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Get more buzz in your garden

Free workshop shows how to attract more beneficial insects

Betty Boop rose
A honeybee is attracted to these Betty Boop roses. (Photo: Debbie Arrington)

Want more buzz in your garden? Learn how to attract bees and other beneficial insects during a free virtual workshop, hosted by the UC Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners of Nevada County.

Set for 10 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 12, “Encouraging Beneficial Insects” is open to gardeners everywhere with no advance registration required. Just click the link and Zoom on in. Find it here: https://ncmg.ucanr.org .

Beneficial insects include a lot more bugs than honeybees.

“Pollinators are necessary for food and flower production,” say the master gardeners. “Parasitic insects are healthy alternatives to chemical pesticides. We’ll explain why these insects are desirable and what they need to flourish in your garden.

“We’ll list specific beneficial insects, and specific plants they love in Nevada County,” they add, “and teach you how to use online resources to find more insects and plants on your own.”

That plant list is applicable to most of the greater Sacramento region, too. Plant them and they will come!

Attracting beneficial insects to your great outdoors will make your landscape a much livelier place. Bees, butterflies, lady beetles, praying mantises, parasitoid wasps and more can help you be a better and more thoughtful gardener.

The Nevada County master gardeners hope to start holding in-person public workshops soon. In the meantime, Zoom workshops will continue as an alternative. Upcoming topics include: “Native Plants Bring Beauty and Benefits” (in two parts, Feb. 19 and 26); fire-wise landscaping (March 5); and “Functional Irrigation” (March 12). All workshops start at 10 a.m.

Details: https://ncmg.ucanr.org .


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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of Nov. 27

Before the rain comes later in the week, take advantage of sunny, calm days:

* This may be your last chance this season for the first application of copper fungicide spray to peach and nectarine trees. Leaf curl, which shows up in the spring, is caused by a fungus that winters as spores on the limbs and around the tree in fallen leaves. Sprays are most effective now, but they need a few days of dry weather after application to really “stick.” If you haven’t yet, spray now.

* Rake and compost leaves, but dispose of any diseased plant material. For example, if peach and nectarine trees showed signs of leaf curl this year, clean up under trees and dispose of those leaves instead of composting.

* Make sure storm drains are clear of any debris.

* Give your azaleas, gardenias and camellias a boost with chelated iron.

* Trim chrysanthemums to 6 to 8 inches above the ground after they’re done blooming. Keep potted mums in their containers until next spring. Then, they can be planted in the ground, if desired, or repotted.

* Prune non-flowering trees and shrubs while dormant.

* Plant bulbs for spring bloom. Don’t forget the tulips chilling in the refrigerator. Other suggestions: daffodils, crocuses, hyacinths, anemones and scillas.

* Seed wildflowers including California poppies.

* Also from seed, plant sweet pea, sweet alyssum, bachelor buttons and other spring flowers.

* Plant most trees and shrubs. This gives them plenty of time for root development before spring growth. They also benefit from winter rains.

* Set out cool-weather annuals such as pansies and snapdragons.

* Lettuce, cabbage, broccoli and cool-season greens can be planted now.

* Plant garlic and onions.

* If you decide to use a living Christmas tree this year, keep it outside in a sunny location until Christmas week. This reduces stress on the young tree.

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