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Edition 7.18
May 2007

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Fertilize both cool season (fescue) and warm season (bermuda & St. Augustine) lawns using Turf Supreme 16-6-8. Lawns should be fertilized every 4-6 weeks.

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Plant Pest Control : Green Light Horticultural Oil Bayer Tree and Shrub Granules
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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:

"I believe that gardens themselves are very healing. To be surrounded by the exquisite beauty of nature is to experience a healing of the soul."

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Manager's Corner - May 2007

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Fescue, Southern California's first choice.

When most homeowners think of a garden, they often visualize a lush green lawn surrounded by a variety of foliage. In California, the image of this lawn may also conjure up thoughts about high water usage and a great deal of regular maintenance. In fact, many locals have given up their lawns entirely, believing that it is an inefficient means of filling up a garden area.

Until recently, this was true because Bluegrass was the standard ingredient of sod. Bluegrass, which is plentiful in southern states where precipitation is high, is valued for its thin blades and dark green color. It is a beautiful sod and richly accents any garden. But, here in California, Bluegrass does not make a lot of sense.

Luckily, there is an alternative. Turf growers are constantly breeding new grass mixtures which provide the beauty of Bluegrass, but that are also able to thrive in our drought-infected climate. Fescue is the sod of the 90's, and most California sod is now a Fescue blend. Fescue is tougher than Bluegrass, and requires less water and maintenance in order to thrive.

Fescue's 3-6 foot roots enable it to access water which has sunk deep down in the soil from previous rains; Bluegrass roots only grow up to one foot long. Fescues will still require a good overall watering every 3-5 days, depending upon climate conditions. However, during a drought this grass is bred to survive a long time.

In addition to being drought-tolerant, Fescue grasses are tougher and wear better than other locally grown grasses. Fescues use less water (25-40% less water than does Bluegrass), are disease resistant, and require less overall maintenance than most other grasses.

Grangetto's Tall FescueHere at Grangetto's we stock a wide variety of Fescue, both tall and dwarf, for the desired look and location. Sod can be ordered and delivered right to your home. Come in and see us about your needs!

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Pest of the Month - Scale

Scales are bark, branch, leaf, stem, and fruit pests. Hmm, that's just about everything but the flower! These little pests look like crusty or brown rounded bumps on your plants. They are like barnacles. Unless they have accumulated in numbers, they may be entirely missed.

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Scales are “suckers” like aphids and mealybugs. They are less mobile than the latter, however, and spend much of their lives in one spot. Their excrement is like the honeydew of aphids, and that sugary substance is an excellent growth medium for black sooty mold. If your plant has sooty mold, chances are you have an infestation.

Damage to your plant from scales is minimal in the long run (unless there is a huge infestation). But they are unattractive to your plant.

Article PictureYou can flick them off with your thumbnail, or alternatively, you can clean your plant with strong blasts of water and knock these “stem potatoes” right off. Because they have a sucking mouthpart and are generally immobile, they won't be back anytime soon. And, if they had that mouthpart stuck into your plant at the time of detachment, it will break off, and the little brown scale can no longer eat.

Article PictureScales have natural predators too. Lacewing larvae, predaceous beetles and microscopic parasitic wasps all control the scale population. The beneficial wasp pierces the hard shell and lays eggs within the scale – thus the name parasitic. If you see a scale with a hole on its shell, it has already been attacked by one of these wasps. This parasitic outcome is also true for aphids.

Word to the wise gardener: keep your plants healthy with correct watering, fertilizers and mulch. A healthy plant can better combat any annoying insect.

May Is The Time To...

1. Plant irises, canned roses, tropicals and tuberoses.
2. Transplant potted bulbs into the ground.
3. Replace cool-season bedding flowers with summer-season flowers.
4. Plant zinnias and other heat loving flowers.
5. Plant morning glories.
6. Plant warm-season lawns.
7. Continue to plant summer vegetables.
8. Replace parsley if you haven’t already done so.
9. Plant a giant pumpkin for Halloween.
10. Purchase, plant, and transplant succulents, including cacti and euphorbias.
11. Stop pinching fuchsias if you did not do so last month.
12. Thin out fruit on deciduous fruit trees.
13. Pinch dahlias back when the plant has three sets of leaves; tie the plant up as it grows.
14. Continue to pick and deadhead roses.
15. Divide and repot cymbidiums that have outgrown their containers.
16. Cut off bloom spikes from cymbidiums after flowers fade.
17. Prune camellias if you have not already done so.
18. Clean and prune azaleas.
19. Divide and mount staghorn ferns.
20. Prune winter- and spring-flowering vines, shrubs, trees and ground covers after they finish blooming.
21. Continue to tie up and sucker tomatoes.
22. Remove berries (seed pods) from fuchsias after flowers fall.
23. Pinch back petunias when you plant them.
24. Continue to prune and train espaliers.
25. Feed citrus trees, avocado trees.
26. Feed fuchsias, azaleas, tuberous begonias, water lilies.
27. Feed roses, ferns, flower beds, camellias after they bloom.
28. Fertilize lawns.
29. Side-dress vegetable rows with fertilizer.
30. Feed all container-grown succulents with a well-diluted complete liquid fertilizer.
31. Fertilize peppers when flowers first show.
32. As the weather becomes drier water all garden plants regularly.
33. Taper off watering those California native plants that do not accept summer water.
34. Water roses, cymbidiums, and vegetables.
35. Do not water succulents.
36. Control rose pests and diseases.
37. Spray junipers and Italian cypress for juniper moths.
38. Control mildew.
39. Control pests on vegetables.
40. Control weeds among permanent plants by mulching or cultivating.
41. Control weeds among vegetables and flowers by hand-pulling.
42. Keep bamboo from running into your neighbor’s garden.
43. Harvest vegetables regularly.
44. If you finish this work-list over the weekend, drop by the store and we will give you an expanded version.

Diaprepes Protocol for Nurseries Workshop

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Plant Tuberoses

If you're especially fond of fragrant plants, try planting tuberoses (Polianthes tuberosa) - known in Hawaii as lei flowers - in early May. Choose tubers with a green growth tip and place them so that the tips are level with the soil surface, 6 inches apart, in acid, well-drained soil in pots or the ground. Choose a warm spot: in full sun along the coast or slightly shaded but with reflected heat inland. Water them and wait for a sprout to appear, then water often and well. Feed them monthly with an acid fertilizer for bloom and growth. The heavily scented white flowers will appear in August or September. After the plants die down, you can leave the tubers in the ground, though if you do, sometimes they'll skip a year before repeating bloom. To ensure results, lift them and store in perlite until next May.

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The Unwanted Trio: Powdery mildew, rust, and blackspot. For rose growers, these three characters are hard for us to avoid. Morning and evening air moisture will get us every time, no matter how careful we are about giving our plants the best cultural environment that we can. Oh sure, there are others! But we'll start with these three guys.

Powdery mildew appears as a superficial white or gray powdery substance over the surface of leaves, stems, flowers, or fruit of affected plants. These patches may enlarge until they cover the entire leaf on one or both sides. Young foliage and shoots may be particularly susceptible. Leaf curling and twisting may also occur with this fungus. Severe powdery mildew infection will result in yellowed leaves, dried and brown leaves, and disfigured shoots and flowers. Although it usually is not a fatal disease, powdery mildew may hasten plant defoliation and the infected plant may become extremely unsightly. On roses, uncontrolled powdery mildew will prevent normal flowering on highly susceptible cultivars.

Some powdery mildew, especially those on roses, are favored by high humidity. This can happen in our gardens when we have plant overcrowding and shading will keep plants cool and promote higher humidity. These conditions are highly conducive to powdery mildew development.

Rust is another fungus presenting problems in our gardens. It first appears on the undersides of leaves and other plant parts as orange powdery "pustules". As these pustules develop, they become visible on the upper leaf surfaces as orange brown spots. Rust can develop when temperatures are 65 to 70 F, and moisture is continuous for two to three hours.

It is very important to remove and destroy the infected foliage containing rust. Wear gloves that can be washed afterwards and clean any tools used in the removal. This fungus is easy to spread. That is why it is important to also clean up any foliage that has fallen to the ground under the infected plant. Replace any mulch present with new mulch. Don't try to "wash" the rust away from the foliage! This will only help it to spread further in your garden.

Blackspot , also a fungus, appears like its name. It also develops during warm but wet weather. Unfortunately, it can overwinter in the leaf buds and canes or on fallen leaves not cleared away from your roses. Lots of sun, good air circulation and healthy soil will increase your rose plant resistance capabilities. As with rust, it is very important to remove and clean up infected foliage. Remember to clean your tools between cutting on infected plants.

Bayer Before using fungicides you should attempt to limit powdery mildew and rust by following good cultural practices.

  • Purchase only top-quality, disease-free plants of resistant cultivars and species - we sell only the best.
  • Prune out diseased terminals of woody plants, such as rose during the normal pruning period. All dead wood should be removed. Remove from the surrounding soil all dead leaves that might harbor the fungus.
  • Keep plants healthy. Plant where the plants will obtain a minimum of 6 hours of sunlight daily (especially roses), space for good air circulation.
  • Water thoroughly without over-watering. Don't use overhead watering/sprinklers, which wet the foliage. Don't water in the late afternoon or evening when the foliage will not have time to dry.

Fungicides may become necessary to achieve acceptable control. For best results with fungicides, spray programs must begin as soon as mildews are detected. Ask one of us which of the fungicide products are best suited for your needs. There is a range of products available on our shelves.

Attracting Barn Owls


By Carol Killebrew

Barn owls are shy and live by night, but they don't seem to mind living around human activity. So if you have some open space, there's a good chance you can encourage some barn owls to nest in your yard. An adult barn owl will typically eat 2-3 rodents a night. And a family of owls can increase that to about 10. So that translates to more than 2,000 rodents per year.

Barn owls do like to live in barns, as well as in hollow trees and palms. The best way to attract barn owls to your yard is to build a plywood barn owl nestbox. The box should be mounted 15 to 20 feet high on a pole or in a large tree facing north or east. Barn owls require no nesting material in the box; they just lay their eggs on the floor. It may take up to two years for barn owls to move in, but once they've discovered the box, it will often be used year after year.

For more information and a free barn owl nestbox plan, visit:

Getting started: Organic Gardening

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Organic foods are basically foods that are grown without any chemicals or pesticides added, and that are grown only with substances found in nature. These foods are very popular with men and women who want to eat healthfully or support the environment in general. Public interest in organic food has grown in recent years, going from the shelves at GNC to the shelves of many public supermarkets — and now, to your garden.

The interest in organic foods has grown since NBC stated that every year, 9,000 people die of food-related illnesses in the US alone. Since then, the organic food industry has grown tremendously, now selling $10 billion worth of natural foods each year.

Interested in your own organic garden? Here's how to get started:

Dr. Earth
  • For eventual use as fertilizer and mulch, make your own compost pile for recycling dead plant material, including that from your kitchen. (Do not use material from diseased or pest-infested plants.)
  • Use natural fertilizers instead of ones made of manufactured chemicals.
  • Instead of using chemicals to defend your plants, use other gardening techniques to prevent your plant from getting diseases or pests. Ask us for organic tips to keep your plants growing healthy.
  • Instead of using weed killer, use a weed-pulling tool to pull the weeds. Use thick mulch to help keep weeds down.

We have an extensive line of organic products to help you. Come and see us!

Grangetto's Store Clinics

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You CAN (and Should) Grow Lavender


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by Tamara Galbraith

I've heard it a million times: "I can't grow lavender."

The problem most gardeners have is drainage. Growing lavender gives new meaning to the oft-heard phrase "needs well-drained soil." With lavender, they ain't kiddin'.

Given that fact, only young, small lavender plants do well in a container. In general, lavender will do best in the ground, as long as the soil is — you guessed it — well draining. My personal trick is three-fold:

All of these steps ensure that the all-important excellent drainage requirements are met. Once established, lavender plants are quite drought tolerant and relatively care-free.

Ok, so now that you're an expert at growing lavender...what do you do with it? Well, we all know the fragrance of most lavender cultivars is to die for; it's easy to collect and dry the spent flowers and make your own sachets. The fragrance of lavender is believed to relieve headaches, so try sprinkling some of the flowers in your next hot bath.

Lavender is also an essential part of Herbes de Provence, a spice/herb mixture used for everything from salads to meat rubs. And if you find lavender-flavored honey for sale - buy it. Believe me, you'll never want to put anything else on an English muffin again.

Spring Sprinkler Tune-Up


Pillows of Pink and Purple Hydrangeas

By Phil Adikes

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Hydrangeas are flowering shrubs that are easy to grow and can provide color in the garden from mid-summer through fall. They are used as specimen plants and in shrub borders. The flowers of some species can be dried and used in flower arranging and crafts.

The name comes from the Greek "hydra," meaning "water" and "angeon," meaning "vessel," referring to the plant's preference for moisture and to the shape of the seed capsule.

Hydrangeas were first introduced by Sir Joseph Banks from a Chinese garden in 1739. The birth flower of June, they're almost always blooming then.

Bigleaf Hydrangea ( Hydrangea macrophylla ) is the most commonly planted kind, and the one with the largest and most show-stopping blooms.

Bigleaf Hydrangeas prefer partial shade. Morning sun and afternoon shade is perfect in inland areas, while on the coast, no shade is required. Give them moist, well-drained soil. Avoid planting hydrangeas on hot, dry, exposed sites.

Pruning Hydrangeas
Bigleaf hydrangeas form their flower buds in late summer for the following year, so pruning in late summer, fall and winter will remove potential flowers.

Prune bigleaf hydrangeas when the flower heads begin to fade. Prune off the flower heads and snip back other shoots to encourage branching and fullness. For a dwarfing effect, prune hard back to the double buds forming on either side of the stem near the base of the plant.

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Choosing Colors
Hydrangeas are fascinating in that, unlike most other plants, the color of their flowers can change dramatically.

It would be nice if one could change the color of hydrangeas as easily as it changes in this little picture, but it is NOT easy. The people who have the most control over the color of their hydrangeas are those who grow them in containers. It is much easier to control or alter the pH of the soil in a container than it is in the ground.

On the other hand, hydrangeas often change color on their own when they are planted or transplanted. They are adjusting to the new environment. It is not unusual to see several different colors on one shrub the next year after planting. (They invariably shift toward the red end of the spectrum.)

Growmore BlueingIt is much easier to change a hydrangea from pink to blue than it is from blue to pink. Changing a hydrangea from pink to blue entails adding aluminum to the soil. Changing from blue to pink means subtracting aluminum from the soil or taking it out of reach of the hydrangea.

Old established hydrangeas may also be divided in the early spring, by digging them up and using a shovel to divide the clump, much as you would divide a perennial. This way, several plants can be obtained from one mature clump. Be sure to water the plants in very well, and keep watering all summer.

Here are some more resources on the Web:

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Peppers (Capiscum frutescens) are in the same group as the potato and tomato family (Solanaceae) which is also called Nightshade. The pepper is another one of our favorite vegetables that are natives of South America. It has been a part of the human diet in the Americas for thousands of years.

A bushy annual, the plant grows to from 1-4 feet tall and likes full sun but will tolerate part shade too. Regular water is necessary, along with a long, warm growing season to produce the most fruit. If your growing season is cool or short, try techniques that will increase the warmth around your plants such as clear plastic mulch. Steve Goto of Goto Nursery (Heirloom Tomatoes and Peppers) recommends mixing an acid plant (azalea, camellia, gardenia) planting mix with your native soil at planting time.

There are so many kinds of peppers - what is your fancy? They range from the classic bell peppers that can be green, red, yellow, orange or buff to Hot Hot Hot!

There are peppers for salads, peppers for stuffing, peppers for spices, peppers for pickling … on and on and on.

Hotness scales related to peppers reveal the amount of capsaicin, which is the source of that hotness, and truly can be scientifically measured. Bell peppers are rated at 0 SHU (SHU=measure of hotness), green chilies are 1500 SHU, jalapenos 3000-6000SHU and habaneros 300000 SHU. How could one even chew one tidbit of something that hot!! Great care must be taken when trying out a new, hot chile pepper.

To learn more about many different varieties, of peppers, check out this website:

Recipe of the Month: Stuffed Red Peppers

Chef Mr. GRecipe image

What you will need:

  • 1 1/2 pounds sweet Italian sausages, casings removed (can substitute chicken sausage)
  • 1 1/2 cups coarsely grated zucchini (about 1 large)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 1/3 cup minced fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup fine dry breadcrumbs
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
  • 4 medium-size red bell peppers (each about 4 to 6 ounces), halved lengthwise, seeded
  • Fresh rosemary sprigs

Preheat oven to 350°F. Cook sausage, drain. Combine next 8 ingredients in large bowl until well blended. Fill pepper halves with sausage mixture, dividing equally and mounding slightly. Arrange in 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking dish. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover; chill.)

Prick bottom of peppers prior to baking. Bake peppers uncovered until tops are browned. Garnish with rosemary sprigs and serve.


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