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Garden Gossip

March, 2021

Pre order Tomato Plants- pick up April 8

Pre Order Tomato Plants

Our pre-order tomato plant program is now online. You may order as few as one plant or several flats. Our flats contain 18 plants. You can mix all the varieties if you wish. This program is for pick up at nursery only. The pick-up date this year is April 3. We would like all orders to be in by March 21. When ordering if you should see a charge for shipping please just click on the pick up at nursery option and the charge will be deleted. You may order your plants here.

Pruning and Fertilizing

Prune evergreens, pine, hemlock, yew, cleyera and cedar now before they start to grow.  Prune spring blooming shrubs after they flower.  Don’t wait too long or your will remove next years buds. Prune boxwoods if needed.  Open up the inside to allow air circulation and light.  Prune pomegranate and summer flowering shrubs.  Lilac Chaste tree, Anthony Waterer Spirea and Pee Gee hydrangea should also be pruned now while dormant.  Hydrangea arborescens, Annabelle hydrangeas, can be pruned to the ground since they flower on new growth.  If the stems are cut to the ground the new shoots produce larger inflorescences.  Don’t prune your hydrangea macrophylla, mopheads and lacecaps until after they leaf out.  Then prune only the branches that are dead. For pink blooms on the hydrangeas use lime; for blue blooms use aluminum sulphate or camellia and azalea fertilizer.

Prune muscadines now. Fertilize all your pecan trees with a pecan fertilizer that has zinc. Fertilize blackberries, blueberries and all fruit trees. We use a 12-6-6 fertilizer on the blueberries and blackberries and a Citrus, Pecan and Fruit tree fertilizer on the fruit trees. This fertilizer contains all the micro-nutrients the trees need for good fruit production.

Prune all spring flowering shrubs such as forysithia, spirea, flowering quince and azaleas after they bloom.

Wait to prune butterfly bushes until after you think we have had the last frost.

Prune all repeat flowering roses 1/3 of their height in a dome shape. Wait to prune spring only bloomers until after they have flowered. If you don’t get a chance to prune your repeat bloomers until they have set their buds just wait until they flower then give them a good pruning. Fertilize them with a good rose fertilizer. I like to use Fertilome Rose Food with the systemic insecticide to kill the aphids that are sure to attack your new tender foliage.

Late Winter Sprays

Copper sprays are excellent for bacterial problems such as fire blight on apple and pear trees and bacterial spot on peach, nectarine, plum and cherry. It is generally best not to mix copper with other spray materials. Don’t spray copper within 2 to 3 weeks oil sprays.

If you are having a problem with scale insects and eggs, mite eggs plus overwintering fungal and bacterial pests you could use Parafine Horticultural Oil, Year-Round Spray Oil, Hi-yield dormant Spray, Saf-t-side (80% petroleum oil or Fertilome dormant Spray and Summer Spray Oil, ( 98.8% horticultural Oil).

Do not apply oil sprays within 48 hours of a hard freeze, (below 30 degrees) because freeze damage may be increased.

Bloom Sprays

Bloom sprays are used late February through early April from first bloom until essentially all flowers have opened. Bloom sprays are for fungal problems such as brown rot. They may not be needed every year but are suggested if brown rot on fruit was severe the previous year. We use bloom sprays to control fungal and bacterial diseases. Suggested products are Hi-yield Captan, Hi Yield Vegetable, Flower, Fruit and Ornamental Fungicide (12.5% chlorothalonil )and Fruit Tree Vegetable , Ornamental Fungicide (29.6% chlorothalonil) You may also use Liquid Copper Fungicide and Liquid-Cop.

When applying copper be careful to use the recommended rates to avoid bloom damage. On peaches and plums apply 2 tablespoons per gallon of water at bud break. One tablespoon per gallon of water 2 weeks later. Then 1/2 tablespoon per gallon of water 2 weeks after the last spray through petal fall.

Do not spray insecticides during bloom period to protect pollinating bees.

Cover Sprays

This spray begins at petal fall (nearly all flower petals have fallen.) and runs until 15 days before harvest. These sprays are used mainly to control insect and disease problems of the fruit. (especially plum curcullio which causes wormy fruit and brown rot which causes fruit rots). The first 2 to 3 sprays should be 7 to 10 days apart with later sprays up until near harvest 2 to 3 weeks apart. Suggested products are Hi Yield Captan Fungicide, Dusting/Wettable sulfur, Thiomyl. When using Thiomyl include Captan in the spray to reduce possible development of resistant strains of brown rot. For plum curculio and other insects, Mal-A Cide (50% malathion) Monterey Garden Insect Sray (0.5% spinosad) The old fruit tree spray that contained Malathion and Captan is no longer available. However the gardener can prepare the same spray by mixing per directions the captan and malathion together.

Fire Blight

Fire blight is the enemy of apple and pear trees. Other plants that are suseptible to fire blight are; serviceberry, flowering quince, cotonaster, hawthorn, loquat, pyracantha, spirea, flowering almond, plum and cherry.
It is caused by a bacteria that attacks the blossoms and moves up to the twigs and then the branches, turning the blossoms brown and shriveling and blackening the twigs and branches. In advanced cases discolored oozing patches form on the branches. Fire Blight is easily spread by rain splashes, birds and insects. Gardeners can also spread the disease on infected gardening tools. Disinfect your tools with a 10% clorox solution when trimming infected trees. Dispose of infected plant material by burning or discarding in the trash. Copper sprays are excellent for bacterial problems such as fire blight. Fire blight spray which contains streptomycin may be used also. Streptomycin should be sprayed about every 10 days during bloom to be effective.

Spray Kits

For your convenience we have prepared 2 conventional spray kits, 1 for apples and pears and one for stone fruit. This kit contains all the chemicals you will need to spray your fruits trees for the season. There is also an organic kit available for the organic gardener.

For those of you that haven’t had a chance to spray your fruit plants and trees, there still is time to do so. You may combine your dormant oil and copper together per the instructions on the label. Spray near bud break but not full flower.

Early Bloomers

The early daffodils are blooming now and they are so lovely. We know spring is just around the corner when we see them, but there are many other perennials and shrubs that flower early too. If your yard is lacking early spring color consider adding a few flowering quince, Kiss me at the Gate, Jane Magnolia, Star Magnolia, Spirea, forsythia or some Hellebores. These plants all bloom early along with the daffodils.

There are also several different spring bulbs along with daffodils planted in containers at the retail shop. They are ready to set out into the garden. Great for those of you that never got around to planting any in the fall.

Vegetable Garden

All the brassica group can be planted now. That includes broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale and several others. They all will do very well in the early spring. Start some lettuce too. Lettuces love the cooler weather. They will be damaged if we get a late frost but when it gets hot the lettuce will bolt and become bitter. I just cover my lettuce with the cover cloth we use to cover the citrus and that will protect it. There is still time to start some carrots, beets and radishes. Corn can also be planted this month. Check out our selection of seeds. Many are organic and no GMO.

Iris Borer

Last year I had a problem with my tall bearded iris. Many of the rhizomes were rotting, getting mushy and smelled awful. This was Iris root rot I discovered caused by a bacterial phytopathogen. It gets inside the rhizome through an opening created by an injury or it could be iris borers that created the opening.

Cleaning up all the dead iris leaves is a start. The borer is the larvae of the Marconotua onusta moth.

The larvae hatch in April to May when iris leaves are just emerging. The larvae enter the leaves and tunnel into the plant causing structural and cosmetic damage as they go. In addition to this damage, the larvae introduce a bacteria that causes a soft, foul smelling rot. Iris borer symptoms may mimic those of common iris diseases.

The moth responsible lays eggs in the fall which over winter and hatch in the spring. Killing iris borers requires an insecticide application. Spinosad is a safe spray that is a bio-insecticide. It should be applied in early spring. A repeat treatment in ten to fourteen days will help ensure that the pests have been eradicated .

Citrus Trees

Are your citrus tree looking a little sad from being cooped up all winter? You can move then out into the sunshine now if you wish but also keep in mind to move them back if we get more cold weather. It is time to give them some fertilizer since they will soon be blooming. We use Citrus, Pecan and Fruit Tree fertilizer.

If you are having pest problems the trees can be sprayed with Ultra fine oil mixed with Neem Oil. This helps control greasy spot, mites and whitefly.