» Archive for June, 2017

Heavenly Bamboo

Thursday, June 8th, 2017 by Jenny Watts
    • Hang codling moth traps in apple trees to reduce the number of wormy apples in your harvest this year. Be sure to use a fresh pheromone (attractant).
    • Spray roses every two weeks to keep them healthy and prevent leaf diseases. Neem oil is a safe alternative to chemicals.
    • Earwigs are out and about and hungry. Control them with “Sluggo Plus” or diatomaceous earth sprinkled around the plants, or go out after dark with a flashlight and a spray bottle of insecticidal soap. One squirt will put an end to the spoiler.
    • Thin fruit trees now while fruits are still small. Thin apples to 6 inches apart and peaches to 4 inches apart. On Asian pears leave one fruit per spur.
    • It’s time to put out oriole feeders. You can also attract them with fresh orange halves.

Heavenly Bamboo

Heavenly Bamboo—Nandina domestica—has to be near the top of any list of desirable, attractive, easy-to-care-for, mid-sized shrubs for the home garden. In spite of its name and appearance, they are not related to bamboo and share none of their negative traits.

The delicate foliage, with its bamboo-like appearance, is attractive in every season. In spring the new growth is pinkish, turning to a light green in the summer. Then when the chill of fall arrives, the leaves turn a bright red. They hold on the plant most of the winter with this colorful look. Considered a semi-evergreen shrub, it is never without leaves.

Large clusters of creamy or pinkish-white blossoms appear in late spring, followed by showy red berries that hang on the plants into the winter, until the birds discover them and enjoy the tasty winter treat. In the meantime, they can be used for winter decorations.

There are many different varieties of Nandina, which is what makes it such an interesting and useful group of shrubs. The largest is the common variety, Nandina domestica. It grows to 8 feet tall and about 6 feet wide over time. It is mostly an upright shrub, useful for height in somewhat narrow spaces. But be sure to give it at least a 4-foot bed.

Another fine large Nandina is called ‘Moyer’s Red’. It has the same growth habit as common Nandina, but truly brilliant fall color.

Nandina domestica ‘Compacta’ is similar to the parent shrub, but it only grows to 4 feet tall and 3 feet wide. This makes it very useful in smaller gardens, as a low hedge, or in courtyards or entryways. Slightly smaller is a variety called ‘Gulf Stream’. The new growth is scarlet, maturing to blue-green in summer and becoming intense red in the fall.

Among the dwarf varieties is ‘Firepower’. It grows to about 2 feet tall and wide and is knows for its brilliant red foliage in the fall and winter. It produces no flowers or fruit. It is an excellent plant to add color in a shaded landscape.

‘Harbour Dwarf’ is a slow grower to only 18 in. tall, 2½ ft. wide. Use it as a mounding groundcover in partially shaded areas. It makes a nice border around a small pond where it will frame the pond without getting too tall.

‘Moon Bay’ is a mid-sized, globe-shaped variety that grows 3 feet tall and wide. Its lime-green foliage turns brilliant red in the fall. It also produces small star-shaped white flowers followed by red berry-like clusters that persistent through the winter.

Heavenly bamboos are hardy shrubs that grow well in either sun or partial shade. Once established, they need only occasional watering, so they are useful in dry shade. In many landscapes they are deer resistant.

They are particularly useful in Asian-inspired gardens. Or, for a real show, grow in glazed ceramic pots beside water gardens and fountains.

Adding its unique foliage color through four seasons, natural rugged vigor and low care needs, this is an excellent landscape shrub.

Cool as a Cucumber

Thursday, June 8th, 2017 by Jenny Watts
    • The “Wave” petunias make wonderful hanging baskets for full sun. They come in purple, bright pink, reddish-purple and pale “misty lilac.” They can also be used for a colorful summer ground cover.
    • Tomatoes are the most popular summer vegetable. Choose from the many varieties available now so you can enjoy delicious home-grown flavor.
    • Rhododendrons are in full bloom now. Choose plants now for spectacular blooms in your shade garden.
    • Plant an herb garden in a container near the kitchen door for convenient fresh spices like basil, oregano, parsley and thyme.
    • When you plant your vegetable garden, why not grow a little extra to donate to the Willits Food Bank this summer.

Cool as a Cucumber

For a heat-loving summer vegetable, cucumbers are about as “cool” as they come. Originally from the hot, dry regions of Asia and Africa, the crisp, white flesh of cucumbers have always seemed refreshing. Now a staple of summer salads in this country, this is one vegetable that should be in every garden.

Cucumbers are climbing vines that are easy to grow. There are many different varieties from the ever popular, round, yellow lemon cucumbers to long and thin slicers. Cucumbers are usually divided into two groups: the smaller, faster growing varieties used for pickling and the longer varieties used for slicing.

There are also “burpless” varieties and “yard-long” Armenians, both with non-bitter skin that you can eat. In addition to fresh eating, cucumbers can be preserved by pickling them, an art which is centuries old. You can pickle any small cucumber, and enjoy them that way all winter long.

Cucumbers will grow well in most good garden soils. They like warm weather and at least 8 hours of sun a day. Since cucumbers are 95 percent water, they need long, deep drinks of water to grow fruit that is not bitter. Temperatures above 100°F can cause bitterness or stop fruit production.

When planting, add compost to your garden soil and use a complete organic fertilizer to help get your cucumbers off to a good start and provide nutrition throughout their growing season. When the vines are about a foot long, side dress with compost or fertilizer which should take effect just as the plants blossom. Stand back and wait for an abundant crop of cool cucumbers.

Most varieties of cucumbers are vines, and they love to climb! Try growing them on a trellis. Cucumbers grown on trellises tend to produce healthier fruits, which are uniform in size and shape, and 2-3 times more cucumbers. They are also cleaner at harvest time and the air circulation provided by the trellis helps prevent diseases.

Trellising cucumbers frees up space in the garden, and you can plant lettuces or other greens under the trellis in the shade provided by the growing vines. Plant the vines 18 inches apart. Cucumbers grown on the ground need more space, so plant them 36 inches apart and space the rows at least two feet apart.

Cucumbers need plenty of water to be juicy and crisp. Plants that do not get enough water produce small, bitter, deformed fruits. Soak the soil deeply when you water.

Pick cucumbers frequently when they are young and tender. The goal of a cucumber vine is to set seeds and if even one fruit is allowed to mature, the whole vine will quit producing. Gently twist or clip off the fruits being careful not to break the vines.

Cucumber vines are not heavy producers, except for lemon cucumbers which share their abundance all at one time! Expect 1 to 3 pounds per plant, so you may want 6 plants per person, if you are going to make pickles, and 2 plants per person for fresh fruit only.

Plant cucumbers now for delicious, cool fruit this summer.