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Open Access Publications from the University of California
Cover page of Adjusting Soil pH in California Gardens

Adjusting Soil pH in California Gardens

(2021)

Plant health can be affected by the acidity of soil. The conditions best for plant growth depend on the particular plant, but most plants prefer soil that is neither very acidic nor very alkaline.

Soil acidity can be adjusted to optimize plant growth, but adjusting acidity is not always the best course of action. Instead, it may be best to grow plants adapted to the native soil. For gardeners who decide to adjust the acidity of soil, it is important to understand when and how to do so.

Cover page of Organic Amendments for Landscape Soils

Organic Amendments for Landscape Soils

(2021)

Organic amendments are added to modify a soil in the zone where roots will grow— unlike mulches, which are applied to the undisturbed soil surface. These materials may be incorporated into landscape soils to improve plant growth. However, research has not shown that adding amendments to planting holes for perennial plants provides a significant advantage compared to using native backfill. Learn which situations may lend themselves to amendments and how to make a choice among the many amendments available.  Includes a table of amendment qualities that quickly breaks down various choices along with their respective benefits and detriments.

Cover page of Bees in the Neighborhood: Best Practices for Urban Beekeepers

Bees in the Neighborhood: Best Practices for Urban Beekeepers

(2018)

The media coverage of the peril of pollinators has led to the general public wanting to help bees in particular. Public awareness about pollinator importance and the growing interest in urban beekeeping has led many local and municipal governments across California to revisit ordinances to acknowledge and potentially facilitate this developing resurgence in beekeeping. Learn beekeeping basics as they apply to urban environments as well as how to keep your bees good neighbors. Good for bees, good for beekeepers, and good for neighbors. Includes information on honeybee identification, flyways, hive management, installing a queen, recordkeeping, human-bee interactions, and an extensive glossary and references.

Cover page of Poisonous Plants

Poisonous Plants

(2016)

Many hundreds of species of poisonous plants grow in the United States. Some of the most beautiful trees, shrubs, vegetables, and vines are poisonous under certain conditions. They provide shade, colorful flowers, or food, but parts of the plant (sap, leaves, seed, flowers, stems) may also contain toxic compounds. Using this publication, you will learn how to identify plants associated with poisonings and other health problems. Included is a table of poisonous plants commonly found around the home and garden and instructions on making a plant identification file.

Cover page of Ranching Infrastructure: Tools for Healthy Grasslands, Livestock, and Ranchers

Ranching Infrastructure: Tools for Healthy Grasslands, Livestock, and Ranchers

(2016)

Part of the Understanding Working Rangelands series. Ranch roads, fencing, gates, water systems, corrals, and working scales play a key role in proper management of livestock and effective management of rangelands. Having the right infrastructure is crucial to maintain the health and safety of rancher as well as the environment.

Cover page of Gardening with Straw Bales

Gardening with Straw Bales

(2016)

The use of straw bales as a soil-less growth medium in gardens has gained media attention in recent years. While most gardeners raise their crops using soil or raised beds, it is possible to grow vegetables without soil. Straw bales are an easy-to-obtain material for soil-less gardening that will also yield compost as a byproduct.

Cover page of Soils in Urban Agriculture: Testing, Remediation, and Best Management Practices

Soils in Urban Agriculture: Testing, Remediation, and Best Management Practices

(2016)

Soils are an important consideration for individuals, community groups, and local governments becoming involved in urban agriculture. In many situations, urban soil has been contaminated and degraded by past industrial, dumping, construction or other activity, and adjacent buildings where lead-based paint has been applied. Elevated levels of lead are fairly common in urban soils and pose health risks, especially to young children who can ingest soil while playing or helping in gardens.

Cover page of Drought Tip: Keeping Plants Alive under Drought or Water Restrictions

Drought Tip: Keeping Plants Alive under Drought or Water Restrictions

(2015)

Plants that don't receive enough water eventually show signs of water stress. During a drought or under water restrictions aimed at water conservation, keeping plants alive can be particularly difficult.

Cover page of Coastal California Rain Gardens

Coastal California Rain Gardens

(2015)

Rain gardens collect rainwater and beautify a yard. They provide an effective form of rainwater harvesting, allowing property owners to save valuable water from going down storm drains. Rain water has been collected by numerous cultures since ancient times, but the concept of a residential rain garden is recent. Although more commonly found in wetter climates, rain gardens can be beneficial in California's Mediterranean climate, with our dry and wet seasons. Rain gardens offer an attractive and practical way to conserve water.

Cover page of Drought Tip: Use of Graywater in Urban Landscapes in California

Drought Tip: Use of Graywater in Urban Landscapes in California

(2015)

If you have thought about using greywater in your landscape, this Drought Tip is for you. Here you'll find a description of graywater, the basics of laundry to landscape systems, and a discussion of the benefits and risks of graywater systems to humans, other animals, soil chemistry, and plants.