Robby's Nursery | 4002 Terracotta Ct Bakersfield, CA 93314
Gardening Articles
Water Wise Gardening!

By: Kathy Robinson  

In the Drought Situation we are in now and for the future here are some tips on using less water on your landscape. All of us have spent a significant amount of money on our yards, lets protect that investment and help save water at the same time.

Basic changes can help a lot. First reset your timers. Watering should be done in early AM. Water long enough to get a nice soaking. If the water runs off before it can soak in, Shorten the time a little and Then add a second soak about 20 mins after the first cycle runs. This will push water deeper into the soil before it runs off.
Set your schedule (this Fall) to water twice a week. Be sure to walk your yard and evaluate. If a plant or tree is struggling, hand water, until it can acclimate.

Readjust sprinkler heads to water planted areas not sidewalks and streets. Check and fix leaking pipes and sprinkler heads. Turn off or cap heads that are not needed.

Consider not over seeding for the Winter, We use lots of water to germinate seed. Be sure to put on preemergent now and again on Dec 1 to deal with Winter weeds. If you do over seed, as soon as the seed has germinated start monitoring the water, again working toward 2 times a week if needed.

If it rains, turn off the clock until the yard is dry.

Start paying attention to plant selection. Come by Robby’s Nursery and look at all the beautiful possibilities of varieties that require less water. Note: Many plants commonly used in our area are drought tolerant, but you may be over watering them. “Just because a variety tolerates watering often doesn’t mean it needs it”. (Please read that line again).

Plant in Fall or Winter to establish roots before the heat hits. By planting in cooler temps your plants get rooted in and can deal with the heat when it returns. Also if you plant in the Fall your roots are established and you get the benefit of the Spring growth spurt. When you plant be sure and mulch the hole with a 50/50 mixture of mulch and native soil. Also add polymers to the mulch mix to hold moisture near the root ball.

Last, A light application of mulch can help retain moisture. Just keep the mulch away from the trunks of trees and shrubs (about 8-10″ is good). Fertilize once a month and use soil penetrants to help water move through the soil. I love the fertilizers that have the penetrants in them, They save a step and help with our alkaline soil.

Hopefully if we all make these changes, we will start saving more water immediately. Water is precious and will always be in short supply in this valley, lets all make some changes and look for more ways to conserve!


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Growing Your Own..........Vegy's!

Written By:  Kathy Robinson

It certainly seems like an early Spring.  Easter comes at the end of March this year and the birds are back singing away. That means it’s time to get started on our Vegetables. At Robby’s Nursery & Calico Gardens we are having our Annual Vegy Seminar on Feb 27 at 1:00pm.  In the meantime, you can start planning this year’s plan of attack on Growing Your Own,  Vegy’s that is!

One of the most important steps to a great harvest is preparation.  Pick a nice Sunny area for your garden.  Get the area weeded and turn in some good organic matter.  A half mulch, half native soil mix is good.  We like Harvest Supreme or Soil Building Compost.

Your first round of planting can be “cool” season vegetables.  You can plant from seeds or, this late, it might be better plant from starter plants.  We usually have a nice long Spring so you can get another crop of the “Fall” vegys now, before the heat hits.
Early bird gardeners will start planting their tomatoes mid February.  Be sure to Hot Cap them if you are among this group. Come by and we can give you Robby’s tips on early tomatoes.  Or attend the seminar where we will go over these and many more hints on being successful with Vegy’s.

Fertilize your garden once a month with our Organic Vegetable Food.  Watch for insects or disease problems and treat accordingly.  Bring in samples of your problems in a plastic bag for help with diagnoses and a cure.  When maintaining a garden be sure to water in the early AM when the ground is dry.

Soon you will be harvesting the rewards of your work.  Nothing is better than fresh produce out of your own garden.  Vine ripened fruit and vegys are the best,  as all you current gardeners know so well.  We are looking forward to a Great Gardening Season with the blessings of Wonderful Spring Rains.

An Awe Inspiring Spring!

By: Kathy Robinson

     What an interesting Spring we’re having.  Actually, quite a beautiful one indeed!  At Robby’s Nursery, it’s been awhile since we have been as inspired, as this Spring.  Hopefully everyone of us has been inspired, but at the same time learned from the last few years.  Let’s remember our past lessons on water conservation as we forge ahead with redoing our gardens.
     The biggest change in our yards this Spring should be the frequency of watering.  We now know our yards can exist on far less water than we thought. Even our common everyday varieties of plants only need to be watered when they are dry.  The days of everyday soaking are over………Please don’t go back to those water wasting habits, no matter what the weather does!
     The last few years have also introduced us to a whole new plant pallet of Drought Tolerant Perennials.  How exciting it is to try new and different varieties The color and interest of a whole new array of plants has sparked the interest of many gardeners that thought “they had seen it all”.  Clearing out the old and bringing in some new has helped to make this an inspiring Spring.  And record sales are validating this point.
     Vegy Sales and Organic Gardening are another category inspiring especially the young gardener.  The wanting to “Grow Your Own” mentality has not been seen like this since the late 1960’s.  More and more interest has been show from our young families and teaching their Kids the joys of gardening.  From Lady Bug Sales to arbors of fruiting vines, new ways to beautify the garden are taking hold.  Just check out “Pinterest” if you have any doubts of these trends.
     Yard and Recycled Art is another change in the garden that we are seeing.  Creating focal points with these items has surpassed the “trend” stage and are becoming the norm in our own secret gardens.  Showing individuality with yard decor is fun and beautiful at the same time.  Lately, I have been walking around looking for another project to create more interest.  Both at home and at the nursery it’s been so  rewarding to hear all the compliments.
Gardening Newsletters
July/August 2017

Home Gardener’s Newsletter

July/August 2017

In This Issue:

  • July/August Success Tips
  • Keep Flowers Blooming Longer
  • How Old is That Tree
  • Grilled Peaches and Raspberry Sauce
  • %@!& Dandelions!
July/August Success Tips
1. Plant more veggies and flowers now to fill in spaces that open up.
2. Check under containers for pests like slugs, snails, earwigs, and others. Remove them by hand or use our organic bait. Many insect pests are at their peak now in the garden. For a diagnosis and effective control recommendation, bring in the pest and/or fresh damage, sealed in a plastic bag.
3. Our crape myrtles are blooming and they are gorgeous. Plant them where they will get lots of heat!
4. Check your irrigation system to make sure it is working properly with no breaks or leaks. Turn it on during the daytime when you can see which areas it is reaching. Leave it on for the entire cycle so you can spot any water runoff or missed areas, and make adjustments.
Keep Flowers Blooming Longer
   Many annuals and some perennial flowers will provide you with a much longer period of bloom with a little extra care now.
A key is to keep them actively growing with regular watering, and feeding them with EB Stone Ultrabloom 0-10- 10. This will also increase the number of flowers, and can keep plants vigorously blooming longer.
Most plants will reward you with more flowers if you remove faded flowers and developing seeds. Pinching or cutting out old flowers (called ‘deadheading’) tricks plants into producing more blossoms because their “mission” of reproducing has been thwarted. Pinch back leggy flowers like petunias to stimulate new growth.
Replace plants that are too far gone with fresh summer and fall blooming flowers, and mulch around them to keep the soil more moist.
How Old is That Tree?
   We’ve all taken nature hikes through parks and forests, and counted the rings on fallen or cut tree stumps in order to determine the age of large trees. But how do you determine the age of a tree without cutting it down?
It’s easy to get an accurate idea of the age of living pines, spruces, true firs and Douglas fir just by looking at the tree. These species usually add one whorl of branches every year. A whorl is the cluster of branches that grows from around a single point on the trunk. If you count the whorls and add a couple of years for the seedling stage, you’ll be very close to the true age of the tree.
It’s a little more difficult to determine the age of hardwood trees. Experienced arborists can provide a good guess by comparing a tree with others of its species where the age is known. For trees planted in local streets and parks, city landscaping crews often know when the trees were originally planted, or can check official records. One way to tell the true age of a tree without cutting it down is to take an increment boring. This drilling technique produces a small core of the trunk and you can count the annual rings just as on a stump.
Grilled Peaches and Raspberry Sauce
A combination made in heaven!
• ¾ c raspberries
• 1 ½ tsp lemon juice
• 2 medium peaches— peeled and halved
• 4 Tbs brown sugar
• ½ tsp cinnamon
• ¾ tsp vanilla
• 1 tsp butter
Directions: In blender, puree berries and lemon juice (sweeten to taste with white sugar). Chill. Place peach halves cut side up on foil. Combine brown sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla, and fill peach centers with mixture; dot with butter. Grill over hot coals 10-15 minutes. Spoon on raspberry sauce for a colorful and incredibly scrumptious treat! Serve warm.
Optional: top with ice cream.
%@!& Dandelions!
   Got dandelions? Go ahead and yell and call them names. To help, here are a few interesting names for dandelions you may not have heard of before.
Before the dandelion blossom opens it is called “Swine’s snout”. The fully open flower has been called “tulip in the grass”. “Puffball” is a fitting names for the ball of seeds, and “monk’s head” is used to describe the smooth, bald head that remains after the fuzzy seeds have blown away. “Devil’s milk pail” is a name that refers to the sap that oozes from the root.
If yelling and name-calling do not control your dandelions, check with us for control methods that work!
May/June 2017

Home Gardener’s Newsletter

May/June 2017

In This Issue:

  • May/June Success Tips
  • Plant To Create Pizzazz
  • Plant Vegetables Now!
  • Green Rosemary Smoothie Recipe
  • Time-Saving Gardening Tips
May/June Success Tips
1. Plant flowers now to beautify your landscape, plus extras to cut and bring indoors, and some in decorative containers for your entryway and patio. We have lots of old favorites and exciting new varieties arriving weekly!
2. Do you have mint? Mint is easy to grow. Plant it along a pathway where you can grab some as you walk by and nibble on it. We have several different flavors of mint—plant a variety!
3. Weeds are getting more mature and many are setting seeds. Whenever possible, pull them before they go to seed and can multiply themselves. For some weeds you will need weed killers—we have a variety of good ones that work well and save you a lot of work.
Plant to Create Pizzazz
   What makes some gardens have so much passion and pizzazz that they seem to exude an excitement that wakes up your senses? You can create this by selecting more plants with bright, bold flowers and leaves, and combining these in striking ways.
For a sunny area, try combining deep purple tapien verbena, bright yellow coreopsis and red petunias. Another jazzy combination is bi-colored petunia blossoms, such as red and white striped, mingled with blue and white striped ones. Portulaca, cockscomb, and zinnias are other bright summer flowers. For bright foliage, plant lime green or black Ipomea (ornamental sweet potato vine) to hang down from containers, or in a flower bed.
For a part-shade area, perk up your garden with a combination like redleafed begonias with lime coleus. Yellow tuberous begonias together with red impatiens will also brighten up a low-light area.
Don’t forget to plant more succulents. We have a large selection of these in exciting colors, leaf shapes, and forms.    These are just suggestions—browse through the nursery and put together some shocking combinations of your own!
Plant Vegetables Now!
   If you haven’t already planted vegetables, get them in now! Use our transplants to get a faster crop of beans, corn, cucumbers, eggplants, melons, peppers, squash, and tomatoes. We also have a wide variety of seeds for plants like carrots and radishes, and many others.
Plant some vegetables in your flower beds—many vegetables have very attractive foliage, including carrots, beets, and all the beautiful leaf lettuces.
Add organic matter (G&B Organics Harvest Supreme). This wonderful, allorganic material provides a slow release of nutrients, and increases the ability of the soil to absorb and retain moisture. Mulch around plants to reduce evaporation and help prevent weed germination. Fertilize with EB Stone Organics Tomato & Vegetable Food as per label instructions for a better crop.
Green Rosemary Smoothie Recipe
• 1 cup water
• 1 medium banana
• 1 cup fresh blueberries or strawberries
• 1 cup fresh baby spinach
• 1 stem of finely chopped rosemary (stem removed)
• A dash of salt
Variations: Add 1 tablespoon of flax or chia seeds, add or substitute mango chunks, double the spinach, add 1 teaspoon coconut or flaxseed oil, add sprouts, a raw egg, or protein powder. You can add a little sweetener, if desired. Blend until as smooth as you like it.
Two reasons to love rosemary: 1. Rosemary has a long, long list of health benefits, from fighting cancer, memory loss, inflammation, and muscle pain, to fighting bad breath, and more. 2. It’s probably already growing in your yard, and if not, plant some today!
Time-Saving Gardening Tips
   You can have a gorgeous garden with maintenance needs that fit your busy schedule—even if you’re busy as a bee. Here are some suggestions.
Modify your garden design. We have new lowgrowing varieties of shrubs that reduce time spent pruning larger varieties. Group plants with similar watering needs. Plant ornamental grasses that add visual interest without demanding much care or water. Plant annuals that will reseed, and perennials that come back reliably year after year.
Apply mulch. Mulch lessens the need to water as frequently by reducing evaporation and keeping the soil more evenly moist. The time you spend weeding will be greatly reduced, too, because mulch helps prevent weed growth, and pulling weeds from mulched areas is much easier. Also, mulched areas look more attractive than bare soil.
Water wisely. Install an automatic watering system or drip system to save watering time. If you hand water, water early in the day to reduce water loss from evaporation. Water slowly, deeply and thoroughly to avoid runoff and promote deep roots that need less frequently watering.
March/April 2017

Home Gardener’s Newsletter

March April 2017

In This Issue:

  • March/April Success Tips
  • Plant a Berry Garden!
  • Replanting After the Drought
  • Common Planting Mistake
  • NEW–Forest Bathing
March/April Success Tips
1. Plant vegetables, berries and fruit trees. This is all part of growing healthier food, fresher food, and better tasting food. You pick at the peak of ripeness, versus supermarket produce that is picked green, then gassed to finish the ripening process. Plus, when you grow your own, it can’t be any more local, and you know it is clean, free from any pesticides.
2. Invite pollinators for dinner. Plant lots of plants that have flowers. If you want to know more, look up the UC Berkeley Urban Bee Lab on the web. They have an excellent list of bee plants and other information. Do NOT use on-line bee lists from outside California—they are worthless in our unique climate.
3. Adjust sprinklers. As we come to the end of the rainy season, it will be time to turn your sprinkler system back on, and gradually increase the amount of water you give your plants as the days heat up and become longer. Inspect your sprinkler system for leaks, plugged or mis-adjusted sprinkler heads, and vegetation that is blocking them. Make sure water is flowing out of each nozzle of a drip system.
4. Time to fertilize! Plants are particularly hungry this spring because the heavy rains leached more nitrogen out of the soil than most winters. Feed most plants with Gro- Power Plus, citrus with Robby’s Deep Feed Mix, and for lawns, ask for our feeding schedules.
Plant a Berry Garden!
   You can’t get tastier or healthier food than berries, picked fresh from your garden. And with all the new varieties that have come out in the last ten years, you might say this has become the ‘golden age of backyard berry production.’
We have lots of berries to choose from, including blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, and more. Plant these all in one section of your garden, where you can easily protect the fruits from birds with our bird netting. Plant enough and you’ll have healthy berries for every breakfast, or those special Saturday breakfasts, or on ice cream, or in fruit compotes!
Blueberries are colorful, attractive plants, so you might want to plant-up some extras of these in large containers for use in a sunny entryway or patio. Blueberries want an acid soil, so ask us which soil amendment to use to create that.
Replanting After the Drought
   We have lots of water, but there is no reason not to continue to plant smart to reduce your landscape water use. Replace plants that died or are doing poorly because plants are a critical part of life on Earth as they add oxygen to the air, filter out air contaminants, beautify our surroundings, and do so much more.
We have a great selection of low-water succulents and other low-water plants—experiment with these in your yard and you will discover that you’ll come to love some of these plants just as much as plants that need lots of water.
Many people are not getting rid of their lawn, but simply reducing its size. If you are re-planting your lawn to make it look great again, we can help with that as well. New varieties of grass often use less water than old varieties, and there are some grass mixes that take far less water, that may be useful for certain areas you have.
Common Planting Mistake
   Spring is an excellent time to plant! Did you know that one of the most common planting mistakes is planting too deep?
Here’s why this is so common. People may place the plant at the correct height in the hole, but they forget that the soil will settle and lower the level of the entire plant. The deeper you dig the hole, the more settling will lower the soil level.
In almost all cases (tomatoes are an exception), the trunk of a plant needs to end up at the same soil level as when it was in the nursery pot. If the trunk becomes partially covered with soil, it is much more likely to succumb to crown rot that either causes the plant to grow more slowly, or sometimes kills it. Also, any grafted section may be covered, causing further problems.
So whenever you’ve dug a deep hole, plant just a little high so that once the soil settles, the trunk will be at the same soil level as it was in the pot. You’ll end up with healthier plants!
Have You Been Forest Bathing?
   No, forest bathing does not mean taking a shower in a forest. It is a new practice of visiting a forest in a very specific way to promote your good health.
Forest bathing was first formalized in Japan in 1982, and now is recognized as a cornerstone of their preventive health care and natural healing medicine. Meanwhile, it has been spreading and becoming more recognized here in California, in Europe, and around the world.
Forest bathing is different than a hike through the forest for exercise, or a guided hike to learn more about nature. Its objective is to move slowly, to deliberately slow down, and appreciate things with all your five senses–to take a break from the stress of our daily lives and increase your sense of well-being.
Spending time in natural environments has been linked to lower stress levels, improved working memory, and feeling more alive, among other positive attributes.
Studies have been done comparing walking in nature to walking in an urban environment. It shows that when walking in nature, stress hormones decrease, depression can decrease, and a type of white blood cell that fights infected or tumor cells increase.
If you don’t have a forest handy, may we suggest doing some Garden Bathing? I think we just coined a new term!! But seriously, gardening has long been known to produce positive emotional and mental health, as well as physical health.
So between spring planting and other gardening activities, take time in your garden to relax and just soak it all in!
January/February 2017

Home Gardener’s Newsletter

January/February 2017

In This Issue:

  • January/February Gardening Tips
  • Create Cool-Weather Containers
  • Early-Blooming Shrubs
  • Berry Cheesecake Parfait
  • Roomba Robot to Cut Weeds
  • 2017 is the Year of the Pansy
January/February Gardening Tips
1. Our bareroot fruit trees, berries, perennial vegetables, and bareroot roses are in! This is the best time for the widest selection of varieties, at low prices, plus planting early gives the plants a longer period of cooler, damper spring weather to get established.
2. Valentine’s Day is coming up February 14. We will have beautiful houseplants and shade plants, plus miniature and tree roses.
3. Apply a dormant spray now—ask us for details.
4. Tend to your houseplants. Wash dirt and dust off the leaves, and flush the soil out by running one or two quarts of water through the soil. This will get rid of any salts that have accumulated and can burn the leaves. Continue fertilizing them—ask us what to use. Repot houseplants if they have been more than two years in the same pot. Use a slightly larger pot to allow their roots to grow, and add potting soil to the sides and below the root ball.
Create Cool-Weather Containers
   If the container gardens in your entryway and patio are looking dull because of cold weather, take this opportunity to make them look beautiful even in cold weather. In fact, when things outdoors look bleak, a few pots of color can be very exciting this time of year.
There are lots of plants that thrive and look great in cooler weather. In the middle or back of a container, plant something with pretty foliage color, like Japanese barberry, golden juniper, or a small heavenly bamboo (Nandina). Wander through the nursery and you’ll find others. Blooming hellebores also are great this time of year. Use mondo grass or an interesting ivy variety to spill over the sides of the container.
Then in the remaining area plant something bright and blooming, like primroses, cyclamen, or pansies. We also have mixed succulents to create gorgeous, long-lasting container gardens!
Using plants like these, you will be amazed and surprised at the rich colors and beautiful container plantings you can create this time of year!
Early Blooming Shrubs
   Take a stroll through the nursery. You will be able to pick up shrubs that are either blooming now, or have flower buds on them and bloom very early, before most plants start blooming in spring. Early-bloomers include certain magnolias, camellias, azaleas, aloes (Safari Orange), indigo bush, feathery sienna, flowering quince, forsythia, lilac, viburnum, banks roses, spirea, rhapiolepis, ceanothus, and redbud.
Also plant some early-blooming trees like purpleleaf plums and flowering pears, and early-blooming vines like wisteria, hardenbergia, Carolina jessamine, and some of the jasmines.
Having some flowering plants at a time when not much is blooming not only beautifies a landscape, thus lifting our spirits, but also can provide vital nectar for pollinating bees and other pollinators when food is scarce.
Berry Cheesecake Parfait
Plant a variety of berries now and you’ll have plenty of them later to make this so-o-o delicious dessert! Fool your guests—this elegant dessert is very easy to make.
  • 8 oz. whipped cream cheese
  • 4 Tbsp. sugar, to taste
  • ½ cup vanilla yogurt
  • 2 cups fresh strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, or other fresh berries.
  • 4 chocolate graham crackers, crushed.
Mix cream cheese and sugar in a small bowl, and stir in yogurt. In four wine glasses, layer ingredients in this order: berries, cream cheese mixture, crumbs, cream cheese mixture, and berries. Decorate with a tip of fresh spearmint if you are lucky to be growing it in your yard. Enjoy at once, or you can make this up to a day ahead and keep in your refrigerator.
Roomba Robot to Cut Weeds
   The inventor of the popular Roomba robot vacuum cleaner is developing a roving robo-gardener that cuts weeds. The Tertill, scheduled to launch the summer of 2017 for $250 each, automatically cuts any vegetation that is shorter than 1 inch. Sensors help the robot avoid obstacles and know when to activate its weed blades.
Other companies are starting to build more expensive robots to weed agricultural fields. These will probably eliminate weeds by cutting, pulling, burning, or a combination of methods.
2017 is the Year of the Pansy
   Most people considered pansies as weeds until the 19th century. In the late 1830’s the classic pansy “face” was discovered in a chance sport that produced a broad dark blotch on the petals.
Today there are hundreds of pansy varieties available. These popular coolseason flowers include beautiful samecolored flowers, multi-colored flowers, and patterned flowers with a characteristic “face”. Some flowers are very large, and others are smaller, like violas and Johnny jump-ups.
November/December 2016

Home Gardener’s Newsletter

November/December 2016

In This Issue:

  • November/December Success Tips
  • Plant Winter Garden Drama
  • Find Great Gifts Here
  • Apple Cranberry Crisp
  • The First Christmas Trees
November/December Gardening Tips
  1. Turn off automatic sprinklers unless we go for a couple weeks without rains. For most plants, check the soil for moisture one inch down, and don’t water unless it is dry. Plants in containers can dry out quickly, so you will need to check on them more often.
  2. Bait for Snails and Slugs. These pests were less numerous during the drought, but are starting to come back. This is a perfect time to bait to keep the population low. We have Sluggo (phosphorus) or Gro-Power Snail & Slug Away (organic) that are both safe to use around pets.
Plant Winter Garden Drama
There are plenty of colorful options to brighten up your landscape during cooler weather. Our beautiful blooming annuals and perennials provide much of the winter color, but there are other plants that complement them and show off your garden during the coming gray, shorter days of winter.
*Ornamental grasses are an excellent way to fill landscapes with texture, movement and color. Many of them have fascinating flowers and seed
heads this time of year.
*Ornamental berries: Winter would be much bleaker without shrubs with winter berries. They are long-lasting and make excellent cuttings during the holidays.
*Blooming shrubs like loropetalum, daphne, sasanqua camellias, and others—come in and ask us to show you what is in bloom, and will be coming into bloom in the months ahead.
*Tree bark: Add drama to your winter landscape with trees that feature near-white or colorful bark, or bark with interesting texture. Think crape myrtle, birches, certain dogwoods, etc. Ask us.
Make this Christmas very special! Come to the nursery and you will find beautiful and exciting gifts for the homeowner and garden lover, and everyone else on your list!
GIFTS INCLUDE: •Decorative pottery, •garden statuary and metal yard art, •bird feeders & bird baths, •pruning tools, •garden gloves, •garden books, •specimen plants, and •our popular gift certificates—always a favorite gift.
DECEMBER 26 & 27

For Holiday Decorating
We will have living Christmas trees, beautiful poinsettias,
and other decorative plants.

Apple Cranberry Crisp
Some apple varieties are still being harvested, and cranberries are in season too, making this festive combination perfect.
  • 3 cups chopped peeled tart apples
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 cups quick-cooking oats
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans
Combine apples, cranberries, sugar and flour. Pour into a greased 11- in. x 7-in. baking dish. In a bowl, mix topping ingredients until crumbly; sprinkle over apple mixture. Bake at 350° for 50-55 minutes or until fruit is tender. Yield: 6-8 servings.
The First Christmas Trees
   Ever wondered why we bring trees into our homes in the dead of winter to celebrate a holiday? This ritual began not as an observance of Christmas, but of the winter solstice. Ancient Egyptians marked the shortest day of the year by bringing green palm branches indoors.
The first Christmas tree was brought in and decorated during a 16th century winter in Strasbourg, Germany. Families decorated fir trees with fruit, colored paper, candy, and other sweets.
Christmas tree lots began in this country in 1851, when Mark Carr hauled two ox sleds loaded with Christmas trees from the Catskills to the streets of New York City.
September/October 2016

Home Gardener’s Newsletter

September/October 2016

In This Issue:

  • September/October Success Tips
  • Fall is Ideal for Planting
  • Pollinators Need Your Flowers
  • Special Tomato Salads
  • One Man’s Backyard Efforts Increase Butterflies
September/October Gardening Tips
  1. Start planting fall flowers as the weather cools. Pansies, snapdragons, sedum and many more are starting to arrive mid-September.
  2. Beautify your entryway and patio for fall with potted containers of chrysanthemums, pansies, coneflowers, and other flowers, or a boxwood topiary for a more permanent display. Add gourds and pumpkins as they become available.
  3. Add spent summer flowers, vegetables, and fall leaves to your compost pile, and use it to enrich your soil. If it is diseased or has pests or is a weed that has gone to seed, have it removed with your trash. Although a hot compost pile kills insects and many diseases, most home compost piles aren’t consistently hot enough to do a good job.
  4. As the days shorten and temperatures cool, plants start needing less water than during the summer months. Gradually follow the season and reduce your watering. But keep an eye out for those hot, windy fall days or weeks that really dry out plants.
  5. September is a great time to rejuvenate beat-up lawns. Fertilize now to keep them healthy, green, and weed-free. Pick up our lawn schedule for details. Reseed any bare spots, and aerate them if they are compacted.
Fall is Ideal for Planting!
   This is an ideal time to plant—it will give the plants a head start on getting established. For California native and other drought-tolerant plants, as well as all shrubs and trees—fall is the best time! All kinds of plants like to settle in and put down strong root systems before next summer’s hot, dry weather. Fall weather encourages strong root development, and winter rains help plants get established.
Remember that even drought-tolerant plants will need supplemental water for the first year or so while they are getting established.
Pollinators Need Your Flowers
   Survey your yard and make sure you have a variety of plants in bloom this time of year. They are needed to sustain honeybees, native bees, and other pollinators.
Some plants provide pollen, and others nectar. Both are needed by pollinators, so make sure you have a variety of plants blooming. Also, there are many different kinds of pollinators, and some of these have a definite preference for certain flower types, so a variety of flowers are needed to provide them food.
Come in and ask us for some long-blooming plants that will provide food at this time and during the months ahead.
Special Tomato Salads
   If you have lots of tomatoes, here are three delicious ways to enjoy them.
  • Try this tri-colored salad if you have both yellow and red tomatoes. Cut tomatoes into wedges. Alternate on a pretty platter with peeled, sliced avocados. Drizzle with oil & vinegar dressing, or just lemon juice, salt, and herbs.
  • Peel tomatoes and slice ¼ inch thick. Sprinkle with black olives, dill, Italian parsley, and green onions. Drizzle with oil & vinegar dressing.
  • Slice and peel about 1 pound of tomatoes, and sprinkle with mint leaves. Marinate for ½ hour in a mixture of ¼ cup orange juice, 1 Tbsp oil, 1 tsp vinegar, 2 tsp Dijon-style mustard, salt and pepper.
One Man’s Backyard Efforts
Increase Butterflies
   A San Francisco man, Tim Wong, set out to increase the numbers of pipevine swallowtails in his city. This beautiful butterfly has blackish forewings and iridescent dark blue hind wings with orange spots underneath them.
The caterpillars feed almost exclusively on native California pipevine plants in the wild. Wong planted pipevine in his backyard and built a large screen enclosure over the area. The enclosure allows the butterflies to mate and lay eggs, and protects them from predators.
He has been doing this for the last four years, successfully raising “thousands” of caterpillars and transferring them to the San Francisco Botanical Garden in Golden Gate Park. These butterflies are natives to the area, but became less common as the city was built up. Thanks to Wong, they are making a comeback.
Wong is an inspiration to people who want to do something to help beautiful and beneficial birds, butterflies, bees, and other creatures. He says, “Improving habitat for native fauna is something anyone can do. Conservation and stewardship can start in your very own backyard.”
July/August 2016

Home Gardener’s Newsletter

July/August 2016

In This Issue:

  • July/August Success Tips
  • Create A Personal Backyard Oasis
  • Fruit-Infused Water
  • 7 Unexpected Health Benefits of Gardening
  • Sharing Your Bounty
July/August Gardening Tips
  1. Continue to plant and make your yard more beautiful, productive, and functional! We have an amazing variety of flowers, edibles, and landscaping plants, with new shipments arriving weekly. Try some new plants, or varieties you’ve never grown before, and enjoy the excitement of growing something fresh and new!
  2. Continue planting heat-loving vegetables as space opens up in your yard. Zucchini, cucumbers, herbs, and others love the heat and will extend your harvest into the fall.
  3. Keep your containers and hanging plants moist. Some containers dry out quickly and will need daily watering in the summer heat.
  4. Mulch around shrubs and trees to keep them more moist. You’ll use less water, plus have fewer weeds and healthier plants! Freshen up previously mulched areas. Keep mulch 1-2 inches thick, but do not mulch around the base of plants—keep it 6-8 inches away, otherwise it smothers them.
  5. Treat mildew on roses and other plants with our Serenade, an effective organic fungicide. Use it regularly.
Create A Personal Backyard Oasis
   Many families realize the value of just relaxing more at home. These stay-at-home vacations, called “staycations,” can make a lot of sense. Not only do they save money, but you spend less time fighting stressful traffic getting to and from your destination.
You can make your staycation more enjoyable by creating a back yard where you want to spend more time—your personal oasis. Only your imagination need limit what you do. Look for ways to make your back yard more peaceful, colorful, and inviting.
You might put in a small water feature, like a fountain that has the soothing, cooling sound of running water. (The water recycles, so a fountain actually uses very little water.) If you are more ambitious, consider a small pond. Plant your garden with flowers that will attract beautiful butterflies and hummingbirds.
If your backyard oasis is small, here is a trick decorators use indoors—install a large mirror. It works great in the garden, creating an illusion of a space twice as big. It can also brighten a dark area as it reflects light and multiplies the number of beautiful flowers.
Other things you might want to add are a small herb or kitchen garden. And don’t forget to put a couple of comfortable and inviting chairs in your backyard oasis, plus a small table for food or drinks. Enjoy your home-away-from-home!
Fruit-Infused Water
   Now that summer has officially begun, it is especially important to keep hydrated during hot summer days. If you have a hard time drinking the recommended six to eight glasses a day, why not add some of your favorite fruits to your chilled water? Unlike soda or sports drinks, fruit-infused water is healthier because it is low in sugar, high in vitamins, and a great contributor to your daily fruit intake if you munch on them!
   Strawberries, Raspberries, Apples, Grapes, Kiwi, Watermelon, Lemon, Oranges and Limes all give a special flavor and lift to plain water. Feel free to mix and match! Cut up the fruit to release more flavor. These all can be used fresh from the garden, or frozen and used straight from the freezer. You can also add hand-shredded Mint or sliced Cucumbers.
   Enjoy this delicious and healthy treat!
7 Unexpected Health Benefits of Gardening
   If you want to smile more, garden more! Research shows there are at least seven reasons gardening is wonderful for your health.
  1. Improves your mood.
  2. Reduces stress.
  3. Boosts your immune system.
  4. Increases self-esteem.
  5. Helps prevent dementia.
  6. Provides healthier food.
  7. Helps you keep more fit.
   Let’s look at just one of the findings above; gardening boosts your selfesteem. How is that possible? This is true for all of us, regardless of age, but especially true in young children and older adults—taking care of something living increases our sense of self-worth. It can even give us a reason to get up in the morning. Plus, there is nothing like growing food from a seed or a young plant, and harvesting and eating that food, that gives a sense of accomplishment.
Sharing Your Bounty
   Do you have extra fruits and vegetables to share and don’t know what to do with them? Consider donating your produce to local charities or neighbors!
You can find a food pantry near you by typing in your location at If there aren’t any local pantries, consider becoming a member of and post a free ‘classified’ announcement.
May/June 2016
Home Gardener’s Newsletter
May & June 2016
Here’s some articles you will find in this month’s issue:
  • May & June Gardening Tips
  • Time to Plant Flowers!
  • More Plants Equal A Longer Life
  • Plant a Kitchen Garden!
May & June Gardening Tips
  1. Vegetable planting continues! Get those warm-season vegetables planted if you haven’t already. Plant new sections every 3 weeks of beets, beans, corn and radish to provide successive harvests.
  2. Pick out some new roses! Our gorgeous new varieties in stock have been bred to be more disease resistant and carefree than most of the older varieties.
  3. Check the soil regularly around new plants for moisture. Even drought tolerant plants need watering until established. For trees and shrubs planted now, even tough varieties, you’ll need to water at least through the first summer, although mulching will reduce the need for watering as frequently.
  4. Make plants happy and use less water by mulching! Apply a 2-4 inch layer, and add more mulch yearly.
Time to Plant Flowers!

   There is no doubt that we experienced April showers, so it must be time for May flowers! We’re bursting at the seams with colorful plants you can put in now and enjoy. Here are just a few of the annuals, perennials, and groundcovers we have to offer as plants and seeds, in useful categories to help you find what you need. Ask us to point out others for your planting project.

Flowers that attract butterflies: asters, lantana, marigolds, zinnias, tithonia, most daisy-like flowers, butterfly bush (Buddelia).
Great flowers for cutting: Alstroemeria, Shasta daisy, statice, scabiosa, coreopsis, zinnias, asters.
Flowers for containers: ageratum, alyssum, impatiens, coleus, petunias, lobelia, tapien verbenas.
Flowers that trail: verbena, sweet potato vine, sweet alyssum, cascading petunias, calibrachoa hybrids, ivy geranium, scaevola, bacopa, nasturtiums.
Flowers that love heat: salvia, verbena, lantana, geraniums, gaillardia,
rudbeckia, celosia, statice, vinca rosea, cosmos, coreopsis, portulaca.
Flowers for part shade: Impatiens, begonias, lobelia, coleus, campanula.
Low water blooming shrubs: some tough plants include raphiolipsis, bottlebrush, pyracantha, cotoneaster, brooms, manzanita, ceanothus, rockroses, grevillea, crape myrtle, and more in stock.
For best success with flowers, dig Gro Power Flower & Bloom into the bed before planting, and fertilize on a regular basis.

More Plants Equal A Longer Life
   A conclusive new study published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives and funded in part by the National Institutes of Health followed over 108,000 women over many years. It found a 12 percent lower death rate for women who lived in homes that had the highest levels of vegetation, or greenness, compared to women with the lowest levels of vegetation near their homes.
The study used high resolution satellite imagery to determine the level of vegetation around homes. Some previous studies had similar findings, but this exhaustive study was much larger in scope—it followed mortality rates over many years, and was the first study that was nationwide in scope, which allowed for more conclusive results. Previous studies also looked at the amount of greenness in the entire community, while this study looked at the amount of greenness around individual homes.
The researchers were able to determine that the amount of vegetation was a key contributor to longer life, while accounting for and separating the effects of other mortality risk factors such as age, race, ethnicity, smoking, and socioeconomic status. In the greenest areas, they found a surprising 41 percent lower death rate for kidney disease, 34 percent lower death rate for respiratory disease, and 13 percent lower death rate for cancer.
The researchers were surprised to find that nearly 30% of the benefit from living around greater vegetation came from improved mental health in the women and lower levels of depression. According to the study, the lower mortality rate may also be because of the link between greenness and increased opportunities for social engagement, higher physical activity, and lower exposure to both air pollution and noise.
The finding of reduced mortality suggests that vegetation may be important to health in a broad range of ways.
Although this study looked at women only, men and children would probably have similar results. All of us need to go out and spend time planting and gardening around our homes, making them green and beautiful, and enjoying longer life!
Plant A Kitchen Garden!
Gardening and cooking go hand-in-hand, which has given rise to the classic kitchen garden, properly called a potager garden. Named after the French word for soup, a potager has vegetables and herbs planted among flowers (often edible flowers), and can be both pretty and productive.
The pattern of a potager garden can be simple or complex—a straightforward square shape or a mixture of squares, rectangles and circles. For a simple square or rectangular bed, place what will become the tallest plants in the center and back, with the shortest and the most frequently used plants closest to the paths and front.
One idea is to plant tall growing pole beans in the center surrounded by pepper plants and rose bushes. Lettuces, lower growing herbs and annual flowers can rim the edge of the bed. Allow paths at least 20″ for walking around the beds, and edge the bed with bricks or edging to keep out lawn grass.
A potager doesn’t have to be large—in fact, a small kitchen garden with a few key herbs, vegetables, and flowers may be just what the cook wants. Just locate it near the kitchen, and encourage the entire family to join in the fun of planting, caring for, harvesting, and eating the results!
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March/April 2016

Home Gardener’s Newsletter
March & April 2016

Here’s some articles you will find in this month’s issue:
  • March & April Gardening Tips
  • Fixing Our Lawns
  • It’s Time to Plant a Tree!
  • Overwintering Monarch
    Counts Are Up
  • Plant a Pizza Garden!


Attend a Free Seminar
Container Gardening
April 9, 10am

March & April Gardening Tips

  • It’s Spring Planting Time! Now is the time to start planting both ornamental and food plants to create a more beautiful and productive yard. Come in and see all the flowers and other plants we have!
  • It’s a great time to plant vegetables, herbs, berries, and other plants that produce healthy and tasty foods. Come in and pick out your all-time favorites, plus some new varieties to try. We have an excellent collection of selected varieties that do well in our area. These are soooo good when you harvest them fresh!
  • Give your yard a finished look by mulching around new plantings. It makes all the difference in the world, plus it reduces weed problems and helps keep the soil moist.
  • Release some of our ladybugs (arriving soon) to help control pests safely and naturally. Read the label directions to improve results. If you have serious pest problems, you’ll need one of our sprays to provide immediate control. We have some excellent organic sprays that take care of most pest problems.
  • Start a garden journal if you aren’t already keeping one. It will become an invaluable source of information, and it can be as simple as a Word document. Write down what varieties you plant (they are too-easily forgotten), what plants do especially well together, blooming times, and other discoveries you make.


Fixing Our Lawns

Many people completely stopped watering their lawns last year. What has
come up from the rains is a hodgepodge of the original grass you had, plus weedy grass species (these are often a much lighter shade of green if you were growing the darker green fescues), plus broadleaf weeds like dandelions and many others. What to do now? Kill broadleaf weeds, before they spread, with our powerful Monterey Spurge Power.
What about the weed grasses? If there are big areas of grassy weeds and no good grass, you will need to reseed or resod your entire lawn. The problem with grassy weeds is they often are a different shade of green than the good
grass, and some are grasses that are annuals and they die by summertime.  Also, they often don’t have as deep a root system, so they are not as drought tolerant as grasses you plant.

Apply our Signature product to prevent weedy grasses from germinating, and to fertilize your lawn at the same time.  This may be a good opportunity to shrink the size of your lawn to reduce your overall water usage. You can replant sections with plants that require less water. In some cases you will need to modify your sprinkler system, so you can reduce the amount of water in the new sections. If you can’t do that, you might as well just keep your entire lawn.


It’s Time to Plant a Tree!

This is a great time to plant a tree! Here are two very wise proverbs about planting trees (and they have something to say about life as well):
A Chinese proverb: “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”
A Greek proverb: “A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.”


Overwintering Monarch Counts Are Up

Good news—the counts are finally in, and populations of western Monarch butterflies that overwintered in California, mostly in coastal areas, are the highest they’ve been in a decade. They are still lower than the huge numbers recorded in the 1990’s, but the trend is in a positive direction.
In the mountains of central Mexico, where Monarchs from east of the Rockies spend their winters, the estimated numbers increased 4 fold over last year. An estimated 150 million Monarchs were overwintering there, compared to only 42 million in 2014, the lowest number ever recorded.
Every gardener can be involved in helping Monarchs and other pollinators in our own yards by planting more flowering plants that provide life-sustaining nectar for the adults. Planting plants for caterpillars to feed on is also important. For Monarchs, the caterpillars feed exclusively on about 30 species of milkweed (Asclepias), including the beautiful butterfly weed, and many native
milkweed species.


Plant a Pizza Garden!

“What is a pizza garden?” you ask? It is a fun project for families to plant, look at, and eat! Picture a circular area (about 8 feet in diameter) with 6-8 “slices”—each featuring a topping for your delicious homemade pizza. Here’s how:
In an area that receives full sun, divide your circle into triangular slices with edging, bricks, or wooden dividers. String attached to stakes can also be used.
Start with tomato plants—about four or five will do. With their sweet taste and pasty consistency, Romas are a favorite choice for pizza. Most other tomato varieties work, but some can be watery and make your pizza soggy.
Herbs! Sweet basil is the staple for pizza sauce; we recommend at least one kind of basil, and two other varieties to complete this slice. For the best flavor, pick leaves before the plant begins to flower. For variety, consider making basil pesto instead of tomato sauce. Other popular herbs are chives, parsley, oregano, and thyme. If planting one herb per slice, use three plants of each type. For multiple herbs, conserve space with just one of each.
Here are some favorites for your remaining sections: onions (red, yellow, or white), scallions, sweet peppers, corn, eggplant, artichokes, and zucchini. For those who like to add zip to their pizza, plant hot peppers (several should be sufficient!), and garlic. An olive tree is a lovely addition outside of your pizza garden, and it is a low water user once established.

November/December 2015

Home Gardener’s Newsletter

November & December 2015


Here’s some articles you will find in this month’s issue:

  • Fall Gardening Tips
  • Do-Able Weekend Landscaping
  • Combat Stress
  • Fried Green Tomatoes

Come to Our Christmas Shop Open House!

Rose Seminar

  • Pruning & Taking Care of these Beauties
    • December 12th, 1pm


Fall Gardening Tips

  1. Plant poppy seeds on Veterans Day, November 11th, for flowers next year.  The seeds are very small, so one technique for not planting them too close is to mix them with sand and sprinkle them in your garden.
  2.  Sow wildflower seeds & take advantage of rains.
  3.  Prevent peach leaf curl on peaches and nectarines – apply the first spray as soon as the leaves have fallen, and another one just before the flower buds open in February.  We have a spray that helps prevent this common disease.
  4. For Holiday Decorating – We will have gorgeous Christmas cactus, poinsettias & other blooming & colorful holiday plants – use them for gifts, & decorating!


Do-Able Weekend Landscaping

Sometimes re-landscaping seems like such a huge project, we end up doing nothing at all.  When that happens, start ‘thinking small’ and you’ll actually get more done.  What can you accomplish in a day?

Perhaps replace a poor-performing pant, or focus on one small area.  Consider replacing groups of plants with dead branches, are high maintenance, aren’t thriving, or have stopped producing abundant blooms.

Just remember, if you replace plants with different watering needs, you must adjust the watering frequency and duration to the needs of the new plants.  Or you will need to gradually replace the other plants on that watering station, so their water needs match.

Grouping plants with smaller water needs is important because over-watering or under-watering will kill the plants.

Combat Stress

Veterans suffering from combat stress (also known as ‘Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), as well as other people dealing with stress, should give gardening a try.  No surprise to gardeners, “Horticulture therapy” has been shown to reduce pain, improve attentions, lower agitation, and reduce the need for medication.

This observation isn’t new; Dr Benjamin Rush, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, wrote that mentally ill patients improved through this earthy activity, and modern studies have demonstrated this again and again.  Gardening is healthy for all of us!

Studies have also shown that houseplants or cut flowers in a room are beneficial and improve mood.

Whatever the reason, there are many benefits from communing with nature and enjoying the sights, smells, and peaceful activity that gardeners know well.  So the next time someone tells you to rake leaves or pull weeks, thank them for the opportunity to enjoy “horticulture therapy.”


Fried Green Tomatoes!

Here is another use for green tomatoes.  If you haven’t eaten these, you may be surprised at how delicious they are.

Mix together in a large bowl: corn meal, flour, or finely ground break crumbs with salt and pepper added to taste.  Slice green tomatoes thickly and dip them into this mixture, then shake off the excess.  In a frying pan, heat butter, oil, or bacon fat, add the tomatoes and saute them until golden-brown.  Eat them as soon as they have cooled off enough not to burn your mouth.

These vegetables will have a delicious, slightly tart flavor that makes it impossible to stop after eating just one!