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Edition 7.36
September 2007

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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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Manager's Corner - September 2007

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preferred cardWe’re Pleased to Introduce the New Grangetto’s Preferred Customer Savings Card!  All of us at Grangetto's are very excited to share this new benefit with you, our Valued Customers!   This new program will allow us to provide you with fantastic features and benefits throughout the year. 

Here’s how it works: Next time you visit your local Grangetto’s Farm & Garden Supply store, simply sign up to receive your Preferred Customer Savings Card.  You will receive your card on the spot and be able to start using your benefits right away!  Benefits include:

  • 10% off on all discountable items
  • Receive our monthly E-mail Garden Newsletter containing coupons, advertised specials, gardening information, valuable information from some of the top vendors in the garden industry and much more.
  • Enjoy Preferred Customers Exclusive, timely new discounts and promotions throughout the year.

Here at Grangetto’s we are always trying to improve and enhance the features and benefits that we can offer to you.  This new benefit is a sure way to do just that!  So next time you stop by your local Grangetto’s store, don’t forget to ask for Your FREE Preferred Customer Savings Card to start saving today!

New at Grangetto’s, Fresh Organic Produce!  Introducing Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) from J.R. Organics!  J.R. Organics, growers of certified organic produce since 1986, has come up with a way to provide farm grown organic produce to you.

Read more about J.R. Organics

OrganicsWhat is Community Supported Agriculture?

CSA is a new idea in farming, developed in the U.S. in 1984 in response to concerns about food quality and the urbanization of agricultural land. By joining a CSA you have a voice on how your food is grown while helping to keep the family-run farm a part of the American landscape.

CSA consists of a community of individuals who pledge support of a farm operation by pre-paying a quarterly fee in exchange for a box of fresh, locally grown, organic produce. The produce is delivered weekly or bi-weekly and available for pick-up at any four Grangetto’s stores.

How Does CSA Work and What do You Get?

You decide you want to be a member and enjoy Farm Fresh Organic produce. Then visit any Grangetto’s Farm & Garden Supply store where you can learn more about this great program and pick up a brochure.

The contents of your box depend on the season and the elements. J.R. Organics assures you of eleven different items, all fresh, clean and plentiful. We work to give you a wide variety of seasonal, CCOF-Certified organically grown vegetable, fruits and herbs.

Sample Contents of the Box:

  • 4-Pak Lettuce
  • Organics
  • Variety of Dark Leafy Greens
  • Heirloom Tomatoes
  • Cucumbers
  • Dill
  • Cilantro
  • Melons
  • Avocados
  • Peaches
  • Apples
  • Oranges
  • Grapefruit And Much More…

All Farm Fresh & Certified Organic!

For more information contact Jonathan Mantilla at 760-805-2278.


If you are looking for a little color inside your home, try growing orchids as houseplants. Orchids are fascinating because of their extraordinary variety of sizes, colors, shapes, and habits, as well as their variety of fragrances. And best of all, orchids can be grown by just about anyone able to grow other houseplants. Different varieties bloom at different times of the year and can be combined to provide some type of bloom almost year-round.

Like any other houseplant, orchids require proper watering, feeding, light, temperatures, and humidity. Plants should be grown in an east, south, or west window, but should be protected from direct midday sun.

In nature, most orchids grow attached to trees, with the roots hanging loose in the tropical jungle air. They usually receive a good rain once a day and then they dry out. In the home, it is best to allow orchids to dry out well after each watering. If the roots are kept too wet, they may start to rot.

Orchids perform best when not fed during their bloom cycle. After blooming, feed at every watering throughout the growing (non-blooming) season.

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Who's your bud? Not the budworm. When the weather warms up, you can bet this pest is on its way. The budworm (a type of caterpillar/moth) is gunning for your geraniums, petunias, snapdragons, and other flowering plants. Knowing the budworm's diet, habits, and the effective control methods, you will be armed and ready for combat.

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It can be hard to spot budworms. They are very small and they tend to take on the color of the bloom or foliage they are infesting, further enhancing their camouflage. You will see irregular chewing on the blossoms and round holes through flower buds and leaves. The numerous black droppings they leave behind are one of the telltale signs. Many gardeners may not know they have a problem until the damage becomes severe.

Controlling this pest depends on the amount of planting. With a small patio of plants, physically removing and killing them should be effective. A larger yard would require spraying. Insecticides that contain Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) offer reasonably effective biological control. Because the Bt must be ingested by the insect to be effective, it may take a few days before you no longer see any signs of budworms. Plant sprays containing Sevin are also effective in controlling budworms.

Now that you know what to look for, and what to spray, you'll be armed and ready at the first sign of attack.

SpinosadMonterey Safer BT

 Small Space Trees

One of the most useful additions you can make in your garden is to plant a tree. A tree adds scale and structure to a garden and pulls together the various elements that create the overall look and feel. The tree's foliage throughout the seasons, and flowers when they are significant, will also add impact to your garden design.

Yet today, many gardens do not have the space for large spreading trees (along with their imposing trunks). But most of us have a small garden--or even a courtyard--that still can use a smaller tree to give balance to the landscape.

ProductSometimes gardening isn't limited by space, but by time and interest. If you love the idea of being surrounded by a garden, but you can't see yourself spending countless hours with a pruning shear in your hands, a wonderful option is to create a garden paradise on your patio or terrace in containers. And small trees will add balance and make a great addition to any patio collection. If you plant in containers, be sure to use a high-quality potting soil like Sunshine Pro Potting Soil for best results.

Small trees are sometimes called patio trees and are usually defined as slower-growing and ranging in height from six to fifteen feet. Most produce an incredible display of blooms at some time of the year, and have non-invasive roots as an added landscape benefit.

When selecting a patio tree, allow adequate width to keep walkways, entryways, driveways or buildings clear of overhanging branches. Many small trees, although short, can spread as much laterally as vertically.

 Plants in Motion

Do all of your garden plants look like statues or mounds? If your garden looks somewhat mundane and doesn't excite you anymore, it might be time to add a little motion to your garden. Plants that sway in the breeze not only soften the look of one's landscape, they also add movement that helps remove the stiffness of many background and foundation plants.

There are a number of ways that flexible plants can soften up the landscape. Some perennials like buddleia, daylilies, salvias and penstemon offer flowers on long stems that move in the wind. With other plants, such as grasses and fine-foliaged plants, the entire plant sways. Some trees also have foliage that not only moves but even shimmers in the wind.

The key to softening up your landscape is to strategically place these swaying beauties where their movement can be seen and enjoyed from many angles. The idea is to break up your landscape and use these plants as focal points to draw attention. Unless they are trees, never use these in the background, because their softening effect will be lost to the eye.

Even if you have shady areas you can still add character to your garden with plants such as ferns and heuchera when they bloom in spring and summer. There are many great plants that will add movement to your garden. Just click on this link to see pictures of some of our favorites. Gardens don't have to be boring, so add a little excitement to your landscape today!

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When it comes to incredible fragrance in the garden, nothing beats the fantastic aroma of gardenias. Coupled with bright green, super glossy foliage and an extended blooming cycle of luscious white flowers, you have a plant that offers outstanding attributes for the home landscape.

Gardenias are among our most grown plants, but they are also one of the least understood when it comes to culture. They are often put in the wrong spots, such as small, shady patios or excessively warm locations which can cause the buds to drop.

Dr. EarthThey prefer to be out in the open, not close to house walls where the nighttime temperatures can cool off more.

Gardenias need acid soil, good drainage, adequate moisture, full sun in cooler areas and part shade in warmer areas. They also need regular fertilizing for growth and flowers, with an acid-type product that contains trace elements to prevent chlorosis .

Gardenias come in all types of shapes and sizes, making them versatile for many garden locations. If you are tight on space, consider the miniature 'Radicans' (6"-12" H, 2'-3' W) or 'White Gem' (1'-2' H, 2'-3' W). If you have more space, 'Veitchii' makes a great selection, growing 3'-4' high and wide. For screening, you can use 'August Beauty,' 'First Love' and 'Mystery,' which grow 4'-5' high and 3'-4' wide.

There are also two great cold-hardy selections for more difficult climates. Both 'Klein's Hardy' (2'-3' high and wide) and 'Chuck Hayes' (3'-4' high and wide) can tolerate occasional winter temperatures of 0-10 degrees.

We stock a great selection of gardenias that will make a perfect addition to your garden, and our staff of nursery professionals will be happy to help you. So what are you waiting for? Come in and add some fragrance to your garden today!

Fireproofing Home Landscaping

There's no sure way to protect your home from a raging fire, but there are some things you can do to minimize the risk. If you live near the woods, next to native brush, take these steps to protect your property.

  • Keep the landscape close to your home well-watered. Don't grow flammable plants such as pine trees close to your home or allow them to overhang your roof. (Shrubs and trees with lush green leaves are recommended for green belts.)
  • Don't mound shrubbery close to your house. Shrubs should be spaced apart from each other and kept low. For safety from fire when houses are close together, it's best to have no shrubbery between them.
  • Create a buffer zone. A well-watered green area of low-growing plants or grass lawn can act as a firebreak between you and wilderness. The buffer zone should be at least 30 feet wide on flat ground and progressively wider as slopes get steeper. Walls, rocks, patios, rustic seats, and wandering paths can be part of the landscaping. Use plant materials that have proven their ability to withstand some fires. (Ask your local state Cooperative Extension Office or Department of Forestry for additional information and plant lists.)
  • Manage the existing brush. Remove the fuel load from inside the plant. The buildup of dead leaves, twigs, branches and weeds in the understory is what makes the hottest fires. Cut out and haul away or chip and compost all of the dead stuff that builds up inside native shrubs. Leave all the green growth on the outside. When you're finished, you'll have a wonderland of usable space for birds and other wildlife that inhabit the local countryside.

Ag Water Outlook for 2008

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Coping with Drought

There are several things you can do to ease your plants through a dry summer and even improve your landscape at the same time. While installing and using a drip system is a no-brainer, there are other steps you can take if you find yourself in a real pinch. Here’s how to make every drop of water count.

First of all, irrigate slowly, deeply and less frequently. Slow soaking limits runoff and encourages plants to develop deep root systems that are better able to tolerate drought. To minimize evaporation, irrigate in the early morning or evening. If you have to use a hose for watering, build soil berms around young trees and shrubs such as roses to concentrate water on the root zones. Fill the basin so the water soaks in.

It's also important to check the soil moisture occasionally between waterings to make sure the plants actually need to be watered as frequently as they are. Dig down one foot with a trowel or spade and feel a handful of soil. Another way to test moisture is to use a metal sampling tube to "read " the soil. Simply push it into the ground and twist it back out. It will show a 10-12" cross section of soil, showing how wet or dry the soil actually is. If the top 2 inches of the soil sample are dry, it's time to water.

productIf you don't have a drip irrigation system, consider using soaker hoses or root irrigators to concentrate water in specific areas. You can also be water-wise with pots by using glazed, foam or plastic pots, which are less porous and hold moisture better. Nesting smaller pots inside of larger ones will also create extra insulation.

If you have a grass lawn, raise your mower height. Taller grass shades the soil and will help reduce evaporation. Instead of high-nitrogen lawn food, apply a low-nitrogen iron product like Best Super Iron 9-9-9 to help prevent excessive growth and improve the lawn's tolerance to heat stress.

Consider applying mulch to your garden. It helps reduce evaporation,product insulates the roots from hot temperatures, helps prevent weeds and just plain makes a garden look better. We recommend applying a 2" layer of Gardner & Bloome Soil Building Compost for best results.

If you face a real pinch in water availability, survey your landscape and give the highest priority to established trees and foundation shrubs, because they would be the hardest to replace. With just a little extra diligence, most gardens will make it through a drought period just fine.

Fall Bulbs

Fall is the time to plant spring blooming bulbs for that wonderful first show of spring that we all love! When you think of spring, daffodils (Narcissus) or maybe crocus come to mind, but there are many other bulbs for fall planting to bring gorgeous color to your spring garden. Some of these even have bloom times that extend into the early summer. These bulbs are originally from all parts of the world. Aren't we lucky that we can grow them here, too!

productsPreparing your soil for bulb planting is simple. Amend with a good planting mix like Gardner & Bloome Planting Mix where you intend to plant your bulbs. As you dig each hole for the bulbs, add a bulb food like Lilly Miller Bulb & Bloom Food containing Bone Meal. Each bulb, corm, rhizome or tuber requires a different planting depth. Follow the packaging instructions or ask one of us for help.

Following this preparation and giving your bulbs the sun/shade and watering that they require will bring you a vividly colorful spring garden.

Click here to see a gallery of some of our spring-blooming bulbs.

Fall In Your Garden

It's not too late for rose pruning; trimming your roses back by about one-third will take stress off the root system (the water they draw up won't have to go so far). Remove any yellow/diseased leaves. Air circulation is very important so you may want to thin out the center foliage a little. When planting roses, trim back as directed above and give lots of water. Be sure to space no closer than three feet apart on center.

It is important to continue your scheduled feeding (read directions for your particular brand) but be very sure to water roses thoroughly before and continue after to prevent burning. I prefer the more gentle organic foods. You should get continual blooms until the holiday season. Wait for dormant pruning until after that so you can enjoy them.

Mulch everything if you haven't. Watch for changes in color. If your lawn turns from bright green to grayish blue, water immediately.

Find a shady spot and relax - enjoy your garden!

Fall is the time to trim back overgrown plants. Add mulch or compost before planting bulbs.

Wear sunscreen, hat and insect spray containing DEET.

 As the weather cools down we will have fewer insects to contend with, including mosquitoes! But watch out for snails and slugs!

A note on roses: One type that doesn't get much attention is the Rugosa rose. This rose resembles a wild rose, and many have beautiful hips in the fall. They don't need pruning. They don't want or need chemicals. Most will tolerate some shade and are fragrant. They are looking clean and healthy now while a lot of the older hybrid teas are suffering. Since they grow on their own root system, don't trim new shoots; they're not suckers but new growth. For a beautiful low-maintenance addition to your garden, try Rugosa roses!

making homemade compost

All we are doing when we make compost is putting back into the earth what we've taken out of it. It's easy! It can be as simple as mowing the lawn and leaving the clippings on--the green stuff is nitrogen! (Just be sure the clippings are small--if you've let the lawn get long and don't have a mulching mower, go back over the mowed area once or twice for the same effect.)

To understand the principles of composting, it will be helpful to understand soil matter. If you're out in the woods, for example, what you see on the top is leaves and decaying plant parts. Dig a little deeper and the material is less easy to identify, since visible and microscopic organisms have been busy digesting the organic matter. The end product is humus--food for the micro-organisms which release the nutrients for your plants. Once the easily eaten parts are gone, humus can last in the soil for centuries. It is this form of humus that improves the soil's structure and its ability to hold water and nutrients.

In making compost, the idea is to keep a balance of carbon (the "brown stuff" such as old leaves and stems) and nitrogen (the "green stuff" such as lawn clippings). You can also add raw kitchen scraps such as fruits and vegetables. No animal waste, meats, or cooked foods--or you may have larger guests than planned! Beetles and worms are a good sign--large scavengers are not.

Soil micro-organisms and plants need water, warmth, oxygen, moderate pH and the balanced supply of nutrients from the organic matter.

Sounding too technical?

When you build compost in a pile, think of lasagna. Add materials a few inches deep, then about a 6" layer of soil after each addition. Let it sit and you're making what's called "cold compost." On its own, it will take about a year--but you can have several piles going at once. Different textures allow more air circulation. Turning the pile will speed things up--which brings us to the other method, called "hot composting."

Hot composting is faster. The more a pile is turned, the faster you have your finished product. Turning, adding water, and balancing carbon and nitrogen encourages organisms to reproduce rapidly, causing the pile to heat up. The temperature in the center of the pile can reach 160° and can kill off weed seeds, disease organisms and roots.

Compost tumblers are popular because they work so quickly and are easy to turn. You can also make bins from large garbage cans and other containers. Make sure the bin is elevated for drainage, and punch holes in the side and bottom for air circulation. A larger bin (around 3' tall, wide, and deep) is better for getting best mass for proper composition--but the smaller bins will work.

Watching for problems

  • Ants? That means the pile is probably too dry.
  • Odor? It's too wet. Add more carbon (brown stuff) and turn to let in more air
  • Seedlings sprouting? It's not hot enough. Avoid adding anything containing seed or make sure seeds are in the center of the pile.

No time and still want to do your part? If you have leftover salads, etc.--just dig a small hole and bury them. Or just fling an apple core or banana peel into the bushes!

Another method is to "compost as you go." When removing old plants, dead annuals, and such, just put them in little piles in an area where you will be working later. By the time you get to it, it's often starting to break down. You can work in what's left later or shake it off and discard or add larger pieces to your main pile. Anything we put back is enriching our soil.

For fun make compost tea. Put a shovelful of compost in a burlap bag. Tie it closed. Submerge in a bucket, garbage can, or other container with water. Put a cover on and let it steep a few days. Then pour around plants. Dilute to the color of weak tea and use as a foliar feed. Use the solids as mulch or put them back in the compost pile.

Recipe of the Month: Pear, Walnut & Blue Cheese Green Salad

Chef Mr. Grecipe image

What You'll Need:

  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 medium shallot,minced
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 5-ounce bag mixed baby greens (about 10 cups)
  • 2 large ripe pears, halved, cored, thinly sliced lengthwise
  • 1 cup crumbled blue cheese
  • 1 cup walnuts, toasted & coarsely chopped

Step by Step:

Whisk first 4 ingredients in a small bowl to blend. Gradually whisk in oil. Season to taste with salt & pepper.
Toss greens in a large bowl with enough dressing to coat. Divide greens among 6 plates. Top with pear slices. Sprinkle with blue cheese & walnuts. Drizzle lightly with remaining dressing & serve.

Yield: 6 servings



Mr. G

'See you next month!'
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