» Archive for July, 2011

Delicious Grapes

Monday, July 18th, 2011 by Jenny Watts
    • Colorful petunias will brighten up any flower bed. Their purples, pinks and reds make a real splash when planted in groups of the same color.
    • Prune rhododendrons, camellias and azaleas to shape them now. If you wait much longer, you will be cutting off next year’s flowers.
    • Start seeds of broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and other cool-season crops now. Transplant them to the garden next month and they will be producing for you this fall.
    • Roses need water and fertilizer to keep blooming well throughout the summer. Watch for pests and treat immediately to prevent infestations.
    • Feed annual blooming plants and hanging baskets every two weeks for prolific bloom. Keep dead flowers pinched off.

Tastes of Summer

Local grape grower and aficionado, Richard Jeske, is offering a dozen varieties that do particularly well in the Willits area. Most are American grapes rather than European grapes. American grapes have a looser skin that slips off the grape more easily with soft flesh and a distinctive aroma and flavor. American grapes are hardier; resistant to many insects and diseases (powdery mildew, etc) and mature earlier in the season, so they ripen in milder climates.

European grapes usually require a long, warm growing season and have firm fruit with nonslip skin and a smooth flavor. There are also many hybrids that are crosses between the two types.

Grapes can also be seeded or seedless. Many people prefer seedless grapes for fresh eating, but many of the best tasting varieties have seeds. The seeds, by the way, are good for you.

Himrod is a white, seedless grape that is dependable and delicious. Grapes are sweet and vines are very productive. Use them fresh or for raisins.

Venus is a blue grape that hangs in large, beautiful bunches. Very vigorous and productive, it is good fresh and for making grape juice. Glenora is another seedless blue grape with small grapes like blueberries. It is delicious for fresh eating.

Reliance is a productive red grape that ripens over a long season. It is very dependable and one of the best in our area. Eat them fresh or dry them for raisins.

Delight is the most popular European, seedless grape in this collection. It is a white grape, similar to Perlette but with more flavor. Eat them fresh or dry them for raisins.

Sweet Seduction is an appealing white grape with outstanding muscat flavor. It is a favorite in taste tests and is also good for raisins and juice.

If one does not mind seeds, Concords are of course a classic choice. But Muscat grapes are also very good in this area. Golden Muscat is a long time favorite for home gardeners. This white grape is sweet and juicy and a heavy producer. New York Muscat is a blue grape with an outstanding flavor. Use it fresh or for juice or wine. Muscat St. Vallier is another white muscat with great muscat taste.

Seneca is one of the first grapes of the season. This mouth-watering white, seeded grape is delicious fresh or for juice. And Suavis is one of the later grapes. It is a red, European grape with a unique and delicious flavor. Use it fresh or for juice or wine.

Grapes are a wonderful fruit for the home garden. They are easy to grow and very productive. Protect your crop from birds and other critters and enjoy the delicious tastes of summer.

Attract Hummingbirds to Your Garden

Monday, July 18th, 2011 by Jenny Watts
    • Garlic should be harvested when the leafy tops turn yellow and fall over; air-dry bulbs, remove tops and store bulbs in a cool place.
    • Roses need water and fertilizer to keep blooming through the summer. Watch for pests and diseases and treat as soon as you see trouble.
    • Birdbaths will attract our feathered friends to your backyard so you can enjoy them close-up. Place them a few feet from a bushy shrub to give the birds protection.
    • Zinnias love the heat and will add a rainbow of color to your garden and the deer don’t like them.
    • Fragrant star jasmine is in full bloom right now. Plant one in a semi-shaded spot where you can enjoy its lovely perfume.

Attract Hummingbirds to Your Garden

Hummingbirds are some of the most interesting and colorful birds that visit our gardens. The best way to attract hummingbirds to your backyard is by adding a combination of things: feeders, nectar rich flowers and plants and even water misters that hummingbirds love.

It’s fun to watch them drinking from hummingbird feeders, but there’s nothing like seeing them sipping from the flowers in your own garden. They are extremely active birds and will visit hundreds of flowers each day to meet their nutrition requirements.

Many flowers are dependent upon hummingbirds for pollination. Red, a color which is invisible to bees, attracts hummingbirds attention, but they also visit orange and pink flowers. The flowers which they pollinate are tubular, rich in nectar and usually lacking in fragrance.

Some of the annual flowers that hummingbirds like the most are red salvia, snapdragons, petunias and nicotiana. They love fuchsias whose drooping flowers they can reach while hovering beneath them. They also enjoy the flowers of morning glory vines, impatiens and zinnias.

There are many perennials that attract them. In spring they feed on columbines and lupines. In summer there are many good nectar sources for them: lilies, penstemon, summer phlox, cardinal flower, bee balm, hollyhocks, coral bells and day lilies. In late summer they will visit the California fuchsia and Rose of Sharon.

The orange trumpet vine, Campsis radicans, which blooms most of the summer is very popular with hummingbirds. Honeysuckle vines are also well-liked as are red hot poker plants, which send up tall spikes of tubular orange flowers, and the unusual red or pink flowers of Grevillea.

The silk tree or mimosa with its fuzzy pink blossoms is a regular stop on the hummingbirds flight. Butterfly bush and Lavatera also favorites.

The hummingbird garden should have enough open space for hummingbirds to put on their aerial displays. About one fourth of the yard should be shaded, one fourth partially shaded and the rest open to the sun. Choose plants that will provide blossoms throughout the season. Hummingbirds do not use traditional types of birdbaths, but prefer ones that spray a mist or a fountain so they can fly in and out of the spray of water.

Hummingbirds have good memories and will return year after year to an attractive garden. The more plants you have that the hummingbirds like, the more you will be able to enjoy them all season.

Hanging Gardens

Monday, July 18th, 2011 by Jenny Watts
    • New Guinea impatiens have variegated foliage and giant, impatiens flowers. These striking plants will take more sun than regular impatiens and will bloom all summer.
    • Pepper plants should be fertilized when the first blossoms open.
    • Feed camellias, azaleas and rhododendrons with an acid plant food now. Remove dead flowers and mulch to keep the soil cool.
    • Check roses for black spots on the leaves and treat immediately to prevent defoliation.
    • Check young trees and fruit trees for suckers and water sprouts. Rub suckers off as they appear and cut water sprouts off apple and pear trees.

Hanging Gardens

Hanging baskets are an easy way to dress up your home and add character to your landscape. Baskets filled with colorful flowers bring outdoor living areas alive and make them a welcome retreat. Whether you have a sunny porch or a shady patio, you can brighten it up with hanging baskets.

Wave Petunias and Supertunias are two recent, popular varieties of the petunia. Both types of petunias are vigorous growers that produce fragrant blooms from spring until frost in sunny locations.

For all-summer color you can’t beat the Wave petunias. They come in bright pink, purple, magenta, as well as soft lavender and white. They are ideal for hanging baskets as they grow in a horizontal habit, draping down over the edge of the pots, sometimes reaching 4 feet long. Their bright colors are very eye-catching.

New Supertunia® Raspberry Blast has sweet two-toned pink blooms edged in violet. It is a smaller plant than the Waves but can trail up to two feet long. Million Bells® looks like a mini-petunias and come in bright pink, purple, orange and yellow. They love hot sun all day and make a very attractive hanging basket.

Ivy geraniums will grow well in morning sun and afternoon shade. They have an airy charm and come in red, pink, salmon, lavender and red-and-white flowers. Their glossy ivy-like foliage is a handsome background for the bright colored flowers that bloom all summer.

Tapien® Blue-Violet Verbena makes a fine hanging basket. It has delicate, feathery leaves and blue-violet blooms all season that attract butterflies. Heat tolerant and compact, it grows beautifully in full sun.

For very hot exposures, a hanging basket filled with multi-colored moss rose or portulaca makes a very colorful statement. Flowers come in bright red, orange, yellow, purple and pink that glow above glossy green, succulent leaves.

Fuchsias are popular for shady areas. Their lush foliage and bright hanging flowers are frequently visited by hummingbirds. The flowers come in many shades of red, pink, purple and white and they bloom all summer if the seed pods are removed.

Lovely hanging begonias are ideal plants for the shade. Their bright colored flowers are produced in profusion from mid-summer to frost. The bulbs can be stored and grown again and again.

You can create your own hanging gardens with combinations of colorful annuals. Impatiens, begonias, lobelia and coleus provide summer-long color in shady areas. Petunias, alyssum and verbena give lots of color in sunny locations.

If you like the mossy look, you can create a hanging basket using a wire basket and some green moss. With flowers growing out the sides as well as the top, it makes a spectacular lobe of color. For an easier, but similar, look use a coconut liner and slit holes in the sides for plants or just plant the top with trailing plants.

Hanging baskets should be fertilized weekly and watered daily in hot weather. Pinch off faded blossoms for continuous color all summer and enjoy the beauty of summer flowers all around you.