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Santa Clarita – BEGINNING Smart Gardening Workshop – Attend a FREE Smart Gardening Advanced Workshop to learn more about organic gardening techniques, the art and science of good soil, Integrated Pest Management (environmentally responsible ways to control pests), conserving water around the garden, and using native and drought-tolerant plants! Compost bins can be purchased at the subsidized prices of $40 each for a backyard compost bin and $65 each for a worm compost bin (this price includes 1/2 lb. of worms). 5/8/2010, 9:30 AM – 11:00 AM – Castaic Lake Water Agency – 27234 Bouquet Canyon Rd. Santa Clarita, 91350
5/22/2010, 9:30 AM – 11:30 AM – William S. Hart Regional Park 24151 N. Newhall Ave. Newhall, 91321
Pine Mountain Lilac Festival May 15 & 16 from 9-5 pm www.pmclilacfestival.com
2nd Annual Jewish Food Festival Sunday May 16, 2010 – 11am – 4 pm Bridgeport Marketplace (McBean & Newhall Rd) $5 for adults kids 12 & under free www.templebethami.org 255-6410
Bring a non-perishable food item for the SCV Food Pantry and receive 1 free admission with 1 paid adult admission
Plant Sale! June 4 – 6, 2010 – 9:30am – 4:00 pm at Worldwide Exotics – 11157 Orcas Avenue Lakeview Terrace, Ca. 91342 818-890-1915 – This is a great family run nursery, they are knowledgeable and very friendly. I buy many plants from them and am never disappointed!
Memorial Garden Tour Sunday June 6, 2010 – 10 am – 5 pm Self Guided Tour – donations are a free will offering to benefit the Cole William Larsen Foundation, which supports families of fallen and wounded military. Garden tour programs are available at Green Thumb Nursery, Sunset Nursery, and Green Landscape Nursery. www.memorialgardentour.com or 661-433-9141 – Christi
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May has a lot of the same chores on the list as we had in April, so if you didn’t get them all done fear not you can continue to work on them during the beautiful month of May. During this particular May (2010) Mercury is in retrograde until the 11th, so you can re-do all that you did in April and maybe have even more success!
Like my good friend Harriette Knight always says, “You should do anything that starts with re”. Renew, re-do, recycle, refresh. I say recycle some old containers you have and refresh them with some beautiful plants!
May is a great time to plant or continue to plant annuals for summer color
You can prune spring-flowering shrubs and vines while they are blooming or just after they finish. Hardenbergia and Carolina jessamine vines as well as spring blooming Ceanothus are almost done – don’t forget to prune them. You can also prune subtropical shrubs if they are getting leggy. Princess Flower and Hibiscus would fall into this category.
May is an excellent time to transplant warm-season vegetable seedlings. If you didn’t get your tomatoes in during April… get them in now! And don’t forget to support them. (see blog post on tomatoes).
It is a great time to experiment with those subtropical fruit trees that I love so much. Take a trip over to Papaya Tree Nursery (tell Alex I sent you) and take a look at some of his unusual citrus trees, figs, passion fruit, cherimoya, papayas and more. Make sure you tell Alex where you live when you are selecting plants. Call ahead first before popping in, you want to make sure that he’s at the nursery.
You can start shopping for and planting summer and fall bloomers like such as day lily, iris, gaura, gaillardia, penstemons, pentas, asters, coreopsis, salvia and the Echinacea will be available soon. I love to buy my day lilies, iris, and more from Greenwood Day Lily Gardens and they are still open to the public on weekends through June. John Shoustra the owner of Greenwood will be speaking about Pelargoniums at the Huntington on May 13th so put that on your calendar too!
You should continue to feed and water blooming and growing cacti and succulents
If you didn’t spray your peach trees for peach leaf curl, blight and canker… now is the time!
Don’t forget to feed those houseplants too, they feel the flush of growth that spring brings, so help them out. Use a nice organic balanced fertilizer, especially if they are blooming houseplants.
You can continue to plant fall-blooming bulbs in May such as Aconitum
Amaryllis, Begonia, Lycoris Spider Lily (not supposed to bloom here, but mine do)
and Trycirtis You can buy bulbs at a nursery or online – here are two online suggestions.
Brent and Becky’s Bulbs
McClure Zimmerman Bulbs
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It’s Wildflower Season around Southern California, and this looks to be an amazing weekend for flower watching! Along with the aforementioned Rose Days this weekend there is plenty of other natural beauty all around.
California Poppies are a highlight right now, and this weekend the Poppy Festival will be happening in Lancaster City Park. The Antelope Valley will be celebrating these beauties with music, food, and fun. All in the midst of a blanket of brilliant orange. Here is the link to learn more – California Poppy Festival.
A trip out to Joshua Tree or Mojave will also give you an amazing treat with oceans of yellow and purple and beautiful cactus flowers in bloom. March begins the show, but there are still some beauties waiting for you now.
If pets are more your speed, Santa Clarita Valley Pet & Family Expo is where you want to be May 1st & 2nd at the College of the Canyons. Green Nursery’s own Tank the Bulldog will be there to greet you. Lots of vendors, Pets are welcome – there is free micro chipping and rabies vaccines. Valencia Acura is the official sponsor, so it’s certainly a Valencia Event. If you bring a dog bed, new or used blanket you will get a free raffle ticket. PetExpoUSA.net
Enjoy the spring time, there’s lots going on!
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Free Seminars! Gates open at 9AM each day, seminars start at noon. Guest speakers from Weeks Roses, Jackson Perkins, Star Roses, and David Austin Roses plus owner Scott Klittich (Rose Lover and Owner of Otto & Sons) speaks each day.
They combine beautifully with all kinds of plants.
For more information and seminar listings: Otto & Sons
I hope to see you there!
You can also find me at: therassisalwaysgreener.net
For information on my designs www.thegrassisalwaysgreener.net
Ceanothus or California Lilac is a beautiful shrub that is native to California, it ranges from low ground cover varieties to tall shrubs. You can find a Ceanothus for just about any spot in your garden, provided you don’t over water it.
Here is a quick run down of what to do during the year for your Ceanothus.
During the month of March you can feed your plant a little bit, normally I don’t suggest feeding natives but I’ve read that a little bit of bonemeal around the base of your plant is a good idea at this time of the year. Now is also a good time to mulch. Some compost can do wonders. If any of your Ceanothus are summer blooming varieties, you can prune them in early March. Don’t prune your spring bloomers, or you won’t have any blooms!
When June rolls around it is time to prune the spring bloomers. Make sure that they are finished blooming and give them a bit of a haircut.
Container grown Ceanothus can be planted at any time of the year, but new cutting grown plants do best in November when the soil is still a little warm. In general if you can plant your Ceanothus during the winter instead of the summer, they will do much better. But… they are a hardy plant and as mentioned before, feel free to plant them when you will.
Ceanothus plants prefer little water and inland they are happiest with a little shade. That said, there are many examples of Ceanothus growing around the Santa Clarita Valley in full sun, blooming up a storm. They are often said to be short-lived (5-10 years), but I think that is often due to the fact that people over water them. They need to be planted in well-draining soil, and they don’t like regular garden water. If you want to have a successful native garden, think about only planting natives and cutting your water down considerably. Lawn and natives really don’t mix. An exception to this rule is Carmel Creeper, Ceanothus griseus var. horizontalis ‘Yankee Point’ which will take more water than most and can also tolerate more of a clay soil than other varieties. But remember it still doesn’t like a lot of fuss and it doesn’t like fertilizer much.
Plant a few in the less irrigated portions of your landscape, and you will be very pleased with their beauty and versatility.
South African Blood Lily
Happy Birthday Marlon!!!!
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Today I had the pleasure of attending Tomatomania at one of my favorite nurseries, Otto & Sons in Fillmore, California. The day started out with Yoga, so I was in an excellent frame of mind. The vibe of the day was made better by the beautiful drive to Fillmore.
Once I was there I spent some time picking through the hundreds of choices of tomatoes. I bought some for me, some for clients, and some for friends. Some new varieties that I will be trying this year are Violet Jaspey Ortziu (guess why I picked that one?) and Cuore De Toro (Bull’s Heart). The Bull’s Heart is an oxheart tomato, which is bigger than a salad, but smaller than a Beefsteak and very meaty. Can’t wait to see how they turn out. Along with the new, I had to have two of my favorites Brandywine and Sungold.
While I was at Tomatomania, I was lucky enough to listen to Scott Daigre (founder of Tomatomania and owner of the fabulous but no longer in business Hortus Nursery) give a little talk about tomatoes. Here is some information that everyone could use to grow better tomatoes.
Tomatoes need 6 – 8 hours of sun; they don’t need 14 hours of hot sun to bake their roots. Keeping this in mind, you might find a whole new area of your yard that will be good for growing tomatoes. I know that I will. I think that I have been baking my tomatoes! I bet that this year I will have a bumper crop.
Amend, amend, amend! If you want fabulous tomatoes make sure that you add a lot of organic matter into your soil. Most of Cali has either clay (and alkaline) soil or decomposed granite (sandy) and both of them should be amended with plenty of organic matter.
Dig deep, plant deep – if you have a tall tomato seedling, the further you bury it in the ground the more of it can root and give you a great base for your plants.
Fertilizing – Use an organic, balanced fertilizer at planting, fertilize again five wks later (at bloom) and then again five weeks later for beefsteak varieties – or any variety that take a long time to mature. Foliar feeding is good for your tomato plants, once in a while during their development (second and/or third time) especially for container plants. The foliar feeding also allows you to rinse off your tomato leaves. In our heat and dirt, your maters will be happy.
Water- Every time you water you should soak the plant, not the soil around it. Try one cup when it is a seedling, and increase the amount of water as it grows. Don’t increase the frequency of water… just the amount. Let your plant dry out before watering again. In the ground try watering every 2-5 days. The best way to water is deeply & infrequently.
As fruit sets your plant begins not to look as good as it did when it was actively growing in size and producing leaves, it starts to yellows a little. Don’t worry this is natural and don’t think that this is the time to water it more… it’s NOT! You can easily over water at this point. Don’t add extra because it looks yellow! You will dilute the flavor of the tomato and could do worse.
Support tomatoes! There are many types of tomato support, pick the one that you like and use it. You will be very unhappy at harvest time if you don’t support your tomatoes from the start.
Pinching – It’s a personal decision. If you pinch the little shoots that look like a sucker you get a single leader, which is easier to support on the spirals and you will get less but bigger tomatoes. If you don’t pinch you need to use a more cage like support but you will get more tomatoes (which won’t be as big as if you pinched).
Growing in Containers -Size matters! Bigger is better. Don’t plant a tomato in an 8” pot and expect it to bear fruit. Buy pots that don’t retain heat. If you already have black pots, cover them (in burlap or an old sheet) to keep roots cool. Use a mixture of potting soil & planting mix. Not straight potting soil, it doesn’t have enough nutrients. Water for the plant not the pot. Fertilize every 10 days. You will have to water more frequently, so check your soil and water when the plants need it. Tomatoes develop 10-14 days earlier if planted in a pot. Planting in a pot is great on the coast because it add heat & therefore flexibility in where you can plant your tomatoes. The smaller fruited variety plants do better in pots.
A Few Tips:
When see lots of flowers shake the stakes & pollen will fly, pollinating the flowers. You will have more fruit set.
Pick the fruit when it’s ripe. Not by color. Pick when they are a little soft. Play with your food! Touch them to see if they are ripe. Let them stay on the vines as long as you can, especially cherry tomatoes. A tomato tastes best two days before it’s ready for the compost pile.
To prevent pests be sure to rotate crops or replace soil on containers. And by rotating crops I mean rotate crops by family and tomatoes are in the same family as peppers and eggplants so they have the same pests.
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Basket of tomatoes above is from my client & friend, Bernice Hall.