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The Latest Dirt

Volume 12, Issue 6 - November 2022

Editor's Note: Our trees remind me that we are fully into fall. I'm thoroughly enjoying the changing of the colors of the wide variety of trees here in Contra Costa County. I'm also feeling very grateful for the days of rain we've had. Those were several less days that we needed to water our garden. This time of the year also brings many chores that need to be done. I spent the last few Sundays raking leaves. And it's not over.

And as fall turns to winter, UC Master Gardeners are also busy at work at the wide variety of projects in the County. Laura Brainin-Rodriguez shares with us her Ask A Master Gardener end of year report. AAMG is also seeking new Farmers Market Leads so check out her article to see if there's a good fit. Speakers Bureau Co-Lead Gail Burt shines a light on how popular webinars have been. Anne Sutherland explains what Jardineros have been doing. Soubarna Mishra highlights the many successes of the 2022 School Gardens year.

Karen Maggio, Phil Quinlan and Liz Whiteford report on the new Gehringer Pollinator Garden in North Concord. Lori Palmquist discusses the many ways in which Communications shines a light on the many CoCoMG projects. It's a great article on how we all work together. David George shares his interview of Lisa Bramblet and how Rivertown Demonstration Garden is getting a makeover. Sarah Hoyer answers this month's Help Desk question about peach trees. We also spotlight our Statewide Director Missy Gable who has been awarded this year's Distinguished Early Career Coordinator. Separately, Ann Ramirez thanks the Growing Gardeners Project team for all their hard work.

First, Executive Leadership Team Member Bill Miller celebrates all the volunteers who continue to work at Our Garden and discusses the 2022-2027 Strategic Plan and the upcoming December 12 Social Recognition and Appreciation Event.

Simone Adair, Editor

TLD Nov 2022
  • Hopeful, Happy, Cold, Rainy, and Wet Fall and Winter to You!
    Hopeful, Happy, Cold, Rainy, and Wet Fall and Winter to You!

    …A garden is the way that the land says, “I love you.”
    Braiding Sweetgrass—Robin Wall Kimmerer

    That’s not the normal salutation, but it is the wishful thinking found deep in our bones. Our plants and trees so need a deep watering, as do our souls. As light fades and nighttime arrives earlier each evening, we can feel the change in the weather and appreciate the rhythm of the seasons. Here’s to falling rain and mounting snowpack in the Sierra.

    By Bill Miller

  • AAMG Wraps Up the 2022 Season and Looks at 2023!
    AAMG Wraps Up the 2022 Season and Looks at 2023!

    The 2022 Ask A Master Gardener Season was outstanding! We straddle two fiscal years, so the numbers below represent our contacts from April-October 2022. This year we reached 10,508 Contra Costa County residents at the AAMG tables in 14 farmers markets, Our Garden, and at eleven single-day events! We want to thank Deb Cuevas, the AAMG Single Day Event Facilitator, who coordinates with community partners and recruits leads for the single day events.

    By Laura Brainin-Rodriguez

  • Speakers Bureau Webinars are Hits!
    Speakers Bureau Webinars are Hits!

    When the Speakers Bureau Speaks, People Listen! Here is what our audience is saying in return…

    “Beginning gardener here; thanks so much for all this amazing information.”

    “Great job all! Amazingly knowledgeable speakers!”

    “This has been an exceptionally informative, practical, and helpful seminar. Much info was covered in a short time period. Thank you so much!”

    “Thank you all for a great, interesting and inspiring presentation!”

    By Gail Burt

  • ¿Qué hacía Jardineros? What are Jardineros up to?
    ¿Qué hacía Jardineros? What are Jardineros up to?

    Many of you know that our UC Master Gardener Program Mission Statement includes reaching underserved populations in our county. To that end, a small group of us was inspired to build on the success of Our Garden, Ask A Master Gardener, Community Gardens, and School Gardens Projects by offering our assistance with their Spanish-speaking clients. Many Spanish speakers in our county are bilingual, but many are not, and to see faces light up when hearing a few words of their native tongue is heartening.


  • School Gardens Swing into Cooler Seasons
    School Gardens Swing into Cooler Seasons

    As the cool autumn breeze blows and the leaves change color, fall activities are in full swing in schools, along with preparations for a successful winter garden. School gardens take center stage at this time, with harvest festivals and educational activities.

    By Soubarna Mishra

  • The Gehringer Pollinator Garden Project
    The Gehringer Pollinator Garden Project

    We’re building a new demonstration pollinator garden at Gehringer Community Garden in North Concord. After receiving approval from the Executive Leadership in September, the UC Master Gardener team (Phil Quinlan, Karen Goodwin, Liz Whiteford, Anna Wendorf and Allison Thomas) hit the dry, weedy, ground running. 

    By Karen Maggio, Phil Quinlan and Liz Whiteford

  • Who’s Shining the Light?
    Who’s Shining the Light?

    There’s a hidden treasure in Contra Costa County. No, it’s not buried deep in a cave in the hills or in the lair of a fire-breathing dragon. It’s spread out over the whole 716 square miles of this county. It’s hidden in plain sight, sparkling here individually or glowing there collectively, depending on where and when you turn your gaze.

    By Lori Palmquist

  • Rivertown Demo Garden Gets a Makeover
    Rivertown Demo Garden Gets a Makeover

    I caught up with busy Lisa Bramblet the other day to talk about all of the exciting changes that are happening or are about to happen at the Rivertown Demonstration Garden. Lisa is a co-lead this year, along with Ken Studer and Mark Thomason, for our East County demonstration garden, formerly known as “Mangini.” I asked about her history with the UC Master Gardener program, the current work reinvigorating the planting beds, and her suggested vision to turn Rivertown into a first-rate public demonstration garden.

    By David George

  • Master Gardener Spotlights
    Master Gardener Spotlights

    Our Master Gardeners hard at work!

  • Peach Tree Starts Flowering in October
    Peach Tree Starts Flowering in October

    Client’s question
    I have a peach tree I planted two years ago. Last spring it had many blossoms until there was a cold snap. Then only one blossom managed to make a fruit. I was just looking at the tree and noticed it has a dozen or so blooms (in October!). Should I remove these, as they are very unlikely to make fruit?

    By Sarah Hoyer

  • Statewide Director Missy Gable Wins Prestigious Award
    Statewide Director Missy Gable Wins Prestigious Award

    The UC Master Gardener Program of Contra Costa County congratulates Missy Gable, our Statewide Director of the UC Master Gardener Program, part of UC Agriculture and Natural Resources, on receiving the 2022 Extension Master Gardener National Coordinator Award for Distinguished Early Career.

    By Simone Adair

  • Growing Gardeners Project Has Stellar Year
    Growing Gardeners Project Has Stellar Year

    In September we completed our third and final “Vegetable Gardening for Beginners” course for 2022. We had three courses in 2022 and registered a total of 116 students. 45% of the students attended all four classes to earn a certificate. Registration representation by location: Central 49%, South 30%, West 10%, and East 11%. We are now in the planning stage for the 2023 courses. 

    By Ann Ramirez

  • Walnut Creek EcoFest Hosts CoCoMG Booth
    Walnut Creek EcoFest Hosts CoCoMG Booth

    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.

    By Kathy Gage