It's so nice to finally be able to say that after the winter we have had. The good news is that it finally warming up enough to get you started planting your veggies and spring and summer color. We are looking forward to seeing you this spring and helping you get your garden looking its best.
APRIL SUCCESS TIPS
Plant vegetables, berries and fruit trees.This is all part of growing healthier food, fresher food, and better tasting food (see recipe at the bottom). You pick at the peak of ripeness, versus supermarket produce that is picked green, then gassed to finish the ripening process. Plus, when you grow your own, it can't be any more local, and you know it is clean, free from any pesticides.
Keep an eye on your roses.
All these late rains mixed in with some warm weather equals big time fungus problems for your roses. We have a great new organic fungicide which works really well. Don't be afraid to cut back any heavily damaged stems or leaves.
As we come to the end of the rainy season, it will be time to turn your sprinkler system back on, and gradually increase the amount of water you give your plants as the days heat up and become longer. Inspect your sprinkler system for leaks, plugged or misadjusted sprinkler heads, and vegetation that is blocking them. Make sure water is flowing out of each nozzle of a drip system.
Time to fertilize!
Plants are particularly hungry this spring because the heavy rains leached more nitrogen out of the soil than most winters. Feed most plants with EB Stone Organics All Purpose Plant Food, citrus with Master Nursery Citrus Food, and lawns with Master Green Lawn Food.
Amend your Soil.
Another great way to add nitrogen back in the soil is adding amendments. We have Paydirt and E.B. Stone Flower and Veggie Mix on sale right now and both are perfect for the job.
REPLANTING AFTER THE DROUGHT
We certainly have lots of water, but there is no reason not to continue to plant smart to reduce your landscape water use. Replace plants that died or are doing poorly because plants are a critical part of life on Earth as they add oxygen to the air, filter out air contaminants, beautify our surroundings, and do so much more. We have a great selection of low water succulents and other low water plants. Experiment with these in your yard and you will discover that you'll come to love some of these plants just as much as plants that need lots of water. Many people are not getting rid of their lawn, but simply reducing its size. If you are replanting your lawn to make it look great again, we can help with that as well. New varieties of grass often use less water than old varieties, and there are some grass mixes that take far less water, that may be useful for certain areas you have.
As the blooms on your camellias start to fall off the plants, make sure to keep the old flowers picked up underneath the plant to eliminate the occurrence of a disease called Camellia Petal Blight. It can cause the petals to turn brown and mushy. Once they are done blooming go ahead and do any pruning or shaping. Try to fertilize your camellias 3 to 4 times a year starting about 3-4 weeks after they are done blooming. Camellias are very slow growing and this regular fertilizer regimen helps them stay nice and full without getting stretched out and also keeps them a nice deep green color. If your looking to add some of these beautiful shade plants, we have plenty of nice specimens from Monrovia in stock.
PLANT A BERRY GARDEN
You can't get tastier or healthier food than berries, picked fresh from your garden. And with all the new varieties that have come out in the last ten years, you might say this has become the 'golden age of backyard berry production.' We have lots of berries to choose from, including blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, and more. Plant these all in one section of your garden, where you can easily protect the fruits from birds with our bird netting. Plant enough and you'll have healthy berries for every breakfast, or those special Saturday breakfasts, or on ice cream, or in fruit compotes! Blueberries are colorful, attractive plants, so you might want to plant up some extras of these in large containers for use in a sunny entryway or patio. Blueberries want an acid soil, so ask us which soil amendment to use to create that.
COMMON PLANTING MISTAKE
Spring is an excellent time to plant! Did you know that one of the most common planting mistakes is planting too deep? Here's why this is so common. People may place the plant at the correct height in the hole, but they forget that the soil will settle and lower the level of the entire plant. The deeper you dig the hole, the more settling will lower the soil level. In almost all cases (tomatoes are an exception), the trunk of a plant needs to end up at the same soil level as when it was in the nursery pot. If the trunk becomes partially covered with soil, it is much more likely to succumb to crown rot that either causes the plant to grow more slowly, or sometimes kills it. Also, any grafted section may be covered, causing further problems. So whenever you've dug a deep hole, plant just a little high so that once the soil settles, the trunk will be at the same soil level as it was in the pot. You'll end up with healthier plants!
WESTERN MONARCH UPDATE
A total of 298,464 monarch butterflies were counted along the West Coast at select sites during the Thanksgiving holiday. The numbers counted are a little higher than the really bad recent years, but far lower than the highs of 1997 and 1998, when the counts first began. (In 1997, 1,235,490 monarchs, or over 4 times as many as last year, were counted.) What makes this fall's counts even grimmer is that they include many more sites than those early years, so what we are seeing are far fewer monarchs overwintering at each site than before. As things warm up monarch butterflies move out from where they spent the winter. Unfortunately we will be seeing fewer monarchs all through California this year. If you want to help monarchs, consider planting a patch of milkweed (any species of milkweed) in your garden this year, from either seeds or plants. Monarch butterflies feed on a large range of flowering plants (so plant lots of plants that will bloom), but the caterpillars only feed on milkweed. Then have fun watching and observing all the action!
GRILLED MEXICAN COBB SALAD
Here is a little inspiration to get your veggies planted. Think how good this will be this summer with fresh veggies. This is a Big Green Egg Recipe, but a regular grill will work just fine for this one.
2 ears fresh corn, husks and silk removed
2 large jalapeno peppers
1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and quartered
1 medium red onion, peeled and sliced ½-inch thick
Freshly squeezed lime juice and sea salt to taste
4 cups sliced romaine lettuce
1 cup California walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
1 cup very small cubes Chipotle Cheddar or Pepper Jack cheese
1 cup rinsed and drained canned black beans
Cheese Walnut Chips
Set EGG for direct cooking at 400°F/204°C.
Grill corn, peppers and onion on EGG until lightly charred on all sides; remove from EGG. Cut corn away from cob. Cut jalapeno peppers into thin slices and cut bell pepper and onion into bite-size strips. Drizzle with lime juice and season to taste with salt; let cool or chill.
Pile lettuce into 4 salad bowls. Top with equal amounts of grilled vegetables, walnuts, cheese, and black beans, forming rows of each. Serve with avocado dressing and Cheese Walnut Chips (both recipes below).
Avocado Chipotle Dressing Ingredients
1 large ripe avocado, peeled and pitted
¼ cup lightly packed fresh cilantro leaves
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons lime juice
3 tablespoons orange juice
1 to 2 teaspoons minced canned chipotle pepper in adobo sauce
½ teaspoon each: sugar and garlic salt
Avocado Chipotle Dressing Instructions
Puree all dressing ingredients in a blender or food processor. Transfer to a small bowl and press plastic wrap onto the surface. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Cheese Walnut Chips Instructions
Cut 2 corn tortillas into 8 wedges (preferably a homemade-style tortilla). Place on a Half Moon Griddle and sprinkle with 3 tablespoons shredded pepper Jack or chipotle Cheddar cheese and 2 tablespoon finely chopped walnuts.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until lightly browned.
Even though it has felt like fall for the last month, we can officially welcome it this week and like every September, it is warming up.
Fall is is an ideal time to plant as plants like to settle in and put down strong root systems before next summer's hot weather. Fall weather encourages strong root development, and winter rains help plants get established. Remember that even drought tolerant plants will need supplemental water for the first year or so while they are getting established.
We are busy working on the Christmas House and expect to open Saturday, November 5th. So yes, you may see some holiday decorations on our counter or elsewhere. We understand that it seems entirely too early for Christmas, but remember that it takes us three months to prepare. It's an amazing amount of work done by my wife Barb, Diana, Patti Jo and the rest of the staff. Most of you know what a terrific display they create, so please bear with us. And...the holidays really will be here before you know it!
FALL GARDENING TIPS
Plant fall flowers- Pansies, snapdragons, cyclamen, primroses, mums, calendula, paludosm daisies, sedum and many more are here!
Beautify your entry-Start now to get the frount of your house looking good and ready for fall and the holidays with potted containers of chrysanthemums, pansies, Santa Barbara daisies, coneflowers, and other flowers. Add gourds and pumpkins as they ripen in your garden
Add spent summer flowers,vegetables, and fall leaves to your compost pile, and use it to enrich your soil. If it is diseased, has pests or is a weed that has gone to seed, have it removed with your trash. Although a hot compost pile kills insects and many diseases, most home compost piles aren't consistently hot enough to do a good job. As the days shorten
and temperatures cool, plants start needing less water than during the summer months. Gradually follow the season and reduce your watering. But keep an eye out for those hot, windy fall days or weeks that really dry out plants.
September is a great time to rejuvenate distressed lawns. Fertilize now with Master Green Lawn Food to keep them healthy and green. Reseed or resod any bare spots. We can add amounts as small as 10 square feet to existing orders if you just have a small patch job. You may need to net these areas temporarily to keep raccoons and skunks from digging them up as they look for grubs.
POLLINATORS NEED YOUR FLOWERS
Survey your yard and make sure you have a variety of plants in bloom this time of year. They are needed to sustain honeybees, native bees,and other pollinators. Some plants provide pollen, and others nectar. Both are needed by pollinators, so make sure you have a variety of plants blooming. Also, there are many different kinds of pollinators, and some of these have a definite preference for certain flower types, so a variety of flowers are needed to provide them food. Come in and ask us for some long blooming plants that will provide food at this time and during the months ahead.
THIS YEAR'S VEGETABLE GARDEN
Our customers are always asking about how our veggie garden performed this year and in turn talking about their results. Regardless of where we are in Marin, the success's and failures seem to usually be the same. I always like to say now you know how farmers feel when there are things that are out of our control, like August feeling like November. That being said, in my opinion we had a very good year, but things have been on the late side. The pumpkins are bigger than we have ever had with cool and unique shapes. The tomatoes and cucumbers were prolific and the lettuce has enjoyed the cooler weather. One puzzling thing is the peppers were amazing this year and even the bell peppers looked like the real deal, when during cool summers in the past they have been small and a little misshapen. I'm assuming the two weeks of hot weather we had in July was responsible for that, providing enough heat at the right time. The one item that seemed to struggle was the zucchini squash, they were abundant early on but tapered off fast as the cool weather made them mildew much earlier than normal. All in all, I would say it was a good year.
REDWOOD TREES ARE HEROES
A new study has found that California's ancient redwood forests are a particularly potent weapon against global warming. Areas of ancient redwoods were carefully measured for the amount of carbon the trees store. On one site in Jedediah Smith Redwood Park (near the Oregon border), the trees were storing an astounding 2,600 metric tons of carbon per hectare (about 2.5 acres) That is more than twice the 1,000 metric tons estimated for both the ancient conifer forests in the Pacific Northwest, and the towering eucalyptus forests of Australia. It is also more than the densest tropical rain forests. Because our carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere are now at extremely high levels, plants are particularly valuable in reducing this carbon. All plants through photosynthesis use carbon dioxide and release valuable oxygen. Because redwoods live so long and grow to enormous heights, they capture and hold unusually large amounts of carbon from the atmosphere.
ONE MAN'S BACKYARD EFFORT TO INCREASE BUTTERFLIES
Over the last few years we have been really impressed with our customers desire to create gardens that are not only beautiful, but provide food and habitat for butterflies, birds and bees. One San Francisco man, Tim Wong, set out to increase the numbers of pipevine swallowtails in his city. This beautiful butterfly has blackish forewings and iridescent dark blue hind wings with orange spots underneath them. The caterpillars feed almost exclusively on native California pipevine plants in the wild. Wong planted pipevine in his backyard and built a large screen enclosure over the area. The enclosure allows the butterflies to mate and lay eggs, and protects them from predators. He has been doing this for the last four years, successfully raising "thousands" of caterpillars and transferring them to the San Francisco Botanical Garden in Golden Gate Park. These butterflies are natives to the area, but became less common as the city was built up. Thanks to Wong, they are making a comeback. Wong is an inspiration to people who want to do something to help beautiful and beneficial birds, butterflies, bees, and other creatures. He says, "Improving habitat for native fauna is something anyone can do. Conservation and stewardship can start in your very own backyard."
If you have lots of tomatoes, here are three delicious ways to enjoy them.
1)Try this tri colored salad if you have both yellow and red tomatoes. Cut tomatoes into wedges. Alternate on a pretty platter with peeled, sliced avocados. Drizzle with oil & vinegar dressing, or just lemon juice, salt, and herbs. This picture is from our dinner tonight and it was delicious, we opted for the lemon juice, salt and basil. A great dish for a party.
2) Peel tomatoes and slice ¼ inch thick. Sprinkle with black olives, dill, Italian parsley, and green onions. Drizzle with oil & vinegar dressing.
3) Slice and peel about 1 pound of tomatoes, and sprinkle with mint leaves. Marinate for ½ hour in a mixture of ¼ cup orange juice, 1 Tbsp oil, 1 tsp vinegar, 2 tsp Dijon-style mustard, salt and pepper
It's hard to imagine that summer is almost here, especially given the cool weather we have had this Spring (Yes we are spoiled in California). There is still plenty of time to get your basil and cilantro planted to coincide with your tomatoes ripening for salsa and sauces. Most people have had their veggies in the ground for a month or so and this is the time when nutrients from the manure start to bread down, so add fertilizer now in order to maximize growth and fruit production.
STILL TIME TO PLANT FLOWERS
We're bursting at the seams with colorful plants you can put in now and enjoy. Here are just a few of the annuals, perennials, and groundcovers we have to offer as plants and seeds, in useful categories to help you find what you need. Ask us to point out others for your planting project.
* Flowers that attract butterflies: asters, lantana, marigolds, zinnias, tithonia, most daisy-like flowers, butterfly bush (Buddelia).
* Great flowers for cutting: Alstroemeria, Shasta daisy, statice, scabiosa, coreopsis, zinnias, asters.
* Flowers that love heat: salvia, verbena, lantana, geraniums, gaillardia, rudbeckia, celosia, statice, vinca rosea, cosmos, coreopsis, portulaca.
* Flowers for part shade: Impatiens, begonias, lobelia, coleus, campanula, vinca minor.
* Low water blooming shrubs: some tough plants include raphiolepsis, bottlebrush, cotoneaster, manzanita, ceanothus, rockroses, grevillea, crape myrtle, and more in stock. For best success with flowers, dig Max Sea All Purpose into the bed before planting, and fertilize on a regular basis.
THE IMPORTANCE OF FERTILIZING AFTER A WET WINTER
The availability of nitrogen, the key nutrient plants need in the greatest quantity, and the nutrient most often in short supply in soils, is always reduced by heavy rains. That's because nitrogen in the nitrate form, which is the most usable form for plants, is highly water soluble and easily leaches out of the root zone. It can also be carried away with rain water run-off. Nitrogen, as well as other nutrients that have been lost or used up, should be replenished in soils for best plant growth. An excellent all-purpose fertilizer to use is Master Nursery Multi-Purpose 16-16-16. Feed lawns with Master Green Lawn Food or Master Green Weed & Feed. Some plants have specific nutrient needs, so come in and ask us about the food needs of specific plants you have.
PLANT A KITCHEN GARDEN
Gardening and cooking go hand-in-hand, which has given rise to the classic kitchen garden, properly called a potager garden. Named after the French word for soup, a potager has vegetables and herbs planted among flowers (often edible flowers), and can be both pretty and productive. The pattern of a potager garden can be simple or complex - a straightforward square shape or a mixture of squares, rectangles and circles. For a simple square or rectangular bed, place what will become the tallest plants in the center and back, with the shortest and the most frequently used plants closest to the paths and front. One idea is to plant tall growing pole beans in the center surrounded by pepper plants and rose bushes. Lettuces, lower growing herbs and annual flowers can rim the edge of the bed. Allow paths at least 20" for walking around the beds, and edge the bed with bricks or edging to keep out lawn grass. A potager doesn't have to be large - in fact, a small kitchen garden with a few key herbs, vegetables, and flowers may be just what the cook wants. Just locate it near the kitchen and encourage the entire family to join in the fun of planting, caring for, harvesting, and eating the results!
FUNGUS PROBLEMS ON VEGGIES AND ROSES
While the April and May showers have been nice, they have not been so kind to your Veggies and Roses. This has been one of the worst springs for fungus problems that I can remember. The root of the problem is the sporadic wet weather and the ups and downs in temperature. A rainy day followed by warm weather creates ideal conditions for fungus. Make sure you clean up the worst leaves and prune back your roses if stems are starting to turn black and die back. Spraying with a fungicide may be in order as well - stop by and we can show you some different options.
LANDSCAPING WITH EDIBLES
It's not really such a new idea - way back in King Tut's time they landscaped with edible plants such as figs and pomegranates. Today there is so much you can do. Citrus trees make especially attractive yard plants, with their dark green leaves, fragrant flowers and cheery, bright fruit. Blueberries are also very good looking plants. Fruit trees can be planted in the yard or espalied along fences and buildings. As espaliers they'll provide pleasant green backgrounds rather than the hardness of building materials. You can train vines like grapes to do the same thing. Many edible experts suggest planting vegetables in border plantings. Lettuces, radicchio, kale, beets and artichokes all provide colorful or unusual leaves that add variety to gardens. Herbs are always a nice addition. We suggest planting parsley, chives, dill and basil in sunny spots for their interesting foliage as well as for cooking.
PHILLY CHEESESTEAK SMOTHERED BURGERS
We just tried this recipe that is new to the big green egg website and these burgers are delicious! It was very simple and we can't wait for our homegrown peppers to ripen this summer.
1 pound ground beef, preferably 85% lean
1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
½ teaspoon ground pepper
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
½ medium onion, sliced
½ sweet bell pepper, sliced
4 ounces Extra Sharp cheddar, cut into 12 slices
4 hamburger buns, toasted if desired
Set EGG for direct cooking (no convEGGtor) at 400-450°F/204-232°C.
Form beef into 4 burger patties. Sprinkle all over with salt and pepper.
Swirl oil in the 12-inch Lodge Cast-Iron skillet. Layer in onion and peppers and place skillet on the hot grill surface, slightly to one side. Cook until the vegetables are sizzling in the oil, about 3 minutes. Stir the vegetables and continue cooking, stirring often, until they are soft, about 12 minutes.
Meanwhile, when there is about 4 minutes left for the peppers, place burgers on the EGG next to the skillet. Cook, rotating ¼ degrees after 2 minutes for a total of 4 minutes on the first side.
Scrape peppers and onions to one side of the skillet with a spatula. Flip two burgers onto their uncooked side on the plain side of the skillet. Use tongs or the spatula to top the burgers with half of the pepper mixture, dividing evenly. Repeat clearing spots and topping with the remaining two burgers. Top with three slices of cheese per burger. Close the EGG and let cook until the burgers are cooked to desired doneness and the cheese is melted, 4 to 6 minutes. Serve on buns.
Happy New Year, I hope that everyone has been enjoying a wet and soggy winter so far. It is great to see our reservoirs in Marin at 98% full and rising. Take advantage of the free water and break in the weather this weekend and plant bareroot fruit trees, roses and berries. It is also a great time to plant hardier shrubs and trees, that will flush out when the spring weather starts. Do not forget to prune roses and fruit trees and dormant spray before it is too late. We just got back from markets in Atlanta and Las Vegas and have ordered lots of new pots and fun items that should be in stock in the next 2-3 weeks, as spring approaches.
IT'S FRUIT AND BERRY TIME!
Now is the time to plant your backyard orchard and berry garden! A garden just isn't a garden without several fruit trees. You may enjoy some of our multi-grafted fruit trees that have several varieties on one tree. Tight on space? Choose our semi-dwarf trees, or even the much smaller dwarf trees, that bear a surprising number of full-sized fruits on small plants. You'll also want to plant a selection of healthy berry plants. Berries are "super foods," loaded with anti-oxidants and natural Vitamin C. Try our blueberry plants -the best varieties that produce delicious blueberries in our climate, and the plants look so nice you can even plant them as ornamental low shrubs. They make wonderful container plants, too. Also plant raspberries, blackberries, grapes, strawberries (be sure to use the strawberry recipe on the back), and more. Also plant some of our delicious perennial vegetables, including rhubarb, asparagus, artichokes, as well as potatoes. These are available while they last. For best results, mix in Master Nursery Paydirt and EB Stone Organics Sure Start to help break up the soil and to provide a slow release of nutrients. Blueberries need acid soils, so mix in extra compost when planting them to help acidify the soil. (Ask us about this.) Always keep roots moist before, during, and after planting.
FEBRUARY SUCCESS TIPS
like Ceanothus and Arctostaphylos (Manzanita). Not only do these require little or no water once established, but because some varieties bloom starting in late winter when there aren't many flowers blooming, they are important food sources for bees and other pollinators. There are also lots of other great drought tolerant and bee friendly plants from Australia that we can show you.
2. Turn hydrangeas
a gorgeous blue color by fertilizing them now, and then in 60 days, with Hydra Blue. If you don't do this, hydrangeas that are pink or blue when you plant them will be pinkish the following year.
3. Valentine's Day
is February 14! Surprise your sweetheart with something different--one of our beautiful flowering house or garden plants that will provide years of sweet, fragrant flowers. Ask us to point out a couple special ones. (Some are blooming now, while others will produce blooms later.)
4. You can still plant many cool season vegetables.
Come see what we have.
5. We have a variety of cool season flowers
that are blooming now and will be for many months. Plant them now to take advantage of rains and brighten your doorway and yard.
6. Apply a dormant spray
now to fruit trees and roses to grow more pest-free fruits and roses.
GARDEN AND ENJOY BETTER HEALTH
Plan on spending more time in your garden this year to improve your health. Did you know that 45 minutes in the garden is comparable to 30 minutes on the treadmill? And because gardening is much more enjoyable than running on a treadmill, you are likely to do it more often. Gardening also burns more calories than leisurely walking and has also been shown to have a wide array of other important health benefits, including reducing stress, boosting immune functions, lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and fighting obesity. It even has been shown to fight seasonal depression . So garden and stay healthy! Better fruits and vegetables are another benefit of gardening. You can grow tastier varieties than the stores carry, grow them organically, and you'll probably eat more of these healthy foods that come from your own yard.
FOUNDATION DESIGN TIPS
Many people will soon be replacing plants, or entire areas, because so many plants died in the drought or performed poorly. We are having a nice wet winter, but whether we do or not, this is a good time to start making changes in your landscape to make it less thirsty and better looking in the future. Plants around the house foundation define and compliment a house the same way a mat and frame enhance a picture. They unite the house with the site and can be used to accentuate or soften architectural features of the home. Here are a few guidelines to keep in mind, whether you are replacing one foundation plant or all of them.
Draw attention to the front door:
Plant tallest vegetation at the corners of your home and plants of decreasing height leading towards the door. The effect will guide one's focus toward the entrance. Tall plants can be softened with shrubbery that grows horizontally.
Use pleasing proportions:
Some plants can be maintained at no more than two-thirds of the height of the house, or less.
Show off your curves:
Soften sharp architectural angles with curves in your planting beds. Use large sweeping lines rather that little 'wiggly ones' to define planting beds because they will look more natural.
ONE MORE REASON TO PLANT STRAWBERRIES
Plant strawberries now and in the next couple months, and you can be enjoying this heavenly, easy dessert many times this year!
9 inch pie shell, baked
12 oz. pkg. semi-sweet chocolate chips
8 oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened
2 Tbsp. honey
4 cups fresh strawberries, stems removed and top sliced to sit level, upside-down
Melt 8 oz. chocolate chips, cool slightly. Beat cream cheese until soft. Gradually beat in melted chocolate and honey. Spread mixture into pie shell. Cover and chill about an hour. Place berries, pointed end, up, on top. Melt remaining 4 oz. chocolate chips, and drizzle over top. Serve with whipped cream. It's incredibly delicious!
9 inch pie shell, baked 12 oz. pkg. semi-sweet chocolate chips 8 oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened 2 Tbsp. honey 4 cups fresh strawberries, stems removed and top sliced to sit level, upside-down.
SOME NEW ITEMS NOW IN STOCK
E.B. STONE ORGANICS ULTIMATE RECIPE
A very high quality potting soil that is enriched with feather meal, seabird guano, crab meal, kelp meal, bat guano and fish bone meal.
E.B. STONE ORGANICS ORGANIC COMPOST
Builds soil structure throughout the season and helps all soils retain vital nutrients. Ideal for vegetables, flowers, shrubs and trees for the organic gardener.
NEW KIDS GARDENING TOOLS
These are made for the 6-10 year old child that has outgrown the smaller kids tools (which we still have) but are not quite ready for adult sized tools.
I'm sure that you are all ready for summer to begin, as this May has been one of the coolest that I can remember. The ups and downs in the weather have caused a lot of fungus problems in roses and if you have flowering or fruiting pears that fire blight has been terrible. It's not to late to plant all the warm season flowers, vegetables and herbs now. In fact with the cool weather you won't be far behind those who planted them much earlier. Remember to fertilize to help get your plants off to a good healthy start going into the warmer months. Most of the citrus are looking a little yellow right now because of nutrient deficiencies, so feed them with Citrus food to help green them up and increase the quality of the fruit. If you're thinking of replacing your lawn we can help you with design ideas or recommend professional designers and landscapers for you to work with. We look forward to seeing you this summer.
HOW MUCH MULCH?
Mulch is a big help throughout the garden. It is one of the simplest things you can do in your landscape to save water. It also prevents weeds, improves soil over time and helps keep plant roots from getting too hot or cold. So, how much mulch is right? Not deep enough, and weeds will get through - too deep and the soil may become waterlogged, promoting root rot diseases. How much mulch you need depends on the mulch. A chunky mulch, such as large bark or wood chips, can be thick-3 or 4 inches usually works well. Fine materials like straw, grass clippings, or sheets of newspaper, can end up being packed together. One to two inches or so is all you want to use of these mulches. For all mulches, apply it right up to the stems of vegetables and flowers, but keep it 1-2 inches away from the trunk or stem of shrubs and trees. Mulch slows water down, both when it rains, and when you irrigate, giving it more time to soak into the ground. It also reduces the loss of water by evaporation from the top layer of soil and has lots of other benefits. The right amount of mulch will help keep your garden healthier and looking professionally maintained, with less water. Ask us to show you the right mulch for different parts of your landscape. Also topdress your lawn with the right mulch to save water and keep it healthier.
HELP FOR YOUR TREES
If you are watering your lawn less, be aware that trees and shrubs in or near the edge of your lawn may become severely stressed. Plants near a lawn often come to depend on lawn watering for their moisture, and they tend to have shallow root systems. It's important to occasionally deep-water these plants, especially the trees that provide valuable shade and increase the value of your home.
Occasional deep-watering (perhaps every 3 to 6 weeks, but more often at first) can help prevent them from being stressed or killed. Plus it gradually trains their roots to reach deeper, which helps them become more drought tolerant.
Salvias (sages) are some of those plants that are often under used. There are many great varieties in this diverse group of tough but beautiful plants. Most of them don't require a lot of water once established, and many bloom for a long time or are repeat bloomers, especially if you nip off dead flower spikes, and fertilize them.
Autumn sage (Salvia greggii) is a great sage that, contrary to its name, blooms throughout summer and fall. It originated from southwest Texas and northern Mexico. There are now many wonderful varieties and hybrids of autumn sage, in colors ranging
from white to pink and deep red, plus bi-colored varieties. Many sages are perennials that last for years, and many are low water users. Most continue to bloom even in the hottest of
weather. One of our favorites is Salvia Black and blue and it has amazing blue flowers with dark stems. Add some of these easy-care flowers today to your flower beds.
HUMMINGBIRDS HAVE SPECIAL WATER NEEDS
Hummingbirds will love your yard if you offer them an assortment of their favorite flowers to drink from. These include plants like bottlebrush, lion's tail, Zauschneria, trumpet vine, many salvias, and others. (Ask us.) Many of these are low water users, too!
Unlike other birds, hummers don't need water to quench their thirst -they mostly get all the liquid they need from the nectar and sugar water (from hummingbird feeders) they feed on. But being able to bathe is essential to hummers, because the sticky nectar they've been feeding on gets on their feathers, reducing their flight capabilities, and reducing the insulation value of their plumage. Have you ever seen a hummingbird swoop through the water from a sprinkler? Like many people, hummers love showers, especially if the water droplets are small. A mister is ideal - none of us wants to be hit by a firehose! And when they do bathe, they need shallow water. Most bird baths are far too deep - just put a little water in it at a time. Like people, most birds are attracted to the sound of running water, so fountains and sprinklers will draw their attention. If you provide a shallow spot in a fountain, hummers especially love it.
We are very excited to be carrying Challenger Designs outdoor kitchens.
Enjoy the convenience and versatility of an outdoor kitchen from Challenger Designs. Built with decades of expertise and craftsmanship especially for those that require a full working kitchen outdoors.
An outdoor kitchen from Challenger is a dream convenience from the best in the industry. Choose from a huge selection of pre-configured cabinets and carts or create your own one-of-a-kind design with the wide array of options, add-ons, colors and counter surfaces available to make your kitchen truly custom. Challenger will tailor your outdoor kitchen to meet your individual needs no matter what the setting or use. Relaxing and enjoying yourself doesn't come in a one-size-fits-all way; we don't believe your outdoor kitchen should either!
AN ABUNDANT WATER SOURCE-GRAYWATER
Using graywater (same as 'greywater') has become popular in California, once again. This is water that, just like clothes from a thrift store, may have been "gently used" before you reuse it to water your yard. Water from your bath, shower, or sink, is usually clean enough to be used to water landscapes. It may contain some soap, food, bacteria, and other contaminants, but still works very well to water your thirsty plants. As long as you don't use fabric softener (added or contained in your detergent brand), even the water from a clothes washer (no diapers!) can be used to water the yard. Avoid sodium, bleach and borax, too.
Topsoil is an excellent filter and even sunshine plays a part in cleaning water. But to be safe, always be sure to cook (and/or wash and peel) any root or leaf vegetables graywater comes into contact with.
DELICIOUS ZUCCHINI CHIPS
Zucchini Chips are made from thinly sliced zucchini, oiled, seasoned, and baked to a potato-chip crunch. New techniques and flavors are invented daily, but here are a few tips!
Slice zucchini thinly (1/8 is the thickest they should be; the thinner, the better). Slice evenly or cooking time will vary from chip to chip. If you have a slicing gadget, use it.
Drier is better, so if you have zucchini that has gone a bit hard, so much the better! Let the slices sit for a few minutes and then blot them with paper towels to reduce moisture and help the oil stick.
3. Choose your seasonings: herbs and spices, parmesan cheese, garlic powder, salad dressing mixes, breadcrumbs. Maybe try left- over Italian dressing, or keep it simple with salt.
Apply seasonings by mixing them with your oil (usually olive), or oil the chips first, then sprinkle. But don't go overboard; as the chips shrink the flavors become more intense.
Some cooks bake them in an oven on non-stick baking sheets for about 2 hours at 225 degrees; others, for 10-15 minutes at 425 degrees (watch to prevent burning). If you use a
dehydrator instead, leave the trays in for 8-14 hours.
Let chips cool in the open to prevent them from becoming soggy. Once cool, if you haven't eaten them all, store in an airtight container.