Summer Planting “How To” in the Heat!

Debunking the notion that high desert planting needs to be accomplished only in the spring & fall, this “how to” shows the simple changes needed for success.  It also points out the benefits of mulching your landscape and garden.  You can save up to 30% of your water bill for starters with 2 or 3 inches of organic mulch.  Then, there is the huge soil improvement that organic material can deliver in the high desert.  Plus, the professional look of a mulched garden or landscape is clearly noticeable.
Here is the “how to” link … enjoy successful summer planting:

Mulching saves water, improves the soil & looks professional!

Home Grown versus Store Bought Tomatoes

Tomatoes are the favorite vegetable for home growing. Over the past years, commercial growers have produced tomato varieties that valued shelf-life and unblemished prettiness over taste–and the result has been an almost tasteless tomato at your local stores. You can put taste back on top of the list by growing your own. You don’t have to eat tomatoes grown mainly in Mexico or a long ways from home.

Tips for Choosing Your Tomato Plants:

  • Height and bushiness of the plant are important, particularly for gardeners growing tomatoes in small spaces. Check to see whether the variety you select is “determinate” (bush type–produces all at once–best for small spaces) or “indeterminate” (vine type–produces throughout the season and grows in all directions).
  • Consider taste, size, shape, color, mildness, (acidity or non-acidity), disease resistance, and cracking resistance.
  • Your intended use for the tomato may dictate your selection. For instance, if you want to use your tomato crop for preserving or for making tomato paste, you’ll want to select a variety that has a strong tomato flavor and lasts a long time in the refrigerator.
  • Depending on when you plant, you may be concerned about the “days to maturity” (the time it takes a transplant to bear ripe fruit.)
  • Finally, consider selecting a few unique tomato plants that you haven’t tried before or a novelty variety no one else in the neighborhood grows.

Planting Tips:

  • Choose a spot in full sun, and prepare the soil by digging it deeply with a spade and mixing in a good planting mix like Dr. Earth – - Pot of Gold for containers & Home Grown Vegetable Planting Mix for gardens.
  • Add a good vegetable fertilizer. We recommend Dr. Earth Tomato, Vegetable & Herb.
  • Plant transplants deeply. If they’re leggy, snip off the lower leaves, make a little trench with the trowel, lay the plant in sideways, and bend the stem up gently. Roots will form all along the buried stem.
  • Choose a staking system (such as a tomato cage or trellis).
  • Water deeply and continue to irrigate so the soil stays evenly moist.
  • Mulch your plants with Home Grown or Soil Building Compost from Gardner & Bloome.

Grow your own tomatoes! Your taste buds will thank you!

Organic Can Be “Easy”

Organic amending ... Where is the organic material?

Tips from Plant Doctor Jon Bruyn

By now, most gardeners are familiar with “organic gardening.” While many of you are followers of organic gardening, I imagine you have discovered some of its drawbacks. For example, an organic pesticide will not kill every insect in your yard and may not work as quickly as a chemical pesticide. Organic fertilizers will not force plants to grow as high or fast as regular fertilizers. And organic weed control can be back breaking at times.

Healthy gardening is like healthy living – it’s hard work. However, a few tasks, like taking care of all those fall leaves, can be easy. Years ago, my crew and I spent a lot of time raking fall leaves. We created several large piles and spent the rest of the day piling those leaves into a flatbed truck and hauling them to the landfill. After weeks of this, I finally had to take care of my own yard! The last thing I wanted to do was rake again.

After considerable thought I began to use my 1986 Honda lawnmower and its side chute attachment to blow leaves into the shrubs. The following spring I noticed that those leaves had disappeared as soon as the temperatures started to rise. With this knowledge, I special ordered a mulching mower conversion kit. I also mail ordered a year supply of organic fertilizer which was the only way to get a blended, organic fertilizer for lawns without the smell of bagged manure. What followed was a spring and summer of effortless lawn care without having to bag any leaves!

When fall arrived I discovered, much to my joy, that my mulching mower was able to handle the weekly deposit of leaves. While a heavy deposit gives me some trouble, a second pass from the mower gives a beautiful, clean lawn. The following year my thatch was less and my lawn required less frequent fertilizing.

I continue this routine every year. I look forward to fall and the leaf drop. Mulching the leaves adds valuable organic matter to lawn soil. To make this process even easier, you can purchase a blended, organic fertilizer at Moana Nursery. I prefer Dr. Earth Super Lawn Fertilizer for the fall. It is specifically formulated to promote strong root growth. The high potassium level is prefect for winterizing your lawn and its beneficial soil microbes and micorrhizae greatly increase the break down of leaves and thatch. It’s kind of like an easy diet, healthy for the lawn with less effort and sacrifice.

The Starling Murmurations with Dylan Winter

Fascinating Wild Bird Behavior on YouTube

Have Fun Pruning!

We are careful to use video instructions from other sources because of the uniqueness and challenge of our high desert environment.   But, our friend in the high desert of Arizona has a great sense of humor and purpose; his knowledgeable pruning examples, in this case a Russian Sage, are accurate and helpful for northern Nevada and all our Moana Nursery customers.  Enjoy (and learn!).

Pruning Shrubs in the High Desert

Thank you Ken Lain at Watters Garden Center!

What is going on with our bees?

Honeybee on lavender

What is going on with our bees?
Honeybees are in trouble. In the last 50 years, experts say the domesticated honey bee population declined nearly 50 percent in the USA. This year was one of the worst on record, with some U.S. beekeepers losing 60 percent of their hives.

Colony Collapse Disorder – the phenomenon in which worker bees disappear leaving behind a queen, food and a few nurse bees – started making news in 2006 but answers of “why?” are sparse. An identified source of trouble is that Pollinators are exposed to many pesticides. One class of chemistry – neonicotinoids – has been in the media and regulatory spotlight as of late. Pollinators are exposed to these widely used insecticides through direct contact with sprays and residue on plants. They also are exposed by ingesting the pollen and nectar of neonicotinoid-treated plants, though at lower levels.

The one thing experts seem to agree on is that many factors affect bee health: mites, viruses, bacteria, disease; poor nutrition and beekeeping practices; the transportation of hives cross country; habitat loss; genetically modified plants; lack of genetic diversity; weather and pesticides.

Your landscaping, lawn care & gardening practices play a big role in both protecting pollinators and encouraging their continued success, through smart applications of chemicals and promoting the best kinds of plantings. To keep up-to-date, informed and helpful:
• Follow news reports for helpful tips
• Read the labels and follow directions carefully
• Don’t apply products when bees are visiting
• Be diligent in stopping applied product drift
• PLANT for Pollinators
• Buy Local Honey
• Use safe, organic products

Planting for pollinators
One of the best ways to help bees and other beneficial bugs thrive is to give them a place to eat. The below plants are considered the backbone for any high desert garden or landscape. They are all easy care plants and some are even drought tolerant and deer resistant. Consider these plantings in the high desert to help our bee population and if at all possible, avoid using pesticides:
Herbs & Perennials

Thyme (creeping and culinary)
Culinary sage

Garlic chives
Nepata (catmint)
Russian Sage
Butterfly Bush
Rugosa Rose
Fruit Trees
Flowering Pears
Mountain Ashes

As you can see, the bee-friendly list of high desert plants is a long one with many of our local favorites. Commit to do your part in saving bees!

Growing Herbs Indoors

Most home gardeners lament the coming of winter since it usually spells the end of the outdoor growing season. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Many herbs can be grown indoors quite successfully in the winter months and then be transplanted into the garden the following spring. There’s something about the taste of fresh, home-grown herbs in cooking that is hard to beat. The flavors are so much more flavorful and aromatic than using something dry out of a shaker bottle.

With the right location and care, many herbs can be fooled into thinking that summer is still here. If you’re a little nervous or skeptical about growing herbs indoors, use some tried and tested varieties such as chives, coriander, dill, mint, oregano, rosemary, parsley, and thyme. Most of these can be started by seed, while mint and rosemary can be started by seed or cutting.

Most herbs are sun lovers and will require a southern facing window that gets at least six hours of sunlight per day. For less sunny locations, mint, parsley and rosemary will get by with less sunlight. You might also consider hanging a grow light 6-9 inches above your plants to provide light on cloudy days. Make sure to also rotate your containers at least once per week in order to help your plants grow evenly.

Start your plants in seed trays and then transplant them to window boxes or larger containers once the plants become rooted. Use a good quality potting soil and make sure the containers you use have drainage holes. If you use water trays under your pots, make sure that you check them after watering and drain any standing water in them.

The herbs mentioned above will do fine provided temperatures are maintained between 55 and 70 degrees. Feed with a water soluble plant food every 2-4 weeks just as you would any other indoor plant, and don’t water until the soil surface becomes dry. The use of a small fan will also help herbs survive the stuffy air conditions that can occur indoors in winter.

Plant pests are usually less prevalent during the winter months. Nevertheless, visually check your plants at least once per week, and treat your plants with an insecticidal soap before pests actually become a problem.

So don’t let the winter doldrums get you down. Spice up your life and your winter meals with the addition of fresh, homegrown indoor herbs!

Why Fall Planting Is Best

Fall is the best time to plant. Moana Nursery tells you this every year, but maybe you need convincing. So let us explain why fall planting is so good for plants!

It’s pretty simple, actually. In the fall, the warm soil encourages root growth. Roots continue to grow through the winter until the ground actually freezes. In early spring, roots begin new growth or continue to develop at a faster rate, and top growth begins. While the same plant planted in spring gets a slow start due to cool soils and transplant shock, the fall-planted plants are becoming well established. When summer finally arrives, the fall-planted plant is far better equipped to deal with heat and drought, largely due to its better established root system.  So, fall is when a plant focuses on root growth and strength because there is no competing top growth activity.

Of course, there are plenty of other good reasons to plant in the fall. More precipitation, cooler weather, easier weed control and fewer pest and disease problems. Another big fall planting advantage: more time (and probably some good sales)!

Every fall-planting advocate mentions it. In the fall, the gardener has far more time to get the work done. And this works for you in two ways. First of all, there is a longer period with far more “good days” for planting in the fall than during our tricky weather in spring. And second, the gardener always has more time during the fall than during the spring rush to get everything done after winter.

So, come in to Moana Nursery and take advantage of fall planting and our Timely Landscape Specials. You and your landscape will be very happy you did!

Plants … Greatest Multitaskers of all Time?

The research on the benefits of plants has exploded in the last 10 years owing in good part to global warming and real estate values.  In many ways this interest is obvious given photosynthesis produces Oxygen and digests Carbon Dioxide and landscaping your home enhances first impressions (and thus value).   Our ad and the link to our Plants Save Lives (.com) is our attempt to dimensionalize plants as maybe the greatest multitaskers of all time. Here we provide links to just some of the relevant data that have established facts such as $1 of landscaping adds $1.09 of home value and increases from there, unlike any other home improvement expenditure.


We also recognize the current hot trends inherent with plants like local food production, organic gardening, container planting and edible landscaping.  And, the calming impact of nature’s plants on the human condition.  We hope you will help us add relevant links to research articles of interest and importance.

Do Ladybugs really help to control bad insects?

Absolutely! Ladybugs in the garden are very effective in controlling a number of bad bugs, including aphids, spider mites and scale. An adult ladybug can eat 50 aphids a day and produce up to 1,500 progeny. Take that aphids!

In order to maximize the benefits of releasing ladybugs in your yard, provide them with conditions that make them inclined to stay. Generally, releasing them in the evening, after hosing down foliage where aphid activity has been spotted, will help ensure that they stick around.  Releasing them in multiple small batches in the yard will help avoid competition for resources.

Being a natural control, your best success will come with using the ladybugs as part of an overall approach to your garden health.  Give them time to work. Don’t expect the immediate results that come from a contact insecticide.  Use other insecticides only as necessary and as labeled to minimize injuring or killing your ladybugs. Be on the lookout for their rather fierce some-looking young, who resemble black and orange ¼” alligators, and enjoy watching them devour aphids on your foliage.

Provide them with nectar and pollen as sources of food for the adults, and for when insect meals are scarce. Provide a water source as well. Your birdbaths and sprinkler system should do the trick. Use a variety of flowers and plants to feed your ‘ladies’ throughout the season.  Some excellent plants for beneficial insects include many that may already be in your yard: coreopsis (tickseed), cosmos, dill, evening primrose, fennel, parsley, sweet alyssum and yarrow are great resources for your ladybugs. 

If, despite your good care, you find that the ladybugs have moved on from your yard, don’t despair – they’re probably hard at work nearby, in a yard that needed their help. A healthy yard and community improvement!