Winter Is Coming and a Hoop House Would Help

When the forecast calls for frost, I do not cover my plants with sheets or blankets. I keep the cloth for myself and shout into the cold garden from my warm home, “It’s Nevada, plants, we’re the Battle-Born state for a reason!”

A warm house of their own, like a hoop house, would help my plants survive northern Nevada’s early and late-season frosts. A hoop house, sometimes called a crop or high tunnel, is like a plastic greenhouse. It is unheated and less durable than a greenhouse, but less expensive too. Like greenhouses, hoop houses help people control the growing environment their plants experience. read more

Landscaping after wildfire

If a wildfire recently burned through, you may have questions. Are my trees alive? What is wrong with my soil? Will anything grow back?

If a tree’s trunk is severely burned more than halfway around or if more than half of its roots were burned, the tree will probably die. It should be removed.

A less-burned tree may survive. Look for needles and leaves– the more, the better. Cut a quarter-sized hole into the trunk’s bark and peel back a bit of the bark from branches. If just below the bark is a green or white moist layer, called the cambial layer, that is a good sign. read more

Landscaping to prepare for wildfire

We live in a wildfire-prone area, and this impacts our garden and landscape. We need defensible space extending at least 30 feet around our homes. In this area, plants should be spaced out horizontally and vertically. They should also be carefully selected and maintained.

Close to home, plantings should be short and herbaceous or succulent, mulched with river rock, gravel or decomposed granite. A rock garden with lavenderleaf sundrops, pineleaf penstemon, mountain beebalm and longleaf flox is perfect here. read more

ONA Reno: Digital Storytelling Workshop

Join the Online News Association and ONA Reno for a free, day-long workshop highlighting the people, topics and tools that are driving journalism innovation in Nevada and the western U.S. Meet other local storytellers and innovators and build your network and reporting toolkit. We’ll cover audience engagement, revenue, cutting-edge digital tools, live video and more. This digital journalism training is open to all members of the journalism community who RSVP here on Eventbrite. Light breakfast and lunch will be provided, and we’ll gather for happy hour after the event to give you extra time to discuss the themes of the day with speakers and attendees. read more

Accessibility Summit

Introduction to Web Accessibility

Monday, July 10th, 2017
Presenter: Jared Smith

Web accessibility for users with disabilities is increasingly becoming a hot topic in technology. While it can be an overwhelming and daunting issue, it doesn’t have to be. This webinar will present an overview of web accessibility and basic, practical steps you can implement now to improve web accessibility and minimize legal risk.

Introduction to Web Accessibility Presentation Slides

Implementing and Evaluating Web Accessibility

Tuesday, July 11th, 2017
Presenter: Jared Smith

This webinar will provide a methodology for implementing digital content accessibility and for evaluating how accessible your digital content is for users with disabilities. Practical principles and approaches based on the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 will be presented, along with tools and techniques for testing web accessibility. read more

Mow This Way for a Healthy, Attractive and Hardworking Lawn

Turfgrass does more than lay there. It works hard to improve water, air and soil quality.

Lawns help water quality by preventing erosion, filtering runoff and helping the soil absorb water. Turf traps dust and produces oxygen. This helps air quality. Grass adds organic matter to the soil as it sheds plant parts during its lifecycle. And, adding organic matter is one of the best ways to improve soil quality.

Turfgrass also reduces air temperatures. As water is lost from the plant due to heat or its own natural processes, surrounding temperatures drop by up to 14 degrees Fahrenheit. This makes your yard a cool place to be on hot summer days and reduces home air conditioning costs. read more

It’s Summertime in the Garden, and Plants Are… Sticky?

During the growing season, cases of stickiness occur in the garden and landscape. Sticky fingers hold melting Popsicles, and sticky faces press into watermelon slices. Sometimes plants get sticky too. In all cases, a quick spray with the garden hose does the trick.

But why do plants get sticky? One cause is aphids.

There are many species of aphids, so the small, soft-bodied insects come in many sizes, shapes and colors. Some are green; others are pink, red, yellow, dark blue, brown, gray or black. Some have wings, others do not. read more

Honoring Fallen Soldiers in the Garden

Memorial Day honors men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military. It was first established after the American Civil War as Decoration Day, and it was extended after World War I. Now the national holiday commemorates U.S. Service Members who died in all wars and includes a National Moment of Remembrance at 3 p.m. local time.

Observe the day in your yard. If your landscape incorporates a flagpole, properly display the American flag for Memorial Day. At sunrise, briskly run the flag to the top of the staff and lower it slowly to half-staff. At noon, briskly run the flag back to the top of the staff until sunset. read more

Community Gardening Makes Reno Bloom

Backyard gardeners enjoy many benefits in return for their labor. For example, research shows urban adults who garden eat fruits and vegetables nearly 5 times per day. People who do not garden do so about 4 times per day. And, 37 percent of home gardeners meet national recommendations to eat produce at least five times per day compared to 25 percent of non-gardeners.

While gardening at home is good for your diet, gardening in a community setting can be even better for you. Community gardeners consume fruits and vegetables about six times per day, and 56 percent meet those same national recommendations for daily fruit and veggie consumption. read more

Return of the Demo Garden

Years and years ago, before the Washoe County Cooperative Extension office moved from Mill Street to Energy Way, it featured a demonstration garden. The space was called the Cliff Fout’s Memorial Demonstration Garden, and it was planted and maintained each year by Master Gardener Volunteers. The garden was open to the public and served as a source of inspiration. From the garden, many pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables were harvested and donated to area food banks and other nonprofit organizations to help feed Reno’s hungry. read more

Reno Blooms

Horticulture benefits everyone’s wealth and health where we live, work, shop and play, according to the National Initiative for Consumer Horticulture.

Home landscape trees reduce heating and cooling costs. Office plants reduce employee sick time and increase productivity. Stores with landscapes have expanded sales and price premiums. And, horticulture-related tourist destinations and parks provide play opportunities while generating revenue for communities.

There are therapeutic benefits to gardening, and just being around green spaces and plants positively impacts people. read more

How Does a Master Gardener’s Garden Grow?

Do you have a garden to brag about? Have you ever wondered how other high desert gardeners achieve such great gardens and landscapes? Let your landscape shine, and see behind the scenes of northern Nevada’s best gardens. Participate in the Master Gardener Garden Tour.

The tour is hosted by Rail City Garden Center. It is a fundraising event which supports University of Nevada Cooperative Extension’s Washoe County Master Gardener Volunteer Program. The tour is an important event for the program. Since the University does not have enough greenhouse space for Master Gardener Volunteers to grow plants to sell at their Master Gardener Plant Faire Extravaganza, the tour is now the program’s only fundraiser. read more

2017 Northern Nevada Plant Sales

I observe many northern Nevada gardening traditions. I plant peas on Saint Patrick’s Day, wait to plant tomatoes until the snow melts off of Peavine and attend Field Day faithfully each year. Another tradition for me has been the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension Master Gardener Plant Faire Extravaganza. The sale yields quality plants at incredible prices. But, the sale has faded away as a tradition in the past few years.

This is because the Master Gardener Volunteer program does not have its own greenhouse. So, the program can only have its fundraising plant sale in years when they receive greenhouse space from University of Nevada, Reno. And, the University allots greenhouse space first for use by University faculty conducting research before for use by Master Gardener Volunteers. Since there was not room again this year for Master Gardeners to use University greenhouses, I am turning to other sources for plants. Luckily, there are many and they too support great local organizations. read more

Create a Plan to Successfully Renovate Your Landscape

Spring is here, and it is calling homeowners to work in their gardens and landscapes. It is too early for some yardwork tasks like planting warm season crops. But for other outdoor chores, such as the renovation of an existing outdoor space, now is the perfect time to take action.

This is because successful landscape renovations begin with a carefully crafted plan, and there is time enough to plan landscape renovations before our unpredictable northern Nevada weather settles down enough to let us undertake them. read more

Learn about the Birds and the Bees to Boost Garden Yields


Each spring, plants appear in my office. They are from co-workers, Master Gardeners or clients whose seed-starting ambitions exceeded their garden size. The first time this happened, I was not ready.

I placed the tomato plant in my living room, under the window with the best light. It grew big and strong but did not produce a single tomato! Learn from my mistake, and study up on the birds and the bees if you are caring for a vegetable garden, big or small, this year. read more

My First Tomato Plant

In mid-May, the danger of frost will (mostly) pass here in the Truckee Meadows. It will be time to plant warm season crops, like tomato plants. And so, with this thought in mind, I want to tell you about my first tomato plant and the lessons it taught me.

My coworker Leslie gifted it to me. I think she had too many tomato plants. That tends to happen to gardeners. Our ability to purchase and germinate seeds far exceeds our available garden space to which we can transplant them. Or maybe, she suspected my diet lacked fresh fruits and vegetables, and she wanted to change that. Either way, I took the tomato plant home, and, lacking a garden, I put the tomato plant in what I thought was the best place I had for it– the living room. read more