Autumn Bulbs=Spring Flowers

King Alfred type Daffodils-Photo by Lee Miller

I was going to write a blog on this subject when I remembered that Susan Price had already done a piece for Garden Notes, our Master Gardener Newsletter of which she is editor in chief. So here is what she recommends. You can subscribe to Garden Notes here.



How do I select and plant flower bulbs for spring blooms? Susan Price, Master Gardener

Fall is the perfect time to be thinking about planting bulbs. Come spring, you can have a dazzling display. Tulips, Narcissus (daffodils, jonquils, etc.) and hyacinth—all true bulbs — are just some of the possibilities. For best selection, choose plump, firm bulbs that feel heavy for their size; these tend to produce big-ger and more abundant blooms. Avoid shriveled, soft or damaged bulbs.

Choose bulbs that grow well in your area and purchase as soon as they become available. If you can’t plant right away, store in a cool, dark and dry place. Bulbs can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 6 weeks but be sure to keep them away from fruits, especially apples, whose chemical reaction can damage bulbs. Local nurseries carry only the most popular bulb varieties. For a more extensive selection, purchase from reputable mail-order nurseries. Many specialize in bulbs, or even a single bulb variety.

Plant your bulbs in soil with good drainage in full sun. After bloom, dappled shade is desirable in hot inland areas. This can be easily achieved by planting underneath high branching deciduous trees. If your soil has poor drainage, amend with compost or other rich organic matter before planting. Pre-moisten the soil prior to planting for good root development. Bulbs should be planted in a hole roughly 3 times their width, with the pointed end up and their root scars down. Typically, large bulbs (2” or more) are planted about 6-8” deep and 6-8” apart; smaller-size bulbs (approximately 1”) are planted about 3-5” deep, 2-4” apart. Planting depths do vary so be sure to follow the specific planting instructions for the bulbs you’ve chosen. You can dig a trench for a planting bed or use a trowel or a bulb planter to make individual holes. Gently cover with soil, tamp down gently, and top with more soil. Top-dress with mulch to keep soil moist. Bulbs need water while they’re actively growing, so provide irrigation until winter rains kick in. Make sure to water deep enough to penetrate the root zone.

There is some debate about the need for fertilizers at planting time, especially those added to the bottom of the planting hole. The International Bulb Society offers this guidance: If you’re planting bulbs for only one year’s blooms (as annuals) there is no need to fertilize. Bulbs already carry a season’s supply of food stores. For bulbs that you intend to naturalize (“perennialize”) for years to come, you have the following options: 1) Add a good organic compost or well-rotted cow manure worked into the soil when planting, and a mulch of this material; 2) add a slow release bulb food; or 3) add a combination of bone meal and an 8-8-8 or 10-10-10 (NPK), fast-release soluble fertilizer (about one tablespoon per square foot). If you choose to add bulb formulas or other fertilizers to the planting hole, be sure to dig them into the soil, well under the root zone prior to planting as they can burn the new roots.

Plant your flowering bulbs in groups, either in small clusters or drifts, for the most eye-catching display. Lay a bulb down here and there or scatter and mix, large with small, for a spontaneous, natural look. Flowering bulbs look wonderful in containers, either by themselves or partnered with annuals. Tulips and pansies make great companions. You can plant as few as 6 or as many as 40 bulbs in a 16” wide pot for a knock-out display. You can mix and match or simply switch out pots as one group fades and another is in full bloom. To prolong the flower show, vary varieties to include early, mid- and late-season bloomers. Pay attention to plant heights as well. To maximize visual impact, place taller bloomers to the back or center and shorter ones to the front or outside.

Naturalizing bulbs such as daffodils, California native iris, Muscari (grape hyacinth), and “species” tulips, will give you many years of repeat blooms as long as you allow plants to die back naturally. This ensures that bulbs have sufficient stored nutrients to support next year’s flowers. That means not removing your flowering bulbs’ dead leaves and stems until they are completely dried out. Withered leaves can be easily hidden with strategically placed late spring and summer bloomers. The emerging foliage of annuals and perennials destined for late spring or summer bloom is enough to keep the garden in green splendor. Cat-mint, coneflowers, Veronica, daylilies and yarrow are just some of the plants that can take over the show, keeping your garden beautiful season after bulb-blooming season.


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Sighting swarming termites?

Western drywood termites.

After the subterranean termite, the western drywood termite, Incisitermes minor, is California’s second most important termite pest.

Drywood termites are difficult to detect. They live deep inside wood and except during periods when they swarm or when repair work is being done on infested homes, they are seldom seen. The most common sighting of drywood termites is when flying adults (or “swarmers”) are seen during daytime hours in summer and fall. Dampwood termites also can swarm during summer and fall, but they can be differentiated from the western drywood termite based on their larger size and attraction to lights at dark.

Because of the difficulty in detecting drywood termites and determining the extent of the damage, do-it-yourself treatments are not recommended. In addition, the products needed for controlling these pests are not available for homeowner use. Except for wood removal, homeowners should seek help for infestations of drywood termites from pest control professionals.

The revised Pest Note: Drywood Termites by Vernard Lewis, UC Berkeley, Andrew Sutherland, UC IPM SF Bay Area, and Michael Haverty, UC Berkeley, will help provide homeowners with sufficient background information so they can better discuss treatment options with their pest control professional.

If you are interested in becoming a San Joaquin Master Gardener please visit our website to download an application. Applications are due by November 5th, 2014.

If you have a gardening question, give us a call! Master Gardeners are available Monday-Thursday 9:00 am – 12:00 pm at 209-953-6112.

Originally posted on  Pests in the Urban Landscape blog

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Scale Insects: Recognizing and Managing

People sometimes don’t recognize scales as insects, but understanding scale types and signs of their presence will enable you to best manage them if encountered on your plants.

Greedy scale colony.

Scale insects are circular, elongate, or oval insects that often resemble discolored or raised areas on bark, leaves, or fruit. Scales are small and mostly immobile and damage many types of trees and shrubs by sucking out plant juices with their tiny, strawlike mouthparts. Infestations can cause yellowing or premature dropping of leaves, sticky honeydew, and blackish sooty mold. Plant parts can distort or die back, depending on the species and abundance of scales.

Although most plants can tolerate low to moderate numbers of scales, successful management involves correct identification and a combination of factors including proper plant care, conserving natural enemies, controlling ants, and applying low-toxicity insecticides when needed.

For more information and photos about many common scales in California landscapes, see the newly revised Scales Pest Note by John Kabashima, UCCE Orange and Los Angeles Counties, and Steve Dreistadt, UC Statewide IPM Program.

If you are interested in becoming a San Joaquin Master Gardener please visit our website to download an application. Applications are due by November 5th, 2014.

If you have a gardening question, give us a call! Master Gardeners are available Monday-Thursday 9:00 am – 12:00 pm at 209-953-6112.

Originally posted on  Pests in the Urban Landscape blog

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Do You Have a Little Land to Spare for the Bee Buffer Project?

Honey bee heading for lupine. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Do you have a little land to spare, such as a quarter of an acre or up to three acres? For honey bee habitat?

The Pollinator Partnership, as part of its U.S. Bee Buffer Project, wants to partner with California farmers, ranchers, foresters, and managers and owners to participate in a honey bee forage habitat enhancement effort. It’s called the U.S. Bee Buffer Project and the goal is to “borrow” 6000 acres to plant honey bee seed mix.

It will create a foraging habitat of pollen and nectar, essential to honey bee health. And there’s no charge for the seed mix.

What a great project to help the beleaguered honey bees!

“Beekeepers struggle to find foraging areas to feed their bees when they are not in a pollination contract,” said “idea generator” Kathy Kellison of Santa Rosa, Sonoma County, a strong advocate of keeping bees healthy.  “Lack of foraging habitat puts stress on the bees and cropping systems honey bees pollinate. The U.S. Bee Buffer Project will develop a network of honey bee forage habitats in agricultural areas to support honey bee health and our own food systems. We are looking for cooperators with land they are willing to set aside as Bee Buffers.”

Kellison points out:

  • Honey bees provide pollination services for 90 crops nationwide.
  • A leading cause for over-winter mortality of honey bee colonies given by beekeepers surveyed is starvation. The nationwide winter loss for 2012/2013 was 31.3 percent.

The requirements, she said, are minimal:

  • Access to an active farm, ranch, forest, easement, set-aside, or landscape
  • Ability to plant 0.25 to 3 acres with the U.S. Bee Buffer seed mix
  • Commitment to keep the Bee Buffer in place
  • Allow beekeepers and researchers on-site

Of course, the benefits to the participants include free seeds and planting information; supplemental pollination of flowering plants; and leadership participation in the beginnings of a nationwide effort to support honey bees. Then there’s the potential for enriched soil, reduction in invasive plant species, and enhanced wildlife habitat.

And, we made add, a sense of accomplishment as bees forage on your thriving plants.

Those interested in participating in this nationwide effort and hosting a Bee Buffer, can visit to fill out a brief eligibility questionnaire. More information is available from Mary Byrne at the Pollinator Partnership at (415) 362-1137 or

Go, bees!

If you are interested in becoming a San Joaquin Master Gardener please visit our website to download an application. Applications are due by November 5th, 2014.

If you have a gardening question, give us a call! Master Gardeners are available Monday-Thursday 9:00 am – 12:00 pm at 209-953-6112.

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Fall is for Fertilizing

A drop fertilizer spreader. [Photo by Steven Lock]Fall is just around the corner so it’s time to start thinking about fertilizing your lawn. All types of lawns are actively growing during the fall months. Fertilizer applied at this time will help ensure that turfgrass is vigorous enough to outcompete weeds and resist other potential pest problems.

For best growth, most lawns need to be fertilized two to three times a year, at least once in fall and once in spring. Nitrogen is the only nutrient that turfgrass needs on a regular basis. However, it may be beneficial to apply a complete fertilizer containing nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium at least once a year.

Many retail nurseries and garden centers carry both quick-release and slow-release fertilizers. Although more expensive, slow-release fertilizers have several advantages over quick-release products. They release nitrogen over a period of 8 to 10 or more weeks, thus feeding the lawn for a longer period and making it unlikely they’ll burn the turf even if accidentally over-applied in some areas. They are also less likely to leach or run off with rain or irrigation.

Examples of slow-release products include sulfur-coated urea, urea formaldehyde, isobutylidene diurea (IBDU), and organic fertilizers such as composted manure. Quick-release products include ammonium nitrate, ammonium sulfate, calcium nitrate, and urea.

It is very important to apply the right amount of fertilizer, which varies according to turf species. Visit the UC IPM page on fertilizing lawns for help in determining the correct amount of fertilizer to apply. The site includes a calculator that allows you to customize your turf species and location to find out how much fertilizer to apply and when to apply it.

Be sure you have the correct type of spreader and that you know how to calibrate it properly. Drop spreaders are the best choice for assuring even fertilizer distribution.

As with all fertilizer and pesticide products (including weed killers), instructions on the label should be read, understood, and followed explicitly.

 If you are interested in becoming a San Joaquin Master Gardener please visit our website to download an application. Applications are due by November 5th, 2014.

If you have a gardening question, give us a call! Master Gardeners are available Monday-Thursday 9:00 am – 12:00 pm at 209-953-6112.

Modified slightly from the September 2012 issue of the Retail Nursery and Garden Center IPM News

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Master Gardener Training Coming Soon!

Do you enjoy gardening?
Do you live in San Joaquin County?
Are you willing to volunteer your
time and talent?
The San Joaquin UC Master Gardener program is recruiting new volunteers!


When and how do I apply to the program?
Applications are being accepted now! The application deadline is November 5th 2014. Applications can be found on our website or by calling the office at 209-953-6112.

How long does the training last?
The five hour classes will be conducted Wednesday mornings. (8:30 am to 1:30 pm). Attendance is mandatory at all classes.  Classes are held in the UCCE Office.

Who teaches the classes and what will I learn? All classes are taught by University specialists, horticulture advisors, and community experts. Topics include:

  • introduction to horticulture
  • soil
  • water and fertilizer management
  • ornamentals and drought tolerant plants
  • turf management
  • landscape trees
  • planting and maintenance
  • introduction to insects
  • integrated pest management
  • water quality
  • home vegetable gardening
  • plant disease diagnosis
  • weed identification and management
  • home orchards
  • fruit and nut trees
  • small fruits and grapevines
  • volunteerism
  • diagnosing garden and landscape problems

How do I qualify to be a San Joaquin County Master Gardener trainee?
Applicants must be residents of San Joaquin County. This Master Gardener program is administered by the San Joaquin County Cooperative Extension office. If you are not a San Joaquin County resident, contact your local Cooperative Extension office for training information. A past history of volunteering in the community is the main qualification we look for in applicants. The past volunteer activities do not need to be horticulture related. Prior horticulture training and/or experience is preferred but not required.

Is a fee charged for the training classes?
A fee of $180.00 to cover training and resource materials is charged for the training. (2015 class registration fee. Fees are subject to change.)

What happens after I graduate and become a Master Gardener? After attending all class sessions, and all the weekly quizzes and final exam are completed, trainees receive a graduation certificate. New Master Gardeners are required to contribute fifty hours of community volunteer work during the next twelve months. Every year thereafter, twenty-five hours of volunteer activity is required.

UCCE approved volunteer opportunities are available for Master Gardeners to extend University research based information to the gardening community in Sacramento County. Volunteer activities include conducting workshops, diagnosing plant problems, and speaking to community groups. We also dispense advice over the phone and with social and mass media. Each year twelve hours of continuing education is also required.

For more information visit our website or give us a call at 209-953-6112

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Buckwheats for Central Valley Gardens

Sulfur buckwheat (Eriogonum umbellatum) paired with Hummingbird Sage (Salvia spathacea)

There are a lot of great water-wise California native plants to choose from, and some of my favorites are members of the buckwheat genus (Eriogonum spp). California’s myriad native buckwheats are truly multifunctional; they act as the base for a mini ecosystem by attracting pollinators, predatory insects (the beneficial kind), and by extension, larger insects and birds that eat these pollinators and predators. Birds also benefit from seeds and the cover provided by larger buckwheats.

Buckwheats come in a variety of shapes and sizes, though their general growth habit is an evergreen basal mound topped with umbels of creamy, pink, or yellow flowers. Maintenance consists of trimming the umbels after blooming (wait until after seed drop for maximum wildlife benefit) and pruning out dead wood. Do not cut into old woody growth as they might not grow back. With proper cultural care, buckwheats suffer few disease or pest problems.  Here are some varieties that do well in the Central Valley:

Very Low water (1 watering/month during dry season)

St. Catherine's Lace

St. Catherine’s Lace (Eriogonum giganteum)
This is the largest species available to Central Valley gardeners. It is also one of the toughest; it likes full sun, is adaptable to most soils, and will grow to 6 feet tall and wide or more. The blooms are white fading to a lovely bronze that looks great in dried flower arrangements. Blooms summer to fall.



California Buckwheat

California buckwheat (Eriogonum fasciculatum)
The next size down and just as tough is California buckwheat.  This shrub’s moderate size, ease of care, and attractiveness to beneficials make it a one-stop-shop. Forms a 2’-4’ tall and 4’ wide shrub with creamy flowers fading to russet. Likes full sun; blooms in summer. Cultivars such as ‘Warriner Lytle’ and ‘Theodore Payne’ are lower growing and require more water.



Low water (2 waterings/month during dry season)

Red-flowering buckwheat

Red-flowering buckwheat (Eriogonum grande var. rubescens)
This variety likes morning sun and afternoon shade in the valley. Forms a 2’ basal mound with lovely red-pink flowers from summer to fall. Good in a mixed perennial planting and an excellent choice for clay soil.




Coast buckwheat

Coast Buckwheat (Eriogonum latifolium)
Very similar to red-flowering buckwheat in shape and size, but with lovely cream to light pink flowers in summer. About 1’ tall and 18” wide. Prefers well-drained soil.



Moderate water (3-4 waterings/month during dry season)

Seacliff buckwheat

Seacliff buckwheat (Eriogonum parvifolium)
I love the beautifully delicate little foliage and creamy-white flowers of this species. It prefers full sun and is adaptable to different soil types. Grows to 2’, producing pinkish-cream blooms in summer.




Sulfur buckwheat

Sulfur buckwheat (Eriogonum umbellatum)
A low-growing buckwheat with yellow blooms from late spring to summer. At 1’ tall and 3’ wide, it does best in well-drained soil and full sun. Although it will survive on low water, it needs a little more to bloom well in our climate. Unlike other buckwheats, the flower umbels don’t hold up well as they dry and are best removed after seed drop.


Garden pairings
Purple-flowered plants offer a lovely contrast to the creamy whites and pinks of buckwheat. Easy-care, low-water California natives include Cleveland sage, ‘Margarita BOP’ Penstemon, and Lilac verbena. For moderate-water use buckwheats, try pairing with Hummingbird sage or Seaside daisy. If you are blessed with well-drained soil, you can also try Silver bush lupine, California lilac (Ceanothus spp), or Woolly blue curls. Other natives such as Deer grass and Liveforevers (Dudleya spp.) offer a nice foliage contrast.

If you have a gardening related question you can contact the UC Master Gardeners at 209-953-6112. More information can be found on our website.


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Know Your Place: Planning a Water-Wise Garden

Water-wise plants for sun: deer grass, ceanothus, blue fescue, lamb's ear, and lavender

Converting your landscape to a water-wise garden is both fun and challenging, but where do you begin? Many people start at the nursery or by flipping through a plant catalogue even though this often leads to impulse-buying and plants with mismatched cultural needs, overcrowding, and waste.

Start by identifying the elements that affect your site, a process I call “knowing your place” because you seek to understand your landscape and it’s limitations. These constraints can seem unpleasant, but they push us away from unsuitable options such as water-hungry lawns and toward water-wise plants for long-term benefits.

When getting to know your place, make note of the following elements:

Regional climate
Our long dry seasons, hot summers, and mildly frosty winters demand plants adapted to these three extremes. When researching your plant options, try to find resources created for Central Valley gardens (see below). Resources using the Sunset Western Garden zones are better for designating plant hardiness than the USDA zones, which are too broad to cover variations in local climate.

Dry shade garden: Heuchera, Douglas iris, Phacelia

Create hydrozones
Define planting areas around your landscape by how much sun they receive to maximize plant health. These areas should be given their own irrigation valve and planted with species that have matched water requirements.
Soil texture affects drainage and nutrient availability, among other things. Many water-wise species need well-drained soil to avoid root suffocation. If you have heavy clay, plant in raised beds or choose clay-tolerant plants. Water-wise plants tend to be low feeders; a layer of organic mulch will help improve soil texture and lower the pH to improve nutrient availability.

Dimensions and other Existing Features
It may seem easier to eyeball things, but consider how much plant-control you need to do later on. Once you have established your hydrozones, break out the tape measure and some paper. Sketch out dimensions, hardscapes (paths, arbors, etc), and plants you want to keep to scale. This will serve as your base plan to draw new plants and see whether you really do have room for two mature redbuds or just one. Try using this chart to group your plants.

Plant Selection
Now for the fun part! If you think water-wise gardening is only about succulents, you are in for a wonderful surprise; there is a multitude of shrubs, trees, perennials, and more to choose from. I don’t have space for a list here, but check out the following websites for information on water-wise plants for our region:

Native bees love Foothill penstemon

Water Efficient Landscapes (Regional Water Authority)
Easy Water-Wise Gardening (Sunset)
Water-Wise Gardening in the Gold Country
UC Davis Arboretum All-Stars
Water Efficient Landscape Plant List (Fair Oaks Horticulture Center)
Water Efficient Gardens in the Sacramento Region

If this all seems tedious, worry not. You will be amply compensated for your time, if not with a paycheck, then at least with a reality check, which is far more valuable as a long-term investment in the health of your garden.

If you have a gardening related question you can contact the UC Master Gardeners at 209-953-6112. More information can be found on our website.

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Asian Citrus Psyllid and Huanglongbing

You may have heard about citrus greening, also known as Huanglongbing (HLB), a disease destroying citrus orchards and threatening citrus production worldwide. It is spread by the Asian citrus psyllid (ACP), so the two are often mentioned in tandem, like mosquitos and malaria.

The exact origin of HLB is unknown. Some scientists think the bacteria causing HLB may have originated in Africa before travelling on infected plants to India and China in the 19th century (transported by colonists).

It wasn’t until 1956 that Chinese plant pathologist Lun Kung Hsiang concluded HLB was an infectious disease and not a result of cultural practices (e.g. nutrient or watering issues). Philippine researchers demonstrated in 1967 that the Asian citrus psyllid was a vector, and in 1995 HLB became the official name for the disease. Over the last several decades HLB and/or ACP have spread to citrus growing regions all over the world. The ACP arrived in Florida in 1998, and HLB was confirmed in 2005.

In 2008 the ACP spread from Mexico to southern California, and in 2013 a handfull of sightings have been made in the south Central Valley (read more about the history of HLB on the IFAS website).

Symptoms of HLB
Huanglongbing is a disease caused by two species from the Candidatus liberibacter genus,
L. africanus and L. asiaticus (citrus growing regions in the U.S. are afflicted by the latter). The bacteria lives in the phloem of citrus and related plants in the Rutaceae family, causing the following symptoms:

• Leaves with uneven, yellow mottling
• New shoots yellow and die back, leaves drop off (defoliation)
• Fruit is small, lop-sided, and bitter-tasting
• Fruit may retain green on lower side
• Tree usually dies within 5 years

Nutrient and irrigation issues can also cause similar symptoms. Call the UC Master Gardener office if you are in doubt (see below for contact info).

Recognizing Asian Citrus Psyllid
The Asian citrus psyllid (Diaphorina citri) and African citrus psyllid (Trioza erytrea) are  vectors for the bacteria causing HLB. In the United States we have the Asian citrus psyllid (ACP) to watch out for. Psyllids are aphid-sized insects with piercing mouthparts that transmit the bacteria when feeding.



They have several stages: egg, 5 nymph stages, and adult.





Adults feed with their rears at a 45 degree angle in the air and can be found anywhere on the plant:





Nymphs are only found on lush, new growth. They are flightless and exude waxy tubules, making them easy to identify.



What you can do
Check the UC IPM page on Asian Citrus Psyllid and Huanglongbing Disease for more information. There is currently no cure for HLB, and prevention is a way of buying time until a solution can be found. There are biological and chemical controls being investigated for the ACP. Check your citrus monthly; if you see evidence of the ACP or HLB, immediately call your local Agricultural Authorities:

SJ County Agricultural Commissioner
(209) 953-6000

California Department of Food and Agriculture

If you have a gardening related question you can contact the UC Master Gardeners at 209-953-6112. More information can be found on our website.



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Savoring the Fruit Harvest

Peach Salsa (see recipe below)

After spending time in the garden, I like to take a step back to my culinary roots and think about interesting ways to use the amazing variety of fruit available at this time of year. Pies, tarts, and jams are classic uses for our local bounty; if you are unfamiliar with savory (non-dessert) uses for fruits, now is a good time to start expanding your repertoire!

Fresh fruit:  Fruit can be frozen on trays and stored in freezer bags for myriad uses later on. I also like to puree them, strain out the skins and seeds, and freeze in ice cube trays. This takes more effort up front, but it’s easy to defrost a few fruit cubes and stir into my homemade nut milk for a tasty strawberry-walnut or raspberry-hazelnut beverage!

Dried fruit: After making nut milk I like to “puree” the leftover nut meal (after dehydrating in an oven) with dried fruits, which I roll up, chill, and slice into bite-sized snacks (obviously you can use fresh nuts, too).

Fresh fruit: light fruits such as apples and pears are commonly found as salad garnishes where leaf lettuce is the primary ingredient. Grapegruit or orange slices are also good as a primary ingredient in salads without lettuce. Crunchier fruits such as apples and bosc pears are good in slaws because their crisp texture holds up well to being shredded.
Pureed fruits such as raspberry or pear can serve as a base for salad dressings. Just add olive oil, vinegar or lemon juice, and anything else you like.

Dried fruit: The sweet-tart flavor and chewy texture of dried fruits offer a nice contrast to the crispy texture of salad greens or rich, full-bodied cheese plates. The intense colors of dried fruits also add aesthetic appeal.

Fruit for lunch and dinner
Fresh fruit: A friend of mine taught me about apples on peanut butter sandwiches, and I have seen many a recipe for pear-gorgonzola sandwiches. We put tomatoes between slices of bread, so why not other fruits? 

Dried fruit: Cooked dishes often call for dried fruit, whose concentrated flavors are more complementary. A classic example is Moroccan tagines where dried apricots or figs are stewed with chicken or lamb. A classic Spanish dish calls for sauteed spinach, plumped raisins, and pine nuts. Pilaf, with it’s deep, nutty flavor, loves dried fruits, especially cherries and raisins.

Fresh fruit: You can make salsa out of any fresh fruit; peach salsa is one of the most delicious and versatile. I use mine for dipping chips or quesadillas, as a salad dressing, a topping for fish tacos, or served on crostini with cold-smoked salmon and avocado. Yum!
Pureed blackberries mixed with softened butter make a delicious addition to anything from grilled salmon to morning toast.

Dried fruit: To make dips or sauces from dried fruits, reconstitute  them in hot water (or cook in a flavorful liquid) and puree. Plum sauce for spring rolls, for example, calls for prunes soaked in hot water, strained, and pureed with chili sauce, rice vinegar, and fish sauce.

 Here is a simple recipe for salsa via Alice Water’s The Art of Simple Food:

Peach Salsa
Yields 1.5 cups

2 ripe peaches
½ small onion, diced fine
1 serrano or jalapeno chili, seeds and veins removed, diced fine
juice of one lime
1-2 Tbl minced cilantro
1 small avocado, cut into medium dice (optional)

1. Dip the peaches in boiling water for 10-15 seconds. Slip off the skins, cut the flesh away from the pits, and cut into medium dice.

2. Combine all ingredients, stir to combine. Adjust seasoning, adding lime juice and salt as desired.

If you have a gardening related question you can contact the UC Master Gardeners at 209-953-6112. More information can be found on our website.

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    Lee Miller

    Lee Miller is a University of Delaware graduate and retired fisheries biologist, he gardens on 10 acres and makes wine each year with the help of a cadre of friends. However, his first love is gardening and he grows various fruit trees, heirloom ... Read Full

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    Marcy Sousa is the San Joaquin County UC Master Gardener Program Coordinator. She is a Stockton native and enjoys teaching others about gardening. She has her bachelors from Stanislaus State in Permaculture. She has been with the program since 2007. Read Full

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    Nadia Zane is a UC Master Gardener, a landscape designer and Stockton native. She has a fondness for California native plants and sustainable landscaping, which she utilizes in her work for Native Beauty Garden Design. She is a member of the CA ... Read Full
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