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Edition 8.05
February 2008
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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 Rose and Flower Care, 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:Turf Royal 21-7-14 Best Triple Pro 15 Lilly Miller Rhododendron, Evergreen, Azalea Food 10-5-4 Dr. Earth Rhododendron, Azalea, Camellia 4-5-4 Dr. Earth Fruit Tree Fertilizer Best Ntra King

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Soil Amendments / Mulches: Soil Building Compost Sunshine Pro Premium Potting Soil Gardner and Bloome Planting Mix John and Bob's Soil Optimizer Worm Gold Plus
Landscape/Garden Tools: Corona Pruners

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"Unto those who turn the soil - even though it is turned wrong - and plant the seed - even though it may not be planted exactly right - comes creeping in a tide of knowledge more wide and engulfing than any words in books."

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Weather Hotline

The Commission's Annual Weather Hotline is active and will remain in effect through February 29, 2008.

Call toll-free 877-300-6496 to hear your district weather updates after 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. daily, with updates throughout the night during critical frost periods.

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Manager's Corner

Preventing Crabgrass

One of the biggest weed concerns most homeowners have for their lawns is crabgrass. This nasty clumping weed can make a mess out of a lawn in no time, leaving unsightly dead patches when it dies off the following winter. The good news is that there is plenty of time to prevent next year's crabgrass from taking root in your lawn.

On of the keys to preventing crabgrass is understanding how it grows. This in turn will help you decide which cultural and chemical control options to use against it. Crabgrass is a warm-season annual grass that dies off every winter. It can only reappear the following year from germinating seeds that were created before the mother plants died.

productCrabgrass will not start germinating until soil temperatures consistently reach and stay at 60 degrees. This can be as early as late January in Southern California and as late as May in the Northeast. (In a few very warm areas like South Florida and Hawaii, it can germinate year-round, so count your blessings!)

Crabgrass prefers full sun, lots of moisture, and thin lawns that allow light to hit the soil. The thicker and more vigorous your lawn is, the less favorable environment you provide for the crabgrass. This means you also need to keep your mowing height higher. If you keep your mower height between 2-3 inches, there will be fewer crabgrass plants in your lawn. Also, avoid frequent lawn watering. As temperatures rise, water more deeply but less frequently.

ProductMost pre-emergent crabgrass herbicides are available in combination with lawn fertilizers, so crabgrass prevention and spring fertilization can be done at the same time. These need to be applied before the crabgrass germinates in early spring. (See temperatures above.) We recommend using Green Light Crabgrass Preventer. If temperatures are unseasonably warm, you might have to apply this product earlier than you normally would.

Sometimes, a few crabgrass plants still manage to find their way into your lawn. If this is the case, simply remove the plants by hand--making sure to pull out the entire root, too. If you miss the pre-emergent control season and crabgrass appears, control with a post-emergent spray such as Green Light MSMA Crabgrass Killer. The sooner you spray or remove the plants, the less chance they will have of producing seed for the following season.

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New Landscape

By: Frank Oddo II
      Arriscape Inc.,

Avoid common pitfalls in your landscape design project by working with a licensed landscape general contractor; Saves money and frustration in the long run.

We have all heard horror stories about working with contractors. Just do a search on Google and you’ll literally get 100,000 returns. So much negative publicity can cause homeowners to dread or even put off embarking on such projects. Whether you need a complete landscape installation or a redesign, how can you avoid the common pitfalls found in the horror stories of others?

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ProductMany gardeners are saddened when the dreary months of winter approach, because they believe it to hail the end of color in their garden. A yard filled with beautiful flowers in summer and fall suddenly seems impossible to duplicate when the weather is cold and the sun is hiding. But two plants that are becoming increasingly popular and cheering up winter gardens.

Let us introduce you to "Flowering Cabbage" and "Ornamental Kale." These ornamental plants look much the same as their cousins bred for the table, but have been bred specifically for their showy colors and ruffled foliage. They come in a variety of colors, ranging from white to pinks, purples, or reds. (The ornamentals are edible, but not bred for taste.)

More important, these plants can survive winter temperatures as low as 5 degrees. While a sudden severe cold can be deadly, these plants will do just fine if given time to acclimate. More interesting, a light to moderate frost will even help intensify their brilliant colors. They actually prefer the cold and don't do at all well in the summer months.

productBoth flowering cabbage and ornamental kale prefer to be planted in the full sun but will tolerate some shade (although their colors might not be as intense). As with all other annuals, they do best when planted in rich soil amended with Gardner & Bloome Soil Building Compost. We recommend feeding them with a preplant fertilizer such as Osmocote Vegetable and Bedding Plant Food. They also do very well in pots, making them great for adding a bit of color on patios and around entrances.

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What does soil pH measure?


Soil pH indicates how acid or alkaline a soil is. In technical terms, it is a logarithmic function of the hydrogen ion concentration [H+]: pH = -log [H+]. Got all that?
In simpler terms a pH of 7.0 is neutral. Below that number is acidic, above that number is alkaline. The scale is progressive too. A pH of 6.0 is ten times more acid than a pH of 7.0; a pH of 5.0 is 100 times more acid than a pH of 7.0, and so on.

You can test you soil pH with a simple pH test kit.

  • To modify or correct acidic soils you need to apply lime.
  • To modify or correct alkaline soils you need to apply soil sulfur or aluminum sulfate.

The best time to correct pH is in the fall, which allows enough time for the chemical to react and change the pH. Most plants prefer soil slightly on the acidic side of 6.-- lower for acid-loving plants like blueberries, azaleas, and ferns.

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Kalanchoe (Kalanchoe blossfeldiana) is a naturally blooming succulent that offers up an array of blooms in many festive colors. Kalanchoe [kal-an-KO-ee or kal-LAN-cho] is a perky little plant that is easy to care for. Whether planted in a decorative basket or grouped together in a basket on the kitchen windowsill, kalanchoes will not disappoint you.

Kalanchoes have become increasingly popular as a gift plant and feature dark-green succulent leaves topped by masses of miniature, brightly colored blossoms in shades of red, orange, yellow, or salmon-pink. In their native Madagascar, the plants bloom only during the spring months, but with a little attention, they can produce blooms in any season.

Kalanchoes are similar to poinsettias and chrysanthemums, which initiate their flowering in response to long nights. Growers pull opaque shade fabric over their plants for 14 hours each night until the plants initiate flower buds. You can accomplish the same thing by placing a box over your plant for the same "long night" period.

productKalanchoes prefer lots of bright light to keep them happy and are ideal for the warm temperatures inside a home. They like to be watered deeply, but prefer to dry out between waterings.

If leaves start to yellow and shrivel up, your plant might be dehydrated and in need of water. If this happens, remove spent foliage and water thoroughly. Kalanchoes look best when fed every two weeks with a water-soluble plant food, such as Grow More All Purpose Plant Food 15-30-15.

Most kalanchoes can re-bloom for a second growing season. Simply cut back leggy growth and old flower stems, then repot, and keep well watered in a sunny window. Start controlling their light in early October for January blooms.

Pest Of The Month

Lilly Miller SpraySpray peach and apricot trees against peach leaf curl, an airborne fungus disease that impairs fruiting and can eventually kill a tree. This disease thickens and stunts new shoots, and it puckers, thickens, and curls fresh leaves from the time they first emerge in spring. Affected leaves are red or orange when they first emerge, and later they turn pale green or yellow. Later still, a grayish white powder appears on them, and finally the leaves drop prematurely from the tree. Affected trees bear poorly, and the fruit that survives is usually deformed by wrinkles, raised areas, and irregular lesions.

Be sure to spray all your peach and nectarine trees--even dwarf ones growing in containers--against this dread disease, even if they've never show symptoms. Since peach leaf curl is caused by an airborne fungus, it's carried everywhere, though it's at its worst in wet years. Virtually all unsprayed peaches and nectarines fall prey to it eventually, and once the leaves have emerged there's no cure for the problem.

Green Light OilBefore spraying your peach and apricot trees, clean them up by removing any loose leaves or mummified fruits and by raking up and destroying all debris in, under, and around each tree. Spray the entire tree, carefully going over the trunk, the branches, and the twigs; also lightly spray the ground under the tree. Spray twice during winter while the trees are dormant, once as soon as the leaves have fallen and again before the buds swell in spring. (The exact timing will differ according to your climate zone, but usually you'll need to apply the first treatment sometime between mid-November and mid-December, and the second in late January or early February.)

Sensational Strawberries

If you are a berry lover, you can't possibly have a garden without dedicating a space to growing delicious homegrown strawberries. Some people even go so far as saying they are the best of all the berries. What is unique about the strawberry (actually a member of the rose family) is that it is the only fruit with seeds on the outside rather than the inside.

The delicate and great-tasting heart-shaped berry has always been associated with love, passion, purity, and healing. Legend has it that if you break a double strawberry in half and share it with a member of the opposite sex, you will fall in love with each other.

Read entire article.

A Very Berry World

The world of berries can be confusing. You have blackberries, black raspberries, red raspberries, and yellow raspberries. And don't forget boysenberries, loganberries and marionberries, which are all closely related. How do you tell them apart? Berries whose core stays intact are blackberries. Berries that lose the core and resemble a thimble are raspberries. But then...a few berries are a cross between the two!

Dr. Earth Fruit TreeThe similarities don't stop there. All bear fruit on two-year-old wood, except for the ever-bearing raspberries that also fruit on first year growth. These are also called two crop raspberries because they bear a late summer or fall crop on the first year growth and a second crop the following spring on the two-year-old wood.

Different types of wood? What's that all about? Ok, it may help clear up a lot of confusion about blackberry and raspberry culture if one remembers that after flowering and fruiting, any cane that bore fruit dies back to the crown. All the new growth will rise out from primary buds just below the soil line.

Now here's the good news, blackberries, raspberries and any other favorites will thrive in most locations and soil types, but good drainage is desirable with most varieties. Just give them some room to ramble because they do like to spread out. As far as cold-hardiness goes, raspberries tolerate very cold temperatures better than blackberries.

Most berries like being fed at blooming time, with a follow-up feeding in early fall after the plants have finished fruiting. Just use a well-balanced fruit tree food such as Dr. Earth Fruit Tree Fertilizer or Lilly Miller Morcrop Tomato & Vegetable Food 5-10-10. They prefer staying moist, and should be watered regularly if rainfall is insufficient.

Lilly Miller MorcropThe new canes that grow out each spring will not bear fruit until the following summer when they are two years old. After harvest, the two-year-old fruiting canes will start to die back and should be removed as close to the ground as possible without injuring the new canes.

In mild climates berries can be trained be trained to stakes or trellises in late summer or early fall, after the fruiting canes have been removed. In colder climates, the canes should be left on the ground over winter--making them less likely to be damaged by cold. The ideal time to "spring train" is after the danger of freezing weather and before the leaf buds begin expanding.

We have berry plants that grow well in our local area (Click here to view different varieties). The bottom line is that all berries are easy to grow and they taste great. So don't stress about all your different choices. Just plant some berries and enjoy!

Backyard Orchard Culture

As homes continue to be built larger and garden space becomes smaller, fewer homeowners have the space to plant as many fruit trees. But that doesn't mean you have to go without the fresh taste of homegrown fruit. All you have to do is incorporate the principles of Backyard Orchard Culture.

The objective behind this gardening concept is to allow for a prolonged harvest of tree-ripe fruit from a small space. This can be accomplished by planting multi-grafted fruit trees, planting two or more trees with different ripening dates in the same hole, or by espaliering fruit trees along a sunny house wall or fence line.

Read entire article.

Early Vegetables

If you are a gardener and love to grow vegetables, what type of garden do you have? Now is a good time to consider this topic. We're coming off the quiet, dormant months. Of course, some gardeners are really on top of everything and already have their whole year plan done in January...but you may still be considering your vegetable garden. So, perhaps just in time, we will give you a few more things to consider, before you read on about what to be planting this part of time of year.

Companion planting is the technique of combining two plants for a particular purpose. That purpose is often pest control. Some companion plants work to hide, repel, or even trap pests. Garlic and onions release odors that deter some insects from visiting their companion vegetables, such as tomatoes or strawberries. Mint keeps cabbage loopers off cabbage; basil discourages tomato hornworms from tomatoes - plus it tastes good on your tomatoes or in the tomato sauce that you will be making later!

Other companion plants have a different role - to attract, feed, and provide shelter to beneficial insects. Beneficial insects will consume the pest insects that we want to rid gardens of (vegetable or flower gardens). Or they may lure pests away. Nasturtiums lure aphids away from vegetables (and roses for that matter) and they have the added benefit of having an edible, peppery flower.

Some plants are complementary to each other and thereby are great companions; they like being close together in small space. For example, you may plant deep-rooting squash close to shallow-rooting onions. Their roots occupy different soil levels and don't compete.

Some plants need many soil nutrients (cabbage, corn, eggplant, and squash). These can be combined with light feeders such as garlic and beans.

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 a very important one, and has more benefits than just allowing you to plant more in your garden.

Read entire article.

The Colorful Florist's Cineraria

One of the most spectacular winter blooming plants is the Florist's Cineraria (Pericallis x hybrida). What makes these plants so special is that the deep green, slightly lobed leaves of these colorful beauties are often completely covered by immense clusters of velvety daisy-like flowers for their entire growing season.

These bright and bushy plants have an amazing kick of contrasting colors. The blossoms may be white, pink, red, blue, purple or violet, with blue or white centers and rings of contrasting colors that create a rainbow of hues for any sunny windowsill.

SuperbloomThese beautiful plants are native to the Canary Islands off the coast of Portugal. Annuals that can bloom indoors from as early as December to as late as May, they are usually discarded after their blooming season is over. But few plants can beat these beauties for color while they are doing their thing.

Cinerarias do best in a bright room or sunny windowsill. They are fairly thirsty plants, due to the large volume of flowers they produce, and like to be kept moist (but not wet) at all times. They need only occasional feeding while in bloom, with a water soluble plant food like Grow More Super Bloomer 11-54-4.

So, if you need a little help shaking off the doldrums of winter, consider purchasing some cinerarias to brighten up your home today!

Growing Blueberries

Blueberries not only taste great and are healthful to eat, but they also add striking beauty to your garden. No matter what your reason behind growing them is, blueberries can work very well in your landscape plans. In addition to the fruit they produce, blueberries also have beautiful bell-shaped blooms in spring, handsome glossy foliage in the growing season, striking fall color and bright red stems in winter.

Dr. EarthBlueberries are easy to grow, require little care and are seldom bothered by pests. They can vary in size from low ground covering varieties to large bushes ranging 4-6 ft. high. Their versatility allows them to be used as background shrubs or as border plants. They even make excellent hedges, if spaced correctly. If you are limited in space or just have a patio, consider planting them in containers.

Different varieties of blueberries produce different sizes of fruit, with flavor ranging from tart to very sweet. Larger fruiting varieties produce fruit perfect for fresh eating and large desserts, while smaller fruiting varieties are better for adding to cereals, muffins and pancakes. Be sure to select different varieties to lengthen your harvest season from June until the end of August. For blueberry lovers, we suggest at least two plants per family member.

Lilly MillerBlueberries can tolerate full sun in milder summer climates but prefer partial shade in the afternoon. They prefer a light, airy acid soil, so adding 50% peat moss to each hole is highly recommended. Blueberries like to stay moist but not wet. If your soil does not drain well, consider building a raised bed to plant them in. Feed with an acid plant food such as Dr. Earth Rhododendron, Azalea and Camellia Food or Lilly Miller Rhododendron, Evergreen & Azalea Food 10-5-4 in spring and midsummer for best results.

Blueberries can be planted as close as 2-1/2' apart if a solid hedge is desired or up to 6' apart if you want to grow them as individual specimens. Just make sure you have access to them so you can get at those tasty, juicy berries!

We love blueberries and invite you to add them to your garden. There are many different varieties. (Click here to view different varieties). Stop by soon and one of our garden experts can help you with your blueberry or garden questions.

Secrets for an Extended Fruit Tree Harvest

One of the true pleasures home gardeners can experience is growing their own fruit. And with a little planning, it's possible to have an extended harvest season. Even gardens that are short on space can have an extended harvest if the proper planting techniques are used.

The key to an extended or year-round harvest is understanding the ripening times of fruit and citrus trees. Most citrus start to ripen in winter, with mandarins coming first and then followed by lemons, limes and oranges through March and April. But most lemons produce a steady crop of fruit year-round. Thanks to some new Australian and New Zealand citrus cultivars that get confused by the hemispheres, you can have citrus in late summer and fall. Then you can always count on kumquats and limequats for a November to January harvest.

With deciduous fruit trees you can start with early varieties of apricots that ripen as early as mid-May, followed by a crop of cherries in June. The summer months bring in nectarines, peaches, plums and pluots from mid-June through August. After that, apples, pears and persimmons ripen in September and October. Figs will bear fruit from early summer to late fall.

If you are short on space, consider planting more than one variety in the same hole. Just make sure to plant trees with similar growing habits. Apples, cherries and pears tend to be the fastest and highest growers. Since citrus require more sun to ripen than deciduous fruit trees, make sure they get the sunniest locations. Most deciduous fruit trees will produce a great tasting crop of fruit as long as they receive at least 5-6 hours of sunlight during the growing season. Citrus prefer 6-8 hours of sunlight.

The final secret to getting great tasting fruit is to wait until the fruit has ripened completely on the tree. This allows the sugar content to be at its highest level. The problem with most store bought fruit is that it is harvested long before it is ripe in order to stand up to the rigors of shipping. The fruit never develops the same intense flavor on a shelf as it does on the tree.

Now is a great time to buy fruit trees. If you have any questions, our staff of fruit tree experts will be happy to help you plan your year-round fruit tree garden!

Growing Grapes

The increased popularity of wines and table grapes has led to a surge of interest in growing grapes in the home garden. Not only do they produce great tasting fruit, but they can also provide an excellent alternative to flowering vines on fences, arbors, and gazebos. If you have the room in your garden and lots of sunlight, you can even plant a mini-vineyard.

The most important factor in growing grapes is understanding the difference between table grapes and wine grapes. They are very distinct. Table grapes should be eaten fresh, while wine grapes are small berried and seedy, which don't make for good eating. You can't make wine from most table grapes because most don't get high enough in sugar content and the acids are too low to balance the wine.

It also helps to understand the growing habits and ripening dates of different varieties. This leads to a better understanding of when to harvest them and how to prune them properly for maximum health and fruit production. Many homeowners harvest too early, pulling grapes off the vine when they begin to color.

Read entire article.

Perfectly Primrose!

If you are looking for the perfect flower to bridge the gap between winter and summer, consider the primrose. Like a ray of sunshine on a damp and gloomy day, primroses (primula) provide early spring blooms in almost every color of the rainbow.

They prefer cool temperatures, and moist, rich, well-draining soil (with lots of compost). Primroses can tolerate full sun in spring but definitely prefer afternoon shade once temperatures get warmer. They can easily be grown indoors during winter, provided that you maintain cool night temperatures in your home (below 65 degrees), filtered sun and moist soil.

The most popular types of primroses include English primroses (Primula vulgaris/polyanthus), Fairy primroses (Priumula malacoides) and German primroses (Primula obconica). All are heavy bloomers and well suited for garden planting or in containers.

Originally from England, most English primroses now are grown along the Pacific Coast. They produce large clusters of flowers above the foliage, with dwarf varieties just a few inches above the foliage and taller hybrids growing up to one foot above the foliage. They are available in almost every color shade.

German primroses are often called perennial primroses, since they can often come back to re-bloom the following season. They have larger rounded leaves, up to 12 inches high, with taller flower stalks. The flowers come mostly in shades of red, rose and salmon.

Fairy primroses have a more delicate look, with smaller leaves and flower clusters on 6-12" stalks above the foliage. They generally are available in color shades of pink, lavender and white.

So if the winter blues are getting you down, chase them away with some perfect primroses!

February Garden Checklist

February 6 - 12
Prune roses, fruit trees, grape and berry vines for a more bountiful harvest.
Choose your summer shade now! Plant trees in the garden.
The camellia is as versatile as it is handsome. Grow them as espaliers, natural shaped shrubs, hedges or trees.
Pre-emergent weed killers applied to your lawn now will, in most cases, kill crabgrass seedlings as they germinate.

Read entire article.

Recipe: Taco Lasagna

Recipe imageWhat You'll Need:

  • 2 pounds lean ground beef
  • 2 (1.25 ounce) packages taco seasoning mix
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 18 (6 inch) corn tortillas
  • 1 (24 ounce) jar salsa
  • 1 cup sliced green onion
  • 1 (16 ounce) container sour cream
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese

Step by Step:

Place ground beef in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium high heat until evenly brown.

Drain, then season with taco seasoning, garlic, cayenne pepper, chili powder and water.

Simmer for 10 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish.

Place 6 tortillas into the prepared baking dish.

Spread 1/3 of the salsa on top of the tortillas.

Spread 1/2 of the meat mixture evenly over the salsa.

Sprinkle with 1/2 of the green onions.

Drop 1/2 of the sour cream randomly over the green onions.

Top with 1/2 cup Cheddar and 1/2 cup Monterey Jack cheese.

Repeat layers.

Top with 6 tortillas, spread with remaining salsa, and sprinkle with remaining cheese.

Bake in a preheated oven for 30 to 45 minutes or until cheeses are melted.



Mr. G

'See you next month!'
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