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Edition 8.09
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March 2008
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Mr. G's
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March

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Amend and mulch flower and vegetable beds to prepare for spring planting. Sunshine Pro Planting Mix is an organic mix that enriches the soil so plants can perform at their best.

 

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FEATURED QUOTE :

"Every gardener knows that under the cloak of winter lies a miracle ... a seed waiting to sprout, a bulb opening to the light, a bud straining to unfurl. And the anticipation nurtures our dream."
- Barbara Winkler

DaVinci Water Gardens


Manager's Corner

This will be (hopefully) a very basic, non-technical guide to fertilizing (feeding) your plants.
First of all, when we fertilize keep in mind this is supplement feeding. Many nutrients are in our soil already but they are "locked up" or unavailable in a form that plants can utilize due to P.H.(have acid or alkaline-more about that later) or soil texture problems.

Best Triple Pro 15Remember- the more pliable your soil is, with lots of organic materials-the less added nutrients are needed. A good soil will feed your plants naturally. Supplemental feeding can make them grow bigger and better! (If there was any confusion last month), working the amendment into the top few inches of the soil is for small plants (they can sink and have crown rot problems). Larger plants would be amended according to their size needs- a good rule of thumb is to till or dig a shovel's depth and work/mix in any amendments very well.

-Organics vs. Chemical fertilizers-
The plant doesn't know the difference between them, but the soil does. Chemical fertilizers feed the plant. Organic fertilizers feed the soil so the soil feeds the plant naturally. Both have advantages: Chemical fertilizers are fast acting and may later take care of specific problems. In any case, remember to feed your plants organically or chemically, and remember to always follow the label directions.

Work the fertilizer into the soil at the drip line of the plant- that's where the feeding roots are. The drip line is where, if you draw an imaginary line from the outermost branches to the ground as rain would fall. Always water in well, fertilizers need to be in liquid form for roots to absorb- water plants first, never feed a dry plant!

-Understanding "N.P.K."-
All fertilizers have 3 numbers on the bag; the first (N) is nitrogen-for the green, second (P) is phosphorous- for fruit & flowers, and third (K) is potassium-for overall vigor of the plant.

For our soils the most important is nitrogen, it needs to be replenished because it moves freely through the soil and can be washed out. Complete or all-purpose type fertilizers are good to use at planting time (phosphorous and potassium need to be worked in) as they don't move well through our alkaline soils. It is especially important to feed plants in containers regularly or they won't have anything to eat!

How often? Follow label directions, usually it will say monthly during the growing season or with organics every other month because they are slower acting (you will also notice the NPK numbers on those bags are smaller). Follow label directions for specialty fertilizers such as those for azaleas or fruit trees.

An easy fertilizer for beginners and one of my favorites is Gro-Power. It has an acid-humus base and everything likes it. Dr. Earth products are very gentle and relatively safe around pets because they are all organic. Kellogg's fertilizers are easy to use and have fast results and work well for specific nutrient needs. Remember to water in well!

To review:
1. Check fertilizer choice for N.P.K. numbers and choose one with plenty of nitrogen.
2. Follow label directions!
3. Work into soil at the drip line
4. Water in well- Never fertilize a dry plant!

This Month's Specials

March Specials


Daylight Savings Time

Remember to "spring forward!"
Don't forget to set your clocks one hour ahead on March 9, 2008 at 2am!


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Our lawns and gardens are put under a good deal of stress this time of year. Any weakness in water coverage, soil nutrition or weed control shows up immediately in the heat of summer.

Now is an excellent time to double-check your sprinkler system. Plugged or broken heads need to be fixed or replaced.

Brown-patterned circles in your lawn around a sprinkler head indicate it has been plugged by dirt or has become a victim of the dreaded lawn mower attack.

The irrigation system in flower beds should also be carefully checked. Many times we plant in front of a sprinkler. This isn't a problem when the plant is a 6-inch tall seedling, but can result in disaster for others in the bed as that tiny plant grows to a couple of feet in height - and blocks the water to other plants. Make the necessary adjustments - and watch your plants flourish!

The Only Way to Irrigate

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Grangetto's Farm & Garden Supply in Escondido, Ca. was the location where 27 plus landscape designers gathered for "The Only Way to Irrigate" seminar. The 2 hour event was sponsored by the Association of Professional Landscape Designers California Chapter and was conducted by Mark Hall from Netafim.

The APLD provides a forum for the advancement of the profession of landscape design and has over 700 members worldwide. Netafim is a leading provider of Micro-irrigation products for the professional and homeowner.

During the open forum seminar, Mark Hall presented economical ways for landscape designers to create irrigations systems that will reduce water usage by precise watering of turf, trees and shrubs.

For more information about the APLD, Netafim or ways to:

  • Promote healthy root growth
  • Reduce water usage
  • Reduce number of valves
  • Reduce size of controllers
  • Reduce maintenance

Go to newsletter@apldca.org or stop by any of our 4 San Diego locations.

Cottage Garden

What really is a cottage garden? When, where, and why did it originate?

Cottage gardens are indigenous to European cultures where people had small plots of land of their own. Every square inch of land would be covered with something of purpose, from cutting flowers to herbs and roses for culinary and medicinal purposes, to vegetables and fruit trees, - without crowding or sacrificing plant health.

The cottage garden evolution began when food cultivation became a production industry and left the family (or city) garden, and when botanists began to explore the world, collecting and returning with new plants that sparked a renewed interest in gardening.

Cottage gardens soon were filled with hardy annuals, perennials and vegetables surrounding cottage type homes. They were loose, free flowing, and planted for beauty and pleasure instead of medicinal purposes, though herbs are often still incorporated. Many impressionist painters sought to capture the look on canvas, perhaps none so well as Monet's garden series. Monet's cottage garden that inspired his masterpieces can still be visited in Giverny, France.

Today, the cottage garden look is becoming popularized again. Into these lovely, colorful, free-flowing gardens, shabby-chic furniture and garden décor create a beautiful, inviting, and easy-to-relax-in outdoor living space. We are drifting away from shrub-lined homes and into waves of color, fragrance and motion.

We would like to introduce you to a number of perennials that are perfect for any cottage garden. But don't forget other fabulous possibilities such as roses, ornamental grasses, and vegetables (the artichoke, from the thistle family, has a beautiful flower!). Here is our 'short' list of perennials. There are many more; you will just have to come into the garden center to see them all.

These are all sun-loving flowering perennials. But if you have a shade garden, you can have the cottage garden look, too. That's right! When you come to see us, let us know your favorite sun and shade combinations. Lucky for us, and thanks to the plant finders of the world, our choices are enormous.

Click here for ideas for your cottage garden!

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Aphids come in a number of sizes and colors, winged and non-winged. All are pesky little insects to gardeners. Why are they considered a pest? Aphids are "suckers" – they suck juices from the plant leaves and stems. Some can also transmit plant viruses via that sucking mouth-piece.

What else do we know about aphids? Well, they certainly are not Speedy Gonzales! They are slow-moving, soft-bodied insects that suck juices from our plants, and excrete a clear sugary liquid that we call "honeydew." Frequently, in the presence of an aphid infected plant, you will notice a stream of ants working busily around the aphids. They are protecting the aphids because these ants want access to the honeydew.

Also, it is upon honeydew that sooty mold can grow and leave a black, sooty deposit upon the foliage of the infected plant. Many customers have mentioned that they thought this deposit was pollution. It’s not our pollution, it’s a fungal mold.

Aphids have many natural enemies in our gardens. Adult and larval forms of ladybugs and lacewings, syrphid flies, soldier beetles and parasitoid wasps (these guys are tiny, not your average wasp) all love to eat aphids. A good approach to aphid management begins with maintaining a healthy garden and encouraging these beneficial insects to make your garden their home. This is done through plant diversity and health.

article pictureAnother very easy method of aphid removal is simply using water to knock them off the infected plant. If the aphid is in the process of probing/sucking a juicy stem when you knock it off, and it probably is doing just that, the mouthpiece will be broken and the aphid will no longer be able to eat. See what a simple pest control water can be, and a safe method at that.

We carry spray oils and other insecticides that can be used for more severe infestations - ask us which is best for your needs.

Aphids will be appearing in our gardens as the weather continues to warm. What do we first recommend? Get your garden hoses ready and dial in a narrow spray to zap these little plant suckers off your new tender foliage!

Summit Spray Oil

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    1. Plant drought-resistant plants
    2. Do not plant tropicals
    3. Plant perennials
    4. Plant tigridias
    5. Continue to plant gladioli
    6. Start tuberous begonias
    7. Plant lawns
    8. Start planting summer vegetables. Plant more cool-season crops if desired
    9. Replace parsley now or next month
    10. Plant green beans, tomatoes, and potatoes
    11. Plant artichokes from seed-grown transplants
    12. In interior valleys prune begonias, ginger, cannas, asparagus fern, ivy and pyracantha
    13. Dethatch warm-season lawns just after they begin to grow
    14. Deadhead annual and perennial flowers
    15. Start to disbud roses if you are growing roses for show
    16. Tie floppy leaves of bulbs in knots (don't remove them before they go brown.)
    17. Take cut flowers from azaleas while they're in bloom
    18. Start to prune tropical hibiscus
    19. Cut back blue hibiscus (Alyogyne) progressively from now until fall
    20. Pinch back petunias when you plant them
    21. Begin to fertilize cirtus and avocado trees in interior zones. Continue to fertilize citrus and avocado trees in coastal zones.
    22. Continue to fertilize epiphyllums with 0-10-10 or 2-10-10
    23. Fertilize roses
    24. Feed all lawns
    25. Control slugs and snails
    26. Pull weeds
    27. Plant French marigolds (Tagetes patula) solidly and leave them for a full season of growth to control nematodes
    28. Spray cycads for scale
    29. In interior zones protect tender plants until all danger of frost has passed
    30. Once all frost danger is over take out tender tropicals you sheltered during the winter
    31. Prepare holes for planting dahlias next month
    32. Unwrap trunks of young citrus and avocado trees
    33. Hand pollinate quince, guava, and cherimoya
    34. Continue to harvest winter vegetables
    35. Choose a staking method for tomatoes
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Spring is here and it is time to plant a garden of flowers to enjoy now and all through the summer months.

Have you ever noticed that there are gardeners who will actually cut their beautiful blooms for a fresh flower bouquet in their own home or as a generous gift to friends and neighbors? And, of course, there are those gardeners who will tell you the floral palette is meant to remain in the garden to be gazed upon. Which are you?

Whether you are a "flower cutter" or a "flower gazer," here is a list of flowers for you to grow in your gardens all winter long. Before you plant, consider the shape of your garden beds while determining plant placement.

Is your garden rectangular and one-sided? Then you may want to place the tallest plants toward the back and tier down in height toward the front.

Is your garden in the center of your yard? It may be rectangular, round, oval or square. In that case, you may want to place the tallest members in the center and slowly tier down toward the outer edges.

Or maybe you plan to just tuck your favorites in and among your roses. Just remember that your roses need to have plenty of air circulation.

Before planting, remember to amend your native soil.

The list? Oh yes, here you go: aster, bells of Ireland, Canterbury bell, cleome, cosmos, dahlia, delphinium, dianthus, Gloriosa daisy, love in a mist, marguerite, phlox, Queen Anne's lace, Shasta daisy, snapdragon, stock, sunflower, sweet pea, and zinnia. And this is just a start. 

Don't forget the flowering shrubs that are in your garden year-round, such as lavender, pelargonium (scented geranium), leptospermum (New Zealand tea tree), or rosemary. They are wonderful to add to any bouquet and of course, the "Queen of the Garden," the rose!

Now off you go, into your gardens. Your bouquets will have fabulous fragrance and character, and be a work of pure love from you, the gardener! Enjoy!

A beginning list, by no means exhaustive!

Asters--Spring is the favored planting time in all regions for summer and fall color. Most species grow best with full sun and well-drained, fertile soil. Asters are easy to grow and are versatile, with sizes and growth forms ranging from six inches high to a towering seven-foot variety.

Bells of Ireland--The 2-3 foot high plants produce showy apple green bell-shaped sheaths that surround small white flowers. The blossom spikes are attractive, long-lasting additions to fresh cut or dried arrangements.

Canterbury Bells--Although this flower is available in a variety of forms, it's the charming cup-and-saucer flower shape that's captured gardeners' hearts. Technically a biennial (produces only foliage the first year, flowers the second, and then dies), in warmer parts of the country it often will bloom in just one year. It's sometimes called bellflower, and is available in white, pink and blue, growing 2 to 4 feet tall.

Cosmos--Cosmos is a hardy, erect annual requiring very little moisture once established. A native of Mexico, it can easily adapt to all regions of the United States. The attractive flowers are a mixture of stunning deep crimson, soft pink and pure white. The delicate looking leaves are deeply dissected, almost threadlike in appearance.

Cleome--Gets its nickname "spider flower" from the spidery-like flowers with long, waving stamens that are held on tall, strong leafy stems. It is one of the few annuals that look at home among shrubs and perennials. Planted in mass, they look like blooming shrubbery with 8-inch balls of blossoms. They will reach a height of 6 feet in a good season.

Dahlia--Dahlias make excellent cut flowers because their stems are long and their blooms last several days in water. Dahlias are not hurt by cutting for your arrangements. In fact, the more you cut, the more these prolific plants will grow and bloom.

Delphinium--This is a large group of very beautiful annuals and perennials commonly called larkspurs. The original or wild types from which the named varieties are descended are natives of California, Siberia, Syria and India. The delphiniums mostly seen in gardens are hybrids and are clump-forming perennials that bloom from early to mid-summer.

Dianthus--There are over 300 species of dianthus, and hundreds more of hybrid varieties. The group includes annuals, biennials and perennials. Most dianthus produce richly fragrant flowers in the spring or summer, and with a little luck, sometimes the flowering extends right up until the first frost. Although dianthus species vary from 2 inches to 3 feet tall in height, most garden varieties are 10 to 20 inches tall. Dianthus means divine flower.

Gloriosa Daisy (Rudbeckia)--Gloriosa daisies are a strain of black-eyed Susan that was developed in the United States, and is now grown world-wide. The center of the flower is brown and surrounded by petals in shades of yellow, gold and mahogany. The six-inch blossoms are available in double or single forms. Gloriosa daisies are actually biennials or short-lived perennials and are often grown as annuals.

Love in a Mist--Is a hardy annual with very fine, threadlike foliage and charming 1.5-inch flowers at the end of each branch. An excellent cut flower, it also forms interesting horned seed capsules, which are beautiful in dried arrangements.

Marguerite--The bright and cheery daisy-flowered marguerites are tender perennials, flowering prolifically from late spring to early winter. They are beautiful in containers on your patio!

Phlox--The name phlox means "flame", in reference to the bright colors of the blooms. These plants are great for borders, rock gardens and flowerbeds. The annual kinds can be grown in a greenhouse for spring and winter bloom. They are also useful for cutting their flowers.

Queen Anne's Lace--Queen Anne's Lace is a biennial that normally grows three to four feet tall, but can grow almost five feet in the right conditions. Its flowers are white and sometimes pink.

Shasta Daisy (Chrysanthemum)--A hardy perennial, forming dense colonies once established. The white-petaled flowers with golden yellow centers are borne individually on single erect stems. Shasta daisies generally grow 1 to 3 feet tall and have a larger flower head diameter. This daisy prefers full sun to partial shade in fertile soil.

Snapdragon--Snapdragon flowers have a unique, irregular shape and come in shades of yellow, red, pink, orange, bronze, lavender and white.

Stock--Prized for its spicy scent, stock is a favorite old-fashioned cut flower and annual (grows just one year). It forms pretty spires of blooms in white, pink, rose, lavender, red and mixes. Plants reach 15 to 36 inches tall and thrive in the cool weather of spring and autumn.

Zinnia--Zinnias are true American natives that originated in the Southwest U. S., Mexico and Central America. Zinnias grow to between 6 and 40 inches in height, with single and double blossoms varying in diameter from less than an inch to 7 inches. The petals can be any of a wide range of vivid colors or multicolored.

 
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By Tamara Galbraith

One of the many challenges in creating an interesting landscape is the incorporation of varying plant heights. Some plants will eventually grow tall at the back of the border, sure, but what if you need height now?

Enter ornamental grasses...the clumping variety, that is. Several ornamental grasses spread via underground rhizomes and can become invasive, so check with your local nursery if you're unsure about what to plant.

The non-spreading varieties should provide all the interest you need anyway. Ornamental grasses are incredibly low maintenance, grow quickly, and are naturally disease- and insect-resistant. The swaying, breezy movement they provide is unparalleled in its beauty.

Not only that, but ornamental grasses come in a variety of shapes and sizes suitable for any landscape. There are beautiful purple fountain grasses, spikey cool blue grasses, dazzling golden grasses and silvery Japanese grasses. There's even a dwarf variety with adorable tufts on the end called, aptly, Rabbit's Tail Grass.

Once established, most ornamental grasses require very little fertilization or water. Give perennial grasses a crew cut (down to 4"-6" above ground level) in late winter to encourage new spring growth.

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It's time to plant summer blooming bulbs!

Tigridias:
Bulbs of tigridias, or tiger flowers, can be found at local nurseries now. Plant them six inches apart and three inches deep in full sun along the coast, or where they'll get afternoon shade inland. Fertile loam or sandy soil is best. If you have clay soil, mix in plenty of soil amendment or plant in pots or raised beds. The colorful blooms appear in July and August. Each flower lasts only one day, but others follow on the same branch so the bloom season is quite long.

Gladioli:
Tie gladioli planted earlier to stakes installed at planting time. Protect them from slugs and snails, and keep them well watered. Feed potted glads with liquid fertilizer. Continue to plant gladioli, though when planted now they will need more protection from thrips in summer.

Dahlias:
Prepare planting holes for dahlias by mixing plenty of organic matter into the soil. Some aged chicken manure can be added to the soil now, along with pre-moistened peat moss, nitrolized wood shavings, or homemade compost, in preparation for planting in April. Dig the organics deeply into the ground - as much as a foot deep - and keep the soil damp.

Tuberous Begonias:
Start tuberous begonias this month. If you kept some tubers from last year, take a look at them now to see whether they're showing signs of life. If so, bring them out of hiding and start watering them. Buy new ones at local nurseries. Some tubers are slow to sprout, so choose those that already have a sprout or two.

Tuberous begonias aren't easy to grow, but if you have rich acid soil in an east-facing area, not too many snails, and a knack for growing begonias they can be one of the most rewarding plants for summer color in semishade. Years ago they were considered suitable for coastal zones only. New heat-resistant varieties such as the Non-Stops have made it possible for gardeners in interior zones to try their hand at this most colorful and exotic-looking garden plant. If growing them from tubers sounds too involved, wait until summer and visit a nursery that has the begonias already planted and potted.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

 

If your irises don't bloom, they're either growing in too much shade or they need dividing.

After they have been in the ground for three or four years, they become crowded. Their roots intertwine, the clumps rise ever higher out of the ground, and if they're not divided they'll stop blooming. In cooler areas divide irises as soon as flowering is finished. In very warm areas, wait until October. Sometimes, in old gardens, irises have been neglected for years and it's a big job to divide them, so do the ones in the worst shape first, in case you can't get to them all at once.

article imageHow to Divide Irises

·With a garden fork dig up an entire clump, shake off excess soil from the roots, then squirt it with the hose to wash all soil from the rhizomes. (A rhizome is a thickened stem that grows horizontally underground or on the surface of the ground.)

·Working with a sharp knife from the outside of the clump, cut vigorous, healthy divisions. Each division for planting should have one fan of leaves, a section of young, healthy rhizome approximately 2 to 6 inches long, and some roots coming out the bottom. It may also have one or two new growth buds, or eyes, bulging out on the sides.

·Discard the old woody center of the clump that has no leaves; anything that is diseased, rotted or has been attacked by pests; any thin or spindly growth; and all immature rhizomes with no leaves.

·Cut off the tops of the fans at a neat right angle, with the center point 4 inches higher and the sides 2 to 3 inches higher than the rhizome.

·Cut back the roots by about one-third, dip the cut ends of the rhizomes in a fungicide, such as captan, and allow them to dry in the sun for two or three hours.

·Dig up the bed or prepare individual planting areas, in full sun in cooler areas or where there's six hours of sun in warmer areas. Work in compost and bone meal.

·Replant the rhizomes on the same day, three to a clump, with the leaves pointing out from the center. Irises keep growing in the direction of each fan of leaves. On hillsides plant them with the bare rhizomes pointing downhill and the part with the leaves pointing uphill.

·For each rhizome use a trowel or a small spade to dig a hole approximately 4 inches deep and 8 inches wide. Make an elongated mound in the planting hole. Arrange the roots over the mound with the rhizome resting on top so that the top of the rhizome is level with the surrounding soil. If the roots bend on the bottom dig the hole deeper. Cover the roots with soil and press it down firmly with your hands. When you're finished the top of the rhizome should still be level with the surface of the soil.

·Water the bed thoroughly after planting and keep it damp, but not soggy, until the plants are rooted.

Fragrant Rosemary

Perhaps one of the most versatile plants available for home gardens is the fragrant rosemary. A plant that dates back to ancient Roman times, rosemary remains as popular as ever due to its intensely fragrant foliage and bright, vivid blue flowers.

The foliage can add flavor and spice to cooking as well as aroma to potpourri and beauty to flower arrangements.

Rosemary plants are evergreen, and are not only attractive to look at but also easy to grow. They tolerate poor soil conditions, are very drought and heat tolerant once established and require only occasional feeding to keep them happy. They prefer full sun but will tolerate partial shade locations as well.

Rosemary are generally divided into two different plant types--upright and trailing.

Upright varieties have rigid upright branches with aromatic needle-like leaves. Most upright varieties can grow up to 4-6 feet high and half as wide. They can be placed as individual specimens or used to create beautiful low to medium-sized hedges.

Trailing varieties create a beautiful flow of fragrant foliage that forms an attractive carpet that can cascade from a container or rock wall. Trailing varieties also look great in rock gardens. These ground cover types generally grow 1-2 feet tall and can spread as much as 6-8 feet wide, if left untrimmed.

Rosemary plants are also are excellent for slopes and useful in erosion control.

Consider adding some rosemary plants to your garden. You'll love the fragrant foliage, as well as the butterflies and hummingbirds the beautiful blue flowers attract.

Featured Recipe: Rosemary Wine Chicken

What You'll Need:

  • 1 whole chicken rinsed, drained and towel-dried inside and out
  • 5 whole crushed garlic cloves
  • 1 whole onion quartered
  • 5-6 4" sprigs of fresh cut rosemary
  • Olive oil
  • Garlic salt
  • Enough white wine or sherry to cover the bottom of a 13"x9" roasting pan

Step by Step:

  • Rub the chicken in and out with olive oil. Insert garlic, onion and rosemary in the cavity.
  • Place chicken on a rack in a 13"x9" roasting pan. Sprinkle with garlic salt and crushed rosemary leaves.
  • Fill roasting pan with white wine or sherry until 1/2 full.
  • Cover with foil and bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour or until chicken is fully cooked. Remove foil for last 15 minutes of roasting time to lightly brown the skin.
  • Serve chicken and juices with rice or red potatoes and fresh vegetables in season.

Yield: 18 servings

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THANKS FOR TAKING THE TIME TO READ OUR NEWSLETTER

Mr. G

'See you next month!'
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