Twice a year, the Butte County Master Gardener Program offers a series of practical, hands-on gardening workshops. The Spring 2017 Workshop Series is “geared around sustainability practices and this year we have added ten new workshops,” said Kay Perkins, co-chair of the Butte County Master Gardeners Public Education Committee.

These workshops are designed for the home gardener interested in creating sustainable landscapes, starting plants from seed, harvesting rainwater, learning propagation and composting techniques, and much more. A total of nineteen workshops are scheduled between February 9th and June 14th. All workshops are free of charge, with one exception: there is a small materials fee for the May 9th “Building Compost Bins” workshop.

“We are particularly excited about the new topics we’ve added, and the quality of our presenters,” added Ms. Perkins. “In addition to our knowledgeable Master Gardener speakers, this year we have partnered with local experts” for the workshops on worm composting at the Durham Worm Farm, hardscape materials at the Sutherland Landscape Center, and the Native Plant Walk on the CSU, Chico campus.

New topics the Spring include a successful method to remove thirsty lawns; weed identification and treatment; how to espalier and graft fruit trees; planning landscape hardscapes, and building raised beds and hoop houses. The workshops are fully described on the Butte County Master Gardener website at Upcoming workshops will be highlighted alongside the Master Gardeners’ Real Dirt column in the Home & Garden section of this newspaper. 

The primary venue for these workshops is the Master Gardener Demonstration Garden, located at the Patrick Ranch Museum on the Midway south of Chico. The Demonstration Garden features plants that thrive in a Mediterranean climate, and are particularly well suited for our conditions in Butte County. All of the plants in the Demonstration Garden do well in hot, dry summers with little water, and provide habitat for local wildlife, especially various pollinators. The Audubon Society has certified the Demonstration Garden as a wildlife habitat. In addition to the Demonstration Garden location, some of the workshops will be held inside Pat’s Barn at the Patrick Ranch Museum, and a few will take place at private residences. Details are available on the website.

The workshops are listed below. Registration is required at Due to space considerations, registration is limited. 

Thursday, February 9: Worm Composting, 1 – 2:30 PM

Saturday, February 11: Mason Bees, 10 – 11:30 AM

Saturday, February 11: Removing Your Lawn, 1 – 2:30 PM (NEW)

Wednesday, February 22: Weed Identification and Treatment, 1 – 2:30 PM (NEW)

Wednesday, March 15: Practical Rainwater Harvesting, 1 – 2:30 PM (NEW)

Thursday, March 16: Propagation, 1 – 2:30 PM

Friday, March 17: Hardscapes in the Landscape, 10 – 11:30 AM (NEW)

Wednesday, March 29: Drip Irrigation, 10 – 11:30 AM

Thursday, April 6: Espalier Demo Garden, 2 – 3:30 PM (NEW)

Monday, April 17: Composting, 10 – 11:30 AM 

Thursday, April 20: Grafting Fruit Trees, 10 – 11:30 AM (NEW)

Saturday, April 29: All About Backyard Fruit Orchards, 10 – 11:30 AM 

Thursday, May 4: All About Backyard Fruit Orchards, 10 – 11:30 AM 

Saturday, May 6: Native Plant Walk at Chico State, 1 – 2:30 PM

Tuesday, May 9: Building Compost Bins, 10 – 11:30 AM

Wednesday, May 10: Prune Demo Garden Orchard, 10 – 1:30 AM

Wednesday, June 7: Basic Garden Design, 10 – 11:30 AM (NEW)

Wednesday, June 14: Raised Bed and Hoop House, 10 – 11:30 AM (NEW)

The popular biannual Master Gardener Plant Sale will be held in April. Native and Mediterranean plants appropriate for our climate, propagated by the Master Gardeners, will be offered for sale. The day will also feature free tours of the Demonstration Garden. The exact date of the Plant Sale will be posted on the Master Gardener website in early February. All proceeds from the Sale support the Demonstration Garden and Master Gardener community outreach projects in Butte County.

Butte County Master Gardeners are University of California-trained volunteers whose purpose is to extend research-based knowledge and information on home horticulture, pest management, and sustainable landscape practices to the residents of Butte County. California’s Master Gardener Programs are part of the University of California’s Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Butte County Master Gardeners offer garden advice and assistance through their Hotline at 538-7201, at select community events, and at the farmers markets throughout Butte County. Please visit their website to find out more about them and their educational programs:

The Master Gardeners look forward to seeing you at their workshops, tours, plant sales, and other educational events and venues!