The Best Time To Plant … Fall In The High Desert!

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!



Mint … Can’t Get (Grow) Enough!

Pluck a sprig of mint and crush it between your fingers and you’ll release a cool distinctive fragrance not matched by any other plant. But mint doesn’t just smell good–it packs a mighty punch of flavor, too.

Mint can be very invasive, so it does need caution. Given good conditions, it will happily take over your garden. But who said you have to plant it in the ground? If you want something to take over your yard (perhaps a grass alternative), one of the creeping mints can be a good choice for a groundcover. But if you want to keep mint contained, the best way is to grow it in a container. It spreads rapidly by shallow rhizomes, so if the roots can get out of an area, it will pop up elsewhere. We recommend planting mint in containers and putting them on tables where the wonderful fragrance can be closer to your nose and you can easily pluck a sprig or three, without bending. They go nicely on a sunny kitchen windowsill during winter, too.

Since mint is a shallow-rooted plant, you can plant it in low, 12-18 inch wide bowls. When the plant gets too crowded, simply cut it in half and re-pot with fresh potting soil. Keep your plants moist and feed occasionally–that’s it.

Mint leaves can be harvested regularly and enjoyed. Just pinch as needed. It is best when picked early in the morning. To dry mint, cut the stalks just above the first set of leaves, as soon as the flower buds appear. Hang upside down in a dark, well ventilated room for two weeks or more.

Don’t limit yourself to one kind of mint. There are dozens of varieties available and each one has its own unique flavor. Mint can be used to flavor drinks and salads, it can be made into a jelly and vinegars to flavor meats, and some, like chocolate mint, will make you think you’ve just eaten dessert.

And, we’ve just scratched the surface of the uses and benefits of the Mighty Mint.

So go ahead and give your energy a boost, refresh your spirit and revitalize your senses. Plant some mint today!



How To Grow Those Healthy Blueberries In The High Desert

Blueberries are one of the healthiest fruits around; they are low calorie, almost fat free, packed with vitamin C, antioxidants and dietary fiber–and they taste wonderful. As if that weren’t enough, they can add striking beauty to your garden. Whatever your reason for growing them, blueberries will work very well in your landscape plans. In addition to the fruit they produce, they have beautiful bell-shaped blooms in spring, handsome glossy foliage in the growing season, striking fall color and bright red stems in winter.

Blueberries require little care and are seldom bothered by pests. They can vary in size from low ground-covering varieties to large bushes ranging 4-6 ft. high. Their versatility allows them to be used as background shrubs or as border plants. If you are limited in space or just have a patio, consider planting them in containers.

Different varieties of blueberries produce different sizes of fruit, with flavor ranging from tart to very sweet. Larger fruiting varieties produce fruit perfect for fresh eating and large desserts, while smaller fruiting varieties are better for adding to cereals, muffins and pancakes. Be sure to select different varieties to lengthen your harvest season from June until the end of August. For blueberry lovers, we suggest at least two plants per family member.

Blueberries prefer partial shade in the afternoon. They prefer a light, airy acid soil, so using an acid based amendment like one from G&B Organics is recommended. Blueberries like to stay moist but not wet. If your soil does not drain well, consider building a raised bed to plant them in. Feed with an acid plant food in spring and midsummer for best results.

Blueberries can be planted as close as 2-1/2′ apart if a solid hedge is desired or up to 6′ apart if you want to grow them as individual specimens. Just make sure you have access to them so you can get at those tasty, juicy berries!

We love blueberries and invite you to add them to your garden. This post is for winter planning and to get you thinking about all that is possible. We will have a nice selection of varieties that grow well in our local area. Stop by soon and one of our garden experts will help you select the perfect variety for your family!



Telling Garden Vegetables Apart … How?

Please answer this question … What’s the difference between leafy veggies, flower veggies, root veggies, and fruit veggies?

Leafy vegetables include “leaf-type” vegetables such as cabbage, chard, kale, lettuce and spinach, whose leaves are edible.

“Flower-type” vegetables are ones such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower, whose “flower” is eaten instead of leaves.

“Root-type” vegetables are those such as beets, carrots, radishes and turnips, whose roots are the edible part of the plant.

“Fruit vegetables” are botanically fruits but treated as vegetables in a culinary sense. These include tomatoes, peppers, and squashes.

Now you are fully equipped to “enlighten” friends with this incredible information when you find yourself at a loss for subject matter at the next dinner party you attend.



Healthy Houseplants In Winter … How?

greenhouse

Keeping your houseplants healthy during winter months may seem difficult. Light from windows is reduced, days are shorter and humidity may be lower due to heating. But by making a few changes, you can help keep your houseplants healthy.

Keeping things light

In winter, your plants receive sunlight for less time and in less intensity. Houseplants native to rainforests that are used to lower light will be fine with that, but most plants need more light. Try to move your plants near a brighter window (S/SW exposure) to get them more sunlight.

If you have no brighter windows (due to shade trees or apartment living), you might want to consider the purchase of plant lamps that are designed to provide the full spectrum light your plants need. They can be mounted under shelves, over plants or on specially-designed plant stands. Leave them on about eight hours a day, and they’ll give your plants the light they need.

You can also use cool fluorescent bulbs as close as 6 inches from the top of plants.

Temperature

Most plants do not do well when subjected to rapid fluctuations in temperature. Keep them away from hot air sources and cold drafts alike. Run ceiling fans on low if the house is closed up. Fans break up stagnant air; that’s healthier for both you and your plants.

Humidity

Some symptoms of low humidity are brown leaf tips and wilting. Low humidity makes your plants work harder to get moisture from the air and soil, as well as keep what they have inside.

One way to give your plants some extra humidity is to mist them two or three times a day. The water will evaporate off the leaves and provide a cloud of higher humidity around the plant. For a less labor-intensive method, put a layer of pebbles in the bottom of a tray and fill the tray with just enough water to cover the bottom of the tray (below the top of the pebbles). Place potted plants in the tray.

Other Tips

Fertilizing should be done less often for most plants in winter.

Give your plants a good washing. Dirt, dust, grease, and other particles can settle on leaves. Dirty leaves can’t absorb as much sunlight as clean ones. Gently wipe clean the leaves with a soft sponge or cloth dipped in plain water. Sturdier plants can even be given a quick shower in the bathroom with tepid water.



Pollinating Fruit Trees … Do We Really Need Two Trees To Produce Fruit?

apple-treeFruit trees in the high desert add so much to an edible landscape plan and local fresh availability.  But, can we get by with a single tree?  What about the pollination needed?

Our answer is, unfortunately, IT DEPENDS?  No one likes a Yes & No answer but this requires some explanation.

Citrus trees like lemons, oranges and limes are self-fertile (and need to be brought indoors for the winter), requiring no pollinator (which makes them popular for growing exclusively indoors; dwarf varieties are available). Most apricots, figs, nectarines, peaches and persimmons are also self-fertile; only a few varieties need a second tree to help them produce fruit.

There are also a few varieties of apples, cherries, pears and plums that don’t require a pollinator. But, most other deciduous fruit trees do need a second pollinator tree, and most of these require specific varieties to establish successful pollination. The trees don’t need to be right next to each other, practically touching but keeping them fairly close to each other can promote the best pollinating results.

Our staff of garden experts knows which fruit trees make the best pairs, or not, and will be happy to help you enhance your landscape and your pantry. Ask us!



For Next Spring … Get Flowers to Bloom More.

spring bulbsIncreasing the amount that flowers bloom is a common “how to” question.

 

OK … how?

 

Most flowers and flowering plants need three essential ingredients to bloom: sunlight, nutrients, and warm soil. Even shade plants like azaleas and camellias need some sunlight in order to bloom. If your flowers are sun lovers, make sure they get at least five hours of sunlight per day.

Key nutrients for blooming plants are phosphorus and potash. While most plants need some nitrogen to help them grow and stay green, too much can focus the plant on growing instead of blooming. Nitrogen is the most mobile major nutrient and is more easily taken up by the plant.

Feed flowering plants with a high phosphorus and potash but low nitrogen flower food. If that still doesn’t work, starve them of nitrogen by feeding them with a no-nitrogen fertilizer.

Landscape Roses - - 'Coral Drift'

Landscape Roses – – ‘Coral Drift’

Finally, make sure you don’t water your plants too often. Allow the soil to dry out some between waterings, thus allowing the soil to warm up. If you water too much, the plants will often produce excessive fleshy growth and no blooms.



Yuck … Mushrooms in my lawn!

mushroom_lawnNot so fast with the Yuck! Let’s answer the question, “Is it bad to have mushrooms growing in my lawn?”

Not really, but elves sure like them! Mushrooms are the spore-producing structures of certain kinds of fungi. Most of these fungi are beneficial because they break down organic matter and release nutrients that are necessary for plant growth. In fall, as the weather begins to cool, mushrooms often pop up in lawns, causing people to wonder where they’re coming from and how to control them.

Mushrooms produce tiny spores that are easily blown about in the wind. When these spores reach a favorable place, they germinate and grow. They are very common in areas with decomposing roots or underground stumps from cut down trees, fallen leaves or lawn thatch and other organic matter.

Most people want to control lawn mushrooms. Sorry to say, we have yet to find any chemicals that are effective in controlling them. Most mushrooms are harmless to your lawn, even though you might not like the way they look. The best you can do is to remove them with a rake and de-thatch your lawn in the fall. De-thatching removes the fungi’s food source. Simply removing the mushrooms may make your lawn look better, but it will not kill the mycellium from which the mushrooms grow.

You should be extremely cautious about eating wild mushrooms, because many cause illness and some are deadly. Never eat a mushroom unless you are absolutely sure it is safe. A reference book is not enough–there are poisonous mushrooms that look very similar to non-poisonous ones. If you wish to pick wild mushrooms, please get training first!

(Thank you Garden Primers for this post.)



“Systemic” … What Does That Mean?

Bonide Systemic Insect ControlThe chemical and organic solutions our garden center is famous for recommending to fix high desert plant problems has a language all it own.  Beyond the unpronounceable botanic names, the fertilizer numbering system and the advice given in “gardenese,” there are the chemical and organic labels requiring some deciphering.

A useful term we use for describing some solution applications is “systemic” and that is the subject of today’s Moana Nursery blog.

Weigle My Monei #3“Systemic” is a term that refers to a chemical that can be absorbed by a plant through the foliage or root system and travels within the plant.

  • Systemic insecticides not only kill insects and disease on contact but also remain in the plant and kill insects when they feed on the foliage.
  • Systemic fungicides remain in and on the plant longer to not only kill disease on contact put provide a layer of protection to prevent future attacks for some time.
  • With weed control sprays, the chemical is absorbed by the plant all the way down to the roots, completely killing the weed.

Bonide Infuse SystemicMany tough problems and anticipated future problems for your plants can be corrected/prevented/headed off using a systemic application. Most systemic products should not be used on any edible plants or crops.

 



Helping Roses Re-Bloom In Your Yard

Adobe SunriseMany gardeners neglect or give up on their roses in the summer, seeing the quality of the bloom decline as temperatures increase. Maybe they think roses only bloom in the spring.  Rose blossoms do tend to be smaller in the summer and the colors are not quite as vivid because the summer heat forces the blooms to open before blossom size and color pigment have completely developed.  But, given the proper care, combined with a few simple pruning techniques, roses will re-bloom every six weeks until the first frost.

There are two ways to prune roses during the growing season and both will encourage new blooms to set.  Most roses have leaflets (with three to seven leaves) every couple of inches along the stems.  In order to produce blooms you need to prune at least to the second five leafed leaflet. (Pruning just above will eliminate nasty dead stems called coat hangers.)

If you also want to prune for size control, you can go as far down as two leaflets above the previous cut.  Pruning beyond the previous cut tells the rose you don’t want it to bloom. Remember that hybrid tea and grandiflora rose stems tend to grow at least 18 inches after each pruning before blooming; so, if you prune only the minimum amount you will have a very tall (and possibly leggy) rose by the end of the summer.

Peppermint PopBecause roses are constantly growing, they are in constant need of food.  It’s important to feed roses every 6 to 8 weeks with a quality rose food.  Continue feeding to September and you will have quality rose blooms into the late fall.  So, don’t give up on your roses.  With a little help, they will provide loads of blooms for you all season long.