an even number?” A: “Take away the “s.”

Luring the Public to our Tables: So, what does it take to get busy farmers market shoppers to come over the AAMG table, beyond, of course, the charming AAMGs standing at the ready to answer any question? People like free stuff, and we have the seeds to prove it. When they come over to check out the seeds, that’s an opportunity to ask them how their garden grows. Few people can resist that opening…especially when they are helping themselves to free seeds. What else attracts people to our tables? The irresistible blown-up photos of various insects and plant maladies. Occasionally, some people have even offered to buy the pictures. Then there is the well-known Beneficial Insects poster. Potential clients stop and gaze at the poster of the “friendlies” giving us AAMGs a chance to chat them up. And once we get started, there usually is a question or two. Finally, kids flock to our table, unable to resist the Lady Beetle bookmarks.

A Few Impressive Numbers: In the last issue of The Latest Dirt, we were pleased to report that we had reached out to 1,050 clients in the month of April. That impressive number has jumped quite a bit for AAMG’s efforts in May and June. In those two months, we’ve served an additional 2,224 folks. At one of our “Single Day Events,” we interacted with 409 interested gardeners at the San Ramon Art and Wind Festival. Overall, it seems to us that our AAMG efforts are leading to a healthier and a more sustainable world, client by client.

Speaking of Single Day Events: Organized by our fearless single day coordinator Debbie Cuevas, we supported “Made in the Shade,” a first-time event at the new sports complex in Shadelands. This special open-house celebration and community day attracted a sizable crowd and accounted for 104 contacts at that event. Add in another 85 interested clients at the annual Martinez Beaver Festival. In August, AAMG will be setting up a table at the Ruth Bancroft Garden to support their Child and Family Day at this internationally known and respected garden.

Sign Up to Have Fun with Us: Meeting the public, talking with them about best gardening practices, and answering their questions really is fun and satisfying. We always look for more volunteers to staff our market tables and single day events. We post the next month’s slots on the 17th of the prior month in order to give everyone an opportunity to sign up to staff a table. And for several markets, we reserve a spot for our recently graduated class of 2022. If you have any questions or accolades, feel free to contact Laura Brainin-Rodriguez, John Fike, or Bill Miller, Co-coordinators of AAMG.