Robby's Nursery | 4002 Terracotta Ct Bakersfield, CA 93314
Gardening Newsletters
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.
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!

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.

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.