Quotation of the Week:
"When gardeners garden, it is not just plants that grow, but the
— Ken Druse
Manager's Corner - March 2007
Weeds, weeds, weeds! What is a weed? A weed is any
plant growing out of place. A beautiful flower growing
out of place is therefore considered a weed. These weeds are
known as a grass or a broadleaf. Not only are weeds unsightly
and a nuisance but they attract harmful insects which can eventually
attack other plants.
Weed identification and Photo Gallery From the University of California, Agriculture & Natural Resources
The season for weed control never ends! Weed control is an
ongoing process that affects most everyone. Weeds that grow
in the spring are different from weeds that grow in the summer.
Summer weeds are different from fall weeds, which are different
from winter weeds. New and different weeds are growing all
year long, which cause yearlong problems. Click
here to read more...
Among the most beautiful of all flowers, calla lilies originally came from
the West Indies and South America. They are a favorite of florists and
those who like to plant a cutting bed, as they make excellent cut flowers.
The dwarf varieties look great in containers. The larger varieties can
put on quite a show planted as a focal point behind lower-growing flowers,
or massed to create a large color grouping.
They prefer full sun to partial shade, with a moist, fertile, well-draining soil. They are a good choice for a damp spot in the yard where plants used to drier conditions are overwatered, but they don't like standing water. Make sure they don't dry out while they are blooming.
After blooming has finished, don't cut the healthy foliage off; it will gather energy and nutrients to store for the next blooming season. Leaves may be removed when they yellow.
Pest of the Month - Aphids
Aphids are small, soft-bodied insects with long, slender mouth parts
that they use to pierce stems, leaves, and other tender plant parts and
suck out plant fluids. Almost every plant has one or more aphid species
that occasionally feeds on it. Many aphid species are difficult to distinguish;
however, identification to species is not necessary to control them in
To read more:
The 2007 roses are here. This month they will begin that first bloom. And all of you rose lovers know what that first bloom is: blossoms with wonderful color and fragrance! For those of you who were waiting to select a new rose shrub until you could see the actual flower, this will be the month to stop by the garden center and stroll through the roses!
Did you know that azaleas and camellias are best planted while blooming? They began their blooming in February, so March is right in the middle of their blooming season. DON'T feed your camellias until they have completed their blooming! If you do, they will drop all remaining buds and you will be so very unhappy, thinking that you killed your shrub. Fertilize to reward the plant AFTER the blooming ends.
Spring color plants are arriving daily! Color up your gardens with perennials and annuals. Look for perennials such as campanula, columbine, coral bells, delphinium, foxglove (digitalis), diascia, penstemon, salvia, yarrow and so much more. Great annuals to pick from include celosia, coleus, dianthus, linaria, lobelia, marigolds, nicotiana, petunias, salvias, and verbena.
There is still time for planting bulbs! Tuberous begonias, caladium, calla, canna, dahlia, gladiolus, nerine, tigridia and many more are available.
Spring is a good time for planting many of our native plants. If you are in a region that still anticipates some frost, hold off until you are sure the frosty nights and mornings are finished. Think of how you are contributing to water saving if you have a garden of native plants, or even just a portion of your garden with water-wise plants.
Ladies and gentlemen: Start your vegetable gardens! Such veggies as the cabbage family (cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli), squash, lettuce, Swiss chard, peppers, and cool season tomatoes are here. This is also a good time not only to prune back herbs from last year, but also add in new plants such as chives, parsley, rosemary, sage, tarragon, and thyme.
Fertilize your lawns with Best Triple 15.
Fertilize your roses with Dr. Earth Rose & Flower.
Snails will be out to munch on tender, new growth. Time to purchase your favorite snail bait.
Now is the time to divide perennials such as agapanthus, callas, daylilies, rudbeckia, and daisies. Those with fuchsias can cut them back two-thirds toward the main branches. Remember to leave 2-5 leaf bud/scars for new growth.
You can begin pruning your ornamental shrubs (pittosporum, boxwood, etc.) for hedges. Wait to prune spring flowering shrubs and trees until their blooming is over.
Now is the time to apply a pre-emergent grass and weed prevention product on all of your garden beds. Following the application of the pre-emergent, re-mulching will be important.
Mulch, Mulch, and Mulch More!
We often tell you to mulch. This does not mean we want you to mound the mulch up 5 feet. It means you should continue to replenish your mulch and maintain a 2-4 inch blanket over your soil. So when you hear us singing the 'mulch' song, you'll know just what we mean!
Oxalis is variously known as wood sorrel, shamrock, woodland groundcover, hanging basket plant, container plant, shade plant, sun plant, but also as a noxious, invasive weed. Wow, how can one plant have so many descriptors? It happens because Oxalis, or Oxalidaceae, is a plant family with over 800 varieties around the world. Any family with that many members is going to have relatives that no one likes. For example, the Oxalis pescaprae and Oxalis corniculata members - both are known as highly invasive weeds in our yards and gardens.
We are not writing about the nasty relatives that you see in the picture below.
We want you to learn about the wonderful family members; there are many that we think you would love to have in your containers or hanging baskets! Many have beautiful foliage and flowers - they look wonderful in hanging baskets, containers, or as a groundcover.
Did we mention shamrocks? Yes, but did you know that there are a number of plants sold as "shamrocks" at St. Patrick's Day? You may see Oxalis acetosella, but the Oxalis regnellii is the plant that most reminds us of the commercialized "shamrock." Below are three examples of Oxalis regnellii. All have the three-leaflet leaf pattern, which is symbolic of the Trinity. They are from South America and do well in our area.
Oxalis regnellii likes cool air and moist soil. Bright indirect light is best, but they will grow in lower light levels. Fertilize weekly while they are growing with a balanced fertilizer. From time to time, the foliage will begin to fade. Shamrocks are bulbs, and the plant is asking for a dormant period. During that time, restrict all watering. As with any bulb, let the leaves die back naturally. Do not remove any leaves until they are brown. Let the bulbs stay dormant for 3 to 4 weeks, then water and fertilize. In most indoor-grown shamrocks, this dormant period occurs 2 to 3 times a year.
Now do you see what we mean about the range of characteristics in the oxalis plant family? Just keep this in mind when you go in search of the perfect oxalis or shamrock: all oxalis are created equal...but some are more equal than others.
Poppies have been getting a lot of press lately, aka bad press. - More likely under the title “Afghanistan, Opium, and Terrorists.” That’s right. Opium is derived from the opium poppy, a beautiful poppy in an ornamental sort of way.
But did you know if you walk into our garden center and simply ask “Do you have any poppies?” that we will, in all likelihood, ask you the following question: “What kind of poppy are you looking for?”
That’s right, there are many different flowers that are called poppies. And they are from several different plant genera. Just look at the list below:
• Eschscholzia californica, California poppy
• Romneya coulteri,Matilija poppy
• Papaver nudicaule Iceland Poppy
• Papaver orientale, Ornamental Poppy
• Papaver somniferum, opium poppy
There is yet another poppy, the Flanders Poppy (Papaver rhoeas). This red flower that sprang up in the soil of European battlefields of WWI. Now this poppy is a commemorative flower for the casualties of that war.
The genus Papaver is the true poppy. The Papaver orientale is the species and hybrids that we most commonly see, especially in wildflower mixes. Though it was originally this scarlet red, hybrids give us colors from white to pink, salmon and maroon. The four purple blotches seem more like a smiling face amidst soft papery petals in several brilliant colors.
And then, of course, there is the Iceland Poppy (papaver nudicaule). This poppy loves the cool to cold weather, not the hot summer sun. These poppies devote their energy to bringing sun-shiny colors to an otherwise quiet, dull garden. They are most beautiful dancing above the pansy. Can’t you just picture this? We're here--let us help!
The Iceland poppy is available in flats or 6-packs. Don’t they make an absolutely striking border? You bet they do. Just remember to first amend your soil with Gardner & Bloome Soil Building Compost soil amendment.
Eschscholzia californica or the California poppy is a native wildflower--a vivid orange and easily grown from seeds. Seeds should have been planted in November/December (in western zones) but they can also be found in 6-packs. These poppies require little to no care and yet they reward you with abounding color. These wonderful poppies, if you leave the seeds to dry out on the plant, will reseed your gardens! You will probably end up with multiple crops of poppies from late spring into summer and fall.
And finally the Matilija (Ma-TILL-eee-ha) Poppy. What a spectacular poppy! This plant is actually more shrubby than the other poppies, as it can grow to 8 feet when really happy. It bears showy white flowers that are aptly described as ‘fried eggs.’ Take a look and you’ll see what we mean! This is also a native of California.
These flowers are sure to attract bees, butterflies and birds into your gardens. They bloom from spring into fall and have average water needs (don’t overwater). Because they originate in the California coastal scrub in dry washes and canyons, they are not accustomed to lots of water in their native habitat. But they are garden friendly. If you have clay soil, don’t let it get too wet for this guy. If you have sandy, well draining soil, regular water will suit this poppy just fine.
So you have the brief insider information on poppies. Now when you stroll into a garden center you'll know what kind of poppies to ask for.
It's a Great Day to Put Up a Bluebird Box!
By Carol Killebrew
Last spring my husband and I watched a pair of Western Bluebirds raise
a family in a nestbox we put up near our kitchen window. Observing the
wing waves and listening to the vocalizations of the male during courtship
was great fun. So was all the nest building by the female. And later we
enjoyed watching the fledglings and their parents frolic in the birdbath
and forage for insects.
Over much of its range the Western Bluebird is in decline, apparently
as a result of loss of nest cavities to development, and from competition
for cavities from House Sparrows. And everyone who puts up a bluebird
nestbox or two assists in the California Bluebird Recovery Program. Won’t
you join us in welcoming these delightful songbirds into your backyard?
If you’d like to get started with bluebirds, you can find all the
bluebird basics at “Bluebirds of San Diego County”, on the
web at http://home.netcom.com/~bluebirds/.
You’ll find information about Western Bluebirds, nestboxes, site
location, water and food, nesting behavior, predators and pests, monitoring,
bluebird resources, abandoned bluebirds, the California bluebird Recovery
Program, and more.
Whether your bulbs flower at Christmas, or on any particular date, depends partly on if you used prepared bulbs in the first place. However, timing also depends on how cold you kept the bulbs and at what point you bring them out from their resting place into light and warmth.
Check bowls of bulbs plunged outdoors beneath sand, peat or grit used to keep them cool and dark while roots develop. If the shoots are about 1 inch high, it’s time to bring them indoors.
If you have kept bulbs in a cool, dark place indoors, in a cupboard or loft, check these periodically, too. Bring them into the light when the shoots are 1-2 inches tall.
Wipe the container clean if it has been plunged outdoors, then place in a light but cool position indoors or in a conservatory. Only put in a warm place once the buds have emerged and are beginning to show color, else the stems may be too long and weak.
If you sow grass seed on the surface as soon as you bring the bulbs into the light, you should have an attractive carpet of grass by the time they flower.
Just before the bulbs come into full flower, cut the grass to a height of about 1-2 inches, to make it look even and neat.
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Irrigation recognizes Grangetto’s as a dealer that demonstrates
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Grangetto’s personally thanks John Roberts, Paul McFadden, all of
Roberts Irrigation and
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Fertilize permanent plantings. Most ornamental trees, bushes, lawns and
ground covers respond well to fertilizer at this time. In good years abundant
spring rains green up the hillsides and bring out wildflowers, gardeners
don't have to water as much, and salts are leached out of our soils. But
heavy rains also wash soluble nutrients, especially nitrogen, down to lower
levels, sometimes out of reach of roots. So fertilize the basic landscape
with a complete granulated fertilizer high in nitrogen. If you have a straggly
ground cover that's never quite covered the ground, a sprinkling of granulated
fertilizer in early March will do wonders. Water it in thoroughly or apply
it when the weatherman says we're going to have rain.
This doesn't mean you should simply fertilize everything in sight. Many
plants fall into the broad category of specialty plants because they require
special handling. Some specialty plants, including cacti, succulents,
and native plants, have little or no need for fertilizer. Others, such
as camellias, azaleas, begonias, fuchsias, ferns, orchids, epiphyllums,
roses, fruit trees, and vegetables have unique requirements. Follow the
directions for them in this and other monthly chapters.
There are other exceptions, too. Old over-grown gardens in rich soil
sometimes become virtual jungles feeding on their own refuse. To fertilize
such a garden when there's no sign of nitrogen deficiency, such as stunted
growth, yellow leaves, or disease, may simply contribute to more growth,
requiring constant pruning; and such invasive plants as blue gum eucalyptus
and old stands of Algerian ivy, once established, make one wish one had
never planted them. Feeding them would make them more rampant.
Plant new permanent specimens. March is one of the two best times of
year to plant almost anything we grow in the permanent landscape, such
as trees, shrubs, vines, and ground covers. The other is October. Planting
in fall is traditionally considered to be just a bit better than planting
in spring, but after a year or two you'll never know the difference. Now
through mid-June is the time to look your garden over, see its strengths
and weaknesses, replace troublemakers you don't like, and add permanent
specimens where needed. Choose drought-tolerant plants over heavy water
users. Be sure to group plants according to their needs for water, for
sun or shade, and for soil type. Before purchasing any plant, research
its requirements and growth habit.
Planning a Vegetable Garden
Vegetable gardens are so satisfying and rewarding. Consider what your very
favorite vegetables, fruits or herbs are, and then imagine how exciting it would
be to just step out the door of your home to harvest them fresh for your meals
of the day! Not only is this instant satisfaction, but you'll enjoy the very
best flavors--nothing bought in the supermarket can compare. As an added plus,
you can proudly announce to guests, "Oh yes, these were from my garden."
Follow these steps. It's simple.
1. Pick a sunny location, free of grass (or "free it" from the grass!):
Some veggies can tolerate shade. Try garlic, onions, chives, basil, and broccoli
in shady areas.
2. In-Ground or Raised Bed:
Decide whether you will be planting in the ground or in a raised bed. Obviously,
if you pick the raised bed, there will be additional preparation if the boxes
haven't been made yet.
3. Soil preparation:
Determine whether your soil is predominantly sand or clay. If you are
lucky, it will be a nice loam, but don't count on that. Chances are, your
soil isn't a loam. You will want to supplement the native soil with a
composting product, John & Bob’s Soil building compost, together with a good planting mix, like Gardner & Bloome Soil Building Compost.
Roto-till or good old-fashioned shovel in these amendments and level out
4. Design for Access and Convenience:
on the size of your vegetable garden, you will need to consider how to access
it for feeding, weeding, and harvesting. Perhaps it is narrow (up to 3 feet),
in which case you can reach from the garden bed edge without a problem for these
chores. If your garden is wider than this, plan a way to access your
plants without trampling them and compacting your soil around the plants. This
may mean a stepping stone path through the middle, or small paths to otherwise
5. Plant selection:
Plant selection ties into #6 below. Presumably you've already got an idea of what you want to grow. Think about your vegetable garden's ultimate size, shape and support needs when designing plant placement. Tomatoes and pole green beans need support structures. They should be placed more toward the back of your garden, so they don't shade your smaller/shorter vegetables and herbs. Carefully consider the ultimate plant size for space considerations. They are little when planting, but some veggies get very large. They'll need the space and airflow.
6. Companion Planting--the technique of combining two plants for a particular purpose:
Books have been written on this very topic, and we cannot begin to cover all the issues in this one article. But we think that you’re getting the idea. There are many things to consider when starting your vegetable garden this season. Companion planting is an important one.
You have choices here: regular chemical fertilizer (liquid or slow-release) or
organic fertilizerlike Dr. Earth Tomato, Vegetable & Herb Fertilizer. Remember when choosing fertilizers
that you are ultimately planning to eat these vegetables.
8. Pest Management--get your pinching fingers ready, or your garden hose:
Again, remember that you plan to eat these vegetables, so your choices
on pest control are limited. Also, you need insect pollinators for fruit/vegetable
production, so bees and other pollinators are important for your vegetable
garden. If you must spray the pest insects, Dr. Earth Fruit & Vegetable Insect Spray a year-round
spray oil is a safe remedy. You should pick a time of day with minimal
bee activity and carefully follow the product instructions.
9. Mulch, Mulch, Mulch--for weed control and good moisture retention:
Throughout the growing season, water and periodically fertilize; keep weeds down
to eliminate plant space competition. Have fun watching your vegetables and herbs
grow. If you do grow any vegetables from the legume family, such as green beans,
these plants add nitrogen back to the soil. What a plus! At the end of the season,
instead of ripping the plants up, roots and all, leave the roots behind. It's
good for your soil!
Recipe of the Month: Corned Beef and Cabbage
3-pound corned beef brisket (uncooked), in brine
16 cups cold water
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons black peppercorns
4 whole allspice berries
2 whole cloves
1/2 large head green cabbage (about 2 pounds), cut into 8 thick wedges
8 small new potatoes (about 1 1/4 pounds), halved
Freshly ground black pepper
Serving suggestion: Whole-grain mustard or HORSERADISH SAUCE, recipe follows.
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
Place the corned beef in a colander in the sink and rinse well under cold
Place the corned beef in a large Dutch oven with a tight-fitting lid;
add the water, bay leaves, peppercorns, allspice, and cloves. Bring to
a boil, uncovered, and skim off any scum that rises to the surface. Cover
and transfer pan to the oven, and braise until very tender, about 3 hours
and 45 minutes.
Transfer the corned beef to a cutting board and cover tightly with foil
to keep warm. Add the cabbage and potatoes to the cooking liquid and bring
to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer until the vegetables are tender,
about 20 minutes.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer the cabbage to a large platter. Slice
the corned beef across the grain of the meat into thin slices. Lay the
slices over the cabbage and surround it with the potatoes. Ladle some
of the hot cooking liquid over the corned beef and season with pepper.
Serve immediately with the mustard or horseradish sauce.
3/4 cup mayonnaise
3/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons jarred grated horseradish (with liquid)
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 teaspoons kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
In a small bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, sour cream, horseradish,
zest, and 2 teaspoons salt. Season with pepper to taste. Refrigerate the
horseradish sauce for at least 30 minutes before serving.
Yield: about 1 3/4 cups
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'See you next month!'