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Edition 8.23
June 2008

Go Green with Grangetto's

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Nature's Big Bud Worm Castings

Read more about what Nature’s Big Bud’s Premium Liquid Worm Castings can do for your Plants and Flowers

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"I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journey-work of the stars."
~ Walt Whitman Leaves of Grass, 1855

DaVinci Water Gardens



Manager's Corner

MP RotatorFeaturing a unique, multi-trajectory rotating stream delivery system that achieves water-conserving results, the MP Rotator is a revolutionary product, unlike anything else in the field of irrigation. A multi-stream rotor the size of a spray nozzle, the MP Rotator features only one moving that assures proven reliability. It fits any conventional spray head body or shrub adapter, transforming one into a high uniformity, low precipitation rate sprinkler that boasts an industry first: true matched precipitation at any arc and any radius.

The MP Rotator is ideal for new systems, with ultimate design flexibility (from 4’ strip to 30’ radius), as well as lower installation costs and better system efficiency. It’s also perfect for revitalizing older systems; a retrofit can solve both low pressure and poor coverage problems. Plus, it’s the solution for slopes and tight soils, as the low precipitation rate radically reduces runoff.

To save water, solve problems, and simply do a better job of irrigating, make the switch to the MP Rotator.

Click here for more information about the MP Rotator.


Manager of Grangetto's Encinitas



Saving Water Just Got Easier

WaterswitchUsing the proven Watermark sensor, this simple device "controls the controller" so that watering is only allowed when necessary based on soil moisture status.

For residential use in turf grass with any 24 Volt AC controller with sensor (rain switch) connections.


  • Simple to install on new or existing systems
  • Easy to adjust
  • Requires only one sensor
  • Only allows watering if the sensing area actually requires water
  • Four selectable moisture levels cover the range required for turf grass
  • No need to re-program controllers for different seasons
  • Pays for itself in water saving

Video Clip Click here to watch an installation video for the WaterSwitch.


This Month's Specials

June Specials

Pest of the Month: Plant Diseases

Is it a bug or is it a fungus?

article pictureTelling the difference between insects and fungus or disease problems is not a simple task! Remember when giant whitefly first showed up? Many thought it was fungus because of the fuzzy filaments hanging from the undersides of the leaves and reacted by spraying fungicides, which weren't any help at all.

Actually, insecticides didn't help much either--as we soon found out--due to the many generations present (some of which were resistant) at the same time. Since the mouthparts of giant whiteflies are long and tubular, a good blast with the hose is actually one of the best methods of getting rid of them!

Many other bugs also leave damage that looks much like fungus. In some cases, such as aphids (honeydew produced by the aphids promotes the growth of sooty mold), they actually attract mold or fungus. Using a fungicide may get rid of a symptom but leave the original problem.

Another example: small holes in the leaves of plum, nectarine, almond, and apricot trees are actually symptoms of "shot hole" fungus, but if you see tiny holes in your eggplant's leaves--you probably have flea beetles!

Pest ProductsAs you can see, diagnosis is not always easy! Bring a sample in and we'll try to help diagnose problems and find the best cure for your problem.

As always, the first and best line of defense is prevention. Keep plants healthy--avoid injuries (such as hitting trees with lawnmowers, etc.). Choose varieties that do well in your area and are naturally resistant. We can help you choose resistant plants that will thrive for you.

Disease occurs when the conditions exist to allow it. It is an interaction between the pathogen (causative agent), environmental conditions, and host (plant). All these must be present. That's why prevention is so important. Consult our nursery professionals for help.

Garden Terms:

Pathogens: Microorganisms that cause disease.

Host: Plant that sustains the pathogen.

Spraying Tips

Whether you use our organic or conventional sprays, you can get the most out of your spraying by following these tips:

  1. Make sure the spray is getting UNDERNEATH the leaves. Mites, whiteflies, and many others spend most or all of their time there, so spraying only on the top surfaces will not control them.
  2. Don't spray a bone-dry plant, and don't spray in the middle of a very hot day. Early morning is a good time to spray because it's usually cooler and less windy, and the insects are less active--so more spray hits the pests.
  3. Follow all label directions. Don't use a more concentrated spray than the label recommends--you can easily burn your plants, and usually it is no more effective on pests. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to consult our nursery professionals.


Choosing a Healthy Orchid

Blooms: Choosing a plant with flowers on it will give you an idea what season it blooms in and lets you know the plant is mature. Look for uniform color and shape. Splotches and streaks may be indications of a virus that you shouldn't take home.

Even if a plant is blooming when you buy it, be patient with it. The shock of going from a garden center to the typical home may cause an orchid to skip a season before it performs again. Don't get frustrated and throw it out, and don't take it personally. It's worth the wait.

Leaves: The same principles apply as when buying any plant. Look for medium-green, uniformly shaped and colored leaves with no black spots or streaks.

Insects: Greenhouse-grown plants are more susceptible to insects than home-grown ones. Don't buy infested plants--why take home trouble?

Roots: Look for white, fat roots with healthy green tips poking through the potting medium.

Potting medium: You may have seen orchids planted in potting soil covered with a layer of bark. Soil will smother and eventually kill roots. So don't make that mistake. If you are repotting an orchid, use all bark. If you are buying a new one, stick your finger in the mix to test it. It should be all bark and not soggy, but firm and damp or dry.

Grow More Orchid Food
View related specials here.


Roberts Irrigation Ad




June Drop...Don't Panic!

Do your last thinning on deciduous fruit trees after June drop, nature's way of getting rid of an overload of fruit. It may occur any time between early May and July but is most likely to happen in June. One day you visit your apple, peach or apricot tree and find a circle of immature fruit lying on the ground under the branches. You may worry if you are new to fruit trees, but don't panic! It's a natural part of the cycle. These trees often set more than double the amount of fruit they could possibly ripen properly, so they simply drop off part of it.

If you thinned out fruit on your trees earlier, you enabled the remaining fruit to grow larger and thus will have less fruit dropping now. Nevertheless, you may need to remove even more fruit than naturally drops in order to space your crop evenly down the branches. Inspect other deciduous fruit trees that are less subject to June drop (plums, for instance) and thin out their fruits also.

Clean up any fallen fruit under the tree before it has a chance to rot and spread disease. If it's healthy, chop it and add it to your compost pile (cover it with earth to keep away flies and rodents). Also water your deciduous fruit trees deeply in June and July.


article image

It's June, the weather is fabulous: flowers are bursting from buds, fragrances float gently through the breeze. Hmm, that could be shortened to "Sun, buds bursting, breezes floating fragrances...birds sing!"

Continue to tuck in or fill out your garden beds with all the wonderful annual and perennial color that is arriving at the garden center. Celosia, dahlia, marigold, petunia, portulaca, salvia, scabiosa, verbena, zinnia, rudbeckia, gloriosa daisy, heliotrope, coreopsis, delphinium, digitalis--the list goes on and on! Can you name a few more?

Subtropicals abound. Now is an excellent time to plant hibiscus, gardenia, tibouchina (princess flower), and/or bougainvillea, shrub or vine.

Vegetables--have you been growing yours from seeds? Now is a good time to plant these little plants: cucumbers, eggplant, peppers, tomatoes. You can begin these vegetables from seeds now: summer and winter squashes, pumpkins (for parents with kids that love Halloween pumpkin carving and decorating), and corn (remember to plant at least a couple of rows of corn).

For that kitchen garden, now is a good time to plant your culinary herbs such as basil, chives, lemongrass, marjoram, oregano, parsley, sage and tarragon. Rosemary should be a permanent member of your garden!

Now is a good time to fertilize your flowers, roses, vegetables and warm season lawns.

For those growing native plants or other drought tolerant types, now is NOT the time to fertilize or to plant new natives. Your natives are preparing to go dormant for the summer.

Many have asked us what is causing yellowing in the leaves of their citrus, camellias, and gardenias. Iron deficiency. Do the leaves near the top of the plant have green veins but yellow in between the veins? Time for either a foliar spray or a soil drench. Try some to return those leaves to green!

Rose lovers, you may be starting to experience powdery mildew, rust, and of course, the "beloved" rose slug. And oh, did I mention aphids? There is a multitude of products: earth-friendly types and others that are synthetic chemicals. Please ask one of us for suggestions on the best pest-fighting product for your rose garden.

Other Basics--step up your watering as we enter into these warmer months. Weed and then, what's the final set of three words?

Mulch, Mulch, Mulch.*

* We will always tell you to mulch. This does not mean mound up the mulch to 5 feet. It means continue to replenish the mulch and maintain a 2-4 inch blanket over your soil. So when you hear us singing the MULCH song, you know just what we mean!

Hungry Hummingbirds

By Tamara Galbraith

Now is the time to haul out the sugar bag and make the hummingbirds happy. Do your part in being a responsible hummingbird fan.

The tried-and-true formula for making hummingbird nectar is 4 parts water to 1 part sugar. Use regular water and plain old white granulated sugar. DO NOT use artificial colors, such as red dye or other additives, and NEVER use honey or artificial sweeteners, as this could kill the birds.

The ingredients can be mixed using cold water (shake vigorously to dissolve the sugar); however, the nectar will keep longer if brought to a boil, then cooled. Do not let the mixture continue to boil, as it will turn syrupy.

Your hummingbird feeder should be thoroughly cleaned with hot water and mild soap, then rinsed and dried each time you change the nectar. Do not "top off" old sugar water. In hot weather, you should change the nectar twice a week. At the first sign of cloudy water or mold, clean and refill the feeder. Don't make more than the hummingbirds are eating in three days; it'll be a waste.

If you find your feeder is also providing a snack for ants, coat the hanger with a spray of cooking oil. (Many new feeders come with ant guards already built in.) Likewise, if wasps and bees are a problem, a second feeder with a higher concentration of sugar to water will give them their own eating station so the hummingbirds can drink in peace.

And, if you want to plant some hummingbird-attracting plants for next year, here's a brief list of their absolute favorites: salvia, hyssop, bee balm, honeysuckle, crossvine, turk's cap, morning glory, hibiscus, rose of Sharon and scarlet creeper.

Printable Hummingbird Feeder Coupon
Click here for the printable coupon.


Gettin' Rid of Gophers

You might think gophers are cute and cuddly in cartoons, but they can be a real menace in gardens. Their holes and tunnels are sometimes confused with those of ground squirrels, but these furry creatures with strong digging claws and sharp teeth can cause a lot more damage to lawns and gardens than a squirrel.

Wilco Gopher Getter

Gophers will feed on many plants, both above and below the ground. They have particular fondness for vegetables, bulbs, and tender annual flowers. They also eat seeds, leaves, and tender stems, as well as invade lawns to eat grasses and dandelions. If really hungry, they may also feed on tree roots or gnaw bark from young trees in winter.

The gopher's home is an extensive system of underground tunnels, which are excavated 4 to 18 inches below the ground. A series of these tunnels made by one gopher may extend several hundred feet and cover an acre of ground. Areas of gopher activity are marked on the surface by numerous mounds of excavated soil.
Article Picture

The characteristic fan-shaped mounds, which may be 18 to 24 inches in diameter and about 6 inches high, are at the ends of short lateral tunnels branching off the main runway. The surface opening, through which soil is pushed from the tunnel, is finally plugged by soil pushed into it from below, leaving a small circular depression on one side of the mound. Generally, the entire lateral is then filled to the main tunnel.

The placement of these mounds often gives a clue to the position of the main tunnel, which usually does not lie directly under any mound. One pocket gopher may make as many as 200 soil mounds per year. The most active mound building time is during the spring. And here's the really bad news--gophers do not hibernate.

There are many home remedies to repel gophers, including planting gopher repellent plants or putting substances in gopher tunnels such as cat litter or rags soaked in pine oil. But they rarely produce the desired results.

But the most cost effective way to kill gophers quickly and in large numbers is with prepared poisoned bait, or the use of gopher traps. The baits usually contain grains such as corn, oat and wheat along with small pieces of fruit or dried vegetables. Simply drop the bait into the underground runways (beyond the hole) and then cover them with dirt to keep to keep out light and air. Make one application for every four to six fresh mounds. The same instructions apply for gopher traps.

It's important to act quickly once you see signs of gopher activity, because once a tunnel system is in place, other gophers will quickly replace any you drive away.


Top Soil Ad


Red Worm Composting

Interview With Dennis Copson - Nature’s Big Bud

My first encounter with Dennis Copson was via a comment he left on the EcoSherpa blog (on one of my “Terracycle Challenge” posts) back in September. He happened to leave a link for his site, and I decided to check it out. As you might guess, I was quite intrigued with Nature’s Big Bud and decided to e-mail Dennis to ask if he’d take part in an interview. The rest, as they say, is history!

Read the interview.



Sod Special

Fruit Tree Netting: Protect Your Harvest

The fruit is ripening on your backyard fruit trees and the vegetables in your garden are looking really good. You're starting to anticipate a fabulous harvest. Unfortunately, so are the birds, squirrels and other critters. If you are unwilling to share your garden with your winged and animal friends, consider covering your tree with fruit tree netting. Fruit tree netting is easy to install.

Fruit Tree NettingFor Fruit Trees
Wrap fabric around or drape over your trees (for tall trees, use a pole to lift the netting over tree-tops). Gather it at the trunk and secure it with twist ties. Just roll back edge of netting for easy harvesting.

For Vegetable Gardens, Grapes, or Berries
Simply drape fabric over garden and secure with stakes, or weigh down the corners with heavy objects. To protect seeds, seedlings, and upright plants, elevate netting 6" or more above the ground using stakes, wire, etc. Lift the netting for easy harvesting.

Fruit tree netting is not only durable and lightweight, but also strong enough to protect your garden from thieving birds and other garden pests. It's a safe alternative to chemicals and is reusable season after season. Pick some up today and protect your much anticipated harvest.

Netting Special




Notes from Nan

Flannel is Not Just for Winter

Fast growing evergreen California flannel bushes (F.californicum) are some of our most beautiful native shrubs. Flannel bushes have cupped golden yellow flowers shaped like a star, 3 to 4 inches across, that take on a coppery tint as they age. The bright colored flowers make a strong contrast against olive-green and deeply lobed leathery leaves that are flocked on the underside with coppery fuzz. Flannel bush cultivars have different forms and sizes. Some are low growing, mounding ground covers, some are large shrubs, and some almost tree-sized at 20 feet tall and twice as wide. The most important thing to know about flannel bush is that they are extremely vulnerable to fungi that thrive in wet soil during warm summer months. Success comes from withholding water though the summer.

This information is from Nan Sterman's book California Gardener's Guide volume II published by Cool Springs Press.

California Gardener's Guide




Ladybug, ladybug, don't fly away!

With the focus on roses this time of year, an important beneficial insect to get to know is the ladybug or, more properly, "lady beetle." We'll talk about two here: the vedalia beetle (Rodolia cardinalis) and the convergent lady beetle (Hippodamia convergens).

ladybugsVedalia lady beetles eat aphids, scales, and other soft bodied insects. Most people are familiar with the adult, which is round, red with black spots, and about 1/4 inch long. This beetle was brought to the US from Australia in 1888 and saved the citrus industry in California by controlling cottony cushion scale. It is well-established in Florida now, as well. In addition to scale, the adult and larva have an appetite for aphids--a common rose pest. The larvae look like little dragons or alligators. Their long narrow bodies--about 1/3 inch long--are reddish-gray.

Convergent lady beetles are a native species and far more common. These are the ones most Americans think of when the word "ladybug" is used. They, and their larvae, also have an appetite for aphids and other pests. The larvae are darker with brighter markings

LadybugsThese ladies are easy to spot--look near the new growth at the tips of plants and on young buds. Watch for them in your own garden. Don't spray them; they are our best helpers!

Get to know your beneficial insects. They can be very useful in keeping the pests away and reducing the use of chemicals. And remember--when you do need to use chemicals in your garden, read the instructions carefully and consult with one of our nursery professionals, who can advise you on the best one to use for your particular problem.





Rose Care

We all have been thrilled by the "Queen of the Garden" this spring. Don't you agree? The first rose bloom has been absolutely fabulous. If you haven't been by the garden center and wandered through the rows of hybrid teas, floribundas, English, Romantica, Tree roses and Climbers, we invite you to do so. The color palette and fragrant bouquet is out of this world.

Roses perform best in bright sunny areas. Choose a location where access for pruning and maintenance is easy and where the plant is not likely to be exposed too much overhead watering, (such as lawn sprinklers) which could result in continual mildew problems. Although bare root planting was in early spring, you can plant roses now before it gets into our summer hot weather.

Almost everyone loves roses but many people don't grow them because they think roses are difficult to care for. Not so. They do require some care, but new resistant varieties are much easier to care for than the roses our grandparents grew. Here are the basic care tips for growing this Queen of the Garden.

Planting: Once you have chosen a location, plant your rose carefully to ensure a healthy start. Use a quality soil mix to blend 50/50 with your existing soil. Dig a hole 1.5 times as big as the container size you are planting. Use your soil blend in the bottom and handle the root ball carefully, using two hands to place it inside the hole. Next, using your soil blend, fill in around the sides of the root ball. Water the root ball thoroughly and let the soil settle naturally. Remember to water daily, as the rose gets established. You can begin fertilizing in 2-3 weeks.

Once the first blooms fade, what is your next step? Deadhead, water, fertilize and mulch. Pretty darn simple.

Deadhead: This encourages your rose to grow more secondary canes that will give you the next bloom cycle. So, unless you like to grow rose hips, then cut off these blooms. Make your cuts just above (1/4") an outward facing 5-leaflet. How far down the cane? That is your choice. During the bud/bloom time, some cut long stems to take into the house. Others cut back to shape and maintain a certain size to the rose bush throughout the season. Cut off cross canes and any canes coming up from below the graft union (those are suckers from the root stock).

Water: Roses love water. Keep the soil moist but not with standing water.

Fertilize: Roses love to eat--wouldn't you after all the work of these blooms! Just a quick product note--If you use a systemic food with pesticides, it is will not kill just rose pests, but beneficial insects as well.

Mulch: Cover the soil with 2-3 inches of mulch (cocoa mulch, small or shredded bark) surrounding the rose bush. Keep mulch away from the main stem/graft area. Mulch will keep weeds down, moisture in the soil, and increase the health of your soil.

We look forward to strolling with you through the rose section of our garden center and helping you with the best selection of roses for your garden.

Dr. Earth Rose Fertilizer Special




Summer Solstice

Summer Solstice, June 21, marks the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. The word "solstice" is from Latin meaning "sun stands still" (sol=sun, sistit=stands). Since all days are the same length (24 hours), what this means is that on this day we have the longest time between sunrise and sunset and the shortest time between the sunset and sunrise.

The ancient monument Stonehenge in England was built to mark an annual calendar. One of the stones in particular, the heelstone, was aligned to demonstrate this day, the longest day, as the beginning of their new year.

What does this all really mean? It's the first day of SUMMER! The beginning of dog days, warm weather, sunshine, and most important, lots of flower-growing time for all of us. Hooray!




Fruit Tree Netting: Protect Your Harvest

How do I get rid of dog urine spots in my lawn?


First, check to see if the damage spots are entirely dead. Pull on some of the damaged grass to see if it comes up completely or if it bends. If it's still pliable, it might recover. If it is dry and cracking like straw, then you might have to reseed that patch with a seed patch.

Some studies have been done that indicate that the damage is mostly caused by a nitrogen overdose (think fertilizer burn). So, if you see a/your dog urinating on your lawn the most effective way to prevent urine damage is to water to dilute the urine in the area as soon as possible after the dreaded act.

There are a number of animal repellents on the market, which work with varying degrees of success. Apply to existing spots and the perimeter of the lawn, especially in a front yard setting.






By Tamara Galbraith

Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus), is a beautiful tall plant with dual personalities: it has the willowy visual effect of ornamental grass in the landscape, and boasts a wide variety of culinary uses as an herb in the kitchen.

A native of India, lemongrass is widely used in Thai and Vietnamese cooking. The grass blade can be sliced very fine and added to soups for a lemony twist. Also, the bulb can be bruised and minced for use in a variety of recipes. Medicinal herb teas can also be brewed from lemongrass.

To replicate lemongrass's native Indian climate, give it full sun, sandy soil and average water--do not overwater. In the milder areas of the country, lemongrass will act as a perennial. If your winters are on the harsh side, it's better to pot up the plant and bring it in to the garage.

Before you do that, however, see if it needs to be divided. Lemongrass is a clumping type of grass, which means you can eventually divide and get several plants out of it...or, of course, you can plant some and eat the rest!


Green Curry Shrimp with Noodles

Active time: 35 min Start to finish: 40 min
Servings: Makes 4 servings.


  • 1 cup chopped shallots (about 4)
  • 2 fresh lemongrass stalks (optional), 1 or 2 outer leaves discarded and lower 6 inches of stalks thinly sliced
  • 2 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped peeled fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh cilantro stems
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons bottled Asian green curry paste
  • 1 ½  teaspoons sugar
  • ¾  teaspoon salt
  • ½  teaspoon turmeric
    ¼  cup water
  • ¼  cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 (13- to 14-oz) can unsweetened coconut milk (not low-fat)
  • 1 ¾  cups reduced-sodium chicken broth (14 fl oz)
  • ¾  lb dried flat 3/8-inch-wide rice noodles or 1/2 lb dried flat 1/8-inch-wide stir-fry rice noodles
  • 1 ½  lb peeled and deveined large shrimp (21 to 25 per lb)
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons Asian fish sauce, or to taste
Accompaniment: fresh cilantro sprigs


  • Purée shallots, lemongrass, garlic, ginger, and cilantro stems in a blender with curry paste, sugar, salt, turmeric, and water until as smooth as possible, about 1 minute.

  • Heat oil in a 4-quart wide heavy pot over moderate heat until hot but not smoking. Then cook curry paste mixture, stirring frequently, until it just begins to stick to bottom of pot, 8 to 10 minutes. Add coconut milk and broth and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until reduced to about 3 2/3 cups, 8 to 10 minutes.

  • While sauce simmers, cook noodles in a 6-quart pot of boiling salted water, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until tender, 4 to 6 minutes. Drain in a colander and rinse under cold water. Drain noodles well and divide among 4 large bowls.

  • Add shrimp to sauce and simmer, stirring, until just cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in fish sauce and salt and pepper to taste. Ladle shrimp and sauce over noodles.




Mr. G

'See you next month!'
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