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February 5, 2015 Newsletter

Escondido • 1105 W. Mission Avenue • Escondido CA 92025





featured quote


"An addiction to gardening is not all bad when you consider all the other choices in life."
~ Cora Lea Bell

roses for Valentine's

The rose is a symbol of love, hope, joy, passion, remembrance, and condolence. No flower has been the subject of plays, songs and poems more than the rose.

The history of the rose goes far back. The Greeks revered the red rose as having come from the blood of Adonis; the Romans used roses in their parties and thought nothing of carpeting the floor with rose petals; the Persians associated the rose with the heart; the early Christians made the rose a symbol of love in connection with the Virgin Mary and Christ's Blood.

The Victorians even talked in roses, and some of that language still survives today. A red rose, of course, signifies respect and love. A yellow rose, in Victorian times, meant a jealous suitor but today means friendship. The white rose signified innocence and purity. In the U.S., white roses are often used at weddings and have acquired the additional meaning of happiness and security. Pink roses are often used to signify appreciation or gratitude. White and red roses together signify unity. White roses fringed in red have come to mean the same thing.

The Victorians used more than just colors. Two roses bound together signified an engagement. A thornless rose signified love at first sight. A wilted rose, of course, signified rejection. There were also meanings in rosebuds, half-open buds and roses in full bloom, as well as meanings in the number of roses given; fifty roses, for instance, signified unconditional love and twenty-five roses were given as congratulations.

For Valentine's Day, rather than give any number of individual roses, why not give a rose plant? There may be no meaning in the language of roses for a whole rose plant--but in the language of gardeners, it's surely a gift of love!

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The venerable queen of Europe's historical gardens is unquestionably the rose. Her sovereignty holds sway over all others with an unforgettable aroma, color and elegance. Your garden will bring all others to their knees if you take a chance and plant these pulchritudinous perfumeries.

Begin by staking out--literally--where you plan to place these beauties. Using bamboo stakes will aid you in evenly spacing them. They will thrive in full sun and well-drained soil. Group them by color, maintaining a harmonious flow throughout your garden by combining them in a proportionate, orderly and congruous manner. And remember that a soil pH level of 5.5 to 6.6 is the ultimate medium for raising a rose garden.

We're discussing bare-root roses today, which are harvested in late fall and early winter after cool weather encourages dormancy. If you are wise, and purchase your roses at the most reliable of sources, a nursery, all of the soil around their roots will have been removed, and the roots surrounded with moist wood shavings, allowing for easy inspection.

Roses come in three grades; grade 1 is the best and therefore the most expensive. The requirement for this grade is that the plants must have at least three strong canes, two of which must be at least 18 inches in length for hybrid teas and grandifloras. The canes should be at least 1/8 inch in diameter. Grade 1½ requires at least two strong canes, 15 inches long for hybrid teas and grandifloras, and at least 1/8 inch in diameter. Grade 2 is the least expensive grade, and also the least reliable; they could end up an unwanted gamble. The thicker the diameter, the better the plant, no matter from which of the hundreds of varieties you choose.

Soak the bare-root rose plants overnight in a bucket of tepid water prior to planting, for rehydration. Then dig a hole, 2 feet by 2 feet and at least 14 to 18 inches deep. Amend your existing soil with a good rose soil mix.

In the center of the hole, firmly pat the earth into a cone. Spread out the rose's roots over this cone, placing the bud union (between the roots and limbs) at the correct level. The bud union is the most susceptible part of the plant, so placement either above or below the soil line is of utmost importance.

If you live in areas with extremely cold winters, bury the bud union about 2 to 6 inches below the surface of the ground for protection. But in milder zones, plant the rose with the bud union about 1 to 1 ½ inches above ground level. Back-fill the hole with additional soil mixture G&B Soil Building Compost, remembering to gently tamp the soil around the roots. Water well, and why not add a solution of fish emulsion for that little boost?

Prior to the first bloom, add two inches of mulch (Kellogg's Cedar Mulch) over the entire bed; this will keep the roots cool and moist, conserve moisture in hot weather, and help to prevent weeds from gaining a foothold. As soon as your plant blooms, it is developed enough for feeding with a rose plant food. Liquid Magnum Gro Rose Food or Dr Earth Liquid Rose Fertilizer is always preferable to granular as it is immediately available to the roots. Feed after the initial bloom cycle and once a month thereafter; cease feeding two months before the first frost

Now take a break from your labors, and imagine what this bundle of sticks you've just planted will soon look like. Beauteous blooms will abound, and all because you cared enough to make the effort. Congratulations!

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How to Make a Raised Bed Garden

A raised bed for a garden is great where soil conditions cause poor drainage, or where the soil itself is poor. In addition, it's a very convenient way to garden, with less bending and stooping, and some natural protection for the plants. A raised bed can be surrounded by brick, cinder blocks, stone walls, wood, or other materials to suit your tastes.

When deciding where to put a raised bed, you'll have to consider several things. Will you want to grow sun-lovers or shade plants? Will you be growing plants that reach higher than your roof ? If so, you don't want to locate your raised bed under the eaves, even though that may be ideal for plants needing some extra protection at certain times of year. You also don't want to locate a raised bed against a frame house, of course!

Whether your raised bed will be against the house or free-standing, decide how wide it will be. Don't make it so wide you'll have difficulty reaching plants or so narrow the plants won't have room to spread. And decide what height you want, both for looks and convenience. Plan your garden bed for easy access!

Also keep in mind, if you have a hilly yard, that the raised bed concept can easily be adapted to create terraces.

Once you have an area selected, loosen the soil at the present ground level and get rid of any weeds. Fill the bed with a good soil mixture like G&B Harvest Supreme and Eden Valley Potting Soil for the plants you intend to plant. You might also consider putting in extras such as a drip irrigation system, which can save both work and, more important, water. Plant your plants and add some good mulch on the top, and you'll have a garden plot that's both easy to care for and attractive.

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There are so many reasons to grow your own herbs. Even the simplest of dishes differs in taste when fresh herbs are used instead of dried, packaged supermarket varieties. Named the 2005 Herb of the Year, oregano blooms with purple blossoms from July through October. A member of the mint family, this species is a hardy perennial in warmer climates, is easily grown from either seeds or cuttings, and may be divided. (If you are growing from seeds, sow them in rows 18" apart, early in the season; cover lightly with soil, and thin the young plants to 12" apart.) For a jump start on growing from seed, use Grangettos Speedy Roots seed starter trays.

Oregano is not only a useful and usual addition to any herb garden, it also makes a wonderfully easy-to-grow houseplant! While it is still small, place it in a sunny window in well-drained soil and watch it grow! After a winter's enjoyment of the plant, when Jack Frost is no longer a danger, transplant it outdoors. Not a fussy plant, oregano does fine in average soil, and will tolerate dry soil conditions. In fact, it is a native of the Mediterranean region and is perfectly capable of withstanding droughts.

Withholding fertilizer actually causes oregano to produce a stronger flavor. Harvest after the plants have produced several dozen leaves; the young tender leaves produce the best flavor when picked early in the morning when the oils are strongest. To ensure that the leaves do not turn bitter, pick the flower buds upon first appearance; blooming leads to bitter leaves.

The name oregano comes from the Greek oros, meaning "mountain" and ganos meaning "joy." The plant grows joyously wild in the mountains of Greece.

During the Roman-Greco era, marrying couples were crowned with it, as it is a symbol of honor, good luck, and good health. If you weren't already affianced, it was believed that you could anoint yourself with oregano prior to sleep, and you would dream of your future spouse.

Mix the dried leaves with honey, and you have a balm that is said to aid in fading bruises. Brew oregano tea by steeping 3 tablespoons of fresh crushed oregano leaves in 8 ounces of boiling water for 10 minutes; drinking this mixture is said to ease coughs and indigestion, and to aid in achieving a restful sleep. And we all know it's an excellent spice!

We hope you'll enjoy this aromatic, medicinal and culinary gem: oregano.

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Featured Recipe: Wicked Easy Shrimp Skewers

What You'll Need:

  • Eight metal skewers (bamboo also works well)
  • 41-60 count medium-sized precooked frozen shrimp
  • One 8 oz. package of fresh low moisture mozzarella cheese, cubed into one-inch pieces
  • One 8 oz. package of white sharp cheddar cheese, cubed into one-inch pieces
  • One green bell pepper, chopped into medium--sized slices
  • One 16 oz. package of cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 3 tbs. balsamic vinegar
  • Chopped fresh basil to taste

Step by Step:

  • In a bowl ,whisk olive oil, balsamic vinegar; set aside.
  • Empty cherry tomatoes into a bowl; add green bell pepper.
  • Drizzle whisked olive oil and balsamic vinegar over the tomatoes and the green bell pepper, using only half of the mixture.
  • Stir the bell pepper and tomatoes to coat.
  • Thaw the frozen shrimp (quick thawing tip, place the bag of frozen shrimp on a plate in the microwave for 6 minutes on low)
  • Remove the tails on the shrimp, put in a bowl and set aside.
  • Cube the cheese into 1 inch size pieces.
  • Assembly - you will want to do this over a platter to rest the skewers on once they have been assembled:
  • Take a slice of green bell pepper, place on the skewer and slide to the top, followed by two shrimp, followed by a cherry tomato, followed by a piece of white cheddar cheese, another slice of bell pepper, two more shrimp, another cherry tomato, and a piece of mozzarella cheese.
  • Repeat on all skewers and lay them on the platter.
  • Top everything off with fresh basil.
  • Once all skewers are assembled, take remaining whisked olive oil and balsamic vinegar and drizzle over all skewers.
  • Place in the refrigerator uncovered for approximately 1 hour.

Enjoy! For a more festive look, line the platter with lettuce.