Berries you can eat fresh, bake into pies, freeze, dry or can that grow on an attractive spring flowering plant that features rich fall color? We must be talking about blueberries.
As the healthy trend of growing food at home gains momentum blueberries have become one of the best sellers in our nurseries. And, why not? With a little effort you can grow pounds of healthy, wholesome fruit on plants that may live up to fifty years. And, as you know, blueberries provide “health” benefits galore … good and good for you!
Where should you plant them? Blueberries need plenty of sun and they like to be sited away from other plants that might compete for food and water. Allowing room for good air circulation is also important as this helps keep leaves free of disease. It’s a good idea to plant more than one variety and to plant them fairly close together. This will help encourage the plants to produce more and larger berries. Growing them in the same area also makes it easier to harvest berries and protect them from birds that will sometimes harvest one hundred percent of your crop if protective measures are not taken. (Your best bet for bird protection? Lightweight netting that can be placed directly over plants or used to cover frames constructed to fit over plants. We can show you how to do it.) We like to plant blueberries as a hedge and we love them as container plants. A half wine barrel is the perfect home for an easy to reach “berry machine” and a small group of containers allows you to get lots of fruit from a small space.
What kind of soil do they like? Blueberries are acid lovers, meaning they like a soil with a low pH. So, extra care should be taken at planting time to amend the soil with Dr. Earth Acid Lovers planting mix (in the yellow bag). Planting them in a group allows you to properly amend the entire planting area. The absolute easiest way to provide blueberries with perfect soil is to plant them in a raised bed or container filled with pure Dr. Earth Acid Lovers planting mix. Soil should hold moisture but also drain well. Quality organic mulch, like our Soil Building Compost, should be used at a depth of 2-3 inches on top of the soil to protect the shallow, fibrous roots from drought injury.
What else do new plants need? At planting time, after thoroughly watering your plants, we recommend that you prune all branches back by about thirty to forty percent through the removal of older wood while keeping the nice new whips (longer growth coming from the base of the plant); this will encourage vigorous new growth. You should also remove any flower buds at planting time. You’ll need to be patient. Producing flowers and fruit will hinder growth of new plants. Limiting fruit production for the first couple of years will pay off with big harvests as your plants mature. Feed your new plants with Dr. Earth Organic 4 fertilizer; perfectly formulated for blueberries. Use it every two months during the growing season to maintain healthy soil and encourage strong roots. You’ll want to maintain a regular watering schedule irrigating frequently enough to keep the soil uniformly moist. Try to avoid overhead watering which can promote disease and keep the area around your new blueberry plants free of weeds and other plants that will compete for moisture and nutrients.
Providing for the few specific needs of blueberries is worth some extra effort. After all, a well-grown, mature blueberry plant can produce more than ten pounds of fruit in a single season! Getting your plants off to a good start will provide you with a berry bonanza for many years to come. We will have High Desert-hardy varieties in stock all spring and summer and we have plenty of passionate teammates equipped with expert knowledge ready to answer your questions. We’re ready to help you get started growing a bumper crop. Come into any of our three stores and let us walk you through it!
As “we” gardeners continue to appreciate the joy of harvesting our own food, berries have become more popular than ever. Berries grown at home have unbeatable flavor and they require very little work.
Raspberries are among the best small fruits for home gardens. There are many varieties that are proven performers in our area. Here are some of our favorites:
‘Autumn Britten’ – This is a fall bearing raspberry that produces a bounty of flavorful and large bright red fruit that is consistently ranked among the best tasting berries available.
‘Fall Gold’ – Very sweet yellow berries are large juicy and firm. This one is sometimes called ‘ever-bearing’ because it produces a crop in late spring and another in fall.
‘Heritage’ – This is another ‘ever-bearing’ or ‘two crop’ variety with very firm red, medium-sized and tasty fruit with good texture.
We like blackberries too. Although they are slightly less cold-hardy we have had great success with a few, including:
‘Black Satin’ – Thornless variety yielding honey sweet medium to large berries in mid to late summer. This variety is very vigorous and disease-resistant.
‘Chester’ – Sweet, high-quality fruit is produced on thornless canes over a long season. This one is very cold-hardy.
‘Darrow’ – This is a reliable producer of attractive, firm, juicy and sweet berries that are great eaten fresh or made into jams and jellies.
So how do you grow raspberries and blackberries? Both raspberries and blackberries like sun, fertile and evenly moist soil along with proper fertilization. We always amend the soil at planting time with Dr. Earth Fruit planting mix (in the blue bag). When it is time to feed, right around bloom time and again in early fall after plants have finished fruiting, we recommend Dr. Earth Organic 9 Fruit fertilizer.
Some pruning will be required but don’t worry it’s not complicated. Varieties that only bear one crop per season will fruit on canes that are two years old. That means that canes that emerge in the current season should be left alone so they will yield fruit the next season. Any canes that bear fruit will slowly begin to die back and should be removed as close to the ground as possible without damaging emerging new canes.
Pruning ever-bearing (two-crop) varieties is a little different. These plants will bear a late summer crop on new wood and, if you leave these canes alone, will bear fruit the following spring on the portions of those canes that did not fruit the previous season. Two year old canes will begin to die back after fruiting and should be removed to ground level as with single crop varieties.
Some growers in really cold areas prefer to treat ever-bearing varieties as fall-bearing by cutting all canes low to the ground each winter. This prevents the plants from fruiting the following spring and instead allows for a fall crop only.
Berries are very forgiving of mistakes so don’t worry about doing everything perfect. They want to grow and will reward a little effort with bountiful crops of the best berries you’ve ever tasted.
We will help you get started and will happily answer questions about the best varieties, planting, pruning…everything you want to know about berries. Plants begin arriving in spring and we will have them in stock at all three stores. Come see us!
Evidence keeps mounting that Trees Matter … beyond the obvious. Study after study show the benefits. Our recent Tree Canopy Survey for the Truckee Meadows put us at the bottom of most lists … even behind Las Vegas.
It is of course self-serving that a garden center nursery and landscaping services company pushes the benefits of tree planting, but here are two articles that show the significant extent and myriad public benefits of trees. Wow!
22 Benefits of Urban Street Trees – - link here – - some of these findings will surprise you.
What trees mean to communities: more than you think – - link here – - the depth of the research and data gathering will surprise you.
One of the most popular trees of all time, Japanese maples are tougher than they look, easy to grow in the right spot (be careful about afternoon sun) and require only basic pruning to look their best and grow into their naturally beautiful form. Here are some pruning basics for Japanese maples:
Japanese maples can be selectively pruned almost any time of year but the best times for major pruning are winter before leaf buds begin to swell and early summer before temperatures exceed 80 degrees F. With no leaves in winter it’s easy to see the branch structure and make the right cuts. In summer you can judge the right amount of thinning needed to see the structure of your tree.
The goal of pruning is to encourage the tree’s natural growth habit. Attempting to restrict or reduce the size of a Japanese maple that is genetically programmed to reach a certain size does not work in the long run. The tree will simply grow faster and become more unruly. If you don’t know your particular tree’s habit do a Google image search to see what it is supposed to look like. Trees usually fall into two categories: upright forms like “Bloodgood” and smaller, weeping forms like “Crimson Queen”.
The starting point for pruning both types of trees is to look for broken, dead or deformed branches. You will usually spot deadwood near the tips of branches or in the interior of the tree. Avoid removing only the tips of branches as this will result in rapid and unruly growth. Instead, remove either a part of the branch back to a ¼” or so above a healthy bud, the half-moon shaped swellings spaced along the branch which is facing the way you want new growth to go, or, remove the entire branch back to the branch collar, the swelling where the branch attaches to the main trunk or parent stem. Always avoid cutting into a branch collar (a flush cut) on trunks or main stems as these are often entry points for disease and pests.
Next, you will want to remove crossing branches that are rubbing against each other or will interfere with each other as the tree grows. Wounds created by rubbing allow insects and diseases to enter a tree.
Branches growing inward or in the wrong direction are the next to go. These will include branches growing through the middle of the tree, downward on an upright form or branches growing upward on a weeping tree.
One of the keys to making Japanese maples look great is to separate branches into overlapping layers that don’t touch each other. With that in mind, look for branches growing parallel. Thinning these branches creates helps define the structure of the tree and adds interest.
Work from the bottom up and inside out. Take your time and periodically step back and inspect your work from different angles. Look at your tree from the base up following each branch upward to decide what and where to prune. If you are unsure, don’t cut.
Make sure your pruning tools are sharp. Bypass pruners are best for cutting branches as thick as your middle finger. Pruning saws are best for anything larger.
Remember, if you have don’t have much experience pruning, if you just don’t know where to start or if you have any questions about how to prune and care for your Japanese maple please visit on of our stores and let one of our experts guide you. We grow Japanese maples, have them in stock year round and we like talking to our customers about them!
Reading a bag of plant fertilizer can be an intimidating experience. Most people, especially those new to gardening, are not sure what to make of “NPK” or the three numbers that appear on every bag – but seem to be different on every bag. We’ve all been there. At Moana Nursery we want to make it easy for you to grow beautiful, healthy plants and we believe that the proper use of fertilizers to build better soil is vital. Here’s a quick guide to what is in a bag of fertilizer and some of the benefits of regularly feeding our High Desert soil with a premium fertilizer.
When you look at a bag of fertilizer, whether for indoor or outdoor plants, you will always see three numbers such as the 5-5-5 formulation of Dr Earth Life fertilizer. These numbers represent the three main substances, or macronutrients, that all plants need for healthy growth. These macronutrients will be provided in different amounts depending on the purpose of the fertilizer you are looking at.
The first number is nitrogen (N). Nitrogen is necessary for leaf growth and health and a nutrient most often lacking in garden soils. Lawns are made up of millions of leaves so they respond well to fertilizers with higher nitrogen.
The second number is phosphorus (P). Phosphorus aids in flower and root development and it helps promote fruiting. Roses and fruit trees are examples of plants that will thrive when fed with phosphorous.
The third number is potassium (K). Plants use potassium for stem and root development and this nutrient also helps make plants more resistant to disease and bolsters heat and cold tolerance. All plants will produce stronger stems and roots when potassium is provided.
Many fertilizers also list secondary ingredients. Calcium helps in the formation and growth of cells. Magnesium helps build chlorophyll molecules which help plants convert the energy from sunlight into food. Sulfur is also sometimes listed on fertilizer labels. It works with nitrogen to maintain healthy plant cells.
Other nutrients often included in fertilizers are sometimes called trace elements or micronutrients. Zinc and manganese help make other nutrients available to plants while iron helps build chlorophyll resulting in healthy, colorful leaves and stems.
Another category of ingredients becoming more common in high quality fertilizers includes beneficial soil microbes and mycorrhizae. These microscopic living organisms contribute greatly to soil health, disease resistance and overall plant vigor.
Moana Nursery recommends Dr. Earth brand fertilizers because they are an organic, scientifically blended source of all the important elements, including mighty microbes, that promote plant health by feeding, building and permanently improving our lean High Desert soils. Dr. Earth takes the guesswork out of choosing fertilizers by providing plant-specific formulas. Whether you are growing vegetables, fruit trees, roses, flowering plants, shrubs or trees Dr. Earth has a purpose blended, easy-to-use and long lasting fertilizer that will help you grow beautiful plants.
Moana Nursery believes in making gardening success easy to achieve. That is why we promote creating healthy soil through proper fertilization with every plant we sell. We love gardening in Northern Nevada and want to share our passion for growing beautiful plants with you. Come visit any of our stores to learn how easy it can be!
Tips from our plant doctor, Jon Bruyn:
As we enjoy the gorgeous fall colors, it’s time to think about next spring’s color. I just finished planting spring bulbs in several spots that had no color last spring because my perennial flowers were still asleep. I decided to incorporate more bulbs this year to solve this minor design issue. Spring flowering bulbs provide early and continuous color in the landscape with very little effort on your part. And when planted in the right locations, will multiply each year!
In addition to adding color, I rely on different bulbs to tell me what stage of spring or summer we are in and signal what needs to be done in my landscape. Crocus and snowdrops bloom first, so I know weeds will soon follow and it’s time to for my spring application of pre-emergent. I also know that more cold weather is still coming and a spring snow is likely. This means that I still have time to transplant any trees, shrubs or perennials that I was unable to get to during the fall.
Daffodils typically follow about three to four weeks after the crocus and snowdrops, indicating it’s time to prune back my ornamental grasses, Russian sage and butterfly bush. This is also when I start my weekly watering regime. Weekly deep watering during the low stress, early spring helps promote deep rooting for all plants and lawns, just as they do during the fall. Daffodils in bloom also tell me to plant my tender bulbs – cannas, gladiolas, dahlias and freesia, to name a few.
Grape hyacinths, tulips and hyacinths follow and let me know that watering my lawn should be more regular and in keeping to the Truckee Meadows Water Authority guidelines. Winter storms are unlikely but the threat of frost is of course to be expected. These blooming bulbs also remind me to check if my lawn mower is working properly.
Allium are the last spring flowering bulbs to flower, typically in late May and June. They mark the beginning of warm summer months and remind me to feed all my bulbs with Dr. Earth Bulb Food, Fish Bone Meal or Bone Meal to help them store up energy for next spring. And perhaps they are telling me to go to Tahoe.
Bulbs have uses besides indicating the climate. Hyacinths and paperwhites are perfect air fresheners for your entire home. Paperwhites are the simplest, and when using the glass bulb vase, will also serve as a great education tool for young aspiring gardeners. Hyacinths are for the more dedicated bulb person since they will require a shady spot in your yard or a section of your refrigerator to meet their chilling requirement. Standard hyacinths require about ten to fourteen weeks of temperatures at 35 degrees Fahrenheit. This can be accomplished in a cold frame in full shade, a bulb pot healed into a deposit of mulch, or even a section of the refrigerator.
Bulbs can be stored in a cool location until ready to plant, so do not wait to purchase them. The quality of the bulb is very important to its survivability and quality of bloom. My father was always sending away for inexpensive bulbs he found in magazine ads. When they arrived, which was usually late, he would call me to help. These bulbs were always small, low grade bulbs which no retailer would dare to sell, not even a discount store. Bulbs should be firm and large, the bigger the better. Often when I visited my father to help, I took an assortment of bulbs that I purchased from my local garden center to plant as well. The next spring it was easy to tell which ones my father ordered versus the ones I brought – the flowers on his bulbs were always smaller and sparser than mine.
So visit your favorite Moana garden center and select bulbs that complement your plant palette. If you don’t have much space or the ground is frozen, you can always plant bulbs in a container which you can bring inside once they’ve started to bloom. We’re happy to get you started with your own love affair with bulbs – you’ll thank us next spring! My last tip is to be sure to plant bulbs with Dr. Earth Bulb Food, Fish Bone Meal or Bone Meal to ensure big, beautiful blooms. Remember, great spring color is as simple as DIG, DROP, DONE! Click on link for details.
If you know anything about organic gardening, you’ve heard the phrase ‘feed your soil.’ While it sounds like a good thing to do, you may wonder what it means. It may seem that working in fertilizer should do it; that’s feeding, right?
In truth, feeding your soil properly is at the heart of organic gardening. It goes far beyond the temporary application of the major nutrients (Nitrogen, Phosphorous, and Potassium) and even beyond the judicious use of essential micronutrients. Feeding your soil means not only returning those elements, but also improving the texture so that it breathes properly and is better able to retain moisture, ultimately providing a suitable habitat for the microbes that are essential to making nutrients available to plants.
While the interactions of soil, plants, and nutrients are fascinating and complex, feeding your soil is not a difficult proposition. Adding organic matter on a consistent basis (Gardner & Bloome Soil Building Compost works great) and approaching landscape issues in a way that helps foster healthy microbial populations (avoiding compacting or flooding the soil, for instance) initiates and maintains healthy soil.
A quick glance at native Nevada landscapes underscores the wisdom of an organic approach to healthy plants. Although local areas may be quite high in certain nutrients, almost all lack any concentration of organic matter, which in turn leads to nitrogen deficient conditions. It’s not all just about the water!
Next time you hear someone tell you to ‘feed the soil first’, you’ll know what to do to keep your plants healthy and productive.
Broken and misdirected sprinkler heads … in many cases, more than 50% of water is wasted due to broken parts, bad coverage, evaporation and runoff caused by overwatering. By tuning up or upgrading your current irrigation system and adding a state-of-the art controller, you can generate significant water savings and contribute to a more sustainable environment.
Now’s the time to schedule an appointment with our Irrigation Specialist.
Call us at 825-0602 x134 today.
Despite the heat, a lot is still blooming in my yard and most of it is growing in full sun.
Roses – shrub, hybrid teas, climbing & groundcovers are still producing flowers, though they will be happier when it gets cooler
Coneflowers – I have several pink ones and a few of the orange variety – very showy, drought tolerant prairie flowers that birds love
Summer Phlox – adds a great splash of color that doesn’t fade in our intense sun
Dahlias – have been blooming all summer long in my containers
Lavender — is fading a bit, but the finches have been having a feeding frenzy dining on its seeds
Agastaches (hummingbird mint & hyssop) — are glorious and doing their job attracting loads of hummers right now
Verbena bonariensis is quite showy with its airy purple blooms that will last until the first frost
Pinky Winky Hydrangea – I love this plant — nice green leaves with lovely panicled flowers that start off white and turn pink – long lasting and are great for dried arrangements
Goldenrod – an old standby has bright yellow flowers which add a splash of color to the perennial bed that is definitely starting to look tired.
Clematis – have several varieties and all are doing well this year – long bloomers with vibrant colors – some creep through my flower beds, others climb on ornamental obelisks.
Kaleidoscope Abelia – this variegated little beauty for shade is just now flowering; its variegated light green leaves add light to the shade.
Joe Pye Weed – this American native has formed a lovely clump along my fence line; its mauve-pink flowers are now blooming and attracting bees and butterflies.
Tiger Eye Sumac – no blooms yet, but great orange/yellow foliage.
Trumpet Vine – both yellow and orange; the hummers love these and the honeysuckle.
Hostas — are flowering and looking good except for a few with lighter colored leaves that are getting way too much sun and will need to be moved to a shadier area later this fall.
Honeysuckle and Wisteria — are blooming for a second time; both are very fragrant and attract hummers and bees.
Being a plant addict, I will soon be finding room for a Rose of Sharon, more Summer Phlox and two new plants I just discovered — Hypericum Red Star(pink to red berries) and Hypericum Beauty (carmel berries).
Christie Gescheider “in my garden & landscape”
Bathing or Playing?
With the intense heat of August cooking us and our poor plants, Carol York’s back yard observations of baby robins taking their first bath are a welcome distraction and can lead to many teachable moments when shared with young children. Read on….
In honor of the summer Olympics, parent robins are teaching their fledglings to use water features and birdbaths. Watching the next generation of birds get used to water is a most entertaining pastime. Lots of squawking and splashing, wet feathers head to toe and not much real cleaning going on. The young robins get the hang of drinking the water right away, but bathing is a different story. Like human adolescents, taking a bath isn’t always a first priority and often it takes a lot of coaxing. Keep your eyes on your bird baths this month for a fun aquatics show!