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The Latest Dirt - Nov 2022

Walnut Creek EcoFest Hosts CoCoMG Booth

By Kathy Gage


The EcoFest in Civic Park was the opening event for Walnut Creek’s Sustainability Week (10/21–28/22). The Fest was fairly well attended by families and ‘aging hippies’ (or so Keith opined). Various vendors represented the theme of sustainability through their products (e.g., electric bikes) or purpose (Recycle Smart, Regional Parks, Farmers Markets, Save Mt. Diablo, and the like). Of course, the UC Master Gardeners were there—Keith Silva, Bill Miller (in a jester’s hat, no less!) and I, Kathy Gage.

The organizers suggested everyone wear Halloween costumes. Many of the children were dressed in their costumes. Vendors were asked to provide treats to the kids. Keith thoughtfully brought mini boxes of raisins to share.

We helped 55 people, including the children who were drawn by stickers and coloring books, and the raisins. Adults wanted the seeds we set out, which gave us the opportunity to start talking about their gardens. The beneficial insects poster was a great draw too!

Many familiar topics came up:

  • Bugs and other pests in raised beds (Asian jumping worms)
  • Lawn removal using sheet mulching process
  • Powdery mildew on hydrangeas
  • Citrus watering—how much, how often, etc.
  • Coddling moth fruit tree damage
  • Gophers and tree squirrels
  • Using native plants to attract wildlife
  • Milkweed not successful
  • Elm tree roots in raised bed—need to move the bed
  • New gardener looking for advice on how to fill a raised bed—type of soil, compost

One more topic: the UC Master Gardener Program! We had several inquiries and compliments:

  • What do UC Master Gardeners do?
  • I enjoy your informative newsletters
  • Love your webinars
  • Do you offer gardening classes?
  • How do you become a UC Master Gardener?
  • When is the next Great Tomato Plant Sale?

We had a few ‘new’ ones (for me) too:

  • My first clients asked how to get rid of roly poly bugs and ants in their strawberry beds. (Ah! I hadn’t heard that term in a very long time. As a child, my friends and I liked to make roly poly bugs roll up!). They’re pill bugs that roll up when they’re disturbed. This couple had a bumper crop of roly polies this year. We recommended diatomaceous earth (good for the ants too), keeping the soil moist but not wet, using dry straw as mulch, and a few other suggestions.
  • Another visitor didn’t have a problem. Rather, he talked about climate change and how we need to eat more ‘imperfect’ fruit. Not sure how the two are connected.
  • Using rabbit manure pellets as fertilizer—hadn’t heard of this kind of manure before. Will have to try it.
  • A visitor wanted to know about getting speakers for a UCSF employees’ gardening project. We referred her to the Help Desk.
  • One more item was new to me: a man who lives in an apartment with very little space to grow any crops wanted to find a garden plot for rent. He knew of all the places we suggested, but said these garden spaces were full, with waiting lists. He was disappointed.

All in all, the day was super successful: beautiful sunny day under the shady trees, and many vendors to discuss with participants how to live more sustainably and become more active in promoting a healthier environment. Our goals were the same: encourage folks to learn how to sustainably garden: during drought, without pesticides, and drawing wildlife to our gardens by planting natives. We encouraged learning more through our online garden webinars, and joining CoCoMGs and the public at The Great Tomato Plant sale in early April 2023 to see the huge number of newly propagated spring and summer veggies, especially tomatoes—of course!

Read more information about the EcoFest and related events promoted by the City of Walnut Creek and co-sponsors.


Sustainability Week Oct 22nd-28th 2022! – Sustainable Walnut Creek