» Archive for July, 2016

The Fruits of Summer

Friday, July 22nd, 2016 by Jenny Watts
    • Roses need water and fertilizer to keep blooming through the summer. Watch for pests and diseases and treat as soon as you see trouble.
    • Zinnias love the heat and will add a rainbow of color to your garden and the deer don’t like them.
    • Plant fresh herbs from young plants. Basil, rosemary, thymes, mints and sages are just a few ideas.
    • Check for squash, or “stink”, bugs on squash and pumpkins. Hand-pick grey-brown adults and destroy red egg clusters on the leaves. Use pyrethrin spray to control heavy infestations.
    • Shade-loving begonias will add color and beauty in both planters and flower beds.

The Fruits of Summer

Growing fruit in your own orchard is one of the delights of summer. Since you cannot buy fruit that is tree-ripened, the only way you can enjoy the full sweetness of summer fruits is by growing your own.

Strawberries begin the season, bearing fruits as early as May and producing their largest crops in June. Everbearing strawberries continue the harvest through the summer with sweet, tasty berries for fresh use or processing.

Raspberries produce bountiful crops in the home garden. June bearers produce a heavy crop of berries from June through early July. Everbearing raspberries produce two crops, one in June and another in the fall. Harvest daily or every other day for perfectly ripe fruit.

Blueberries also give us delicious, ripe fruit from June through July. Size of fruit varies widely, so choose varieties accordingly. You may prefer smaller berries for muffins or pancakes and larger ones in fruit salads and as toppings for cakes and pies.

Cherries arrive in June. There are two types of cherries: sweet cherries and sour or pie cherries. Use them for baking, preserving or freezing when you can’t eat any more. They are both easy to can for winter use.

Plums begin fruiting in June and continue through September. You can choose black, red or golden yellow fruit with sweet or tart flavor. Prunes bear late in the summer with their sweet fruit that is so good for drying.

Peaches bear fruit in late July or August, depending on the variety, with some trees fruiting in September. As with plums, production will vary from year to year depending on the spring weather. But when a good crop comes in, it makes it all worthwhile.

Pluots are a relatively new fruit. They are a cross between plums and apricots with a firm texture and delicious flavor. Most varieties ripen in September. Some people are suspicious of pluots thinking that this strange fruit must be genetically engineered, but this is not the case. It is a hybrid that took several generations of cross breeding before the pluot we know today finally emerged. Enjoy their tasty flavor in fruit salads.

Blackberries ripen in August and provide a continuous harvest throughout the month. They are very easy to preserve by freezing.

Grapes ripen toward the end of August and on into September. There are dozens of varieties to tantalize your taste buds.

Apples and pears begin bearing fruit in August. Gravenstein is the first apple to fruit and Bartlett is the first of the pears. By carefully choosing varieties of apples and pears, you can have fresh fruit on through November.

These fruits are the most successful in the Willits area. Apricots are seldom successful and figs need a special hot spot to bear well. You can also try persimmons, which will be ready to harvest in November.

Don’t let your property be without some of these delicious home-grown fruits.

Peaceful Ponds

Friday, July 22nd, 2016 by Jenny Watts
    • 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.
    • Penstemon are bushy, evergreen perennials that attract hummingbirds with their red, pink, lavender or purple trumpet-shaped flowers all summer and 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.
    • Dig and divide crowded spring-flowering bulbs and tubers including daffodils, scillas, muscari, and bearded iris.

Add a Peaceful Pond to your Landscape

The introduction of a pond into the garden creates a new environment where the flora and fauna will live together in a mutually beneficial relationship.

In order for this to happen, the pond must be designed to reflect natural conditions as closely as possible. It should have marshy or shallow water areas, as well as deeper areas. In the shallow areas live the frogs and newts, beetles and other little creatures along with marsh plants like iris, cannas, arrowhead plant and rushes. Ideally, the marshy area should comprise about one-third of the area of the pond.

The deeper waters of the pond are the home of fish, water lilies and other aquatic plants. Make this section at least 2 feet deep.

The more planning you do, the less work the pond will be later on. Locate the pond where it receives 4 to 6 hours of direct sunshine a day, if you want to grow water lilies and have them flower. Even plants that can take partial sun require 3 hours of sunlight a day to thrive.

If possible, place it away from trees so that the falling leaves and seeds won’t foul the water. The pond should have a surface area of at least 20 square feet so that it will be able to create a balanced water community. The larger the pond the more natural it becomes.

The soil that you remove can be used to landscape the area around the pond or to construct a waterfall. A garden with a natural slope lends itself very well to a waterfall or cascading water feature. Heavy rainfall will cause the pond to fill up, so be sure to install a proper overflow pipe.

A recirculating pump used to run water through a stream or into a fountain will aerate the water, which is particularly beneficial to fish on hot summer days. Ponds don’t use a great deal of water — only that which must be replaced due to evaporation.

Do not locate a pond in a low, wet spot. When the water table is high in the winter, the force of the water underneath will lift the rubber liner, damaging the pond.
Water gardens open up many new possibilities for unusual plants and garden effects. From water lilies and water irises to floating plants and bog plants to go around the edges of the pond, your choice of water plants is wide and varied.

There are two types of water lilies: tropicals and hardies. Hardy water lilies do well in our climate and survive the winters in their pots at the bottom of the pond. Their flowers bloom throughout the summer, with each blossom lasting three or four days. The large, round leaves and splendid flowers float on the surface of the water, opening in the morning and closing in the afternoon. Flowers come in red, white, yellow and pink.

Water lilies require five to six hours of direct sunlight each day. They need 6 to 18 inches of still water over the root ball. Roots are planted in heavy garden soil with no compost.

A garden pond will become more beautiful over time and you will find that it is one of your favorite spots in the garden.

Hanging Gardens for Colorful Accents

Friday, July 1st, 2016 by Jenny Watts
    • Attract birds to your garden with a concrete bird bath. They come in many attractive styles and make good gifts.
    • 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.
    • Check roses for black spots on the leaves and treat immediately to prevent defoliation.
    • Dress up for the Fourth! Red, white and blue petunias, verbena or combinations of these with lobelia, geraniums, impatiens and salvia will make a nice display for the Fourth of July.

Hanging Gardens for Colorful Accents

Hanging baskets are an easy way to dress up your home and add atmosphere to your patio. 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 are vigorous growers that produce hundreds of fragrant blooms from spring until frost in sunny locations. 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. They bloom from spring until frost in sunny locations.

Calibrachoa, or Superbells®, look like a mini-petunias and come in bright pink, purple, orange, red and yellow as well as some new two-toned flowers. They love hot sun all day and make very attractive hanging baskets.

Ivy geraniums will grow well in morning sun and afternoon shade. They have an airy charm and this year there are red-and-white-flowered plants ready for the Forth of July. 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.

Parrot’s beak, or Lotus, have orange flowers that look like flickering flames which contrast with the feathery blue-green foliage. Hang them in a sunny location.

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.

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.

Specialty baskets are combinations of colorful annuals that bloom all summer. ‘Spring Picnic’ has bright red and white verbena and blue calibrachoa. ‘Color Wheel’ calibrachoa is a bright combination of red, yellow and purple flowers. ‘Summer to Remember’ is a real heat lover with dark purple angelonia, white scaevola and red-and-yellow lantana.

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.