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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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Garden Checklist for week of April 14

It's still not warm enough to transplant tomatoes directly in the ground, but we’re getting there.

* April is the last chance to plant citrus trees such as dwarf orange, lemon and kumquat. These trees also look good in landscaping and provide fresh fruit in winter.

* Smell orange blossoms? Feed citrus trees with a low dose of balanced fertilizer (such as 10-10-10) during bloom to help set fruit. Keep an eye out for ants.

* Apply slow-release fertilizer to the lawn.

* Thoroughly clean debris from the bottom of outdoor ponds or fountains.

* Spring brings a flush of rapid growth, and that means your garden needs nutrients. Fertilize shrubs and trees with a slow-release fertilizer. Or mulch with a 1-inch layer of compost.

* Azaleas and camellias looking a little yellow? If leaves are turning yellow between the veins, give them a boost with chelated iron.

* Trim dead flowers but not leaves from spring-flowering bulbs such as daffodils and tulips. Those leaves gather energy to create next year's flowers. Also, give the bulbs a fertilizer boost after bloom.

* Pinch chrysanthemums back to 12 inches for fall flowers. Cut old stems to the ground.

* Mulch around plants to conserve moisture and control weeds.

* From seed, plant beans, beets, cantaloupes, carrots, corn, cucumbers, melons, radishes and squash.

* Plant onion sets.

* In the flower garden, plant seeds for asters, cosmos, celosia, marigolds, salvia, sunflowers and zinnias.

* Transplant petunias, zinnias, geraniums and other summer bloomers.

* Plant perennials and dahlia tubers for summer bloom.

* Mid to late April is about the last chance to plant summer bulbs, such as gladiolus and tuberous begonias.

* Transplant lettuce seedlings. Choose varieties that mature quickly such as loose leaf.

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