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.

Dormant Spray for Fungus Control

February into Spring (About Valentines)
The timing of the dormant spray  spring sprayings for various fruit trees can be crucial and focuses on fungus control.

Leaf curl on nectarines and peaches is controlled with an application of  Bonide Liquid Copper Fungicide when flower buds swell but before they show any color.

To control brown rot and shot hole fungus on stone fruits, spray Bonide Liquid Copper Fungicide when the buds crack and show color, then again 2 weeks later.

For control of fire blight in apples and pears, (if your trees have a history of fire blight,) Spray with Bonide Liquid Copper Fungicide every 5 days during the bloom cycle.

Additional spring spraying will minimize wormy apples & pears. To properly time these sprayings, hang Codling Moth Traps in one of your fruit trees just before blossom time. When codling moths first appear (usually when about 3/4 of the flower petals have fallen from the tree), wait one week and spray with GardenTech Sevin once, and then spray weekly with Captain Jack’s Spinosad mixed with Bonide All season Spray Oil for 2-3 weeks.

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


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.

January Pruning

What to Prune When

pruning[1]We have officially entered pruning season. Most leafless plants are fair game for pruning right now…exception: Plants like ornamental flowering cherries and plums lilac, hydrangeas that bloom once a year and are leafless now should only be pruned just after they bloom…(otherwise you will be cutting off next spring’s blooms). Most other plants, including roses, fruit trees, Japanese maples and shade trees can be pruned in December and January. Say “can” be pruned as opposed to “must ” be pruned because many plants are fine with little or no pruning. Take advantage of our upcoming free pruning classes, listed below.

Upcoming Pruning Classes

Learn the basics to shape deciduous trees and shrubs, prune fruit trees properly, or get any of your own pruning questions answered. Call 925 447-0280 to register for classes.

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.

Saturday, February 4th from 1-2 pm. Get Your Maples Ready For Spring!
Join Japanese Maple expert, Barry Hoffer – He will discuss proper pruning, in-ground and container planting along with root pruning.  There’s something for everyone. Call to reserve your spot in this informational class. Call 925 447-0280

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 Garden Checklist

checkbox 2017 Roses are arriving every day! Come select early to get growing.

checkbox Choose your Camellias now! Seeing is believing, so choose now while they are in bloom. The selection is great and you’ll be able to pick just the right color for your winter garden.

checkbox Move your living tree outdoors. Care for other holiday gift plants such as azaleas and camellias by placing them outside where they will thrive in cooler temperatures.

checkbox Seed Potatoes are available in early-January. Choose from certified disease-free white, red and russet, blue and gold varieties. Harvest new potatoes when plants begin to bloom in June and more mature potatoes when plants begin to die down in midsummer. Pick up our handy planting guide.

checkbox Feed the lawn monthly even during cold winter months. This not only maintains its attractive green color all winter it also minimizes rust disease and other problems resulting from malnutrition. Masters Fall and Winter Lawn Fertilizer is especially formulated for the winter season.

checkbox The Berries are looking awesome this year! In stock now, we have Olallie Blackberries, Raspberries, Huckleberries, and Blueberries. In addition to all of our berries, we also have Currants, Olives, Kiwis and Grapes. This is the best time to shop for the best selection.

checkbox Coming end of January, please look for our full line of Fruit Trees. From Apples to Walnuts and everything in-between. This really is the best time for selection and planting of Berries, Grapes, Figs, Pomegranates and Fruit trees. Come on by and let our Professional Alden Lane Nursery staff help you select and give you the very best advice on how to plant and care for your trees. We are here to see you through so you get a wonderful harvest year after year.

checkbox Spray Your Roses Now. An application of dormant oil just after winter rose pruning will help reduce pest populations by smothering over-wintering eggs. Spraying fungicides, as well, will halt diseases such as rust, blackspot and powdery mildew. Bonide All Seasons Spray Oil is listed for use on organic gardens.

checkbox Protect frost tender plants when frosts are expected. Spray with Cloud Cover and for added protection drape frost tender plants with Fast Start Plant Blanket Fabric. Try not to let the covering material rest on the plant. String non-LED Christmas tree lights on your frost tender plants when a freeze is expected. The warmth from the bulbs will provide another measure of protection.

checkbox Prune most fruit trees, roses and other leafless trees and shrubs from December through January. WARNING: Do not prune spring blooming shrubs and trees such as lilac, quince, flowering cherry, etc. until the blooming period is over.

checkbox Keep up your New Year’s Resolution . . . join the Livermore-Amador Valley Garden Club ( and the Mt. Diablo Rose Society (

checkbox Think Strawberry shortcake! This is the month to plant perennial vegetables and fruits. You can set our strawberries, rhubarb, raspberry, blackberry and many other cane fruits.

checkbox If you like asparagus, horseradish and artichokes we have starts for those too. Come by and let us help you choose your favorites.
Prevent crabgrass in your lawn before it starts. Apply Bonide Crabgrass & Weed Preventer now to prevent crabgrass seeds from sprouting.


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.



Pomegranates are of course a delicious and juicy fruit but they are also a beautiful water-saving landscape shrub or small tree. They are perfectly happy in our warm sunny climate, producing showy orange-red blooms in summer followed by beautiful bright red fruits that ripen in late fall. There are several varieties of Pomegranates to choose from including Wonderful, Pink Satin, and Eversweet.

A look through the garden on a spring or summer day will seldom turn up a pest on a pomegranate they are basically free of pests or disease.

pomegranate-smallThey are also healthy. The juice around the seeds is laden with antioxidants, very delicious and a delight to eat. Fruit can be juiced and the seeds removed through a strainer if you object to a mouthful of edible seeds. Pomegranates are great for jelly making.

All pomegranates are long-lived, self-fruitful and they are also naturally water-wise; they can be grown in any well-drained soil.


Medium to large size fruit with pale pink skin. Large seeds with exceptionally sweet, amber-pink juice. Good source of antioxidants. Inland or coastal climate.

Very sweet, virtually seedless fruit. (Even immature fruits are sweet.) Red skin, clear (non-staining) juice. Harvest late summer through fall. Coast or inland. 8-10 ft. arching shrub, or train as tree or espalier. Large, showy, orange-red flowers.

Pink Satin
Medium to large size, medium pink to dark red fruit with medium to large, light-pink edible seeds. Wonderful refreshing light-colored juice is non-staining, with a sweet, fruit punch flavor. The plant is vigorous and can be grown as a shrub or tree and kept any height by summer pruning. Eat fresh, juice or use in salads.

Sharp Velvet
Large sized pomegranate with a very appealing, unique mildly acid refreshing flavor. The fruit has a dark red exterior and dark seeds, the color of crushed red velvet. Upright growing plant sets huge crops of highly ornamental fruit and can be kept any height with summer pruning. Eat fresh or use in cooking.

Large, purple-red fruit with delicious, tangy flavor. Best quality in hot inland climate. Red-orange bloom, ornamental foliage.