Author Archives: Kathy Ikeda

Fundamental facts about fertilizers

Spring is almost upon us, and with the season comes a rush of new plant growth and the urge to spend time in our gardens. Although fertilizer might seem a dry topic, give it some thought before you visit your favorite nursery. Fertilizing plants is often equated with “feeding” them, but plants produce their own [...]

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Getting the dirt on earthworms

Earthworms. They’re so small and seemingly insignificant that we hardly give them a second thought. These squirmy denizens of the dirt usually go about their lives unseen—they’re revealed to us only when upturned in a shovelful of soil or when stranded on pavement after a drenching rain. (Worms crawl out of the ground during heavy [...]

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Garden fungi: harmful or beneficial?

With the arrival of drenching fall rainstorms, soils are replenished with moisture and mushrooms pop up with abandon, seemingly overnight. “Are they bad?” you ask. The answer: it depends. There are more than 100,000 species of fungi worldwide. Approximately 10 percent of them cause plant diseases, while only one-tenth of a percent are harmful to [...]

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The magic of persimmons

A persimmon tree in fall is a splendid sight. Its leaves turn vibrant shades of yellow, orange, and red, and once they drop the decorative, bright orange fruits remain hanging from the bare branches like well-placed ornaments. The two most common persimmon varieties, and one lesser-known one, are: Fuyu: The medium-sized, flattened fruits of this [...]

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The science behind colorful fall foliage

Crisp cool air and shorter daylight hours are harbingers of one of Nature’s most spectacular gifts: leaves in all their autumn glory. Fall is a welcome time of transition, when hot temperatures subside and foliage slowly transitions from the vibrant greens of summer to hues such as yellow, gold, orange, red, burgundy, and purple. Although [...]

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Basic tips for houseplant care

Some people have a magical touch and homes overflowing with thriving greenery; others just can’t seem to keep an indoor plant alive. Even if you’re cursed with a “black thumb,” there’s still hope. Houseplants are incredibly diverse, and although some come from climate zones like ours, most popular species are native to warm, humid, tropical [...]

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Gardens as refuges for wildlife

This coming Sunday, September 4 is National Wildlife Day. While this name might conjure up images of animals living in pristine natural areas and parks far from home, wildlife can (and should) be an important component of our gardens. The San Joaquin Valley used to support vast herds of tule elk, sky-darkening flocks of migratory [...]

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An up-close look at pollen (achoo!)

For many people, pollen is the “p-word”. . . as in, “PLEASE, don’t say that word!” The mere mention of pollen can conjure up runny noses, watery and itchy eyes, and looks of desperation from those with hay fever. Here in the fertile, crop-rich San Joaquin Valley, it’s often said that if you don’t already [...]

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The Fun and Fascinating Ladybug

Let’s take some time to learn more about one of our much-adored garden inhabitants: the lady beetle or ladybird beetle, commonly referred to as the ladybug. The name “lady beetle” originated during the Middle Ages, when Catholic farmers prayed for relief from crop-destroying insects. When small beetles arrived and began devouring the pests, it was [...]

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Protecting Plants from Summer Heat

Scorching days have arrived! All but the hardiest of us wilt when outdoor temperatures hit the 90s and 100s, and we seek refuge in air-conditioned places or in water-cooled outdoor areas. Plants don’t have that luxury; they’re literally rooted where they are, and they sometimes need our help to deal with the Central Valley sunlight [...]

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  • Blog Authors

    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

    Marcy Sousa

    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

    Nadia Zane

    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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