Garden Stuff We Love
Goodies for your favorite gardener make wonderful gifts for the green (and not so green) thumbers on your list. A pair of Felco pruning shears will guarantee that you will be remembered kindly for the many years they are in use. Felcos are available for all hand sizes and for lefties! (Mr. Ed has been using a pair for 14 years). Felco folding saws are ideal for fruit tree and rose pruning. Or maybe a new pair of wonderfully soft West County Garden Gloves for the love of your life. For the rose gardener, there are gloves with puncture proof gauntlets by Deluxe Rose Pro's and new this year MUD Gauntlets. A jar of time release Osmocote fertilizer or a soil test kits are great stocking stuffers. And if you really can't make up your mind, we have Gift Cards. Finally, instead of a lump of coal this year, how about a sack of steer manure?
(HOLIDAY SEASON TREES AND PLANTS
The Holiday Season is upon us. There is barely time to take down the Indian corn and pumpkin decorations from the door and replace them with a suitable holiday wreath! Readymade Noble fir wreaths from 12" to 48" in diameter are now available and can be decorated to your specifications. We'll be happy to dress the wreath with a bow of a suitable size.
The original Mr. Wegman--Rudy--is still making custom wreaths of any size and from such diverse materials as Hydrangea blossoms, bay leaves, redwood boughs or Nandina. Rudy also makes Advent wreaths and where else on the Peninsula can you find anything like that?
An outstanding selection of Silver Tip and Noble Fir Christmas trees are available--sizes range from 3 feet to 16 feet tall. Some sizes are in short supply. Pick out your tree for first choice selections and arrange for us to deliver when you specify. We also have Christmas tree stands available which includes installation for as long as you own the stand. Did you know Christmas trees are graded 1, 2, and 3? Our trees are all Grade Number 1 of course!
Poinsettias this year come in a spectacular array of colors and sizes. We have 'points' in 4 inch up to 16 inch containers. Colors range from the traditional bright red to pink, clear yellow, burgundy, spotted white on red and a red and yellow blend. With proper care, these plants will last for a month indoors and two to four months on the front porch or balcony. Care for them as you would any potted plant. Pick up a Poinsettia Care Guide with your plant.
In addition to Poinsettias, consider Cyclamen for a prominent place at the front door, porch or balcony. Cyclamen will continue to bloom until March. And for a truly outstanding display, put a five gallon Sasanqua Camellia 'Yuletide' in a suitable pot next to the entrance. Other festive plants include flowering kale or cabbage, and a few pots of Paper whites or Amaryllis.
December Gardening Tips from the Wegman professionals. . .
•Did you remember to give your peaches and nectarines their first spraying for peach leaf curl? By the end of December, it will be time for the second spray! Use 5 Tablespoons full of LiquiCop plus 3 Tablespoons of Master Nursery Pest Fighter Year Round Spray (horticultural oil) in one gallon of water. If you missed the first spray, do it now.
•We think of December as a time to rest from the garden. If you planted vegetables and annuals last month, you may find yourself on warm days puttering about, perhaps adding some winter color here and there.
• Plant spring-blooming bulbs now. Growing Narcissus for indoor bloom -- Paperwhite Narcissus bulbs take about 4 to 6 weeks to bloom. To prevent legginess, start bulbs outdoors in a sunny location. You can start bulbs in either soil or gravel. When foliage has reached 2 to 3 inches tall, bring indoors and place in a window or a porch with full sun. Once buds begin to develop, you can place Narcissus anywhere in the house. University experiments have found that if you empty the water from your container after roots are about one inch long and replace the water with a dilute alcohol solution (7 parts of water to one part of 80 proof Gin or Vodka) the stems will be reduced by one-quarter to one-third. Be careful--the only toddy they like is gin or vodka, no bourbon, wine or beer, please. See our Care Guide on Paperwhite Narcissus.
• Continue planting winter annuals. For shady spots, try Cineraria, English primrose, fairy primrose, Primula obconica, Cyclamen, Larkspur, and Violas. For sunny spots, plant snapdragons, stock, pansies, Violas, Iceland poppies, flowering kale and cabbage, Alyssum, Sweet Peas, Bachelor's Buttons, Calendula, and Dianthus.
• Don't forget to apply Sluggo or Cooke Pest Granules after planting annuals. Watch for slug and snail damage as winter progresses and continue to bait as needed. Use Sluggo if children or animals are part of your household.
• Mr. Ed saw three flats of planted Cinerarias badly chewed and some destroyed, but not a single slime track from snails or slugs. Turned out to be White Crowned Sparrows plucking the leaves like chickens. Bird netting solved the problem. The same thing happed last year on Iceland Poppies.
• Continue planting spring-blooming bulbs through the end of the month. Remember to refrigerate tulips and hyacinths for 6 to 8 weeks before planting. Also, in our warm California climate, tulips and hyacinths behave as annuals and are discarded in spring. Many people plant them in pots for easy location and disposal.
• Spray Mole-Med to keep gophers away from tulip and hyacinth bulbs. Follow instructions exactly for best results! All daffodils and other Narcissi, and Dutch iris are gopher and deer proof.
• Remember to amend soil with Master Nursery Gold Rush and to broadcast. Master Nursery Bulb Food when planting. You can also add Master Nursery Bulb Food to individual bulb holes. The general rule of thumb for the depth of the hole is 3 times the length of the bulb.
• If you plan to give bulbs as gifts, buy them as soon as possible and store them in the fridge either gift-wrapped or in paper bags. Keep bulbs away from fruit including tomatoes and never store them in plastic bags. Read more on Paperwhites and how to keep their stems shorter in the December Garden Tips above.
• Preorder bare root fruit trees! Peruse our full-color catalog in the Nursery complete with descriptions and make your selections. When trees arrive in January, we'll set aside your trees and give you a call. Click here to print our Fruit Tree availability list.
• Annual Fruit Tree Pruning Seminar and Demonstration at the Nursery -- January 20th, 2013 from 1pm to 3pm.
• Bare root cane berries (blackberries and raspberries) and strawberries have arrived!
• Bare root blueberries have just arrived. If you are planting them for the first time, be sure to read the Blueberry Care Guide to get the sun, soil and irrigation properly prepared for these special plants.
• All deciduous fruit trees can be pruned and sprayed any time after mid-December, and until the end of January. If the tree is holding its leaves, hit it with a strong stream of water to knock most of them off.
• Flowering fruit trees such as flowering plum, or flowering cherry are not to be pruned until after they bloom, but spray any time after all the leaves drop.
• If peach or nectarine trees were infected with peach leaf curl during past seasons, you should spray three times during the dormant season with a copper product. The second spray should occur this month. Use LiquiCop and Master Nursery Pest Fighter Year-Round Spray Oil at the end of December. The third spray should be at the end of January. Prune your tree before the last spray. Research at UC Davis proves that copper and Chlorothalonil are the most effective control against peach leaf curl and that growing season controls are ineffective.
• Mary Helen Seeger of Four Winds Nursery (citrus growers) states that if citrus foliage is not deep green it should be fertilized. Our Master Nursery Citrus Food (12-8-4 plus micronutrients) meets her recommendations. She states that recent experience confirmed that well-fertilized trees are healthier and more resistant to cold weather damage. See our Citrus Care Guide for further information. If your citrus are chronically light green to yellow, give them a couple of cups of Iron Sulfate on Valentine's Day and the Fourth of July. Wait until at least March or April to prune Citrus.
• Fireblight appears as blackened, crooked stem tips and most commonly affects pears. It also can affect Pyracantha, apples, Photinia or Loquat, and some other plants in the rose family. To control, cut 9 to 12 inches below affected tissue and discard. Do not compost.
• Check, and if necessary, spray apple and pear trees for woolly apple aphid, now. They appear as a white cottony substance, usually in crevices, pruning cuts and on the roots close to the base of the tree. You can add Malathion or Sevin to your dormant spray.
• Bareroot caneberries and strawberries (Sequoia, Albion and Seascape) are available now.
• Check Citrus for snail damage and for scale. Scale is a sucking insect that usually clusters along fruit stems, new growth and the undersides of leaves. If scale is found, spray tree with Master Nursery Pest Fighter Year-Round Spray Oil and Malathion or Sevin and again two weeks later. Don't use the year-round spray oil more than 4 times during the growing season. Wait at least 2 weeks between applications. Snail damage will be accompanied by slime tracks around and on the tree. Scale will usually be signaled by seeing ants running up and down the tree trunk.
• To ward off slugs and snails, bait with Sluggo (safe for pets and people) or Cooke Pest Granules, available in powder and pellet form.
• Wait til February to mow low-growing groundcovers such as ivy and periwinkle.
• Stay on top of watering your lawn until the rains begin regularly. Ideally, lawns should be watered once or twice a week for one-half hour to encourage deep root systems. As soon as the rains begin, turn systems off. If water runs off your lawn soon after starting to apply water, follow the 5 minute rule: water for 5 minutes, wait one-half to one hour and then water another 5 minutes, wait another one-half to one hour and repeat until you have watered a total of 25 to 30 minutes. Then have the lawn aerated next spring.
• Once the rain begins and conditions are moist, bluegrass lawns may show yellowing or spots of yellow associated with rust. This should disappear in spring.
• Set mowers to 1.5-2 inches for fescue and bluegrass lawns and 1.5 inches for Bermuda grass lawns. Consider leaving lawn clippings on the lawn. As clippings break down, they provide the lawn with nutrients, reducing the need for fertilizers by 30-50%. Clippings will not cause thatch. If you leave clippings on the lawn, fertilize only every other month.
• Continue monthly feedings with Master Nursery Fall & Winter Feed for Lawns which contains a fast-acting nitrate fertilizer which works well in winter.
• If you have had problems with weedy grasses and other annual weeds in your lawn or flower beds, now is the time to apply Concern Weed Prevention Plus, which contain a pre-emergent that targets weedy grasses and other annual weeds. Concern is a corn gluten organic with 8-2-4 fertilizer and is non-toxic to pets and children. Master Nursery Pro Pre-Emergent Weed Preventer & Lawn Food can also be used. None of these products will eliminate established weeds. Apply again in February.
• Apply TRIMEC Crabgrass Plus Lawn Weed Killer now and in February to get rid of crabgrass and many established weeds.
• If lawns show raccoon or lawn moth damage, apply Bayer Advanced Grub Control. (Lawn moth damage appears as scattered dead spots throughout the lawn, and raccoon damage appears as torn spots in the lawn.) Although it is too late to use Beneficial Nematodes, consider applying them next April and July. Beneficial nematodes are microscopic organisms which consume various destructive soil-dwelling insects. They do not harm earthworms and are safe around pets and people. Remember: You cannot use pre-emergent products for 3-4 months prior to seeding a lawn or laying sod.
• Deciduous perennials can be cut back as soon as they go dormant.
• Cut back evergreen perennials such as Penstemon, Chrysanthemums, lavender, and Salvias now or into mid-January. If cutting back your perennials leaves unsightly gaps in your flower beds, fill in the blank spaces with some of the previously listed annuals. Cutting back your evergreens keeps them compact and dense, and the new growth lends a fresh appearance. Caution--Don't cut so far back that you have only bare wood showing or the plant may not come back. This is especially true for lavender.
• Ornamental Grasses can be cut back now. If you enjoy the ornamental effect of the dried seed heads through the winter months, wait until Valentine's Day to cut them back.
• Bermuda grass is dormant now and chemical control is not effective.
• Bait perennials with Sluggo or Cooke Pest Granules.
• Preorder bare root roses! Peruse our full-color catalog in the Nursery complete with descriptions and make your selections. Click here to view the Rose List.
• Annual Rose Pruning Seminar -- January 13th, 2013 from 1pm to 3pm
• Despite our mixed weather, hold off pruning roses until January. Stop deadheading now to promote dormancy. Do not fertilize roses until next spring.
• Bare root roses should be ready for sale about a week before Christmas.
SHRUBS & VINES
• As Camellias begin blooming, you may notice brown splotching on petal margins of open flowers, partly open flowers and flower buds. These are characteristic symptoms of Camellia petal blight, a fungus for which no cure exists. Sanitation is key for reducing the disease: Remove infected flowers and buds and try not to let infected petals hit the ground. If they do, gather and place in trash immediately; do not compost.
• Azalea flower blight has similar symptoms but can be controlled with a fungicide such as Ortho Garden Disease Control. For best results spray before the buds show color.
• To promote bud development in Rhododendrons, Japonica Camellias and azaleas, fertilize now with Master Nursery Master Bloom (0-10-10). Camellia exhibitors apply a very light sprinkling of Blood Meal at this time of the year.
• Hardy shrubs such as rosemary, Escallonia, Abelia, common myrtle, Texas privet, star jasmine and Pittosporum can be pruned now or in early spring.
• Hydrangeas and Wisteria are a bit tricky to prune. Check out our Care Guide on Hydrangeas. You can also consult Sunset's Western Garden Book or one of the pruning supplements for additional information.
• Hydrangeas should have received their first application of aluminum sulfate to stimulate blue color or agricultural lime to stimulate pink color. Repeat during December, January and February.
• Wait until February to prune tender shrubs and vines such as pink jasmine, potato vine, Bougainvillea, Citrus, and Fuchsia.
• Spring blooming shrubs such as Forsythia and Camellias are pruned after they bloom.
• Look for broken and torn branches after storms. Prune to healthy tissue, using heading cuts if parts of branches have been broken or torn and removing entire branches if necessary. Consulting a simple informative book such as Ortho's All About Pruning will help you determine where to prune and how to make the proper cut. If severe damage is done to older, mature trees, we strongly encourage you to seek the services of a certified arborist. While you may pay more for their work than you would for a noncertified tree pruner, you can be assured that the health and longevity of your trees will not be compromised by poor practices such as topping and incorrect pruning cuts.
• 'Tis the season, and a great selection of small to large living conifers abounds. While most people use them as living Christmas trees, now is an ideal time to plant them. Winter's cool, moist conditions assist conifers to become established more readily than at other times of the year. Click here for our Live Christmas Tree Care Guide.
• Remember that Live Christmas Trees cannot be indoors more than 5 to 7 days or they will stop being alive! We have a Care Guide available.
• Be sure to dispose of leaves infected with powdery mildew in trash bins. Do not compost! Most of our home compost piles reach sufficient temperatures to break down food and yard waste but they seldom reach sufficient temperatures (140°F+) required to destroy harmful fungi and bacteria.
• In both San Mateo and Santa Clara counties, the olive fruit fly has infested olive trees, rendering fruit unusable for home curing. If you're thinking of home curing olives, be sure to have fruit checked for maggots. Recently, Spinosad has become available to control the olive fruit fly. Next March, hang Olive Fruit Fly Traps to capture the first adults so you can start your spray schedule.
• Keep planting winter vegetables from starts. Plant the Cole crops (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, kohlrabi, mustard, and Brussels sprouts) from starts through December to extend your harvest through late spring. Cole crops actually flavor better in cool to cold conditions. These crops and others such as lettuce, spinach, bok choy, chard, cilantro, and peas can be planted at two or three week intervals to give a longer continuous harvest rather than one of super abundance. See our Winter Vegetable Gardening Care Guide for additional information.
• Plant garlic from bulbs and onions from starts. The onions available at Wegman's from starts are: Walla Walla Sweets, Early Red Burger, Early Yellow, Solano White and Red Topedo. See our Garlic /Onion Care Guide for planting information.
• Asparagus, horseradish, rhubarb and artichokes are perennial vegetables which will grow well in this area. It will be a few years before you can harvest Asparagus, but the others will have a crop this year.
Ideas for special situations . . .
• Pull containerized tender and tropical plants (hardy to 25-30°F) close to the house for protection during the cold months. If hard frosts are expected, cover all tender and tropical plants that are planted in the ground with a plastic or cloth cover. Any foliage touching the cover or extending beyond the cover may freeze but the interior will be fine. Spraying CloudCover will protect tender and tropical plants down to about 28°F. A short list of plants that may need protection this winter include: Citrus, Bougainvillea, Hibiscus, Mandevilla, and Brugmansia.
• Special tip from Ed: For especially important plants; after covering them, run an extension cord with a 100 watt incandescent light bulb out into the middle of the plant. The bulb will generate enough heat to prevent freezing.
• Consider planting cover crops in unused garden spaces. Cover crops keep soil from compacting during winter rains and add much needed nitrogen to the soil when turned into beds in the spring. Popular cover crops include Fava beans, which are also edible, and strawberry clover and red clover. We also carry Winter Cover Crop Mix, which includes bell beans, magnus peas and purple vetch. Fill the bed with starts of dwarf peas, one foot apart if you want an edible cover crop. Plant mustard which produces a root long and strong enough to crack the clay subsoil.
• Get ready for pruning season! Check out our Pruning Tool Renovation service, which includes cleaning and sharpening and replacing missing parts for most pruning tools. If you're unsure whether we can service yours, bring it in for assessment. Sharp pruning tools make clean cuts that heal quickly.
• Hold off fertilizing container plants until February.
• Humming birds don't migrate in this area so as winter comes, food sources get pretty slim. Set up a feeder and enjoy their antics and bright colors through the winter. You can make your own hummingbird food by dissolving one part of sugar in four parts of water. Add red food coloring if you like, but it's not needed. Mix up a quart or two and store it in the refrigerator. We also have hummingbird instant nectar for a quick preparation at home.
• If you have a fruit tree that is declining and cannot be replaced, we may be able to take a cutting from your heirloom tree and graft it on to a new rootstock. Similarly, when you have a useless fruit tree, we have cut off the limbs and grafted new varieties on the old base.
• When we don't have winter rain on a regular basis and if we go two weeks without rain as we did last year, you will have to turn on your sprinkler system again. Be especially alert to the watering needs of potted plants which dry out quickly in cold, dry winter air.
• Liquid Fence has proven to be extremely effective in deterring deer from yards and gardens. The trick is to use it exactly as instructed.
• Bayer Grub Control will kill the grubs in lawns which raccoons are digging for and using for food. Critter Ridder has been effective in discouraging raccoons from digging in lawns until the grub control takes hold.
• Likewise, Mole & Gopher Med has proven to be effective in ridding yards and gardens of gophers and moles. The secret, again, is to follow the instructions exactly as instructed. Mole & Gopher Med will not kill the pests but rather chases them someplace else.
• Consider watering indoor plants with a mixture of 2 Tablespoons vinegar per 1 gallon of water once a month in order to reduce salt build-up and to reduce pH level.
• If students need suggestions or advice with growing plants for science projects, Mr. Ed has had lots of experience and can probably help.