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Edition 7.05
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February 2007

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February

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Feed Roses, Flowers and Shrubs with Bayer Advanced 2-in-1 Rose & Flower Care, a combination granular fertilizer with insect control, or Bayer Advanced All-in-One, a liquid combining fertilizer, insect and fungal control. Top-dress the soil with Worm Gold Plus, adding John and Bob’s Soil Optimizer to stimulate organic activity. In addition, for Roses, adding Epsom Salts will help with basal breaks, forming new canes on older rose bushes.

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Fertilizers: Best Nitra King 21-4-4
Best Triple 15
Dr. Earth 7-4-2
Lilly Miller 10-5-4
Dr. Earth 4-5-4
Bayer Advanced All in One
Bayer Advanced 2 in 1
Monterey Epsom Salts
Soil Amendments: Gardner and Bloome Planting Mix
John and Bob's Soil Optimizer
Worm Gold Plus
Fertilizer Spreaders: Scotts Handheld Spreader Scotts Lawn Pro Spreader
Landscape/Garden Tools: Hula Ho
Corona Anvil
Corona Bypass Pruner
Corona  Lopper

Mulches: Kellogg Soil Building Compost
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Pest Control: Black Hole Trap

Plant Pest Control : Green Light Horticultural Oil Lilly MillerPolysul Dormant SprayMonterey Liqui Cop

Weed and Crabgrass Control:
Green Light Amaze
Green Light Crabgrass Preventer
Roundup Pro
Roundup Pro RTU
Roundup Quick Pro
Weed Impede
MSMA Crabgrass Killer 2

Plant Protection: Dwintt N-SulateCloud Cover Anti-Stress 2000

THANK YOU!

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Thanks for taking the time to read the Grangetto's Garden Gazette. If at any time there is a topic that you would like to see in the next newsletter or you have a gardening tip you would like to share, please feel free to email us.


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Quotation of the Week:

"Always try to grow in your garden some plant or plants out of the ordinary, something your neighbors never attempted. For you can receive no greater flattery than to have a gardener of equal intelligence stand before your plant and ask, 'What is that? ' "
— Richardson Wright

Save the Date!

SAVE THE DATE!!Grangetto’s Horticultural Seminar and Trade Show Will be Held at The San Diego Wild Animal Park Tuesday, June 26th, C.E. Units Available! MARK YOUR CALENDARS!

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Manager's Corner - February 2007

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Brrr. It got really, really cold...below freezing. Ok, I state the obvious, but herein lies the problem - we're in Southern California. You know – "It Never Rains in Southern California" or "Surf City USA" - that Southern California? So I went to my encyclopedia and looked up Jack Frost. Did you know that Jack Frost is an elfish creature who personifies crisp, cold winter weather? He originates in Viking folklore. He leaves frosty crystal patterns on windows and our foliage. Oh... they make him sound so cute.

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I don't know about you, but I didn't see a cute little elfish guy in my garden. But I do have a garden that approaches looking like a disaster zone. In temperate weather zones such as ours in Southern California, we are not accustomed to awakening to freezing temperatures - and neither are our plants. (Note: I'm not referring to the high desert or mountain regions). We all are going to be coping with frost-damaged plants this spring. Here are a few tips to follow from today forth.

Be patient with your plants. The damage is done. And we might get more of the Arctic chill... who knows? Don't begin hacking away at damaged plants, pruning away what appears to be total destruction. It may not be. Many of our plants are highly resourceful and restorative. Here are a few tips:

  1. Leave wilted foliage for now. Yes, it looks terrible, but if we get another frost, this damaged foliage will actually offer cover to the unharmed foliage beneath. Once you are fairly sure frosts are a thing of the past, gently remove the wilted dark leaves, but do not cut back the branches.
  2. Chances are most branches have not been damaged. To test, use your fingernail to gently scratch the bark and look at the underlying plant tissue. It should be green or creamy and moist.
  3. Observe the leave buds and watch them. As the warmer spring weather returns, these buds should start to plump up and you will know that new growth is beginning.
  4. Once new leaves have begun to pop out on now-empty branching, you will see the extent of any freeze damage to the branches. If leaves sprout out along the whole branch then...excellent. But if there are areas on the branch where the leaf buds haven't developed and no leaves appear, this is the plant's way of telling you, "Cut me back to just in front of the first emerging leaf." That is how far back to prune.

article pictureThere are also a few excellent precautions to take, when or if you know that a frost is coming to your garden. Cover plants with a sheet or plastic at night. Remove that cover in the morning to allow the next day's (hopefully) higher temperatures to warm up the plants and soil. Of course, if you have large tropical foliage plants like I do, it becomes impractical to cover tree-height plants (unfortunately).

Now, enough of the "What to Do" information. What is actually happening to your plant? Why does the cold hurt it so much?

Freezing temperatures severely dehydrate plant tissues. Water in the plant tissue freezes and when this happens, the plant's cells expand, causing irreparable damage. It is only when the temperature rises that the damage to your plant becomes apparent. A "burned" appearance may start at the top of the plant on the highest leaves (or the leaves most exposed to the freezing temperature), working its way down the stem and on through to the lower leaves. This process does not manifest itself immediately, but certainly does within a day or so.

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Think about the solutions utilized by growers of citrus and other large crop producers: wind machines, smudge pots, water. Singly or working together, these techniques keep the ambient temperatures surrounding the crops higher than freezing. At least, they should in theory. But for homeowners, such procedures are not necessarily practical. At least, in theory. But for homeowners, such procedures are not necessarily practical.

You will notice that plants next to your house have escaped damage. Frost, or more accurately, the cold air spills off the top of your house much like a liquid. Once it hits the ground, beyond the distance of the eaves of the roof, this is where you will begin to see frost damage. If you cover the plants (of a size practical to do so) that are next to your house and those located away from the eaves, you may escape frost damage as well.

article pictureBut many of us were taken a little by surprise. Not that the weather forecaster didn't tell us that we were getting an Arctic chill, but that the chill would come down from the mountain elevations and into our gardens. So, we'll all have frost damage to deal with, beginning now and into the spring. But give your plants time to let you know the depth or severity of the damage to each individual. With luck and caring, many of them will come back by spring.

The biggest thing to remember for damaged plants is: don't do anything yet.

For more information http://ucavo.ucr.edu/avocadowebsite%20folder/avocadowebsite/general/frost.html.

Pest of the Month - Crabgrass

Crabgrass

Crabgrass is a common weed that almost everyone knows. (The "great philosopher" Pogo said, "Work is the crabgrass in life.")

Two species of crabgrass are common in California: smooth crabgrass, Digitaria ischaemum, and large or hairy crabgrass, D. sanguinalis. Both species were introduced from Eurasia and are widespread throughout the United States. Crabgrass is found in turfgrasses (mostly smooth crabgrass) and in ornamental landscapes (primarily large crabgrass). Large crabgrass is also found in orchards, vineyards, and other agricultural areas.

Crabgrass has many other names, including crowfoot grass and summer grass. It is found in most parts of California, except at high elevations and in areas that receive no summer water.

For more information please visit Identification and Life Cycle and Management.

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A Pre-Emergent
Crabgrass Preventer
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A Post-Emergent
Crabgrass Kill

Spinach: Grow Your Own

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By Tamara Galbraith

The recent spinach E. coli situation was scary for consumers and devastating for the spinach-growing industry. As this is written, investigators are still unable to determine what tainted the spinach in question.

Because of the ordered destruction of so much of California's crop, it will probably be some time before we see spinach in markets again, and shoppers may be wary of buying it once it does return. So...why not grow your own?

A relatively shallow-rooted vegetable - thus making it ideal for container culture - spinach likes temperatures in the 50-60 degree range...which is why areas with mild winters are such popular places to grow it in the fall, if not year-round.

If you're starting your spinach from seed, soak the seeds in a plastic baggie overnight in the refrigerator before planting. This will soften the hard coating of the seed and allow better germination.

While growing, use lots of compost, mulch well, and watch for insects, as they especially like to hide in the cracks of crinkly spinach types.

Choosing a Healthy Orchid

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Blooms — Choosing a plant with flowers on it will give you an idea what season it blooms in and lets you know the plant is mature. Look for uniform color and shape. Splotches and streaks may be indications of a virus that you shouldn't take home.

Even if a plant is blooming when you buy it, be patient with it. The shock of going from a garden center to the typical home may cause an orchid to skip a season before it performs again. Don't get frustrated and throw it out, and don't take it personally. It's worth the wait.

Leaves — The same principles apply as when buying any plant. Look for medium-green, uniformly shaped and colored leaves with no black spots or streaks.

Insects — Greenhouse-grown plants are more susceptible to insects than home-grown ones. Don't buy infested plants — why take home trouble?

Roots — Look for white, fat roots with healthy green tips poking through the potting medium.

Potting medium — You may have seen orchids planted in potting soil covered with a layer of bark. Soil will smother and eventually kill roots. So don't make that mistake. If you are repotting an orchid, use all bark. If you are buying a new one, stick your finger in the mix to test it. It should be all bark and not soggy, but firm and damp or dry.

For more information please visit Orchid Care.

Am Sod

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February Is The Time To:

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  1. Choose and plant camellias, azaleas and Chinese magnolias
  2. Purchase clivia
  3. Plant gerberas and gladioli
  4. Plant lilies of the valley
  5. Plant asparagus from bare-root
  6. Prune kiwi vines
  7. Cut back fuchsias once they begin to grow
  8. In coastal zones: prune begonias, ginger, cannas, asparagus ferns, ivy and pyracantha
  9. Deadhead cool-season flowers to keep them blooming
  10. Propagate running bamboo in coastal zones
  11. Continue to fertilize citrus trees in coastal zones
  12. Continue to fertilize epiphyllums
  13. Fertilize avocado trees in coastal zones
  14. Feed deciduous fruit trees
  15. Fertilize roses
  16. Fertilize fuchsias
  17. Spread mulch over the roots of bananas, ginger, cannas, asparagus, and old clumps of geranium
  18. Fertilize cineraria to promote blooms
  19. Fertilize cane berries as they begin to grow
  20. Keep roses and bulbs well-watered
  21. Bait cymbidiums and clivia for slugs and snails
  22. Control pests on citrus trees, sycamore, ash and alder trees
  23. Protect cineraria from leaf miners, aphids, and slugs and snails
  24. Mulch young avocado trees

Primula Primer

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By Tamara Galbraith

Tackling the entire world of primulas in a few paragraphs is like taking on the Pittsburgh Steelers - you'd be outnumbered and overwhelmed quickly. But looking at the basics of this colorful, cool weather favorite is certainly worthwhile.

Primula vulgaris -- also commonly known as the perennial primrose -- blooms mostly during the spring, although in hot climates it will flower through the cooler months and is usually treated as a winter annual. Ask a nursery professional if you're not sure which primula varieties are best for your area.

There are drumstick primroses, double English primroses, orchid primroses, Japanese primroses....you name it. They come in all colors of the rainbow and many shapes and sizes. Some look like miniature roses, some like wild-colored daisies.

Other primulas are known by such funny common names as cowslips, oxlips or bear's ear. Herbalists recognize cowslip as a mild sedative most often used in treating nervous disorders, such as trembling, anxiety, and insomnia. It is also used as an anti-inflammatory in the treatment of arthritis.

Primulas require humus-rich, moist soil and some shade, but when treated well, they will reward you with color when almost nothing else is blooming.

2007 Perennial of the Year Will Make Gardeners Purr

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By Tamara Galbraith

Drumroll please....the Perennial Plant of 2007 has been selected and it's Nepeta 'Walker’s Low,' aka catmint.

Introduced in 1988 in Europe, 'Walker’s Low' catmint has become increasingly popular with each passing year due to its lovely blue-violet flowers and its long bloom time, attractive grey-green foliage, ease of propagation, lack of pest or disease problems, and low maintenance requirements.

The Perennial Plant Association passed along these details about 'Walker's Low':

  • Hardiness - USDA Zones 3 to 8
  • Size - 30 to 36 inches tall and wide.
  • Light - Best in full sun, but can tolerate shade in hot climates
  • Soil - Prefers well drained soil and neutral pH
  • Uses - Good companion plant for early and late blooming plants. Great for perennial borders, but can be used in herb gardens, rock gardens, as a ground cover, or as a container plant.
  • Unique Qualities - Will bloom continuously throughout the season if properly pruned. Great for attracting bees, butterflies and other pollinating insects, but is deer and rabbit resistant. Leaves release a wonderful aroma when crushed.

Your kitty may not go as crazy for 'Walker's Low' as he would for catnip (a close relative of catmint), but you'll certainly love it!

Winter Rose Care

For those of you who have not tended to your roses yet this winter, time is running out. It is very important to finish any dormant pruning and spraying prior to the weather's warming up later this month. To help you complete this task we would like to share a few tips to make your plants happier and more productive.

Basal Canes vs. Suckers
It always helps to identify what you should prune off and what not to prune. The difference between basal canes and suckers can be difficult for the inexperienced rose gardener. A basal cane is the lush growth that originates at the bud union. The foliage and thorns have the same characteristics as the top growth. This is the best wood on the plant and should be encouraged. A basal cane may, however, grow very tall with a large cluster of blooms on the end. To prevent this, pinch out the tip of the cane when it is about 18" tall. On the other hand, a sucker comes from below the bud union point where branching begins. The foliage, thorns, and types of growth are entirely different from those at the top. This type of cane is generally much longer and more willowy in growth than a basal cane, and does not terminate in a bud. Suckers rob the top growth of needed nourishment, and should be cut off close to the point of origin.

Pruning
It is difficult to have a set rule for pruning, as various types of roses require different methods. As a general rule, however, one should cut out the old wood, keep the new wood, and above all, retain the symmetrical shape of the plant. New wood is generally almost all green, second year growth is green with grey or brown streaks, and third year wood (the stuff you want to cut off) is almost solid wood-looking with the brown or grey branches showing very little green.

The remaining new wood should be cut back at least half the length of its growth during the previous season but not be pruned below 18" inches in height. Each cut should be made a quarter-inch above an eye facing the outside. Weak wood and crossed branches should also be removed.

Plants pruned severely will produce fewer, but higher quality blooms. Moderate pruning will result in a greater abundance of blooms.

Climbing roses, as a rule, produce blooms on canes that grew during the preceding year. You will get more blooms from your climber if the canes are trained to run parallel with the ground. Older plants may be pruned by removing several of the oldest canes, characterized by their heavier growth and woodier appearance. Floribunda roses are pruned in much the same way as hybrid teas, but require milder pruning which results in a greater mass of bloom.

Spraying
Like all living plants, roses may be attacked by insects and fungus diseases. It is important to apply one application of dormant spray to each rose. A good copper fungicide such as Monterey Liqui-Cop, combined with Green Light Horticulture Oil Spray and a spreader sticker may be used to control both over-wintering insects and diseases in a single spraying.

Mulching
Mulching is very important. It keeps the soil cool in summer and warm in winter. It retains moisture, controls weak growth, and renews and rebuilds the humus content of the soil around the plants. We recommend using Gardner & Bloome Soil Building Compost or a bark product like Sierra Walk on Bark.

Fertilizing
Roses are heavy feeders and need food to get the maximum bloom, but not in the winter dormant season. The rule of thumb is to give them their first feeding in March or when the rose has six inches of new growth (whichever happens first). After that, every two months through October is recommended. For the best organic results, use Dr. Earth Rose & Flower Fertilizer.

Watering
Roses can take lots of water during the growing season if the drainage is good, but will not tolerate wet feet in the winter. You should not have to water your plants until there is at least 6" inches of new growth and the soil starts to dry out. Avoid watering at night to cut down on fungus and disease.

Cutting Roses
On newly planted bushes, cut off the flowers on the shortest stems, to allow more nutrients to go into the remaining flowers. On established plants, you can cut as high as the second (five-leaf) leaflet or as low as any two leaflets above the previous cut in order to promote more blooms - leaving as much foliage as possible.

Single and semi-single roses should be cut just as the petals open showing color; double roses as the petals unfurl to not over half-open; very double roses when about two-thirds open. It is best to pick in the late afternoon, when the sugars in the plants are at the maximum. Re-cut the stems under running water and place stems in a vase filled with water and a small amount of sugar or a (non-caffeine, non-diet) clear soft drink such as Sprite or 7-Up.

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Permanent Winter Color

Permanent landscape plants that are colorful in winter enliven gardens and make great gifts. Choices include purple princess flower (Tibouchina urvilleana), Mexican flame vine, marmalade bush (Streptosolen jamesonii), Carolina jessamine (Gelsemium sempervirens--an attractive yellow-flowered evergreen vine, though keep in mind that it is poisonous), variously hued New Zealand tea trees (Leptospermum scoparium), and strawberry tree (Arbutus unedo). The last two are among our finest slow-growing, drought-resistant plants that can be grown as shrubs and eventually become small trees. Both develop interestingly shaped trunks.

Strawberry tree bears its flowers and colorful fruit now. (The fruit is edible but not flavorful.) There are striking dwarf forms that grow naturally into eye-catching shapes.

Did You Know...

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The rose is a symbol of love, hope, joy, passion, remembrance, and condolence. No flower has been the subject of sonnets, 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 US, 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 bush? There may be no meaning in the language of roses for a rose bush but in the language of gardeners, it's surely a gift of love!

Keeping Houseplants Healthy in Winter

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Keeping your houseplants healthy during winter months may seem difficult. Light from windows is reduced, days are shorter and humidity may be lower due to heating. But by making a few changes, you can help keep your houseplants healthy.

Keeping things light

In winter, your plants receive sunlight for less time and in less intensity. Houseplants native to rainforests that are used to lower light will be fine with that, but most plants need more light. Try to move your plants near a brighter window (S/SW exposure) to get them more sunlight.

If you have no brighter windows (due to shade trees or apartment living), you might want to consider the purchase of plant lamps that are designed to provide the full spectrum light your plants need. They can be mounted under shelves over plants or on specially-designed plant stands. Leave them on about eight hours a day, and they'll give your plants the light they need.

You can also use cool fluorescent bulbs as close as 6 inches from the top of plants.

Temperature

Most plants do not do well when subjected to rapid fluctuations in temperature. Keep them away from hot air sources and cold drafts alike. Run ceiling fans on low if the house is closed up. Fans break up stagnant air; that's healthier for both you and your plants.

Humidity

Some symptoms of low humidity are brown leaf tips and wilting. Low humidity makes your plants work harder to get moisture from the air and soil, as well as keep what they have inside.

One way to give your plants some extra humidity is to mist them two or three times a day. The water will evaporate off the leaves and provide a cloud of higher humidity around the plant. For a less labor-intensive method, put a layer of pebbles in the bottom of a tray and fill the tray with just enough water to cover the bottom of the tray (below the top of the pebbles). Place potted plants in the tray.

Other

Fertilizing should be done less often for most plants in winter.

Give your plants a good washing. Dirt, dust, grease, and other particles can settle on leaves. Dirty leaves can't absorb as much sunlight as clean ones. Gently wipe clean the leaves with a soft sponge or cloth dipped in plain water. Sturdier plants can even be given a quick shower in the bathroom with tepid water.

Care for Avocado Trees

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A mature avocado tree needs to have at least two pounds of nitrogen a year and varying amounts of other nutrients such as phosphorus and zinc. For the home gardener, the easiest way to feed your avocado is to use a mixed fertilizer specifically recommended for citrus and avocados that contains nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and zinc . Be sure to follow the package directions.

Click here for liquid fertilizer rates and here for dry fertilizer rates.

In coastal zones, gardeners should divide the amount of fertilizer for the year into five equal applications and give one feeding each month from February through June. Interior gardeners should divide the total amount into four monthly applications and give one feeding per month from March through June. With slow-release fertilizers you can divide the fertilizer into two equal doses. Give the first dose early this month if you live along the coast, late this month if you live inland, and give the second dose in June.

If you choose to go with single-use fertilizers, you can feed avocados by spreading 25 pounds of aged chicken manure under each mature tree in February. Beginning in March, give each tree one trowelful each of blood meal and bone meal every six weeks, through August. If the mulch is very thick, rake it off, sprinkle the food underneath, then replace the mulch on top.

The main things an avocado desires are rich soil, excellent drainage, and a thick layer of mulch over the roots. Allow the leaves that fall to remain under the tree; don't rake them up. (Avocados are best planted at the back of the garden where their large leaves won't look too messy.) Add additional mulch to young trees.

Remember, never cultivate or dig under avocado trees, because that would damage the roots and all your fruit might fall off. It's best not to grow anything under an avocado tree, especially if that something needs frequent irrigation. Wet soil promotes root rot of avocado.

Click here for irrigation rates.

Recipe of the Week: Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup

Chef Mr. Grecipe image

What You'll Need:

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 can (4-oz) chopped mild green chiles, drained
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cans (15-oz each) diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
  • 4 corn tortillas, sliced into 1/4-inch strips
  • 1/2 cup shredded Monterey jack cheese
  • 1 avocado, peeled, diced and tossed with lime to prevent browning (optional)
  • Juice of 1 lime (optional)

Step by Step:

Place chicken in slow cooker

Combine the chiles, garlic, onion, tomatoes, chicken broth and cumin in a small bowl. Pour mixture over chicken.

Cover and cook on HIGH for 3 hours or on LOW for 6 hours until chicken is tender. Remove chicken; use 2 forks to shred the meat and return to slow cooker. Adjust seasonings.

Just before serving, add tortillas and cilantro to slow cooker. Stir to blend. Serve in soup bowls topped with shredded Monterey Jack cheese.

If desired, top each serving with diced avocado and a squeeze of lime juice.

Yield: 6 servings

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