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Get outdoors and volunteer at UC Davis Arboretum

The UC Davis Arboretum & Public Garden relies on its volunteer teams to help with maintenance and plant sales. (Photo courtesy UC Davis Arboretum)

Besides gardeners, cashiers needed, too; deadline is Jan. 18

Spend more time outdoors; that's a resolution on many New Year's lists.

Here are opportunities to do just that in 2019. Besides getting more quality garden time, learn new skills as well as support a major local resource and important institution. (Get a sneak peek at fantastic plant sales, too.)

Volunteers learn specialized skills while improving their own expertise. For example, the gardening team helps maintain and beautify the arboretum's gardens, each devoted to a theme. Volunteer crews work mornings with the arboretum's horticulture staff, getting hands-on experience in sustainable gardening. Some volunteers also work in the arboretum's greenhouses, learning about propagation. Training for this team will be Thursday mornings, 9 a.m. to noon, Jan. 31-March 7.

Plant sale support team members help the arboretum (often without getting their hands dirty). These volunteers staff the arboretum teaching nursery's popular plant sales on Saturday mornings six to eight times a year plus weekday Learn & Shop events one to three times a month.

This team is a great opportunity for plant-loving volunteers with sales or cashier expertise. According to the arboretum, "Duties include overseeing plant counting and cashier teams at our weekend sales and handling all customer service activities for our smaller sales. If you love organizing, have good attention to detail, enjoy interacting with customers and other volunteers and you are comfortable handling sales transactions, this would be a great team for you. Please note that a background check will be required."

That team has three training dates: 9 a.m. to noon Thursday, Jan. 31; 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 13; and 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 26.

Want to learn to drive a tractor? The land stewardship team works with staff on the campus's naturalized areas. "Projects include light construction, trail repair, native plant care, weed control, and a variety of equipment and power tool operation," says the arboretum in its recruitment release. Training dates are 9 a.m. to noon Jan. 26, 27 or 28.

Also needed are volunteers for the Putah Creek Riparian Reserve for Thursday morning projects such as trail building as well as some farming and ranching. This opportunity features "a variety of equipment and power tools operation including but not limited to tractors, ATV and small excavator, chainsaws and string trimmers," the arboretum says. "You will learn the nuts and bolts of wildland management. Note that this is a more labor-intensive and physically demanding work."
Volunteers can sign up for Putah Creek at any time; training is ongoing.


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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of Sept. 24:

This week our weather will be just right for fall gardening. What are you waiting for?

* Now is the time to plant for fall. The warm soil will get these veggies off to a fast start.

* Keep harvesting tomatoes, peppers, squash, melons and eggplant. Tomatoes may ripen faster off the vine and sitting on the kitchen counter.

* Compost annuals and vegetable crops that have finished producing.

* Cultivate and add compost to the soil to replenish its nutrients for fall and winter vegetables and flowers.

* Fertilize deciduous fruit trees.

* Plant onions, lettuce, peas, radishes, turnips, beets, carrots, bok choy, spinach and potatoes directly into the vegetable beds.

* Transplant cabbage, broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower as well as lettuce seedlings.

* Sow seeds of California poppies, clarkia and African daisies.

* Transplant cool-weather annuals such as pansies, violas, fairy primroses, calendulas, stocks and snapdragons.

* Divide and replant bulbs, rhizomes and perennials. That includes bearded iris; if they haven’t bloomed in three years, it’s time to dig them up and divide their rhizomes.

* Dig up and divide daylilies as they complete their bloom cycle.

* Divide and transplant peonies that have become overcrowded. Replant with “eyes” about an inch below the soil surface.

* Late September is ideal for sowing a new lawn or re-seeding bare spots.

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