Coastside gardeners puzzling over plant fungus may not know that expert advice is only a phone call or email away.
What are Master Gardeners?
San Mateo and San Francisco Counties Master Gardeners are volunteers who have been schooled in the art that is coastal gardening. This group has made members available to solve gardening dilemmas of all varieties via phone or in person every Tuesday or Thursday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Those facing a horticulture horror outside those hours can also email in their questions.
A lot of hours go into achieving the title of Master Gardner. Master gardeners undergo extensive training followed by a final exam. Once their certification is obtained, they maintain the certification by putting in a number of continuing education hours as well as a number of volunteer hours each year.
Getting Help from Coastside Master Gardeners
“We operate a helpline that anyone who has a question can call,” said Arete Nicholas, vice president and Speakers Bureau director of Master Gardeners of San Mateo and San Francisco Counties. “If they can’t understand why their rhododendron looks brown, their leaves are getting brown or why the plant just doesn’t look as healthy, they might call in or email us with that question.”
When emailing a question, Nicholas recommends that you also attach a photo of the problem plant.
“Send photos that are really clear, digital photos,” she said. “Once we get the email, it may take five to seven days for us to respond, but we always get back to them.”
Those unable to get to a computer can also bring the plant down to their Master Gardeners Research Gardens at Elkus Ranch, 1500 Purisima Creek Road in Half Moon Bay. The center is open for questions on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
“If someone decides to bring in a specimen to Elkus Ranch during those hours, they need to bring in a large specimen and not just one leaf,” said Nicholas. “We’ll put the plant under the microscope and try to figure out the problem.”
If a problem proves to be particularly pesky, a University of California researcher is on hand to take a look or the master gardeners will work in teams until a diagnosis is achieved.
Visit the Master Gardeners website or call them at 650-726-9059 ext. 107.
On August 20, our Master Gardeners will be presenting a seminar in the New Leaf Community Classroom titled, “Tune Up Your Fall Coastal Garden.” The class is scheduled for 1:00 – 2:30 p.m.