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

How to Prune Fruit Trees and Roses and More

martinpbookOur favorite reference book for pruning is, “How to Prune Fruit Trees” by Robert Sanford Martin.

It is a great little book packed a wealth of information covering virtually every type of fruit tree and fruiting vine that home gardeners will encounter. It explains how each type of tree produces fruit and what pruning is required to help, not hinder fruit production.

Every fruit tree owner should have a copy. The book also covers grapes, berries, and roses. We have several copies of this book in stock.

Speaking of Pruning;

Pruning Demonstrations – Alden Lane Nursery

Join us on Saturday, January 14th for our ever popular ROSE CARE & PRUNING SEMINAR led by the Mt. Diablo Rose Society from 10 – 11:00 a.m. – Seminar will cover proper pruning techniques, feeding, and general care or roses.

Saturday, January 21st from 10:00 – 11:00 a.m. ROSE CARE & PRUNING SEMINAR – by Gerry, Alden Lane staff member. – This seminar will cover proper pruning techniques, feeding, and general care or roses.

Saturday, January 21st from 1:00 – 2:00 p.m. GRAPE PRUNING with expert, Jim Ryan.

Saturday, January 28th from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. for the last PRUNING BASICS CLASS. Learn the basics to shape deciduous trees and shrubs, prune fruit trees properly, or get any of your own pruning questions answered.

Fruit Trees are Arriving

Most of our fruit tree shipments have arrived, (Special order fruit trees are yet to come). The process of moving trees into pots and then onto the nursery grounds is progressing.

Plan for a bountiful harvest using principles designed for homeowners. Don’t plan home orchards like commercial orchards!

Backyard Orchards Are Not Commercial Orchards
For years, most of the information about growing fruit came from commercial orchards that advocated methods promoting maximum size for maximum yield but required 12-foot ladders for pruning, thinning and picking, and 400 to 600 square feet of land per tree. Tree spacings had to allow for tractors and heavy automated equipment. Most people today do not need or expect commercial results from their backyard fruit trees. A commercial grower would never consider using his commercial methods on a residential backyard, and neither should a homeowner.

Prolonged Harvest of Tree-ripe Fruit From a Small Space
This means planting close together several or many fruit varieties which ripen at different times and keeping the trees small by summer pruning. Homeowners today have less space for fruit trees, less time to take care of them, and less time to process or preserve large crops than in the past. Accordingly, today’s backyard orchards should be planned and managed differently.

High-Density Planting and Successive Ripening
Maximizing the length of the fruit season means planting several (or many) fruit varieties with different ripening times. Because of the limited space available to most homeowners, this means using one or more of the techniques for close-planting and training fruit trees; two, three or four trees in one hole, espalier, and hedgerow are the most common of these techniques. Four trees instead of one can provide ten to twelve weeks of fruit instead of only two or three.

Close-planting Restricts Tree Vigor – Helping Dwarf Trees Naturally
Trees won’t grow as big when there are competing trees close by. Close-planting works best when rootstocks of similar vigor are planted together. For example, for a four-in-one-hole planting, four trees of the same rootstock would be easier to maintain than a combination of different rootstocks.

Planting More Varieties Means Better Cross-pollination
In our climate, this can also mean more consistent production of pears, apples, plums and cherries.

Typical High-Density Planting Option Diagrams

Planting Description

Planting Diagram

Area Dimensions: 8′ x 8′
Number of Holes: 1
Number of Trees: 2
Distance Apart: 18 inches

Area Dimensions: 5′ x 10′
Number of Trees: 2 (espaliered)
Area Dimensions: 10′ x 10′
Number of Holes: 1
Number of Trees: 4
Distance Apart: 18 inches

Area Dimensions: 10′ x 20′
Number of Holes: 2
Number of Trees: 8
Distance Apart: 18 inches (in each set)

The key things to remember are you do not need a lot of space and that you can plant multiple trees and even different kinds of trees in a space that the old methods would have told you was not possible.

These are just some sample diagrams to show you how high-density planting can work in your own backyard, and, in fact, you do not even need a backyard. You can create your own functional, practical orchard on a patio or you can use containers and plant your “backyard orchard” on a sunny balcony.

Many backyard orchard possibilities exist using these new, but proven, methods. Come in and spend a few minutes with your Alden Lane Fruit Tree professional to learn your options for your particular space, lifestyle and backyard orchard goals.


January Vegetable Guide

Vegetable Plant Time Plants for a family of 4 Special Notes Plant Now
Artichoke Year ’round 3 – 4 plants Permanent, perennial. Bareroot 
Asparagus January – February 30 – 40 plants Permanent, perennial. Pick up free planting guide. Bareroot 
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
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
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
Chives Year ’round 1 clump 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
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
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  November – March 30 – 40 ft. row Suitable for a small garden if compact varieties are grown. starts
Parsley Year ’round 1 – 2 plants Suitable for a small garden if compact varieties are grown. 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
Potatoes January – March 50 – 100 ft. row Arriving Early January for planting through mid-March
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
Rhubarb December – February 2 – 3 plants Bare root in November – January, Canned in February – April and again in September and October. Bareroot
Spinach September – January 10 – 20 ft. row Suitable for a small garden if compact varieties are grown. From Starts or Seeds
Strawberries June – September 12+ plants Bare root in November – 6-Pack arriving in March. Bareroot after 11-12


pixdfig[1]Fig trees are among the easiest fruit trees that can be grown.  They grow happily in the ground or containers, making them perfect for all kinds of gardeners; they also look great with bold textured, tropical-like leaves spring through fall. They need to be planted in an area with good drainage where they will receive full sun, at least eight hours a day.

In the past, we brought fig trees into the nursery in January with the bare root fruit trees, but figs would prefer not to go through the trauma of bare root transplanting. We now have a very large assortment of fig trees grown in liners, which means they have undisturbed roots and they transplant very well.  All are self-fruitful, very water-wise and long-lived.

Fig Varieties

Black Jack Black Jack
Large, purplish-brown figs with sweet, juicy, strawberry red flesh. Harvest August to October in Central California. Naturally small (semi-dwarf) tree. Suitable for planting in a large container, or in the ground planting.
Black Mission
Black Mission
The favorite. Purplish-black skin, strawberry – colored flesh, rich flavor. Heavy bearing, large tree. Coast or inland.
Brown Turkey
Brown Turkey
Large, brown skin, pink flesh. Sweet, rich flavor, used fresh. Widely adapted – coast or inland climate. Small tree, prune to any shape.
Large, light greenish-yellow ‘white’ skin, amber flesh. Vigorous. Prune to any shape. Very sweet fruit needs hot weather to ripen.