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Master Gardeners Help With Citrus... and Much More at the County Fair

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Saving Water Starts With Some Simple Changes in Garden Care
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Master Gardeners Help With Citrus... and Much More at the County Fair

By Laurie Gore


Many California gardens have orange, lemon or lime trees, and though citrus does well in Southern California, these trees have unique cultural requirements. When the UC Master Gardeners return for their 27th exhibit at the Paul Ecke, Jr. Flower and Garden Show at the San Diego County Fair , they will help home gardeners learn about citrus – and so much more. 

When the San Diego County Master Gardener Association was formed in 1983, Master Gardeners assisted with a UC Farm Advisor office exhibit at the Fair. The following year, Carol Graham, a charter MG, organized an exhibit staffed exclusively by Master Gardeners. She has continued to coordinate this exhibit every year since. Carol, who visited the Fair as a child, sees the exhibit as consistent with the MG mission to help home gardeners: “We’re giving back to the community,” she says.

During the 2010 Fair, from June 11 through July 5, a total of 100-plus Master Gardeners, all volunteers, will be staff  this year’s exhibit in the southeast corner of the O’Brien building from the opening hour until 7 p.m. This year’s display, “Citrus: A Taste of California Sunshine,” is in sync with the Flower and Garden Show theme, “In Good Taste.” Both our display and a handout on citrus will provide information on tree care and problems. Also, the first days of summer will bring lots of questions about tomatoes, the most popular plant in the home vegetable garden. And a lot of queries probably will begin with, “I’ve got this bug….” 

Last year, more than 3,000 people stopped by the Master Gardeners exhibit. Armed with years of experience, extensive training by the University of California Cooperative Extension, and ongoing education by professionals, the Master Gardeners handle questions about everything from avocados to zoysia. They can help identify the source of problems in the home garden and will introduce you to the extensive resources available online
One of the most popular handouts at every Master Gardener exhibit is the index of Pest Notes available at the University of California Integrated Pest Management web site. If earwigs have overrun your garden or if whiteflies are in your citrus, there is a solution. Beginning June 15, Master Gardeners will have at their booth a touch-screen kiosk with an easy-to-use interactive program for diagnosing pest problems. 
Master Gardeners also are well represented on the Flower Show Stage where talks on horticultural topics are presented daily during the fair. Cindy Sparks will speak about sustainable gardening and using water wisely. Charles Robinson will demonstrate the propagation of stag horn ferns. Heirloom tomatoes are a popular subject and how to grow them will be covered by Karen Greenwald, who will also discuss starting a vegetable garden. Old and new techniques in vegetable gardening will be shared by Joyce Gemmell while Robin Rivet will describe backyard wildlife habitats. Exhibit coordinator Carol Graham will be doing double duty when she shares her experience growing bananas at home. See schedule for details.

Master Gardener exhibits are a familiar site around town at garden tours, farmers market, or wherever they can assist home gardeners. Though the County Fair is the largest and most ambitious exhibit on their schedule, Master Gardeners come well-prepared to many events. Last year, Master Gardeners lent their expertise to 25 venues.  For upcoming MG appearances around town, view our calendar.

Laurie Gore is currently training to be a Master Gardener with the class of 2010.