Prevent Wormy Apples – Controlling Codling Moths

damage from codling moths and larva
traps for codling moths

If you have apple trees and want to monitor codling moths to determine the best time to spray, use our Codling Moth Traps.

Periodically looking into the trap in search of captured moths will alert you as to when the moths are present and therefore when to spray.
When codling moths first appear (usually when about 3/4 of the flower petals have fallen from the tree), wait one week and spray every 10 days with Captain Jack’s, (Spinosad) for 3 applications. Some gardeners have had satisfactory results spraying only Captain Jack’s, which is organic, others start with a single application of Sevin, which is not organic, followed up with 3 sprayings of Captain Jack’s. Replace traps monthly and repeat spray regime after additional generations of moths are trapped.

Replace traps monthly and repeat spray regime after additional generations of moths are trapped.

Check out the UC Cooperative Extension Service website for more detailed options.

Remineralize Your Soil

Azomite is flour-fine rock dust

California’s big Central Valley is the breadbasket of the nation. Its alluvial soils are rich and friable because centuries of seasonal flooding have deposited minerals from the eroding Sierras into the fertile lowlands.

Alluvial soils are perfect for growing crops partly because they are so full of minerals and nutrients.  Adding minerals to your own soil using rock dust is similar to centuries of valley flooding. Spread a 40 lb. bag of rock powder around your landscape 3 to 4 times a year. Gardeners doing so have achieved noticeable improvements, not only in leaf color and vigor but in fruit and vegetable flavor and production as well.

Where do you suppose vegetables get their nutrient content from… “the soil” Azomite replenishes and enhances the soil. Azomite® powdered rock is a naturally mined mineral product with 70 micro-nutrients rarely available in one place. It is odorless, won’t burn your plants and won’t restrict aeration or water penetration. Unlike some products, Azomite® powdered rock is not a manufactured, chemically prepared fertilizer. It is 100% natural with no additives, synthetics or fillers.

Azomite® has been shown to loosen hard soils, build healthy, more pest-resistant and drought-tolerant plants and promote lusher growth. Use Azomite® powdered rock to improve all your gardening and landscape areas from lawns and vegetable plots to compost piles and enjoy:

  • Increased fruit and flower production
  • Increased vitamin content in your fruits and vegetables
  • Better tasting fruits and vegetables
  • Increased pest and disease resistance and greater cold tolerance in all your plants
  • Lawns with better color while using less fertilizer

Best of all, Azomite® powdered rock is easy and economical to apply – one 40 pound bag can cover 1000 square feet. Azomite® powdered rock – gardens and landscapes have not had it this good since the last ice age.

Plant Nasturtiums for Taste and Beauty

nasturtiumWarm your palate and your plate with these spicy summer annuals.

Nasturtiums have been a long time a favorite for the bright shade garden. They come in hot salsa colors of red, orange, yellow and everything in-between.
nasturtium-lineNasturtiums spicy attitude is inherited from its close cousin, the herb, watercress, and like its cousin, is edible. The brilliant colors are both beautiful and tasty tossed in salads or filled with cream cheese piped through a pastry sleeve.

Nasturtiums look fabulous in the garden or patio. They lend an informal, country feel. They are great in hanging baskets or planters or massed in a bed. Choose from dwarf varieties that hug the earth at 8″ high or vining varieties that ramble or climb.

Plant seeds for nasturtiums in a location where plants will receive morning sun and afternoon shade (or a spot with bright shade all day) if you don’t have a shady spot, plant them in among cosmos. The cosmos will grow tall and the nasturtiums will climb up through its shade.

Nasturtium seeds require darkness to germinate. Sow seeds in the garden about the middle of March or later and cover with a half inch of soil. They are very easy to grow from seed.


Edible Gardens Give Back – By Nancy McNeish

Jujube – date-like fruit with sweet apple flavor; grows well in hot areas

I had a neighbor once who said, “if I’m going to use water in my yard, I want something back from it!” Turns out, many of us want to live in a yard that feeds us and feeds our need for beautiful surroundings. And yep, it can be thrifty on water, as well.

As we welcome spring and its new planting season, let’s think outside of the box, or, well, just think outside.

As with any design endeavor, the “bones” come first. Consider those plants, the trees and shrubs, which form the structure of your yard.

In addition to beauty and utility, we want them to be easy to care for, and, best of all, edible! We have many fruit, berry or nut producers for your landscape.

When planning a new or rejuvenated landscape, here are some less well known but delicious varieties to consider. And when planted as part of a well thought out design, they are definitely front yard worthy.

Edible trees that are stand-ins for Shade or Ornamental trees:

  • Jujube – date-like fruit with sweet apple flavor; grows well in hot areas
  • Mulberry – easy to grow trees or bushes produce large red, purple or white berries
  • Olive – press the oil or pickle the fruit of these stunning Mediterranean trees. ‘Arbequina’ and ‘Arboasana’ are smaller
    Sweet Bay – dark green leaves are dried for flavorings from this handsome evergreen
  • Pineapple Guava – silvery evergreen foliage with pretty flowers and sweet-fleshed fruits in a compact tree
  • Elderberry – easy care trees or bushes with bluish berries that can be made into jams, wine and more
  • Asian Pears – sometimes called apple pears, they are crisp like an apple and sweet
  • Pistachio – healthful green nuts love hot weather and are drought resistant. Two trees required.
  • Pomegranate – beautifully ornamental and very easy to grow. Choose from mild to dark, sweet-tart varieties

Edible shrubs in lieu of strictly ornamental:

  • Rosemary – no landscape is complete without this flavorful shrub that sips water
  • Lavender – fragrant, beautiful purple flowers on sun-loving shrubs. Try silvery ‘Goodwin Creek’
  • Blueberries & Huckleberries – delicious berries for moist, afternoon shade areas. Blueberries have great fall color
  • Gooseberries – prickly stems produce plump berries
  • Currants – beautiful clusters of spring flowers give way to red berries in afternoon shade areas
  • Tea Camellias – yes, you really can grow your own tea leaves to dry and brew
  • Grapes – choose red, green or purple grapes to grace an arbor or trellis and remind us of our wine country heritageA healthy plant is a beautiful plant!

Citrus Suffering from Yellow Leaves

Citrus tree with yellow leaves
Restore the green color to yellow leaves of citrus and other evergreen shrubs

Citrus plants often suffer from yellow leaves. The same can be said of other acid loving plants. Yellowing leaves are usually related to low fertility, alkaline soils, or low levels of available iron.

Citrus food can address the fertility, Iron Sulfate or Soil Sulfur can improve the soil pH by steering alkaline soils toward acid, both make the existing iron in surrounding soil more available to the plant.  Iron Sulfate also adds additional iron for quicker nutrient uptake.

Our citrus grower recommends a little bit of citrus fertilizer each month of the year. (Calculate the annual supply of fertilizer needed for your citrus tree by reading the fertilizer bag, then divide the whole quantity by 12 to determine your monthly dose).

We also recommend treating the soil with either Soil Sulfur or Iron Sulfate 3 times a year.  Now is an ideal time because remaining rains will carry these products down into the soil. The impending spring growth will benefit immediately from this nutrient blast. Iron products such as Iron Sulfate help prevent yellow leaves on citrus, azaleas, and camellias and also keep a lawn greener with less mowing.

Products containing iron can stain paving. Take extra precautions to be sure you don’t stain your patio or driveway.

Plants take nutrients up from the soil most efficiently when soil pH is neutral or slightly acidic. pH Adjuster Plus gently acidifies the soil and allows nitrogen, iron and other essential nutrients and elements to be released for uptake by plant roots. Apply these granular products over the soil surface and let the rain water them in. The end result is a healthier, more beautiful plant with brighter, greener foliage.

pH Adjuster Plus is a pelletized soil sulfur that is much easier to apply than more conventional soil sulfur (no annoying dust).

Almost all plants will appreciate 2 to 3 applications per year but those plants that respond most dramatically to a pH adjustment include citrus, blueberries, camellias, azaleas and rhododendrons, gardenias and other plants that develop a seasonal yellowing of the leaf related to iron chlorosis. Most likely you can think of at least one plant you have around your home that suffers from leaf yellowing. Apply and then water or time your application to let winter rains do the watering for you.

Magnesium Sulfate has also shown to have a great greening effect.  A little bit goes a long way and should only be applied twice a year; once in early spring and again in early fall.

Plant for Now & Later

Plant a bumper crop of winter veggies now and start seeds indoors for tomatoes, peppers and other summer veggies.

This week is special in that we enter the window of time for starting tomatoes, peppers and other vegetables for setting out into the garden later.  You can also set out starter plants for a second, bumper crop of cool season crops.

Peas, broccoli, onions, and cauliflower set out now can squeeze in a productive run before temperatures rise in June.  Cool season crops, such as these are often planted in September and October for harvest now, but planting now allows you to work in a crop for later spring harvest. This can even out your garden harvest before summer veggies begin to fruit.

Snap peas are great for a quick, sweet snack.  Plant a couple for snacking or plant a 10′ row for meal-size harvests.

Cauliflower comes in hues including orange and white, Broccoli is in stock in green and chartreuse; try something new!

Summer Vegetable Seed Starting

Now is the time to start seeds indoors for tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants. wee have seeds, seedling trays, seed starting mix, and heat mats to get you going.

Here is an example of the highly informative Botanical Interests Seed packet:

Hungarian Yellow Wax Pepper – Capsicum annuum
Organic HEIRLOOM Seeds 

75 days from transplanting. Developed in Hungary, this early-maturing pepper has a waxy texture that resembles beeswax. Wax peppers are actually orange-red when ripe but are usually picked while still yellow. Great used fresh in salads, pickled, fried, canned, or roasted. 4,500–5,000 Scoville heat units (medium hot).

This packet sows up to 24 plants when started indoors.

When to sow outside: For mild climates only: 2 to 4 weeks after average last frost, when soil temperature is at least 70°F [Warm enough for Sun Bathing].

When to start inside: RECOMMENDED. 8 to 10 weeks before transplanting. Ideal soil temperature for germination is 70°‒90°F. Transplant seedlings outside 2 to 4 weeks after average last frost, and when daytime temperatures are at least 70°F, and nighttime temperatures are at least 55°F. Mild Climates: Also sow in late summer for fall/winter crop.

Harvesting: Harvest when 3″–5″ long or longer and when peppers are yellow or orange-red. Even though Hungarian yellows are usually harvested yellow, they will ripen to orange-red if left on the vine. When harvesting, take care to avoid touching the interior of any broken peppers, as the capsaicin is an extreme irritant, especially to the eyes. Wash hands thoroughly after harvesting, or wear gloves to harvest peppers.

Artist: Pat Fostvedt





Have you Tried Growing Your Own Potatoes?

potato-russetPotatoes have arrived. Why not give your taste buds a treat by growing your own potatoes for fresh cooking.  They taste remarkably better fresh and growing them is easy; winter rains and cool temperatures take care of them for much of the season, and when harvest time comes they taste far superior to store bought.  Our most popular varieties, as well as specialty spuds, are in stock now.

Here is our Collection.

This wonderful boiling potato is easy to grow and tasty. excellent for salads.

It will produce potatoes that have bright red skins and white flesh. They are ideal for boiling with no darkening after cooking.

Very similar to Idaho’s famous Burbank. The good old fashioned baking potato with the rough skin. This one is much more disease resistant than the Burbank and very productive too.

An early potato maturing in 65+ days. Buttery yellow flesh is delicious. Variety makes a good steamer/boiler or use in salads.

Organic Varieties in 5 per pack bags:

  • Cherry Red
  • Russet Norkotah
  • Yukon Gold
  • Purple Majesty
  • Sangre Red
  • Yellow Finn
  • Russian Banana
  • Rose Finn Apple
  • Blue Belle

Planting Tips

Preparing the Soil
Potatoes prefer a loose well-drained soil. We need to lighten our heavy clay soils by mixing at least 3″ of MASTER NURSERY PLANTING MIX into the top 6″-12″ of soil; you’ll need 3 bags for each 50 square feet of planting area. In addition, incorporate two pounds of MASTER NURSERY 0-10-10 to encourage root and stem growth, and two pounds Iron Sulfate to buffer the soil pH.

Choose “Certified Potatoes”
Our potatoes have been inspected to assure they are disease-free and are ready to be planted in your garden. Potatoes purchased from the Supermarket have been treated with a sprouting retardant making them marginal for use in the garden. Choose from our improved selection which includes many of the popular new colored varieties.

Cut and Dry the Potatoes
Cut the potatoes into chunky 1 ½” square pieces with at least two eyes. Spread them in a single layer (cut side up) and allow to air dry at least overnight, until the cut surfaces are dry to the touch. The air dried cut pieces are less likely to rot in the cool wet soil. Dusting with sulfur before planting will further decrease the chance of disease infection.

Form rows that are 4″ deep and 2′ apart. Set the seed potato pieces in rows, cut side down, 12″ – 18″ apart. Do not plant if the soil is very wet, but be sure to water thoroughly after planting.

Hilling Up
The potatoes will form above, not below, the planted pieces. When the plants reach 5″ – 6″ tall, draw up loose soil (or a soil/straw mix) around the plants so that only 2″ of stem is exposed. Hill soil up again in 2-3 weeks. This gives the potatoes a light soil to expand into as they grow.

Water & Feed
After growth begins, give the plants regular deep watering (once per week). Feed potatoes monthly with MASTER NURSERY TOMATO AND VEGETABLE FOOD, a balanced fertilizer.

This along with the MASTER NURSERY 0-10-I0 and Iron Sulfate incorporated at planting completes the nutritional requirements.

Dig early or “new” potatoes when plant tops begin to flower, dig mature potatoes when tops die down. Dig carefully to avoid bruising or cutting the potatoes. Store in a dark place at approximately 40 degrees.

As always, check with one of our California Certified Nursery Professionals if you have any further questions.

What you will need:

Master Nursery Planting Mix
Master Nursery Tomato & Vegetable Food
Master Nursery 0-10-10
Iron Sulfate

Grow Potatoes in Fabric Pots

fabric-pot-potatoHave you ever tasted potatoes fresh dug from the garden?  The taste is incomparable to store bought types and growing in a bag or container is very easy.

We have fabric growing pots that have several advantages over conventional garden growing. They drain well and they are easy to harvest.

These fabric planting pots are made with a spun fabric that feels like felt.  The pots drain well, they allow air into the roots and cause the roots to “self-prune” as they hit the edge of the pot. Roots normally hit the wall of a container and simply turn to wrap around the inside of the pot. With fabric pots, the roots prune themselves when they hit the air and they branch instead of turn.

Fabric pots also have the advantage of remaining cool in the sun.  Normal plastic containers can reach hard-to-touch temperatures on a hot day, but fabric pots breathe, releasing the heat.

Grow your Potatoes the Easy Way!

Cut seed potatoes into chunks having at least 2 eyes each. Allow the pieces to dry and callous at least overnight.

Fill the container about 1/3 full with a 50/50 mixture of Master Nursery Bumper Crop and either garden soil, or Master Nursery Potting Soil.

Plant one seed potato for each 3 gallons of fabric pot capacity. For the #15 container, for example, plant 5 seed potatoes. For the #10 container, plant 3 or 4 seed potatoes. Place the seed potatoes evenly in the container.

Water the soil thoroughly. It should be moist but not soggy.

Soon, you will see little stems pop through the soil. Mound up more soil/compost mix, but do not to cover the leaves. The leaves need sun and air exposure.

As the potatoes continue growing, keep adding the soil/compost mix until you reach the top of the container.

Mid to late summer the potato leaves and stems will begin to turn yellow. Timing will vary somewhat depending on the potato variety.

When the foliage has died back and the weather is cooler, stop all watering about 2 weeks prior to harvest. The leaves and stems will turn almost completely yellow. You are ready to harvest.

Don’t use a spade or sharp instrument! Pull out all the stems and leaves, wearing gloves. Dig in and find your hidden potatoes.

Arrange potatoes in a single row for a day and allow to dry. Then brush off the soil. Store potatoes in a cool, dry area with good ventilation. Do not store potatoes in the refrigerator!

Bag Care
Fabric containers are reusable! Shake out any extra soil and allow the container to dry. Store in a dry location until you are ready to start again next spring.

Read more about growing potatoes.

Grow your own Luscious Fruit

Warm, juicy fruit picked fresh from your personal backyard orchard and garden will cause your taste buds to stand up and clamor for more! Nothing could be easier and it doesn’t require acres just a small plot in the garden. Today’s multi-grafted fruit trees and high-density plantings should give you plenty of tasty fruit to enjoy.

We have a tremendous inventory of fruit trees, berries, and grapes available for your selection. All of our trees are pre-planted in biodegradable pots which stop damage to the roots and prevents them from drying out.

Try rhubarb, raspberry, blackberry, blueberry, and many other fruits, small and large. All those luscious fruit pies start this winter with bare root starts.

Remember fruit trees are very versatile in the garden. They provide shade, hide unwanted views and provide seasonal color as well. Grow an espaliered apple or pear along your fence or wall, train a grape or kiwi up over an arbor or trellis, plant a dwarf peach or apple in a container on your deck. If space is limited a multi-grafted tree producing different varieties of the same fruit could be the answer – it will give you a summer of fruit!

Try a tasty pluot, peach or nectarine. We have many, many varieties of peaches and nectarines – white or yellow, sweet and juicy ripening from May through September and multiple varieties of grapes – black, red and white, seedless or not, to keep your table supplied from July to October.

So come in and meet our expert staff. Whether you have space for a whole orchard or just a single tree, come in and see our extensive selection and soon you’ll be picking ripe fruit from your garden.

Your Edible Landscape – By Nancy McNeish

This year Alden Lane features a monthly look at growing edible plants in your home landscape, beginning with fruit trees.

My neighbor’s tree has large, dark green, leathery leaves which are deeply lobed. It is a smallish tree, more like a dense, full bush, and graces the walkway up to the front door. Best of all are the rich black fruits with a sweet strawberry-colored interior which ripen twice a year and are eagerly collected by another neighbor. It is a ‘Black Mission’ fig, a tree cultivated in California since the Spanish settled here.

Mission Fig is but one of many varieties of attractive, productive, edible plants suitable for growing in your front yard. Following my neighbor’s lead, I now have a ‘Violette de Bordeaux’ fig growing in my front yard. It produced its first fruits the autumn after I planted it.

I also have a glossy-leaved navel orange, a multi-graft pluot, and a dwarf peach/nectarine growing among my other front yard landscape plants. And why not? My south and west exposures are ideal, and the fruit trees are just as attractive as more traditional landscape plants. Sweet homegrown fruits are the reward.

Mid to late January is the ideal time to select and plant your favorite fruit tree from our abundant selection. Roots establish more quickly in winter moist soils, and new green shoots will quickly follow. Alden Lane’s “Fruit Picks” for ­delicious and beautiful deciduous (leafless in winter) fruit trees:

Apple – Columnar ‘Northpole’ and ‘Scarlet Sentinel’ are strikingly handsome accents for small spaces.
Cherry – Frothy late white flowers yield early fruits. Try all around champ ‘Lapins’.
Peach – Cute as a bug dwarf ‘Garden Sun’ or ‘Pix Zee’ forms lush, tropical looking bushes.
Pear – Choose disease resistant ‘Harrow Delight’ or ‘Warren’ for clouds of white spring blossoms and heavenly flavor
Persimmon – Easy to grow with showy fruits which light up the autumn landscape. Enjoy the large fruits of ‘Giant Fuyu’
Plum – Gorgeous ‘Weeping Santa Rosa’ combines flowing fountain form and classic, rich, dark fruits
Pluot – Kick the sweet up a notch with ‘Flavor King’, a naturally smaller tree or ‘Splash’, with very sweet orange-colored fruit

See our Backyard Orchard Page