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10 Vegetables to Grow in Your Garden this Fall and Winter Season

You might think that the beginning of fall is the end of your gardening adventure for the year, but this simply isn’t the case! There are some very tasty vegetables that can be grown in the fall and winter months with the right care. Check out our list of the top ten vegetables to grow this season.

  1. Asparagus

As a gardener, you are already a patient person. If you have a bit more patience than most and extra space in your garden, consider planting asparagus. Male varieties of asparagus are more productive and, once established, asparagus can continue to produce for 25 years. Give your plants the right nutrients by using aged manure or fertilizer to maximize yield.

  1. Onions

Onions are an easy crop to plant in autumn and are great for beginners as they require very little maintenance. With a long growing season, onions require a bit of planning and a nitrogen-rich growing environment. Curb weed growth and keep soil moist by adding mulch in between rows of onions.

  1. Spinach

Spinach is a vitamin-packed salad ingredient that loves to grow in cool weather, which makes it a perfect addition to your fall or winter garden. Once ready to harvest, spinach can be cut and will re-grow making this crop a particularly valuable use of garden space. You’ll want to give spinach a 1-foot deep start in the soil and use amendments or fertilizer high in nitrogen.

  1. Garlic

Perfect for planting mid-fall, garlic is easy to grow and easily preserved for future use (never buy your garlic from a store shelf again!). Garlic needs a fine topsoil and, if you live in the North where the ground readily freezes, a 6″ layer of mulch to protect it. Garlic cloves can be placed in rows 6″ apart, which is perfect for raised beds of compatible vegetables.

  1. Carrots

If you don’t mind waiting until its warm to harvest carrots, they’re a great crop to grow in the fall and winter months as the cold adds a sweetness to their taste. Carrots prefer light, airy soil (consider a mix of sand and peat moss) and need plenty of underground space for the root vegetable to prosper.

  1. Radishes

See a rapid return on your investment by planting radishes in your fall vegetable garden. Ready for your salad bowl in less than a month, radishes enjoy loose, well-draining soil with lots of nutrients. An all-purpose fertilizer should do the trick provided your soil isn’t too compacted.

  1. Broccoli

Like carrots and radishes, broccoli prefers sandy soil and full sun. This nutrient-packed super vegetable tolerates cool weather well and should be planted about three months before first frost. Broccoli grows best when the soil is mixed with compost or manure before planting.

  1. Snow Peas

In as little as two months you can start to harvest sweet snow peas when you plant this vegetable in fall. Amend your soil with compost or manure to add nutrients and give snow peas a great head start. It’s important to note that snow peas are sensitive to moist soil so these are best grown in raised beds or when ground soil is mostly dry.

  1. Swiss Chard

Plant swiss chard in early fall to begin harvesting edible leaves as little as 25 days later (just in time for the holidays!). Depending on your soil’s quality, add a balanced fertilizer before sowing seeds 1″ apart. Trap moisture in the soil by adding a layer of mulch. If a deep freeze is expected once your crops have leaves, cover the plants for protection.

  1. Kale

Perhaps one of the most stable in cold months, kale is a must-grow plant in fall and winter. Give kale the best possible growing environment by using 5-10-10 fertilizer and ensuring the soil is light and well-drained. Unlike swiss chard, kale doesn’t need constant moisture to mature.

Keep Your Green Thumb Green

Don’t let your green thumb turn brown for fall and winter. Keep your garden growing and produce delicious, nutritious food right at home when you choose one or more of these hardy vegetables.

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A Guide to Native Plants and Water Conservation

Did you know that some plants can actually help you conserve water at your California home? Although the state boasts a glorious climate where a myriad of plants can thrive, the best plants for water conservation are actually native to the state. It’s not uncommon for residential gardeners to feature Mediterranean or some sub-tropical plants in their landscapes, but these plants often require more care—and more water—to maintain health. By choosing to garden with native California species, you can more easily create a captivating garden that requires less work and less water.

Native vs Non-Native Plants

Plants that are native to California are part of the region’s natural eco-system. They’ve evolved certain characteristics over time that have allowed them to grow and thrive in their native environment. Today, garden centers feature hundreds of plants that are native to other parts of the country—other parts of the world! While these non-native species may be grown in California, they often require more pampering than native species. And, there’s a strong likelihood that they have more substantial water needs than native plants.

Are There Any Native Plants to Avoid?

In most cases, gardeners can rely on native plants to provide them with a healthy and attractive landscape. It’s mainly plants from other parts of the globe that can threaten the well-being of your property. For instance, non-native species bull thistle or Kentucky blue grass can be highly invasive and difficult to eradicate. Homeowners should keep in mind that there are many native California plants that are poisonous, so these should be avoided in areas where young children and pets are present.

What Are Some Good Native Plants for California Landscapes and Gardens?

California is a large state with many diverse regions. What grows well in San Diego may not do as well in San Francisco. So, when planning your native landscape and garden, be sure to research some plants that are native to your particular area. Of course, if you are concerned about water conservation, you’ll want to focus on drought-tolerant species that don’t require much water. Some of these include:

  • Desert Willow
  • Blue Palo Verde
  • California Yarrow
  • California Mountain Lilac
  • White Sage
  • Coyote Mint
  • Blue-Eyed Grass
  • Tree Poppy
  • Bush Sunflower

A Drought-Resistant Landscape Conserves Water

Homeowners invest substantially in their landscapes and gardens. Watching them suffer through the dry season can be taxing, but hauling out the hose day after day leads to substantial water use. By choosing drought-resistant plants that are native to your setting, you can reduce the need to water yet still enjoy an attractive landscape. In fact, some drought-resistant plants only need to be watered once or twice during the hot summer season.

Some Tips

Before heading to the garden center and its smorgasbord of lovelies, do some research about plants that are native to your area. Then, you can shop for plants that are likely to thrive on your property without extensive maintenance. When purchasing any native plants, it’s still important to investigate the plant’s care requirements. While fertilizer or water may only be a minimum requirement, you’ll need to take some soil and sunlight preferences into mind.

You can achieve a dazzling garden and landscape by relying on native California plants. Best of all, they don’t require much maintenance or watering.

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Gardening Gift Guides for Mother’s Day

Gardening is a hobby that’s rewarding on so many levels. It offers exercise in an enjoyable way as part of planning, planting, and keeping the garden. It provides blossoms or edibles. It can also be a fun way of spending time with loved ones. That’s just for starters. Celebrate your mom’s productive hobby and give her one of these gardening gifts this Mother’s Day.

Flower and Vegetable Mix

Few things will be as appreciated as something that your mom wants and needs for her garden. Go the practical and thoughtful route with a high-quality flower and vegetable mix. A large portion of the mix can ensure that your mom has all the well-formulated compost mix she needs to grow her flowers or vegetables of choice.

If your mom is just starting out as a gardener, this mix is also a great boost to get started on the right foot. You may create a large gift basket of seeds and other fun things for the garden, then offer the flower and vegetable mix on the side. That way, you are making your mom’s hobby as accessible to her as possible.

Decorative Stones and Sculptures

Chances are, landscaping in your mom’s garden will be her responsibility. The good news is that it’s really easy to add a touch of elaborate-looking landscaping and aesthetically pleasing accessories to the garden. Even if your mom can work with a landscaper, she may prefer decorating the area around the garden herself.

Offer decorative sculptures that you think will match what your mom envisions for the garden. For example, if you wanted to go with the fairy theme, choose a couple of small fairy sculptures to add a touch of whimsy to the garden. If you want to keep things simple but also inject an upscale theme, decorative small stones may be the best next step.

Tools and Equipment

If your mom is an experienced gardener, you’re going to need to put a lot of thought into finding a present she hasn’t already chosen for herself. If you have some extra funds to invest in a more expensive gift for your mother, go for tools and equipment that can make gardening easier and more fun.

The tools you invest in don’t need to be extravagant. They should simply be selected for their usefulness in achieving her gardening goals. For example, if you know your mom just wants to create a flower garden, try to stick to tools created for that purpose. Potential tools include a wheelbarrow, a digging spade, a garden trowel, and a garden knife.

Decorative Lights for Night Gardening

With many events, barbecues, and parties typically taking place at night, it may be upsetting for your mom if she cannot share her well-tended garden to friends and family members. Also, if your mom works during the day, she may have a lot more time for gardening at night, yet she may hesitate to do so if the area isn’t well-lit. Decorative lights for the garden can solve all those issues and create added convenience and value.

Finally, if your mom loves gardening, giving her a Mother’s Day present that acknowledges her adored hobby is a great way of showing you care. When you put a lot of thought into it and select just the right gift to suit her needs, that special moment can turn into a memory you both will always cherish.

 

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How to Grow and Care for Sunflowers

Few plants are easier or more gratifying to grow than sunflowers, making these vibrant, fast-growing beauties the perfect choice for anyone who wants to add a splash of color to their backyard or patio.

Small, Medium or Large – It’s Up to You

There’s a huge assortment of sunflower seeds on the market today including fast-growing dwarf varieties that reach about 18″ high and seeds that yield plants measuring over 14′ tall!

If you’re brand new to sunflower growing, consider planting a few different varieties and colors. Today’s sunflowers come in a range of colors including the classic yellow along with oranges, reds, and bi-colored.

Choosing the Perfect Location

One of the things that make sunflowers fascinating to grow is the fact that sunflower buds will literally follow the sun while growing. The brilliant yellow buds turn to track the sun as it moves across the sky daily, and as they reach maturity, sunflowers gradually stop moving, settling in an east-facing position.

It should come as no surprise that true to their name, sunflowers love bright locations where they are exposed to direct sunlight throughout the day. And because they have long tap roots, these plants need a bed that’s about two feet deep and three feet wide.

Preparing Your Soil

Sunflowers thrive in fertile, airy soil that is rich in nutrients and well-drained — that’s why it’s a good idea to mix some high-quality organic compost into your garden beds before planting your seeds. The compost will add essential nutrients that your sunflowers need to thrive while helping with both water management and weed control. Remember to aerate the soil well to make room for the deep root system.

Planting Your Sunflower Seeds

While it’s possible to start your sunflower seeds inside, most experts recommend sowing directly into your garden due to the rapid growth rate and long roots on sunflowers.

If you live in an area that’s susceptible to frost, wait until the soil has warmed up before sowing your sunflowers to improve germination and survival rates. Most varieties will need to be planted about 1″ deep and spaced anywhere from 6″ or more inches apart, depending on the type you’re growing.

Consider staggering your planting over a month or so to enjoy a steady supply of blooms throughout the growing season.

Caring for Sunflower Plants

Once your plants have sprouted, keep the root zone moist but not wet. Once the stalk begins to form, cut back on your watering schedule to once or twice a week to promote the development of a strong root system. Avoid the urge to over-water, as this can lead to fungus, mildew and shallow roots.

Tall sunflowers will need to be staked about 2/3 of the way up the plant, leaving room for the head to move with the sun during development.

Harvesting Sunflowers

Sunflowers are the perfect addition to an indoor bouquet. Simply choose a plant that is just about to fully flower, and be sure to cut the stem early in the morning to prevent premature wilting. When kept in fresh water, sunflowers should last a week or more.

And if you’d like to harvest the seeds for use in your bird feeder, cut off the flower heads at the end of the season, hang them upside down, and shake the seeds out.

As you can see, with the right location, some occasional watering and a dose of quality organic compost, you can enjoy bright, cheery sunflowers in your garden this season!

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Attracting Birds, Hummingbirds and Butterflies to Your Garden

In Southern California, there is no shortage of opportunities to grow a beautiful garden. However, for those looking to create a garden designed to specifically attract butterflies and hummingbirds, along with other birds, it’s important to pick and choose flowers and plants carefully. Some actually work as a deterrent. Yet, each of these living creatures has the need to find food. By providing opportunities for them to find this in your garden, you’ll attract a wide range of wonderful birds.

Focus on Nectar and Pollen

Choosing wildflowers and other nectar and pollen-rich plants is the ideal way to bring in butterflies and birds to a garden. This includes plants such as fennel and milkweed, both of which are ideal to encourage butterfly larvae to feed. When choosing these plants, be sure to look for those that bloom over a period of time, allowing for a ready supply of nectar within the space.

Expansive Flower Beds

Expansive beds of flowers are ideal for attracting a large number of butterflies. A blanket flower is ideal for this. In short, these are the type of drought tolerant flowers most areas of Southern California benefit from because they are easy to manage and can grow well in all soil conditions. Known as Gaillardia, these flowers are brightly colored and sure to attract a large number of smaller birds and butterflies once in full bloom.

Joe-pye Weed

For those who want to bring in bees and hummingbirds, consider Joe-pye weed. It’s tall, reaching as high as six feet in some cases. However, because it will grow in thick and dense, it tends to attract a large number of hummingbirds and some butterflies. It does very well in this climate but does not require a lot of attention from users. It does the best in areas where it can grow in full sun – such as the back of your garden. Use it as a plant to place along the border so it does not tower above the smaller plants.

Tickseed

Coreopsis verticillata or tickseed is another desirable option in this area for butterfly gardens. This plant grows densely in the area it is placed. The summertime brings with it sweet and beautiful little flowers. These flowers are what attract a large number of hummingbirds and butterflies to the space. Tickseed is easy to grow from plant or seed form. Generally, they are reliable and blossom well, attracting a large number of birds.

Garden Phlox

Believe it or not phlox, (phlox paniculata) has become one of the most popular options for those looking to establish a beautiful garden. However, it also works well for those planting a butterfly garden. The plants grow in thick, which creates numerous small flowers. Those flowers are always an attraction to birds. The nectar from them – in the fall and summer months- is highly attractive. It tends to bring in a wide range of small bees and butterflies in most areas. And, they tend to display a stunning amount of color, too.

Aside from choosing the best plants, be sure to invest wisely in the best type of plants and fertilizers. Organic products are the most effective and produce the best results. It’s also a good idea to place them close to shelter away from predators. And, be sure there is a source of water nearby to help keep them close by.

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Examining the Differences Between Different Types of Fertilizer

Many homeowners and avid gardeners understand the benefits of using fertilizer to the support the overall health of their landscape and garden. However, it’s not always clear why certain types of fertilizer may be ideal for some situations and not for others. Knowing the pros and cons of each type can help you select the ideal fertilizer for your unique setting.

For instance, should you choose a liquid or granule fertilizer? Learn more about the differences between different types of fertilizers so that you can choose the best products for your landscape and garden.

Granular Fertilizers

Dry fertilizers are typically offered in granules. Many granular products are often formulated with a mix of fertilizing materials. One of the great advantages of granular fertilizer is that it’s easy to store. In most cases, it can be kept in your garden shed, garage, or other areas of your home where you store your landscape and garden gear. Many gardeners and landscapers prefer to use granule because fewer applications may be needed to support plant health and nutrition. Granules offer a slow-release of nutrients, so they invariably feed plants and crops longer into the growing season. Granules are also ideal for use in pre-planting applications.

Of course, there are some drawbacks to granules that are important to note. For instance, granule fertilizer tends to have a high salt content. This can burn leaves and compel roots to steer well away from those important nutrients that it needs for good health. Gardeners should also note that fertilizer granules are not uniform in terms of content. This means that some granules may be less packed with nutrients than others. Finally, granules are not ideal vehicles for certain types of nutrients such as phosphorus. Certain nutrients can be more effectively delivered in a liquid fertilizer.

Liquid Fertilizer

Many gardeners and landscapers prefer to use liquid fertilizer products because they generally are much easier to handle and apply. In fact, liquid applications tend to be more uniform and can be used at the beginning for the season and for in-season applications. Liquid fertilizers tend to be quick acting—certainly faster-acting than granule fertilizers. Because they act quickly, they often produce an immediate effect, which can be gratifying when searching for signs of good health among landscape plants and grasses.

As with granule products, liquid fertilizers also have some disadvantages that are important to be aware of. First, liquid products typically require more frequent applications. Additionally, gardeners really have to follow the manufacturer’s instructions to the letter as errors can easily damage your plants. Liquid fertilizers are sometimes susceptible to volatilization, so they don’t store as easily as granules. Finally, some gardeners and landscapers may find it expensive to purchase equipment for applying liquid fertilizers; however, such equipment is typically a one-time investment.

Of course, you can always discuss your fertilizer needs with our helpful staff. We’re here to answer questions about our products and to help you choose the best ones to support your landscape’s health and well-being.

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Small Trees Are the Perfect Accent to Any Home

Having a lawn with beautiful, healthy trees enhances the aesthetics of any home. If you’re looking for a great addition to your front or backyard, planting trees may be the way to go. Think big when it comes to envisioning the yard you want. However, aim small when it comes to selecting the size of your trees. Small trees are often the best choice for Southern California residents. Consider these reasons small trees may be the perfect solution for improving the exterior of your house.

Small Trees Are Adaptable

For urban areas of Southern California like Los Angeles, small trees can fit into yards that otherwise would seem awash in concrete and brick. It can soften and beautify small urban spaces. You can even grow small trees in containers and then place them on a patio or deck. Ultimately, small trees can adapt to most urban neighborhoods in ways large trees never could.

Small Trees Are More Affordable

When you are choosing trees for your yard, it’s smart to look at it as an investment. However, it’s also crucial to consider the costs along with the potential benefits. Smaller trees can offer the benefits that larger trees provide, but they are typically less expensive. That’s true on multiple levels. For example, smaller trees can be cheaper to buy initially, and they can also be more affordable to care for on a week-to-week basis. Because they require less water (and are therefore good for water conservation in California), that can also save at least a little money.

Small Trees Are Easier to Maintain

It’s much easier to care for most small trees than it is to care for larger ones. For example, small trees like compost, so fertilizing them can be as easy as putting organic compost in your yard. The compost can help control the growth of weeds and support nutrient-focused landscaping. Also, smaller trees require less clean-up and fewer gardening tools. The larger the tree is, the more it may take to clean up after it. On the other hand, small trees take fewer resources.

Small Trees Develop Faster

When you are in a hurry for a tree to grow in your yard, you may be pleased to learn that many smaller trees develop faster and require less fertilizer. For example, if you’re looking for a shade tree to help you beat the heat during hot Southern California summers, it’s only natural to want a fast-growing tree. Smaller trees can develop faster, and they also recover from the re-planting process more rapidly.

Small Trees Often Serve a Dual Purpose

Several small trees can benefit your yard in multiple ways. For example, a sweet bay tree is picturesque for a yard. If you put a few sweet bay trees in a container on your patio, that may help keep roaches away. You can also place the leaves from the bay tree in your home as a natural way to repel roaches. Small flowering trees can offer natural landscaping beauty. Small fruit trees can empower you to grow your own food.

Finally, small trees are sure to benefit any front or backyard. Also, well-cultivated trees may even help increase the value of a home if you have your eye on the long-term investment of being a homeowner. They can help you take charge of the care and keeping of your yard and your home.

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Mistakes You Don’t Want to Make When Planting a Fruit Tree in Southern California

Few plants offer a sweeter return on investment than fruit trees. To ensure that your newly planted fruit trees provide the nourishment you crave in the future, you’ve got to give them the best possible start. Growing fruit trees requires considerable commitment—but most good things in life do too! When planting your Southern California backyard orchard or just a single tree, be sure to avoid these common planting and care mistakes.

Poor Planning

Poor planning is often the root of preventable problems. Before you pick out a tree and put it in the ground, take time to research carefully. Determine what types of trees are most likely to thrive in your microclimate. Moreover, carefully choose a planting site. This may require you to contact your local utilities to make sure you don’t plant above pipes or cables that could possibly be damaged by spreading tree roots.

Wrong Season

Planting a seedling in summer can be stressful for most trees and shrubs, but given the hot temperatures in this part of the country, it can be doubly stressful for a planting. To give your fruit tree the best possible start, plant it on a dry day in winter. The ground should not be saturated with water.

Adding Fertilizer to the Soil

Many a novice gardener has sabotaged their new tree by adding fertilizer to the soil during the planting phase. Fertilizer is helpful to your fruit tree down the road after it has had a chance to establish itself in the soil. Fertilizing too soon can be detrimental to your tree’s root system as it forms.

Over-Watering / Under-Watering

Providing your fruit tree with an adequate supply of water—no more and no less—may seem like guesswork, but getting the watering part right is essential to the health of your tree, particularly as it attempts to establish itself in your landscape. Keep in mind that young trees do need extra water—and they’ll need extra water during periods of hot, dry weather. During the rainy season, you likely won’t have to irrigate—and probably shouldn’t. You don’t want your soil to be waterlogged or your tree’s roots can develop rot.

Poor Staking

You will need to stake your new fruit tree. Some gardeners make the mistake of removing the stake from a tree that’s been grafted on dwarf rootstock; these trees should have a permanent stake support. On the other hand, a fruit tree with vigorous rootstock only needs to be staked until it is strong enough to support itself. Good staking prevents the tree’s roots from moving the trunk, which you don’t want. To ensure your tree grows straight and strong, stake it on the side of the prevailing wind; in other words, the tree should blow away from the stake.

Forgetting to Mulch

In most places, mulch is important, but in Southern California—it’s a must. Mulching ensures that your soil optimally retains nutrients and, so importantly, moisture. In Southern Cal’s arid climate, water will dissipate quickly into the air, but mulch keeps it locked into the soil, allowing the tree’s roots to have the time they need to adequately absorb it. Mulching also discourages opportunistic weeds and grass from competing for water and nutrients with your fruit tree. Opt for organic mulch materials for best results.

Get the best return on your tree investment by avoiding these mistakes. Your reward will be healthy fruit trees that deliver juicy fruit once they are mature.

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How to Assess the Health of Your Tree

It can take years or even decades for trees to reach maturity, so as a homeowner, investing some time and energy into the health of your trees simply makes sense. After all, replacing a tree that’s been lost due to disease or pest damage is both expensive and difficult to do.

How Trees Grow

One of the reasons why trees are able to grow to dizzying heights and remain vibrant for many generations is the fact that trees grow in layers, and each of these unique layers plays a specific role in the health of the tree.

The outermost two layers of a tree are known as the bark, which serves as a ‘skin’ for the tree. The outer bark is tough and firm; it works to shield the tree from pests and extreme temperatures. Much like human skin, when the outer layer of bark is damaged, the cells surrounding the damaged area undergo physical changes, and over time, a type of callus forms to seal off the affected area.

By contrast, the inner bark is soft and pliable; it works to deliver water and nutrients from the trunk and branches throughout the tree. Beyond this layer is the cambium, which is the layer of the tree where most of the new growth occurs. These layers are what causes the appearance of distinctive ‘growth rings’ that are visible when a tree is cut down.

How Disease and Insects Impact Tree Health

Here in California, there are a number of threats to the ongoing health of our trees, including fungal diseases that are linked to fluctuations in temperatures as well as both drought and excessive watering.

A common disease is known as cankers; this is when the fungus enters the fragile inner layers of a tree through the bark, leading to a chemical imbalance which can cause the tree to become disfigured, shed large portions of bark, and eventually die. Fungal diseases are common in willows, beach, maple, and birch trees.

Another common threat to tree health is the Western pine beetle, which attacks previously compromised Coulter and Ponderosa pines. The beetles burrow deep into the tree, causing the bark to fall off and eventually starving the tree of the nutrients it needs to remain vibrant.

Signs Your Tree Is Sick

While many property owners believe there is something wrong at the first sign of shedding bark, many varieties of trees regularly shed off large pieces of bark as new, healthy layers develop beneath.

What is important to watch for is unusual bark shedding, such as bark falling off following a sudden temperature shift; extended drought; or when there are other signs that the tree isn’t healthy like dead leaves, cracked branches, or the development of cankers.

Protecting Your Tree With Mulch

There are some simple steps you can take to both keep your healthy trees in good condition and help revive trees that have suffered from weather stress. Stressed trees respond well when organic mulch is applied in the spring and fall to the soil at the base of the tree.

A high-quality mulch will provide your tree with much-needed nutrients while helping to protect against both overwatering and drought – two of the most common threats to tree health here in California.

To find the ideal mulch for your specific application, contact our tree health experts here at Whittier Fertilizer.

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Drought Proof Trees for Your California Yard

Droughts come and go in southern California — but we live in a desert, so another one is always waiting in the wings. That doesn’t mean that you can only plant cacti and palm trees in your yard, though. Plenty of drought-proof trees can help make your yard beautiful while remaining drought-resistant and conserving water.

Take a look at these fast-growing trees that let you drought-proof your California yard.

Texas Redbud

Those pink flowers help give this drought-resistant tree its name. This hardy tree is a great choice as a street tree or a shade tree, and you can even grow it as a container tree, at least for a while. The redbud is a deciduous tree that grows rapidly, at a rate of about 2 feet a year. Give it a hand by adding soil amendments that help this tough tree retain water.

African Sumac

This graceful shade tree spreads widely across your yard as it soaks up the sun, and it has beautiful weeping foliage that moves softly in the breeze. Expect it to grow quickly, and be prepared to do a little light trimming to keep it under 25 feet high. While the African sumac, which is native to South Africa, loves deep watering, it remains tough when the weather turns dry, and its evergreen foliage stays full and lush year-round.

Burr Oak

When you plant a Burr oak, you’re leaving a legacy that your children will enjoy… and their children, and their children after them, as this majestic spreading tree grows for up to 150 years. Make sure you have plenty of space for this oak tree, also called the mossycup oak, to spread out, as its shady canopy can reach 30 feet in diameter. The striking leaves of this tree turn bronze and gold before they fall in the autumn, and it’s a welcoming home for all kinds of birds.

Desert Willow

Add beautiful, showy flowers to your landscaping when you plant the desert willow, a hardy tree that’s native to southern California as well as to Mexico and Texas. This low-branching, deciduous tree loves full sunshine, and the more it gets, the more it puts out its pink, white, lavender or rose-colored flowers that spread a light fragrance around your yard. You can plant the desert willow and (almost) forget it, as it only requires occasional deep watering, handling drought like a pro, as its name points out.

Blue Palo Verde

You’ve probably seen a lot of blue Palo Verde trees around, even if you weren’t aware of it because this SoCal native is a standard in drought-resistant gardens. Look for bright yellow flowers to bud in the spring, and don’t be surprised if you see a lot of birds and bees hanging around it. The Blue Palo Verde isn’t a great choice if you’re near the ocean, but full sunshine is no hindrance to it. Help it out a bit when you mulch around the trunk to prevent erosion and discourage weeds.

How to Care for Drought-Proof Trees

Drought-proof trees are hardy, but they still need the right fertilizer and amendments to stay healthy. For instance, the African Sumac an organic fertilizer or manure. In general, look for a fertilizer with a high potassium level because this enhances drought tolerance.

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Organically Mosquito Proof Your Yard

Warm summer evenings are times when many people enjoy sitting out in the summer breeze and enjoying the quiet beauty of the season. The feeling of peace and quiet can go on for only a short time before the mosquitoes show up and ruin everything. Summer fun, during the day or night, is usually synonymous with attacking clouds of hungry mosquitoes. There are plenty of chemicals you could use to keep the bugs away, but it would be better to look into organic solutions that are just as effective.

Mosquito Repellant Plants

The idea of using chemicals to keep mosquitoes out of the backyard concerns many people, especially parents of small children. Instead of spraying chemicals, you can grow a wide variety of fresh herbs that will add a pleasant scent to your summer gatherings, and drive mosquitoes away at the same time.

Lavender

Lavender bushes make excellent organic mosquito repellents because of their refreshing aroma. Surround your yard with plenty of bright purple lavender bushes, and rub some of the purple flowers on your skin to help repel even more mosquitoes. Before offering fresh lavender to your guests as mosquito repellent, you should first make sure that no one is allergic to lavender.

Citronella

Most people recognize citronella as the ingredient in many of the natural mosquito repellents on the market. But did you know that you can grow citronella around your yard as a natural repellent all summer long? The best way to use citronella is to crush it up in great quantities and throw it in your summer evening fire. But it can act as a fairly effective repellent just growing around in your yard.

Peppermint

If you like the idea of your backyard smelling like peppermint then you are in luck, because peppermint is a natural repellent for mosquitoes and many other types of bugs. One of the consistent attributes about organic mosquito repellents is that they all have agreeable aromas, and peppermint definitely enhances that idea.

Basil

For many people, summer picnics include fresh basil on the table to enhance the taste of many foods. But fresh basil also has a scent that bugs, especially mosquitoes, cannot stand. Growing a lot of basil in your backyard has two positive outcomes. You have plenty of basil for those summer parties, and the mosquitoes will definitely not feel invited to your event.

Adding Herbs To Your Outdoor Fire

A nice fire is one way to keep mosquitoes away, but only for a short distance. If you really want to make use of that fire, then you need to add in a bundle of natural herbs that will drive the mosquitoes right out of your yard.

To make your bundle, you will need equal amounts of fresh sage, mint, and lavender. You should try to make the plants all the same length to make it easier to bundle them. Each bundle can have two or three branches of each herb. Tie the bundles together with twine so the entire bundle will burn to ashes. Make a few dozen bundles and put them in a box next to your next summer fire. As the fire burns, you and your guests can throw the bundles into the fire and enjoy a night without mosquitoes.

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Growing Herbs in Warm Climates

Southern California has the perfect weather for growing herbs. Because it falls in zone 9 and 10 on the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map, the climate is idea for plant growth because most herbs thrive when they have plenty of sunlight. Most herbs need six to eight hours of direct sunlight, both in the morning and early evening. However, when the temperatures reach ninety degrees and above, the amount of sunlight can be reduced to about four hours in the morning. Also, you might want to provide some artificial shade as temperatures rise.

SOIL

The soil is also important when it comes to growing herbs. Herbs produce essential oils and the production of these oils can be drastically affected by the soil. Herbs like slightly moist but most importantly well-drained soil. Too much water and herbs tend to rot.

Much of the natural soil in zone 9 and zone 10 is sandy. Because of the sandy nature of the soil, natural fertilizers like manure should be used as a supplement.

FERTILIZING

To prepare your soil. place about a 2-3 inch layer of manure or compost over the top of the sandy bare soil. Using a shovel or trowel, dig it in about 5-6 inches, mixing well. In addition, a layer of peat moss will help keep the ph of the soil down and also aid in water and nutrient retention.

SPACING

How well air is circulated around your herb plants is also very important. How closely the herbs are planted to each other, will make a difference in how well your herbs grow. Beware of how closely you plant certain herbs. Some herbs do not mind being planted closely next to each other. Other herbs will need more space, in order to spread out.

COMPANION PLANTING

Herbs, such as sage, mint, marjoram, oregano or rosemary, need a little extra room to spread. With these herbs, you should allow for at least 3 feet between each plant. Other herbs like parsley, chives, and cilantro, don’t mind being planted closely together and can get by in a relatively small space. When planting your herb garden, keep in mind that some herbs, like mint or lemon balm, should be planted in containers to protect against their invasive nature.

CONCLUSION

Growing your own herbs can be a fun and relaxing experience. There is nothing better than using your very own home-grown herbs in the preparation of your food. If you live in a climate such as southern California, you have a unique opportunity to do just that. Take advantage of this and have some fun growing your own herbs.

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Caring for your Avocado Tree Part 2: Diseases and Pests

Between homemade smoothies, skin care, and good old-fashioned guacamole, who doesn’t love a fresh, ripe avocado?

As much as we all wish that avocado trees could be a plant it, forget it, and harvest affair, caring for your tree requires consistency and vigilance. The health of your tree can and often does have a huge impact on your harvest during fruit-bearing season.

Here’s an overview of some of the most common diseases and pests that avocado tree owners have to be on the lookout for.

Diseases & Conditions

Sunblotch

Avocado trees that have been hit by sunblotch are often stunted in growth, discolored in the twigs and the bark, and, perhaps most importantly, yield discolored fruit. Even in situations where the tree doesn’t show a lot of symptoms, it’s not unusual for the annual yield to go down dramatically.

Treatment Options: Because sunblotch can’t be cured, tree owners have to focus on preventing it from spreading. Pruning tools need to be sanitized in bleach if they’ve been used on a sunblotch-infected area and if you can, using separate and uncontaminated tools for healthy trees is ideal. In situations where a single tree is at issue, it’s sometimes recommended that you destroy the infected tree to prevent spread to the others.

Cankers

You don’t have to be a tree whisperer to see when a tree is suffering from cankers. Not unlike a boil or a sore on human skin, trees with this condition often take a sunken appearance with sap and gum often dripping from the exposed areas. This may be merely unsightly if it’s just branches and trees affected, but if cankers develop in the trunk, this is a condition that could potentially kill your tree.

Treatment Options: Cankers require a multi-faceted approach to treatment. Pruning and removing dead and dying branches below the area that’s been infected is a good start along with being careful to seal the pruning cuts. To address the bacteria causing the cankers, fungicides are often highly recommended.

Fruit Rot

This is considered a fungal infection of the tree that usually happens as a result of unsanitary conditions and sometimes even from fruit that hasn’t been harvested quickly enough. You can tell when a tree is suffering from fruit rot when the fruit is wrinkling, showing brown spots, and falling before ripening.

Treatment Options: To salvage an avocado tree that’s infected with fruit rot, it’s recommended that tree owners remove the infected areas of the tree as soon as possible.

Common Pests

Mites

These pests aren’t always easy to spot visually, but the damage they do to leaves is undeniable. For those who are wondering why the falling leaves are considered such a big deal, it’s because the leaves are important to protecting the fruit from the damaging sun rays. If allowed to go unchecked, mite populations are capable of growing rapidly.

Treatment Options: The introduction of predator mites is one solution that’s available to tree owners, but the most effective treatment for mites is specialized horticultural oil.

Caterpillars

As it turns out, the popular image of caterpillars chewing through apples has a strong basis in reality. These creatures go after flowers, leaves, and fruit, and if they’re given free reign, they’re capable of destroying an entire avocado crop in practically no time at all. The speed at which they operate is a big part of what makes a caterpillar infestation particularly dangerous to your tree.

Treatment Options: Caterpillars can be treated with a bacterial spray called Bacillus thuringiensis. By taking care to spray the leaves and the insides of any buds, you can stop a caterpillar infestation dead in its tracks.

Thrips

This is a condition that results in scarred avocados and stunted growth depending on how serious the condition becomes. You will normally see these pests come during the earlier part of the season because they like to feed on growths and shoots while they’re still young and tender.

Treatment Options: Thrips try to seek moisture so stopping an infestation ultimately comes down to a combination of repelling the population on the avocado tree and removing alternative hosts. To combat thrips, it’s ideal for tree owners to pull out any grass or other plants near the avocado tree and to also apply a pesticide or oil and fat-based soaps designed to kill harmful insects.

Signs That Your Avocado Tree Could Have a Disease or Pest Problem

So we’ve talked about common diseases and pests that are capable of doing serious damage to an avocado tree. What a lot of these conditions have in common is the simple fact that if you catch the problem early, you have a much better chance at salvaging your tree.

Are there any signs to look out for? Is there some way to know if you should be suspecting a pest infestation?

Here’s a non-exhaustive list of symptoms to watch for:

  • Premature leaves dropping
  • Wilting leaves
  • Lowering fruit production and cankers
  • Poor growth
  • Yellow or red streaks on the twigs
  • Bark that’s peeling or cracking easily
  • White powder on bark
  • Mushrooms at the tree base
  • Brown spots or scarring on avocados

If you notice any or all of these occurring, it could mean that there’s a problem with the tree that requires further investigation.

Can You Save or Protect Your Avocado Tree From Pests or Disease?

The good news is that many of the conditions mentioned here can be managed and actively protected against with a strong regimen of pruning, careful containment of problem areas, and fertilizer.

Whittier Fertilizer has two products that will not only help your tree grow but will also promote higher yields in its Grow More Citrus & Avocado Organic Fertilizer and its GreenAll Citrus and Avocado Food. Both of these products are organic, consistent, and go a long way toward promoting and preserving the health of your avocado tree.

If you have an avocado tree, you’re in a better position than most to enjoy avocado-based sandwich spreads and chip dips all year-round. Protecting your tree’s health is essential to keeping those harvests healthy and plentiful.

Consider contacting us today if you have any questions.

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Caring for your Avocado Tree Part 1: Seasonal Upkeep

Prized for their buttery textured, highly nutritious and delicious flavored fruits, avocados trees have become a staple of the California landscape. From backyard growers to commercial farms they flourish and thrive by the thousands.

As plentiful as they are in Mid to Southern California this is not their native home and they actually prefer an even warmer climate. While this obviously doesn’t mean they are not a viable plant in the local environment, it does mean that they may require a little seasonal upkeep to remain in top health and delivering maximum beauty and production.

Flushing the Soil

California rains tend to deposit a high amount of salts in the soil. This can be detrimental to your avocado trees health and it may be necessary to practice leaching irrigation come autumn in order flush these salts out as a first step in returning your soil back to optimum health.

Leaching irrigation is slightly over watering your groves or garden area while providing sufficient drainage to carry away unwanted minerals. An unfortunate side effect of this practice is that the good nutrients can be washed away with the bad salts and it may be necessary to apply an extra cycle of fertilizer to reinvigorate the soil.

A good choice for this application would be E.B. Stone’s GreenAll Citrus & Avocado Food 14-4-8. It is completely organic and provides a quick boost to the soils nutrient content as well as slow release agents to carry your trees through the winter season’s slow growth period.

Fertilizing

As with any plant, proper nutrition is a key factor in maintaining your avocado’s health. This means providing the appropriate levels of nutrients in the proper seasons. For optimum health, soil/leaf/water tests should be run seasonally and appropriate nutrients provided. As a general rule, the healthier your soils microbes the less fertilizing your trees will require.

A yearly application of Grow More Citrus & Avocado Organic Fertilizer is an ideal way of ensuring healthy colonies of microbes in the soil. It has a special blend of ingredients designed to promote biological activity in the soil, encourage and support the growth of beneficial microbes and naturally stabilize and condition the soil.

Pruning

Light pruning that encourages an abundant growth of foliage is an important factor in receiving high yields. Avocado trees are evergreens and can be lightly pruned most any time of year. Heavy pruning though should be performed in late winter or very early spring.

Pruning avocado trees any other time of year could run the risk of placing your trees in an alternate bearing cycle. Heavy autumn pruning should especially be avoided as this can cause a frost sensitive autumnal growth flush and could lead to the loss of an entire season’s fruit.

Freeze Protection

The tropical rainforest is the natural home of the avocado tree. Though there have been many varieties, like the ‘Fuerte’ and ‘Hass’, developed over the years, it is still primarily a hot climate plant and needs to be protected from freezing.

In areas prone to heavy frosts and below freezing temperatures, care should be taken to ensure free airflow to prevent cold air pooling. If needed light pruning can be used to facilitate air flow and irrigation and wind machines can be used to assure proper ventilation for your trees.

Avocados are delicious and nutritious and, despite how it may appear they are really very forgiving plants to grow. Considering that a single California avocado tree can produce anywhere from 60 to 200 pounds of fresh fruit each year they are more than worth the little effort it takes to maintain them.

For all of your gardening and landscaping needs contact Whittier Fertilizer. Your “One Stop Landscape Supply Center”, serving nurseries, gardeners, landscapers and homeowners throughout the Southern California region.

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Caring For Your Poinsettias This Holiday Season

Poinsettia plants are synonymous with the holiday season, and in many homes and businesses this festive plant is must-have for the holidays.

As a native to hot, tropical climates, poinsettias can be a bit tricky to care for during the cooler winter months here in Southern California. However, with a little care and know-how, you can keep your holiday poinsettias vibrant and healthy throughout the holidays and beyond.

Types of Poinsettias

There are over 100 known varieties of poinsettias, with bracts (colored leaves) ranging in color from the traditional bright red to pink, white, marbled (varigated), and even speckled. If you’ve noticed blue-hued poinsettias, those are actually white-bracted varieties that have been artificially dyed.

Each variety varies in size, bract shape and color, and even the texture. There are also unique variations in the stems of the plants themselves, providing you with a wide range of options when it comes to choosing your poinsettia.

Picking a Healthy Poinsettia

Look for plants that have broad, blemish-free bracts surrounded by lots of full green foliage that extends right down to the soil line. Regardless of the height of the plant, the foliage should be at least double the diameter of the plant’s pot.

Pass on any poinsettias that are wilting, have a moldy odor, or are sold in non-breathable plastic sleeves as these plants may already be diseased.

Preserving Your Christmas Poinsettia

When you first bring your poinsettia into your home or office, place it near a sunny south or east-facing window to maximize exposure to natural light. Water until the soil is moist, and avoid leaving the base of the plant sit in water to prevent mold from forming.

If your indoor space is dry, you may need to water your festive plant daily, and be sure to protect it against drafts that can lead to premature leaf drop.

After the holidays, you can extend the life of your poinsettia by following these tips:

  • Fertilize with a high-quality fertilizer to prevent calcium and magnesium deficiency
  • If you plan to keep your plant longer than a few months, you should re-pot it using planter mix that contains vermiculite (perlite) to ensure good drainage
  • Move your poinsettia outside in the spring into a partially-shaded spot
  • Pinch back all the stems by an inch or so to promote sturdy, healthy stems

Poinsettia Myths and Facts

  • As a member of the Euphorbiaceae, or Spurge family, poinsettias often leach a milky sap through their leaves. This sap can cause mild contact dermatitis among people who are sensitive to latex, which likely led to the widespread (and incorrect) belief that poinsettias are highly toxic.
  • According to Jay L. Hocker of the Mayo Clinic, poinsettias are not actually poisonous per se, however, they’re not exactly edible either. Researchers at Ohio State University studied the impact of poinsettia extract on lab rats, and they concluded that contrary to popular belief, it’s impossible to ingest a fatal dose of poinsettia leaves.
  • Although it’s always a good idea to keep plants away from small children and pets, the naturally bitter flavor of poinsettia leaves serves as a natural deterrent against curious kids, dogs, and cats.

By choosing a healthy, vibrant plant and following these simple care tips, you can enjoy the beauty of your holiday poinsettias throughout the winter.

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How to Grow Kale Year Around

Kale is the ideal crop for both beginning gardeners and seasoned growers alike, thanks to the fact that it grows quickly, performs well in both garden beds and containers, and it’s exceptionally hardy.

Kale – Packed With Powerful Nutrients

In the last few years, more and more health experts have crowned kale a superfood as it is packed with anti-inflammatory compounds, cancer-fighting antioxidants, and even folate, a critical nutrient for the prevention of birth defects.

At a mere 36 calories, O grams of fat, 3 grams of protein and an impressive 5 grams of fiber per one cup serving, it’s one of the most nutritionally dense vegetables you can grow. Kale is also packed with health boosting vitamins, minerals, and nutrients like lutein – a naturally-occurring compound that has been shown to help improve eye health. Researchers have shown that eating steamed kale lowers levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol while boosting HDL (good) cholesterol.

Kale can be eaten raw or cooked, and one cup of cooked kale contains nearly 100 percent of the recommended daily intake of Vitamin A, and over 70 percent of Vitamin C. Some of the more popular uses for kale includes blending the raw leaves into a green smoothie, baking up a batch of kale chips, or even substituting kale for romaine lettuce in a Caesar salad.

Types of Kale

There are three main types of kale available to gardeners today, and each type has it’s own unique appearance and taste.

Black Kale, also called Tuscan or Dinosaur Kale, has long, relatively flat leaves that are dark green in color. This is the type of kale is used most often in traditional Italian cooking, and it’s exceptionally easy to grow. Black kale is ideal for making kale chips, or for use in a soup.

Red Kale, also known as Red Russian Kale, has large, frilly leaves with red, pink, or purple stems. This variety is often used for ornamental plants and to garnish platters, however, it can be safely eaten as well (although it tends to be tough and have a strong cabbage flavor).

Curly Kale, also called Scotch Kale or simply Green Kale is often used as a substitute for lettuces in salads. It grows quickly in tight, compact bunches, and when harvested early, the white stems can be quite tender and even slightly sweet.

Growing Kale Year Round

Kale is a member of the cabbage family, which means that kale plants tend to thrive during colder weather in the spring and the fall. In most areas, kale can be harvested twice a year – it goes dormant when the weather gets either too hot, or too cold.

Whether you have a small container garden, raised garden beds, or a large in-ground planting area, it’s a good idea to sprout your kale seeds then transplant the seedlings. Take care to give your kale plants lots of room to grow. Watering frequently when they’re young will help to produce tender, sweeter kale.

For heartier, higher yielding plants, fertilize with a food-safe fertilizer that’s designed to work well with vegetables, and mulch or compost with straw, or fine bark to produce clean crops.

Be sure to monitor for pests like cabbageworms, cutworms, and cabbage loopers. While kale is relatively resistant to pests, keeping your crop well-fertilized can help cut the chances of an infestation.

Kale is among the easiest, most nutritious plants you can grow, so why not try some kale in your garden this year?

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Succulents: Ideal Indoor Plants

Succulents are plants with fleshy leaves that can come in a variety of colors. They are part of the same family as the cactus, and they can even be found on cacti in the wild. Succulents are excellent indoor plants because of their hardy nature and their colorful look. If you want to start planting succulents in your home to add color to your decor, then you should become familiar with the best ways to care for them.

Hardy and Soft Succulents

If you plan on planting your succulents indoors, then it helps to know the differences between hardy and soft succulents. Hardy succulents have thicker leaves and can survive in temperatures as low as -40 degrees Fahrenheit. If you live in an area with cold winters and want to plant in a window box or in a window display, then hardy succulents are ideal.

Soft succulents can survive in temperatures below freezing, but die out by the time the temperature gets to 20 degrees Fahrenheit. Soft succulents offer a broad range of colors and sizes, which is why people like them for indoor planting. All succulents do well in temperatures reaching 90 degrees Fahrenheit, but temperatures that go beyond 90 degrees could damage your plants.

Potting Succulents

Succulents require plenty of room for their roots to breathe and gather water. Standard potting soil is too dense, so you will need regular garden soil in your planting pot. Succulent roots will rot if left for too long in water, which is why your soil should contain good drainage. Whittier Fertilizer offers products such as 3/8 pea gravel, white golf course sand, and pumice to create ideal drainage conditions. A ratio of 2/3 drainage material for every 1/3 of soil is ideal for succulents.

Unless you are an expert at caring for potted succulents, you should always use a pot with a drainage hole. Succulents will look great in any kind of novelty pot, but you must allow for water drainage if you want your plants to survive. As your succulents get bigger, you can trim their growth or move them to a larger pot with ease.

Caring For Succulents

Succulents can sunburn and die if exposed constantly to direct sunlight. You can either place your pots in a place where the sun offers limited exposure, or move your pots out of the sun halfway through the day. Succulents prefer standard room temperatures, but any species can tolerate a temperature drop to freezing.

Do not over-water your succulents, and watch for pests. Potted succulents tend to be attacked by mealybugs, but you can spray your plants with a combination that is 70 percent alcohol and 30 percent water to protect them. Water your succulents at least once a week, but do not add water until the soil feels dry. If you keep your home at a warmer temperature, then you may need to water more than once a week.

Identifying Problems

If you see the leaves of your succulents starting to take on a darker tone, then you are giving them too much sunlight. A good rule of thumb is to only expose your succulent plants to 50 percent of the available sunlight on any given day.

It is important to remember that succulent roots absolutely hate being wet for an extended period of time. Some people use clear containers specifically so they can monitor the health of the roots. If you see the roots turning black, then stop watering your succulents so often. If you cannot see the roots of your plants, then look for your normally sturdy plant leaves to start going limp. That is a sign that you are drowning the roots.

Succulents are great for indoors because they require little maintenance, but they add plenty of color to any home. Buy a hardy succulent and see how well you do with caring for it to see if you are ready to introduce your home decor to the color and personality of succulent plants.

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How to Improve Your Garden Soil

how to improve your garden soil

If you want a lush and productive garden each year, then you need to learn how to care for the soil and provide your plants with the nutrients they need. Good soil is dark and filled with all of the vital ingredients plants need to grow, but it can be difficult to have fortified soil when you put your garden in the same spot every year. Instead of destroying your yard by moving your garden around, you can improve the garden soil in your favorite spot and get the kind of garden you want every year.

Turn The Soil

Each year, you need to dig up and turn your land to replace the barren dirt with fertile soil. Turning over your soil helps to rejuvenate your planting area naturally, and it gives your soil a chance to recover from last year’s garden. When you turn the soil, you also allow the fertile ground underneath to get exposed to healthy air and sunlight, which will help your garden to grow.

Spread Fertilizer

By spreading fertilizer and compost over your garden planting area, you will add valuable nitrogen and other nutrients to your soil. Contrary to popular belief, not all manure makes for good fertilizer. To avoid any possible damage that can be done by using the wrong manure for your garden, you should utilize reliable, organic, products to enrich your soil.

Using a compost will add a layer of nutrients to your soil that are released over a long period of time. This will give your soil a constant supply of the organic materials it needs to produce a lush garden.

Deep-Rooted Plants

Utilizing deep-rooted plants can both preserve your garden soil and give you better growing results. Set aside sections of your garden for plants that have roots deep enough to reach into the untapped and fertile soil a foot or more down. These plants will grow strong and healthy, while not disrupting or taking away any of the nutrients from the top layer of soil.

Cover Crops

Cover crops have short roots and offer plenty of nutrients to the top layer of soil when they decay after the growing season is over. Plants such as clovers, beans, and peas release nutrients into the soil when they are done growing that can be as effective as adding compost or fertilizer. Move your patches of cover crops around each year to offer the maximum coverage to your garden soil.

Utilize Mulch

Mulch acts as a way to protect soil from too much moisture and extreme temperatures, and it also helps preserve the nitrogen in the soil. Whittier offers a mulch that protects and sustains soil without any of the side effects that can come from other forms of mulch. When you use the right mulch in your garden, you will preserve the good soil that is available and provide more nutrients for your plants.

A good garden is a labor of love, and there are plenty of ways to preserve your soil to get the results you want. If you take the time to improve your garden soil, then your garden will reward you year after year with the kind of appearance and crop output that you want.

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How To Get Rid Of Moles

how to get rid of moles
Moles are an enigma for gardening enthusiasts and people who love to keep a nice lawn. While moles do their part to aerate the soil and remove plant pests from your yard, they also like to create holes all over the place that can be unsightly and even dangerous. As with any other lawn pest, the best way to take care of a mole problem is to understand what you are up against and know the best ways to handle the situation.

How Do I Know If I Have Moles?

The two most common ways to tell if you have moles is if your garden vegetables are being eaten and your lawn has little volcano-shaped mounds all over it. Moles eat only insects and sometimes vegetables, which is both great and terrible for gardeners. You will be happy to know that moles are loners who rarely travel in groups, which means that you might only have to get rid of one mole to solve your problem.

You can be pretty sure you are dealing with moles if your volcano-shaped holes in the ground lead to what looks like an underground network of tunnels. Moles constantly tunnel underground to find food, and that tunneling can cause your lawn to collapse in spots. Moles are hard workers, so you will need to address the problem quickly if you want to save your lawn.

What Does A Mole Look Like?

A mole is anywhere from six to eight inches long and is covered in brown or gray fur. It has a long snout on the front, and its front and back paws have what look like human fingers with long claws on them. At first glance, it can be almost impossible to see a mole’s eyes and ears, but rest assured that they do have both features.

How Long Does The Average Mole Live?

In the wild, a North American mole can live to be six or seven years old. Since moles do not eat many plants, they are not normally affected by the chemical pesticides used to keep out bugs. But if a mole does wander into a yard that uses chemicals, then its life span decreases significantly.

Why Do Moles Live In People’s Yards?

Moles eat approximately 80 percent of their body weight in bugs and larvae every day. Your finely kept lawn and well-fed garden tend to have the kinds of food moles love. A mole will burrow its way around your yard indefinitely looking for food until you put a stop to it. When a mole chooses your yard it is nothing personal, it is just survival.

How Do I Get Rid Of A Mole?

Let’s examine the following options for getting rid of a mole:

  1. The first option, which is the hardest, is to simply catch the mole. You will need to be quick, but it is not impossible. Go around to all of the mounds the mole has created and either stomp the molehill down with your foot or tap it down with a shovel. Notice the direction of the holes and try to stand upwind of them because the mole can smell you coming. You will also need to stand perfectly still as the mole can hear your footsteps. When the mole pops its head out of a new mound, quickly dig into either side of the mound with two shovels. The shovels will trap the mole at the top of the mound, and you can put the mole into a box and take it miles from your home.
  2. A second option is to use a blend of organic repellent that seeps into the soil. Moles have a heightened sense of smell that they use to find insects. Using an organic repellent irritates their sense of smell and taste and quickly find another place to dig for food.
  3. A third option is to use a mole trap. First, find out if mole traps are legal in your state before you start setting traps. If mole traps are illegal, then use the humane method. If mole traps are legal, then get a couple of spring-loaded traps and put them in the mole’s tunnels. If you can determine the direction the mole is burrowing in, then that would be helpful. Set your traps and check them daily. After you have caught one mole, keep an eye out to make sure it was only a one-mole problem. If there are more moles, set more traps.
  4. The last option is to use poisons or chemicals to try to get rid of moles. Consult a professional if you are interested in this option as they can offer advice on what to use as using poison make you susceptible to killing neighborhood pets, doing damage to your lawn or garden, and getting arrested (if it’s not legal in your state).

Prevention

The easiest way to prevent other moles from using the tunnels in your yard is to spray a combination of two tablespoons of dish soap, one cup of castor oil, and one gallon of water into the tunnels. You can also purchase solar-powered mole-repelling stakes and place them throughout your yard.

Whittier Fertilizer Gopher Control Products

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What Plants Grow Well in the Shade

If you want to plant a garden but you only have access to land that is constantly shaded, then you need some good advice on which plants will grow in those conditions. Apartment dwellers can sometimes live in areas where the sunlight never reaches them, or many people have backyards that are permanently shaded by trees. Another common issue for gardening enthusiasts is only being able to plant alongside of a building that keeps the garden in the shade all day long.

Luckily, there are several types of plants that can grow in the shade, and others that thrive on only partial sunlight. Before you give up on your dream of a beautiful garden, we recommend checking out these plants and giving them a try in your dark growing environment.

PLANTS THAT GROW IN FULL SHADE

Contrary to popular belief, mushrooms are not the only plant (or fungus) that grows in full shade. There are several types of flowering plants that enjoy the cooler and darker environment created by shade, and they can be brought together to create a beautiful garden.

Jerusalem Sage
– One of the more popular shade plants is a flowering plant called Jerusalem Sage. It can be found in yellow or purple, and it usually grows in groups. This is the ideal plant for lining your walkways, or giving color to different parts of your garden.

White Trillium – White Trillium is a wildflower accustomed to growing in dark forests, which is what makes it so hearty. It has broad, white petals and dark green leaves that make this flower stand out in any arrangement.

Lily of the Valley – If your garden is in the shade and restricted by a small footprint, then the Lily of the Valley is an ideal solution. This popular plant has large green leaves with yellow accents and small white flowers that can add character to any garden.

PLANTS THAT GROW IN PARTIAL SHADE

Most of the wildflowers that have become popular can grow in any kind of shady conditions because they are used to the intermittent light of the forest. There are plenty of great plants to choose from if the sun only makes a temporary appearance in your yard each day.

Hydrangea
– Hydrangea bushes actually prefer shade during the hottest times of the day, and they reward your garden with blasts of white flowers set in deliberate bunches.

Amethyst – Amethyst flowers are the purplish flowers most commonly seen in hanging baskets. These flowers require a minimal amount of sunlight, and can look great anywhere in your garden or landscaping.

Begonia – The Begonia offers a vibrant flower with a yellow center that can survive in almost any type of shade. You can choose from a variety of colors with the Begonia, and they can grow anywhere there is fertile soil.

WATERING YOUR SHADED PLANTS

Watering shaded plants is tricky because the shade tends to slow down the evaporation process for water, and the trees that cause shade can provide extra water as the dew arrives in the morning. Do not put your shaded plants on a regular watering schedule as you could give them too much water and drown them. The best approach is to check each day to see if the soil is getting dry and only add water when there is more dry soil than moist.

If you have to contend with shade in your gardening area, then all you need to do is find the right plants to make your garden complete. There are many different types of plants that can survive in varying amounts of shade to help make your garden beautiful.

Posted in: Gardening, Landscaping

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