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Are you a San Mateo or San Francisco County resident with an interest in science-based horticulture and sustainable gardening practices, and a desire to share your knowledge and skill with the public as a volunteer in your community?

Become a Master Gardener Volunteer

Support Our Local Bees

A male leafcutter bee, Megachile sp., peers over a rock purslane petal. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A male leafcutter bee, Megachile sp., peers over a rock purslane petal. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
California is home to over 1600 native bees. These hardworking insects are vital to a thriving ecosystem, but they are under threat from habitat loss, pesticide use and other stressors. To support our native bees, make sure your garden includes a mix of native plants that flower from late winter into the fall. Since a majority of native bees live in the ground, provide areas of bare soil or ground that is lightly mulched or covered with a thin layer of leaves. And do not use insecticides, particularly neonicotinoids. To learn more about some of our native bees, click here. For a list of bee-friendly native plants, visit this site.

Keeping Aphids Under Control

ladybug ucanr-square
As you’re out in the garden, do you see small, pear-shaped insects on tender buds, shoots and veggies? These are most likely aphids and damage to plants can include leaf curl, sooty mold fungus, stunted growth and transmission of viruses to other plants. Check your plants regularly and hose off aphids with a stream of water to keep the populations down. Lady beetles (ladybugs) are voracious eaters of aphids. For more on how to manage aphids, click here.

It's Tomato Time!

Photo by Bruce Goren
Photo by Bruce Goren
Nothing is better than a home-grown tomato. There are so many varieties from which to choose, you'll want to plant more than one if you have the space. Tomatoes do grow well in large containers. Plant your seedlings when daytime temperatures are consistently well above 55°F. Choose a location where the plants will receive at least 6 hours of sun each day. See articles on tomato planting tipstomato types and varieties and tomato pruning to get help for a great harvest.

Weeds: Pros and Cons

Photo by Jack Kelly Clark via https://ucanr.edu/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=25800
Photo by Jack Kelly Clark via https://ucanr.edu/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=25800
The simplest definition of a weed is “a plant growing where it’s not wanted.” Most home gardeners prefer to not have weeds growing among their landscape plants and in their vegetable gardens. However, weeds do have many benefits. For instance, they can help to control soil erosion, provide food for birds and nectar for honey bees, and create habitat. Some weeds are even edible. On the downside, weeds compete with landscape plants for water, nutrients and sunlight, and can be invasive.

The best ways to manage weeds that you don’t want growing in a particular location include hand-pulling, cutting or shallow hoeing. Use mulch to suppress weed growth. For more information, see Weeds in Landscape.

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Publications
  • CoastsideFeb2024Cover
    Starting from Scratch: The Miracle of Seeds

    Growing your own plants from seed has a lot of advantages: more variety, less cost and getting a head start on the growing season are just a few. Practicality aside, it's just plain miraculous to grow plants from seeds. The process of putting hard, dry,...

  • Coastside Cover Jan 2024
    A New Year in The Garden: Inspirations for 2024

    It's January and, although it may be cold and damp, the days are getting longer by a few seconds each day—just enough additional daylight to stir a gardener's blood. While plants and soil are taking their winter rest, it's a great time for us...

  • Coastside Cover Dec 2023
    The Rain Garden: A Simply Elegant Solution to Stormwater Pollution

    Last winter's epic rainstorms have caused many of us to think about what we can do to mitigate the impact of heavy downpours on our communities. As it happens, the impervious surfaces that keep us dry and mud-free (our homes, patios, driveways, etc.)...