» Archive for September, 2010

Tree Planting Time

Wednesday, September 15th, 2010 by Jenny Watts
    • Choose chrysanthemums in a variety of colors now. They are hardy perennials which will brighten your garden each fall.
    • Plant cover crops in areas of the garden that have finished producing for the summer. Crimson clover and fava beans will grow over the winter and enrich the soil for next year.
    • Apples, pears and other fruit trees can be planted in the fall from containers to get a head start on next spring.
    • Plant snapdragons, pansies and violas for color this fall, winter and next spring.
    • It’s time to divide overgrown perennials that bloomed in the spring or early summer. It’s also a good time to choose and plant some new varieties.

It’s the Perfect Time to Plant a Tree

A tree is a marvelous creation and it will greatly enhance your home and garden. It can provide colorful fall leaves, flowers, fruit or nuts and air conditioning in the summer time. Trees clean our air while giving us shade and beauty.

Fall is an excellent time to plant a tree, so here are some steps to follow for success.

1. Dig the hole two or three times as wide as the container or root ball of the tree, and the same depth as the rootball. Roughen the sides so the roots can penetrate the native soil.

2. Remove the container just before the tree is put into the hole. Lift the tree by the root ball instead of the trunk, and minimize the time the roots are exposed to the air. Roots circling the root ball should be cut vertically in five places around the outside. Cut off matted roots from the bottom of the root ball.

3. Set the root ball on undisturbed soil. Adjust the “best” side of the tree in the direction you want. Make sure the top surface of the root ball is even with, or slightly above, the ground level.

4. Fill in the hole around the root ball with the soil you dug out of the hole. Tamp down the soil as you fill it in until the hole is 2/3 full.

5. Water the tree to help settle the soil, then finish filling the hole but do not cover the top of the tree’s root ball. Don’t tamp this soil.

6. Use the remaining soil to make a berm around the edge of the planting hole. Fill this basin with water to thoroughly wet and settle the soil.

7. Remove any stake that came with the tree. Restake your tree only if the tree cannot support itself. Use two stakes and place them 12 inches away from the trunk on either side to support the tree against the wind. Make the ties loose enough so the tree can sway and bend in the wind.

If you are planting a tree in a lawn remove the grass at least two feet from the trunk of the tree. Grass roots will out compete a young tree for water and nutrients, stunting the tree’s growth.

Make sure the site you pick to plant the tree will accommodate the tree after it has matured. If planting close to your house, choose a smaller or slower-growing tree, unless, of course, you are trying to block out an undesirable view.

A tree planted in the fall will put on much more growth next summer than the same sized tree planted next spring. The soil will retain moisture better now and the roots can get established while the soil is still warm.

It’s fall, and time to plant a tree!

Fall Flower Power

Wednesday, September 15th, 2010 by Jenny Watts
    • Fall is for Planting! Trees, shrubs, lawns, ground covers and bulbs get a jump on spring if you plant them now.
    • Keep apples picked up from under the trees to help control the spread of coddling moths which make wormy apples.
    • Trim foliage on grape vines to allow more sun to reach the fruit and ripen the grapes.
    • Prepare houseplants for return trip indoors. Scout for insects, and thoroughly rinse leaves and container.
    • Fertilize lawns now to build up strong, healthy root systems.

Colorful Flowers for Fall

The end of the summer doesn’t have to mean the end of your colorful garden. There are plenty of ways to keep your garden beautiful with fall-blooming flowers. Fall gardening will put you in the spirit of the season, and is a great way to enjoy the beautiful outdoor weather.

The mum, or chrysanthemum, is the first thing that springs to mind when one thinks “fall flowers.” They bring a fresh new look to the fall season and are available in an array of lively colors. They are hardy perennials that come back year after year.

Asters are the other classic fall flower. These 2-3-foot plants pact a lot of punch in the flower bed, blooming with dozens of flowers over a long fall season. They come in various shades of purple and pink and are a fine addition to the perennial border.

Japanese anemone is one of the best of the late summer and early autumn border flowers, with tall upright stems that do not need any staking. In light, airy shade the pink, white or rose-colored semi-double flowers bring a fresh look to the perennial bed. Anemones are sometimes called ‘wind flowers’ and they are indeed graceful swaying in the lightest breeze.

Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ is an upright sedum growing 2 feet tall. Its thick grey-green leaves are topped with large domes of bright pink flowers in September which gradually soften to a coppery color through the fall. Drought-tolerant and hardy, this is a fine plant for the fall garden, and it is much visited by honeybees.

Another secret for a beautiful fall garden is the use of ornamental grasses. Around Labor Day, they begin to send up dramatic plumed seedheads. These usually begin as silky tassels, then expand into fluffy flags that last well into winter. They are decorative in the garden even after the grasses themselves have dried and gone dormant.

The tough little pansy is another great choice for a fall garden and will still be blooming after all the other flowers in your garden have died off. It will also be amongst the first to bloom again come spring.

Pansies have been bred in a wide range of colors, from soft pastels of yellow, pink and apricot to bright gold and orange though to purple, violet, and blue. They are a hardy plant, growing well in sunny or partially sunny locations. This versatile flower is perfect whether planted in gardens, window boxes, or pots.

Snapdragons are another staple of the fall garden. From low border snaps to tall “Rockets”, these colorful beauties will brighten the garden or your containers this fall and next spring too. They come in a rainbow of colors adding a lot of cheer all around.

Brighten up your landscape with colorful fall flowers.

It’s Walnut Time

Wednesday, September 15th, 2010 by Jenny Watts
    • Mums are the beauties of the fall garden. Choose plants now in a wide variety of colors.
    • If your bearded iris blooms were sparse this year or the plants are more than four years old, now is the time to divide and replant them. Mix some bone meal into the soil, and plant the rhizomes just beneath the soil surface.
    • Pansies and snapdragons can be planted now to replace summer annuals. They will give you color this fall, winter and next spring.
    • Cover newly planted vegetable starts to protect them from birds. Spray cabbage and broccoli plants with BT to control cabbage worms which make holes in the leaves.
    • Michaelmas daisies have bright flowers in purples and dark reds. These perennials come back every year to brighten the fall garden.

Walnut Trees: Delicious and Nutritious

Nut trees are an important part of American culture. Grown since colonial times, nut trees are truly a multi-purpose crop, providing shade, beauty, edible nuts, building materials and wildlife habitats.

The black walnut is native to North America. Its brown-black, diamond-patterned bark is especially beautiful. Normally growing 50 to 75 feet tall, black walnut occasionally reaches more than 100 feet.

Black walnut trees are especially prized for their exceptional, beautifully grained lumber. Their natural beauty is enhanced by the abundance of wildlife that makes full use of their generous crops. Some people like the flavor of black walnuts (Juglans nigra), though they are much tougher to shell than the English walnut. Both make fine-looking, big shade trees for the garden.

The Persian or English walnut grows to only 40 to 60 feet tall. The nuts of English walnut are more easily freed from their shells than those of black walnut. They are widely grown for commercial production in California.

English walnuts are always grafted to black walnut rootstock, which leaves a noticeable change in the bark on the trunk of the tree. There are many different varieties of English walnut, some of which do well in this area.

‘Hartley’ has been the most widely grown walnut in California for a long time. It has a large, thin-shelled, light-colored nut that is very flavorful. It bears as a young tree and is a dependable producer.

‘Franquette’ is the last English walnut to leaf out in the spring, making it less susceptible to spring frost damage. It also produces high quality nuts and makes a good pollenizer for ‘Hartley.’ The large tree grows to 60 feet tall and wide, making an excellent large shade tree.

‘Chandler’ is a popular variety which bears nuts all through the tree, not just at the ends of the branches. It makes a small tree and is late-blooming. It is self-fruitful, but will produce larger crops when planted near a ‘Hartley’ or a ‘Franquette.’ It begins bearing 2-3 years after planting.

‘Carmelo’ is a late-leafing, late-blooming walnut that is adapted to very cold climates. It makes a very large nut, twice the ordinary size, and is self-fruitful. The large tree, with a 40-50 foot spread, gives wonderful shade as well as delicious nuts.

‘Pedro’ is a very small tree, less than ⅔ the size of other varieties, and it is self-fruitful. It has very fine flavor and is an excellent choice where there is only room for one tree.

Walnuts are very nutritious, and are an excellent source of omega-3 essential fatty acids, which have many potential health benefits. Enjoy a handful of walnuts at least 4 times a week.