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Master Gardeners: Spring Gardening Workshop

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Many of us—even though residents of the Mother Lode—are transplants from somewhere else. We may have come from the Bay Area, Southern California, the eastern or Midwestern U.S., or another country entirely. And even if our families have been in Tuolumne County for generations, gardening in the Sierra Nevada foothills is always a challenge. We try the gardening techniques we´ve learned elsewhere—places with year-round mild climates or distinct seasons with summer rain. Imagine our surprise when things don´t grow as we expect, or possibly, not at all!

There´s no magic formula for gardening in the foothills. Good gardening practices need to be adapted to elevation, microclimate, slope, the presence of sun or shade, and the type of soil (if soil even exists in your location). Average minimum and maximum temperatures determine what types of plants will thrive or even survive.

Gardening is a very individual activity and the ultimate in self-expression. People garden for exercise, to beautify their property, and for satisfaction. It´s widely stated that gardening is the number one hobby in the U.S. Almost everyone has at least a houseplant in a pot or a tomato plant during the summer.

The Master Gardener organization exists to help people with gardening needs and problems. We try to provide helpful information that will bring the latest scientific research from the University of California to you.

We focus on water conservation, using plants suited to the environment and adapted to a Mediterranean climate, in order to help you save money on your utility bills. Master Gardeners are in favor of composting, which provides soil nutrients, reduces outdoor burning, and decreases the amount of green waste in the solid waste stream. Integrated pest management (IPM), another Master Gardener focus, reduces the amount of toxic chemicals and synthetic fertilizers used in the landscape, thus improving water, air, and soil quality.

In an effort to provide you with up-to-date information and a chance to practice your gardening techniques, the Master Gardeners have scheduled the following workshops.

Landscape Workshop

On April 22, at the Mother Lode Fairgrounds, Master Gardeners will host an all-day workshop devoted to managing your foothill landscape. For professionals and home gardeners alike, the workshop will offer speakers and demonstrations on topics of interest and importance to people who design and implement gardens in the Sierra foothills.

Topics will include: the history of water and its infrastructure in Tuolumne County; gardening with and preserving our native oaks; appropriate plants adapted to the foothills; what to do about pests—diseases, bugs, and animals; what is healthy soil and how do you get it; putting together a drip irrigation system; the new fire safe clearance laws, and more. The day-long activity will include a sack lunch and provide hands-on demonstrations of drip irrigation systems, composting, soil testing and other garden processes. Registration details will be available at a later date.

Local community agencies and garden supply businesses of all types are invited to participate. If you wish to present a demonstration or information display, or would like to participate as a sponsor, please contact the Master Gardener office at 533-5696.

Rebecca Miller-Cripps is the Master Gardener Coordinator for Tuolumne County.