Prevent Citrus Leafminer

obj6014geo3317pg352p7[1]Watch for Citrus Leafminer
Citrus leafminers have been regular visitors to Tri-Valley gardens over the past few years. They burrow into the citrus leaf and cause extensive damage to tender new growth. The leafminers thrive in the fresh new growth that is occurring now. Leaf

Leafminers originate when the tiny adult moth lays her eggs, they hatch, and the leafminer or larva burrows below the leaf surface. Hiding out between the upper and lower leaf surfaces makes Leafminers hard to control with sprays. Younger trees are especially vulnerable. Older trees, having a lot of older, tougher leaves should be fine without treatment but younger trees can be especially hard hit as most of their leaves are susceptible to damage.

As we come up on that time of year when prevention can be the best cure, we are getting the word out regarding what can be done to lessen the negative impact while there is time to take preventative steps.

Discouraging an over- abundance of new growth can be helpful in reducing damage. Plants that are watered more than 2x a week, and those receiving excessive fertilizing are more likely to produce the soft foliage that leafminers favor. Our grower recommends a steady, light supply of citrus food monthly as opposed to heavier feedings 3 times a year, as is common.

Hang Leafminer traps to detect proper time for spraying.

Hanging Leafminer traps can be an effective tool for knowing when to spray… hang traps in at least one of your citrus trees and monitor frequently so you can spot the arrival of adult moths.

Of greatest concern when applying any pesticide is protecting bees. Only apply pesticides after the citrus trees have bloomed so bees are not drawn to pollen while the tree is being treated. Citrus trees, for the most part, have long past their bloom period now, but pinching out flower buds if they appear after spraying will prevent the bees from visiting a plant that has been treated.

captain-jacks-rtuCaptain Jack’s is our go to organic spray. It has shown to be an effective treatment for the leafminer, especially when applied between the time adult moths arrive and young leafminers are visible.

Citrus trees are clothed in new foliage. Watch for activity then spray every 10-14 days. Watch closely for leafminer activity and pinch out effective leaves as soon as damage is detected.

Tasty Tropicals

Vivid green kiwis, buttery avocados, red strawberry guavas, plump passion fruits . . . all grown at home. Wait – what? You mean we can grow luscious tropical fruits right here in the Tri-Valley? I thought our Sunset Zone 14 (USDA Zone 9) winters were too cold for tropicals!

While it’s true we are a bit too cold for many truly tropical plants which come from a climate with nary a frost, with a little imagination and shift in our thinking we can grow lots of similar fruits which can withstand a bit of cold below 32 degrees. Many of these are from sub-tropical regions of the world. Not only will you be adding delicious treats to your yard, you also gain gorgeous assets in your landscape.

Lots of theses plants will look right at home in a landscape themed with layers of palms, large-leaved shrubs, and bright, hot flower colors, straight from your most recent vacation to the tropics. Plant them in sheltered spots in your yard – up close to your house on the south or the east side is a good spot for the most frost tender. Most like a minimum of six hours of sunshine to produce well. And think frost protection for at least the first few years – cover with frost blankets over the tops and down to the ground, and/or wrap with small incandescent Christmas lights for extra warmth.

Try growing a couple of these juicy edible tropicals:

  • Avocados – yes, challenging, but can be done! Pick a sheltered spot, and choose one of the hardier Mexican varieties, like ‘Stewart’, ‘Mexicola Grande’, ‘Fuerte’, or ­‘Zutano’. They ripen 6 to 8 months after flowering.
  • Bananas – though you won’t harvest any fruit, what a great accent plant, and probably the best way to grow your own plates!
  • Guavas – so many sub-tropical varieties! They are beautiful, small scale, easy to grow, evergreen trees or large shrubs which deserve a place in every yard. Consider flavors like Pineapple ‘Nazemetz’ or ‘Coolidge’; Strawberry; Lemon; Chilean with its fine-textured little round leaves; or the stunningly beautiful variegated Chilean Guava.
  • Kiwis – funny fuzzy little fruits from down under grow on vines overhead. It takes two to produce and they need a few years to settle in. Or try self-fruitful ‘Issai’ hardy kiwi vines, which are fuzzless.
  • Limes – add some sweet/sour zest to your Mexican and Caribbean dishes. ‘Bearss’ lime is an all purpose juicy workhorse, while the smaller, rounder Mexican lime dazzles in cocktails and for eating fresh.
  • Loquat – easy growing and tropical looking with its coarse texture and serrated large leaves. Try loquat for virtually effortless clusters of fruit.        
  • Passion Fruit – exquisite, weirdo purple and white and green flowers like something off a space ship give way to green, then purple hanging orbs with sweet orangy-citrusy pulp inside. Try spooning it out.

To grow tropicals, practice good soil preparation incorporating lots of compost. We recommend Bumper Crop. Raise up planting beds, and add Sure Start at planting. Mulch well, and water deeply, allowing ­plantings to dry down a bit between soaks.

Enjoy the fruits of your labor!


Blossom End Rot on Tomatoes

Blossom End Rot

The first tomatoes to ripen in Tri-Valley gardens are often marred by a leathery brown patch of brown known as blossom end rot. Usually, blossom end rot is caused by a calcium deficiency. Spraying Monterey Foli-Cal will quickly provide the necessary calcium to reduce or eliminate this problem. You can also reduce blossom end rot by growing a larger set of roots.

Early in the season, tomato root systems are not large enough to pull an adequate supply of calcium from to soil into the leaves to meet the production needs of the plant.  Deep infrequent watering throughout the projected root zone of the plant will help establish a large network of roots to pull in calcium, other nutrients, and water from the soil.

Deep watering provides a large reserve of water in the soil below the plant. Infrequent watering forces the roots to grow larger in search of water. Short, frequent watering can hinder this process.

Get ahead of the game by spraying the leaves now with Monterey’s Foli-Cal. Foli-Cal is designed to supplement the plant’s calcium needs with foliar feeding, reducing or eliminating the condition on tomatoes.

Apply at 14-day intervals throughout the growing season.

Plants that Appeal to Kids – Kids Gardening

Kids Gardening 
Kids and gardening seem to go hand in hand. Dirt itself has a natural draw for children, as does the magic of planting a seed and discovering its power to change and morph and grow. If you have kids in your life, include them in the gardening process by planting with them or at least with them in mind. Here are some plants to include in your garden that can be of particular interest for kids!

Radishes from seed are extremely quick to germinate and grow to fruition within just 3 to 4 weeks from seed packet to table, radishes are the fastest way to illustrate the harvest cycle from start to finish.

Marigolds planted from seed have child appeal partly due to the bright orange or yellow color and also for the distinct odor of the crushed leaf. Do you remember your first marigold? Marigolds are also interesting because as the flower fades, the center can be tugged away to reveal the seeds forming. These can be dried and planted again (and again), teaching in a simple way the circle of life.

Cherry Tomatoes
They pop in your mouth, bite-sized, juicy and growing at just the right height to harvest whenever a child needs a natural snack. The tomato called “Sungold” is a good choice; it grows like a vine and can cover a trellis or arbor in a season.

Cosmos grows to produce enormous (from a kids’ perspective) flowers with cartoon-like petals, some cosmos can also reach 6 feet high, which means you can plant a forest of them if given a large plot.


Sunflowers are awe-inspiring both in the garden or as a cut flower on the table. Plant the huge “Mammoth gray” but don’t overlook the smaller branching ones like Autumn Shades that can be cut for a bouquet.

Birdhouse Gourds are very large vines that need a hefty support. Amazing forts and shade-covered structures can be created with the vine. The gourds follow large white flowers and remain on the vine till frost. It can be dried and carved next year.

It goes without saying pumpkins have child appeal. The value of a pumpkin planted and harvested from one’s own garden is immeasurably more memorable and valuable than one purchased from the supermarket.

Mint a little underfoot will fill the air with the fragrance of so many familiar sweets. Tuck some in a shady spot near the hose spigot where it will soak up the spills. Beware! It travels and spreads if you are not looking; best to grow in a pot.



Thyme is easy to grow and full of the familiar scent of pizza. It is always good to show kids that their food comes from the earth. Vegetable and herb gardens drive this point home.

There are dozens more options for growing a kids’ garden. These suggestions don’t even need to be placed in a designated “kids’ garden area”. Pumpkins and tomatoes can grow right in with the roses and perennials. The basic idea is to enrich the lives of the little set and provide some memories that will linger with them!

Raised Bed Vegetable Gardening

Raised Bed Kits &  EarthBoxes

Growing vegetables in raised beds solve several problems and make gardening more productive and more rewarding. Our heavy clay soil can be tough to work and slow to drain. Adding compost helps on both of these fronts.  Using a raised bed with well-improved soil allows one to garden in a deep friable earth that drains well, plants love and does not require too much bending over to maintain.

The benefits of raised bed gardening over conventional row gardening include being able to give your plants the perfect soil mix, allowing for easier weeding and the ability to block gophers (Using hardware mesh across the bottom of the bed). We sell redwood raised bed kits in 2 sizes, 2’x4’x16″ and 4’x8’x16″.

EarthboxWe also sell EarthBoxes which have many of the same benefits as raised beds… They are self-contained systems, so they use water very wisely and grow more produce in a smaller space.  We are all surprised at how much produce you can harvest from a single EarthBox.

June Vegetable Gardening Guide

Vegetable Plant Time Amount
(family of 4)
Special Notes Plant Now
Artichoke Year ’round 3 – 4 plants Permanent, perennial.
4″ Pots
Beans, lima May – June 15 – 25 ft. row Suitable for a small garden if compact varieties are grown.
from seed
Beans, String April – May Then later again in July and August 15 – 25 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
Cantaloupes/Other melons April – June 5 – 10 hills Soil must be warm.
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 Starts or Seeds
Chives Year ’round 1 clump Suitable for a small garden if compact varieties are grown.
From Starts or Seeds
Corn, sweet April – July 20 – 30 ft. row Can be planted more than once/year for a continuous harvest. Soil must be warm.
From Starts or Seeds
Cucumbers April – July 6 plants N/A
From Seeds
Eggplant April – June 4 – 6 plants Suitable for a small garden if compact varieties are grown.
From Starts
Florence Fennel June – August 10 – 15 ft. row Grown for it’s bulbous base. Sensitive to root disturbances.
From Starts
Parsley Year ’round 1 – 2 plants Suitable for a small garden if compact varieties are grown.
From Starts
Parsnips May – July 10 – 15 ft. row N/A
Peppers April – July 5 – 10 plants Suitable for a small garden if compact varieties are grown
From Starts
Pumpkins April – June 1 – 3 plants N/A
From Starts or Seeds
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
Squash, summer April – July 2 – 4 plants Suitable for a small garden if compact varieties are grown.
From Starts or seeds
Squash, winter June – September 2 – 4 plants Known as winter Squash because it stores over winter but it grows in summer-fall.
From Starts or seeds
Strawberries June – September 12+ plants Bare root in November – 6-Pack arriving in Feb.
Tomatoes March – July 6 – 10 plants Suitable for a small garden if compact varieties are grown. Weather permitting, starting in March is possible.
From Starts
Turnips February – August 10 – 15 ft. row Suitable for a small garden if compact varieties are grown.
From Seed
Watermelons April – June 6 plants N/A
From Starts or Seeds


Summer Vegetable Gardening

veggs[1]Nurture and Support your Growing Vegetables

Many gardeners have planted their vegetable gardens and are looking forward to tasty, mouth-watering tomatoes, snappy beans, sweet corn or crunchy peppers.  Take action now to improve the quality of harvest and prolong it, too!

First, fertilize the vegetable garden with Master’s Tomato and Vegetable Food or E.B. Stone Organic Tomato and Vegetable Fertilizer. Remember it’s better to under fertilize than over fertilize. And never feed a thirsty plant. Water the garden thoroughly the day before feeding.

Water established tomato plants deeply and less frequently. These plants have deep roots and frequent watering encourages plant growth without much fruit production.

Water Cucumbers more often. Cucumbers need to be kept evenly moist to help prevent them from being bitter.

Train cucumbers, squash and pole beans to climb trellises or poles to save space.

When harvesting your first fruits, pick the fruit on the small size. This will give you a sweeter, milder tasting vegetable. For tangy peppers, pick when green, or wait until they are red for sweetness.

Control garden pests before they control you! Snails and slugs are out in force, as well as earwigs, cutworms, whiteflies, and tomato hornworms. Sluggo provides slug and snail protection and Sluggo Plus adds insect control. Both these products are listed for organic gardening. Captain Jacks (also organic) is suitable for insects and caterpillars and leaf-eating worms and Take Down for small sucking insects.

For those who have not yet planted a vegetable garden, It’s not too late!

June is a great month to plant a vegetable garden. Alden Lane has a good selection of vegetables in various sizes that will help you establish a garden quickly. Gallon size vegetables provide several weeks head start compared to seeds or seedlings.

Stop by the nursery and let us get you growing this season!



Planting and Growing Citrus

Citrus are the most versatile of the trees and shrubs that grow in our valley. They can be grown as specimens, in hedges, as espalier or in containers. Citrus plants offer beautiful foliage, decorative fruit, and fragrant flowers. Growing citrus can be easy; the difficulty is in selecting the variety which you will enjoy the most.

Growing Citrus

Choosing the Site
citrus-planting-diagramCitrus prefer a hot south or west facing location with good draining soil. Test how well the soil drains by digging a 1’x1′ hole. Fill it with water. The water must be gone in 24 hours. Citrus should not be planted in a low or soggy spot that has poor drainage or in a lawn. If the water does not drain it may be necessary to raise the overall soil level by creating a mound or building a planting box or look for an alternate planting location. An open-bottom-box measuring 3’x3′ wide and 8″ deep makes a great raised bed. A reflective wall or fence is helpful and planting a citrus under the south or west facing eve of the house will provide some important protection from winter cold temperatures.

Preparing the Planting Hole
Dig a hole three times as wide as the root ball and just as deep as the root ball. The edges of the planting hole should then be dug out deeper than the center to accommodate additional soil amendments. (See Illustration)

Improve the existing soil from the planting hole with Master Nursery Acid Planting Mix at a ratio of 75% Planting mix to 25% existing soil. To this improved soil, add the appropriate amount of Master Nursery Master Start and Osmocote Slow Release Fertilizer, mix thoroughly.

Plant by carefully removing it from its container. Gently rough the outer edges of the root ball if the soil is tight, and place it in the hole so that the top of the root ball rests slightly higher than the existing ground level (never place any soil above the root ball, covering the stem). Back-fill around the root ball with the improved soil mixture. Tamp to compress the soil as you go. Use some of the extra soil to build a circular dam around the new plant to hold a generous quantity of irrigation water.

Water the plant thoroughly after you have finished planting it. Let the water soak in, and then water again. Citrus plants need less frequent watering than most garden plants. Give it a deep soak once or, at most twice a week, depending on the weather, (frequent watering is the most common cause of failure with citrus). However, to preserve the crop, never let the plant dry out during the bloom & pea-sized fruit stages.


Prevent Worms in Cherries

Spotted Wing Drosophila or Cherry Fruitfly is affecting cherries and other soft-bodied fruits such as berries in California.  Numerous gardeners have complained about finding the little white worms in cherries just at harvest time.

These worms are the larvae of a fruit fly that has been a pest in Japan for decades but somehow made it to the US.  It has no known enemies in the US, so it has spread, unchecked, like wildfire.  This pest has turned up in raspberries, strawberries, and blueberries, but especially Cherries.

The University of California at Davis has guidelines for dealing with the past so homeowners can preserve their harvests.  For a detailed look at the problem check out the UC website:

Summarizing the approach suggested is as follows:

Good control can be achieved with a few well-timed pesticide sprayings beginning when the earliest maturing variety in the orchard is just starting to turn from green to straw-colored.

Spray trees using Spinosad or Malathion. Spinosad is Organic and has been seen to yield successful results, so it’s the preferred solution

Traps should also be set to determine if the fruit flies are present. Directions for making traps are included in links below.

It has been said that no treatment is effective unless the entire tree can be sprayed.

Helpful Links

Oregon State Extension has a nice collection of videos to help wth the control of Spotted Wing Drosophila Fly.



Planting Cucumbers, Melons & Pumpkins

Join us on May 13th at 10:00 a.m. as we discuss planting your melons, cucumbers, and pumpkins. We will also cover the subject of fungus control.

  • Top Cucumbers: Diva • Japanese • Persian • Lemon; Spaced two feet apart.
  • Top Pumpkins: Atlantic Giant • Howden’s Best • New England Pie • Jack B’ Little; Spaced five feet apart (plant pumpkins from seed through mid-June).
  • Top Melons: Ambrosia • Hale’s Best • Cantaloupe; Spaced five feet apart.

Conditions: All like sunny conditions, however, cucumbers can use support along a fence or trellis. Pumpkins and Melons prefer lots of room to grow. They will spread out from the center with large leaves filling any available space about a foot from the ground.

Planting Times: Try to plant seeds 1-2 weeks after the average last frost, but only if the weather will be consistently warm for a week (2-4 weeks for pumpkins). They prefer to start when the soil temperature is warm; during April-May. Any sprouted seedlings in a cell pack can be put in the ground right away. This allows them the time to acclimate to their new home.

Soil: 50% native soil, 50% Bumpercrop®

Water and Feeding: Regular water (3x per week). Keep cucumbers evenly moist to prevent bitter fruitGive new plants a gentle boost with E.B. Stone’s Organic Starter Fertilizer®, then feed monthly with Master Nursery Tomato and Vegetable Food® or E.B. Stone’s Organic Tomato and Vegetable Fertlizer®. Apply the fertilizer sparsely around the base of the plant. It can be mixed into the soil or left underneath a thick layer of mulch.

Prevention: To prevent weeds, use Concern Organic Weed Preventer. Apply to soil surface right after planting and water in. Add mulch to further reduce weed growth. A thick layer of mulch will make it easier to remove weeds and provides insulation for your soil. For weed elimination, spray weeds with undiluted distilled vinegar. Take care to not get vinegar on veggie leaves.

Solution to Common Problems: Cucumbers: Careful pruning and training on a trellis will lead to a stronger network of stems to support your large cucumbers. Allow spiders a home in between stems, or let loose some ladybugs or praying mantis on your plants to eat potential pests. Pumpkins & Melons: Mulch will prevent mud from splashing onto your pumpkins & melons. (Use organic veggie fertilizer to feed your pumpkins monthly and make them grow even bigger!)

Pest Control: Sprinkle soil/mulch surface with pet-safe Sluggo®. Place a SLUGX® container under the leaves using beer as an attractant and pest-killer. Bird netting can deter both birds and small animals from nibbling on your cucumbers.

Support: Cucumbers: Use big stakes connected with bird netting to create a fine trellis that doubles as an animal repellent. They are naturally curly on the ground when grown without a trellis. Pumpkins & Melons: Keep them on a flat even surface to minimize gravity’s effect on their shape.

Harvesting: Cucumbers: Begin growing in the summer around July and should be harvested before they get too mature. Use pruning shears to cut the stem an inch from the fruiting body. Pumpkins & Melons: (depending on their planting time and desired size) Use a Razor Tooth Pruning Saw to harvest your pumpkins from late summer to early winter, and your melons from late summer to fall.

Reference for planting times: