Bumper-Crop

bumper crop soil builderMASTER NURSERY BUMPER CROP can be mixed with your native soil as a nutrient-rich amendment to grow vegetables and flowers, or it can be used as an organic mulch to help retain water.
With added beneficial mycorrhizae, worm castings, bat guano, and kelp meal – and no harmful synthetic chemicals – BUMPER CROP creates a wonderful soil environment for strong root growth.
Because BUMPER CROP is OMRI listed, you know you can trust that all of its ingredients and processes comply with USDA National Organic Program standards. The OMRI logo on the front of the bag tells you that this product is proven organic.
Bumper Crop Soil Builder is on Sale – Buy 4 for the price of 3 – Through October 2017

Stews are Better with Home Grown Winter Vegetables

winterstew[1]As the days shorten and the earth cools down it becomes the perfect recipe for planting a garden for fall and winter vegetables.

In California, vegetable gardening doesn’t stop with the fall harvest. There are many varieties of vegetables that do best in cool weather. Lettuce, cabbages, root vegetables such as carrots and beets are a few of them. It’s also an ideal time to start a winter hardy herb garden. The cooler temperatures will allow the herbs to be firmly established by the warmer days of spring. Herbs also do well in containers or planted along walkways where their fragrance is released as someone brushes against them.

Remember, a garden started now means fresh vegetables for winter stews and garden salads as well as herbal seasonings all year round.

If you haven’t planted your winter vegetables yet, this would be a good time. The vegetable starts are here now with fresh shipments arriving weekly. Use our Recipe for Good Garden Soil and then get ready to plant.

Fresh carrots, onions, cabbage will all taste great in winter stews and casseroles. Come in and choose now. We have Kale, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cauliflower, Chard, Cabbage,  Parsley, Spinach, Herbs, Lettuce and much more from seeds or starts, and we have Garlic and Onions from bulbs.

Onion Bulbs Are In!

Ready to plant now for harvest next summer. Choose from red, yellow, or white onions, or choose shallots. Place bulbs 3 to 4 inches apart in rows that are 15 to 18 inches apart. Begin to harvest the green tops in 3 to 4 weeks, if you like. Onions are shallow rooted plants, so keep them moist and free of weeds. Winter rains will soon do all the watering for you, making onions one of the easiest vegetables to grow ín the garden.

 

Landscaping with Herbs

Landscaping with herbs adds interest!

Many herbs make beautiful landscape plants which can serve more than one purpose in the yard. Here are some ways to use herbs in your landscape to reap the bounty of flavor, fragrance and attracting our fuzzy flying friends, the pollinators:

Ground Covers

• Thyme – Many varieties, from tiny leafed to golden tinted foliage. Great for tucking in around stepping stones or use as edging.
• Mint – Comes in flavors from spearmint to chocolate. Plant in a pot to contain it its rampant growth.
• Oregano – Greek is one of the best tasting. Pinch it back occasionally to keep it bushy.
• Chives – Grow these spiky little clumps as an accent. The pretty pink flowers are edible, too.
• Trailing Rosemary – Lovely spilling over a wall or pot edge.

Knee high

• Lavender – Dozens of varieties with gray or green foliage; all are colorful and fragrant in your hottest, sunniest spots.
• Lemon Balm – Tidy mounds with dusty purple flowers and wonderfully fragrant leaves.
• Sage – Silvery or multi-colored leaves are a must for flavoring poultry dishes.

Shrubs and Trees

• Lemon Verbena – Tough as nails drought lover is a sturdy shrub. Pinch to keep bushy; pour boiling water on leaves for a lemony tea.
• Upright Rosemary – Tuscan Blue grows to 5′; use as a hedge. Variety Barbecue has larger leaves. All are tough, low water and delicious.
• Bay Laurel – Use Sweet Bay leaves fresh or dry for later. Grows as a dense, evergreen, dark green hedge or upright small tree.

Tuck a few herbs in a sunny spot near your kitchen door, within easy snipping distance. Most herbs like good drainage, so amend your soil with lots of compost. Or plant in pots, letting them spill over the sides. Many are surprisingly tough perennials, mounding between 6 inches and 2 feet or so, and will live for years. Enjoy truly fresh flavor!

Thanksgiving Pies

ORDER TODAY . . . your choice of fresh or frozen:
Apple – Apricot – Blackberry – Blueberry – Boysenberry – Cherry – Dutch Apple – Mixed Berry – Nectarine – Peach – Pumpkin – Strawberry Rhubarb

New this year . . . Cobblers
Apple – Apricot – Boysenberry – Cherry – Nectarine – Peach

These are 10″ pies and can be ordered fresh or frozen. Frozen pies have baking instructions on the bottom of the pie. Pies can last in the freezer for up to one year. All pies are $ 14.95.

These pies are available only by pre-order. All pie orders must be placed by Monday, November 13th at 5:00 p.m.

Call 925-447-0280

Pies will arrive on Tuesday, November 21st and are available for pick up that day or Wednesday, November 22nd. The nursery is closed on November 23rd, so be sure to be in by 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday the 22nd so you don’t miss out.

These pies are prepaid orders only. We will not have any extra pies for pick up on Tuesday or Wednesday. These pies store really well frozen, we have many staff members who have tested this theory out. So if you are needing any pies for the holiday season coming up, order you’ll have them ready to go for your holiday parties.

October Vegetable Guide

October vegetable gardening includes the addition of garlic, shallots and onions to the mix of leafy greens and cabbage/cauliflower relatives already on the table.

Garlic, shallots and onions from bulbs go into the ground now through mid-November

Leafy greens, peas, broccoli, cauliflower and carrots thrive when planted now before weather cools.

Vegetable Plant Time Amount
(family of 4)
Special Notes Plant Now
Artichoke Year ’round 3 – 4 plants Permanent, perennial. 4″ Pots
Garlic October – January 10 – 20 ft. row Suitable for a small garden if compact varieties are grown. Note: plant through EARLY January for best results From Bulbs
Onions (bulb) September – March 30 – 40 ft. row Suitable for a small garden if compact varieties are grown.  Onions are available as bulbs in fall and as bare root plants in early November.   From Bulbs
Carrots Year ’round 20 – 30 ft. row Suitable for a small garden if compact varieties are grown. Can be planted more than once/year for a continuous harvest. From Seeds
Chives Year ’round 1 clump Suitable for a small garden if compact varieties are grown. From Starts or Seeds
Parsley Year ’round 1 – 2 plants Suitable for a small garden if compact varieties are grown. From Starts
Radishes Year ’round 4 ft. row Suitable for a small garden if compact varieties are grown. Can be planted more than once/year for a continuous harvest. From Seed
Broccoli August – February 15 – 20 ft. row Can be planted more than once/year for a continuous harvest. From Starts or Seeds
Brussels Sprouts August – February 15 – 20 ft. row N/A From Starts or Seeds
Cabbage August – February 10 – 15 plants Suitable for a small garden if compact varieties are grown. From Starts or Seeds
Cabbage, Chinese August – February 10 – 15 ft. row Suitable for a small garden if compact varieties are grown. From Starts or Seeds
Cauliflower August – February 10 – 15 plants Tie leaves up and over head to protect from frosts. From Starts or Seeds
Celery August – February 20 – 30 ft. row Suitable for a small garden if compact varieties are grown. From Starts or Seeds
Chard August – February 3 – 4 plants Suitable for a small garden if compact varieties are grown. From Starts or Seeds
Endive August – February 10 – 15 ft. row N/A From Starts or Seeds
Kohlrabi August – November 10 – 15 ft. row Suitable for a small garden if compact varieties are grown. From Starts or Seeds
Leeks August – February 10 ft. row N/A From Starts or Seeds
Lettuce August – February 10 – 15 ft. row Suitable for a small garden if compact varieties are grown. Can be planted more than once/year for a continuous harvest. From Starts or Seeds
Mustard August – April 10 ft. row N/A From Starts or Seeds
Onions (green) August – December —- Suitable for a small garden if compact varieties are grown. Can be planted more than once/year for a continuous harvest. From Starts or Seeds
Peas September – January 30 – 40 ft. row Suitable for a small garden if compact varieties are grown. Can be planted more than once/year for a continuous harvest. From Starts or Seeds
Spinach September – January 10 – 20 ft. row Suitable for a small garden if compact varieties are grown. From Starts or Seeds

 

Alden Lane Honey


Alden Lane honey has arrived back on our shelves; take some home!

Our Alden Lane beekeepers have been as busy as bees tending the hives and harvesting honey. Below are some pictures of the honey harvest.

Over the years, we have seen bees buzzing around several “honey trees”.  We’ve even seen honeycomb protruding outside the holes in some of the trees here. Bees have always found the hollowed out trees at Alden Lane Nursery an ideal place to set up shop.  It’s only natural that beekeeping in boxes would be successful at Alden Lane.

Tim and Jessica Williams have managed the bee hives here at Alden Lane for about 7 years.

Harvesting Honey

A frame with Honeycomb and bees
A frame with Honeycomb and bees
Gently brush away the bees
Gently brush away the bees
Scrape the honey and wax into a bucket
Scrape the honey and wax into a bucket
Alden Lane honey is not processed in any way. It is simply harvested, allowed to settle out from the wax, and placed in a jar. it is amazingly sweet and good tasting!
Alden Lane honey is not processed in any way. It is simply harvested, allowed to settle out from the wax, and placed in a jar. it is amazingly sweet and great tasting!

honey-jars

So, it only makes sense to come into Alden Lane and select a fresh jar of local honey. You can’t get honey like this anywhere else.

Seize the Season

With Fall officially rolling in this month on the calendar (though maybe not on the thermometer), it’s time to design and plant your cool season garden!

Your wheelbarrow is brimming with starts and seeds for broccoli, cauliflower, beets, carrots, green leafy lettuces, kale, chard, cabbage, snow peas, snap peas, and mustards. Now what? Take a moment to envision how and where you can enhance your landscape by sowing this bounty.

Welcome

Create a welcoming entry statement in your garden with a small gate or pergola. This marks your garden as a special “place”.

Layout your crops with an eye for pattern. Plant colorful lettuces in a square instead of straight rows. Use cabbages to punctuate the corners. Border them with herbs or annuals – why not edible annual flowers like violas or nasturtiums? Or try a dynamic arrangement of diagonals or chevron patterns to lead your eye through the garden.

Add exclamation marks to the center of your plantings. Taller flowering herbs like dill or fennel or yarrow can give you some height while attracting all important pollinators. Or use a decorative structure such as a painted tee pee, a wire obelisk, colorful tomato cage or ornate trellis, or an Artichoke!

Plan tidy pathways made of bark or gravel to surround and organize your beds. No water use here. Put a couple of layers of overlapping cardboard underneath to keep down weeds.

Subdivide the interior space of large beds with an arrangement of stepping stones. Alden Lane has a beautiful collection of natural slate stepping stones.

Please protect your young tender seedlings from our still high temperatures with frequent watering and some shade during the hottest part of the day. Enrich your soil before planting with G & B Organic compost and Sure Start organic fertilizer.

Weren’t the Pluots heavenly this year? Don’t forget the after harvest fruit tree feeding. A good deep soak (15 gallons of water) followed by fertilizing with Master’s Fruit Tree fertilizer promotes vitality during the spring flowering and fruit set season. Add a shovelful of worm castings or chicken manure around each tree to condition the soil.

Cover Crops Improve Garden Soil

Cover crops are fast growing plants that are utilized by farmers and gardeners for one or more of their beneficial qualities and not usually intended as food crops.

A gardener will usually work these crops into the soil or remove them before they set seed. A healthy garden can benefit in several ways when cover crops are included in the annual rhythm of sowing and reaping.

It seems that for most any problem, there is a cover crop solution. Try one and you’ll notice over time how much better your garden performs with less input of extra water, fertilizer, and insecticide. Cover crops are the natural choice for a naturally better garden.

Some crops add nitrogen to the soil, pulling it from thin air. Others pull up minerals from deep underground and concentrate it in the topsoil as you till the plan under. Other cover crops work like a rototiller to loosen heavy soils with their vigorous roots.

How to Get Started with Cover Crops

Preparation can usually be minimal for sowing cover crops. Cultivate the soil to a depth of about 1 inch and rake out any large debris or weeds. Sow the seeds at the rate recommended on the packet. Seeds can usually be scattered evenly. After sowing, tamp down the soil lightly to create good contact between seed and soil. Water immediately after sowing, and keep the area moist until your plants emerge. After establishment, most cover crops require minimal additional water.
cover-crop-cloverIt is usually best to cut down or incorporate cover crops before they produce seed. Cut or till the plants just as they begin to flower or before. Small plants can be directly tilled into your soil. Larger plants can be cut down with a weed trimmer or mower and left on the soil surface to dry for a few days before they are roto-tilled in.
We carry an assortment of cover crop seeds from botanical interests as well as larger bags of Fava Beans, purple vetch, clover, alfalfa, and more.

Keep the Harvest Coming!

harvest
You aren’t tired of tomatoes yet, are you? Should we ask your neighbors how they feel about your zucchini harvest? Here in California, we have another 6 to 10 weeks of productive growing time left. To ensure that there will be more to come, take the following steps:

Fertilize your summer vegetable garden monthly to receive the highest production possible using Master’s Tomato and Vegetable Food or EB Stone Tomato and Vegetable Food.  Remember, water one day, feed the next. Avoid feeding when hot, 90 plus.

Maintenance

Summer vegetable garden maintenance is most important this month.

  • Fertilizing will keep your plants producing right up to the cooler weather.
  • Check for insect or disease damage. Bring a sample of the damage into the nursery and we’ll diagnose it for you and recommend the best cure.
  • Water cucumbers a lot and tomatoes deeply but infrequently (twice a week or less). Harvest frequently.
  • Finally, if the plant is finished with its production, remove it. Leaving an old or damaged plant will only spread diseases to the rest of the garden.

Prepare vegetable plots for winter gardens. Use our Recipe for Good Garden Soil. Mix into a depth of eight inches. Add Master’s Tomato and Vegetable Food or EB Stone Tomato and Vegetable Food and you’re ready to plant. Come into the Nursery and choose 6-packs of winter vegetables or seeds. Among them select peas, spinach, broccoli, cabbage, kale, and more.

Edible Landscape – Saving Water


You’ve just savored that juicy tomato fresh from your garden – vine ripened and still warm from the sun. A little salt is the only accompaniment it needs. And that tree ripened July peach – so juicy you had to lean over the grass to keep the drips off of your front. There is more harvest from your backyard to come: grapes, apples, figs, winter squash and . . . mercy(!) another couple of zucchinis to bake into zucchini bread.

We’ve had some record breaking heat this summer, and our usual run of the mill heat, which kept me running to the hose for in-between-the-schedule-watering. So it seems like a good time to consider a few ideas for trimming your water use for your next garden. But no worries, we will never water shame you!

Tips for Saving Water

  • What better way to use a precious resource than growing your own bountiful garden full of tasty produce?
  • Prepare your soil well with compost (Bumper Crop and G & B are two we like) and replenish yearly. Or make your own from all those fallen leaves, grass clippings, and kitchen scraps. Compost acts like a sponge to hold water.
  • Water use is mainly influenced by temperatures. Schedule plantings for the appropriate season. Cool season veggies: leafy greens, peas, broccoli, etc. grow well in the fall and spring and are less water intensive than warm season veggies.
  • Soak soil to saturate root zones and below so that a reservoir of soil water is available for the plant to draw from, eliminating the need for frequent, shallow watering.
  • Reduce tomato watering after the fruit has set and is beginning to color up.
  • Heat wilting of big leafed plants (squashes, pumpkins etc.) on hot afternoons is normal and doesn’t always mean the plant is thirsty.
  • Prune fruit trees in summer. A more compact tree uses less water.
  • Try an Earth Box. It’s a space saving growing system with a built in reservoir and soil cover and is surprisingly productive.
  • Provide a bit of afternoon shade with taller, more sun loving plants (tomatoes) planted south of those that could use a break from broiling afternoon sun (peppers, eggplant, cucumbers). Or set up your beach umbrella temporarily.
  • Mulch Mulch Mulch. Much Mulch!