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.



Alstroemerias or Peruvian Lilies are blooming around the nursery in a bright array of colors and their attention-getting flowers deserve a place in your garden.

Alstroemerias caught the fancy of gardeners in the 1980’s and have not stepped out of the spotlight yet. It is one of the best cut flowers on the market, often lasting 1 to 2 weeks in your home.

Alstroemeria can fill a good sized spot in your sun garden if you let them. These long-lived perennials are a reliable bloomer from spring through summer. They are available in a wide range of colors, therefore, complementing many of your other plantings.

We carry a couple of different types, Princess series include Compact growers from 10 to 18 inches, multiple color choices.

Inca Series includes taller plants from 12 to 28 inch tall. They have strong stems for great cut flowers, love wet or dry conditions and they come in yellow, purple and many more colors.


Happy Mother’s Day

We have sourced all kinds of new gift items Mom will love!

Beautiful tea and coffee mugs are here in herbal lavender prints and bird images in many colors.

Happy Wax Melts are brand new and come in heart and darling teddy bear shapes. Use in a wax warmer to scent your entire room. The fragrances are delightful and come in many different scents including Sweet Pea, Lilac, and Hydrangea.

Also, brand new are Spongelle fragrance infused sponges. They are designed to moisturize and rejuvenate the skin, from neck to toe and can be used for many washes. Bulgarian Rose, Coconut Verbena, and French Lavender can be found in our gift shop!

You’ll find wonderful Wall Art pieces from suns to geckos to sea turtles! Made out of metal and painted with UV resistant paints, you can add a colorful accent to a garden fence or wall.

We have new scarves and garden hats that make great gifts too! Ruthie’s Room is fully stocked with gift items and houseplants. Come in to see what’s new and we will wrap your gift compliments of Alden Lane!

Checklist for May Gardening

checkbox[1] Protect your cherry crop! Prevent wormy fruit. Start spraying weekly when the fruit has formed but is still green. Spinosad and Malathion are sprays to consider.

checkbox[1]Feed roses now and every two weeks for maximum rose production. Use MaxSea plus Kelp Sea Life for the trace elements and minerals.

checkbox[1] Thin apple and peach crops if too much fruit has set, you’ll get fewer but larger, juicier fruit.

checkbox[1] Timing is important for grub control. If you had trouble with grubs last summer and fall, now is the time to ready a treatment plan for prevention. Treating your lawn in May with Bonide Grub Beater or Nematodes while the grubs are young and vulnerable is best. Use Nematodes in your vegetable garden.

checkbox[1] Ladybugs and praying mantis to the rescue! Control aphids, beetles, scale, and leafhoppers naturally.

checkbox[1] Deep-root water trees and shrubs. Never depend on lawn watering to take care of trees and shrubs. Begin deep watering with a Ross Root Feeder now and continue monthly through the hot summer season. The use of soaker hoses helps deliver deep water as well.

checkbox[1] Plant 4-inch vegetable plants and save several weeks of growing time. Remember to protect them from hungry snails and slugs with pet safe Sluggo or Sluggo Plus. Both are labeled for organic gardening, both control slugs, Sluggo Plus controls insects too.

checkbox[1] Scale insects affect citrus as well as a slew of ornamentals. Adults are little stationary bumps on stems and leaves. Offspring hide beneath mother’s protective shell, venturing out as the weather warms searching for a new place to colonize. Control by spraying with Bonide All Season Spray Oil; or for tough cases on ornamental plants apply Malathion, or Captain Jack’s All Organic Spray.

checkbox[1] Do you have bugs on your vegetables? Use vegetable safe Bonide All Season Spray Oil.

checkbox[1] Prevent olive fruit set with Florel Fruit Eliminator. Spray the olive when the tree has just reached full bloom. Olive flowers are very small, so watch closely. Full bloom usually occurs in early May. Spray the whole tree thoroughly. We have the names of commercial spray companies that can help too.

checkbox[1] Mulching does wonders for your garden. As well as looking good, mulching conserves water and suppresses weeds and keeps roots cool. We suggest a mulch layer 4 inches thick. We are especially fond of Micro-bark because it looks good and breaks down relatively soon. Don’t mulch right up to the plant trunk or stem. Leave 4 to 6 inches of breathing room.

checkbox[1] Whitewash the trunks of fruit trees with Tree Trunk White. Applying a whitewash coating to the trunk will reflect heat away from the tender tissue and protect the trees.

checkbox[1] Regular feeding for Citrus. Citrus trees perform well with monthly light feedings of fertilizer specifically formulated for Citrus. This will ensure that your tree gets a nice even supply of food year round instead of occasional periods of highs or lows. We recommend Master Nursery Citrus Food, or for a completely organic approach, use E.B. Stone Citrus and Fruit Tree Fertilizer. Make quarterly applications of Iron Sulfate for optimum feeding and greening.

checkbox[1] Turflon Esther for Bermuda grass control controls that wiry-stemmed, nuisance weed Bermuda grass. It also works wonders on Oxalis, a yellow clover look-alike.

checkbox[1] Prep your roses for the second wave of bloom! Cut back and feed roses as the first set of blooms fade. Feed with Master Nursery Rose and Flower Food. Water, and stand back. Roses typically re-bloom 6 weeks after pruning and feeding. For a special treatment, feed roses with water soluble Maxsea. It can be sprayed on the leaves and gives the plant a dark glossy appearance.

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:

April Vegetable Guide

Vegetable Gardens Start This Month!

Feeling adventurous? Ready to try some new tomato varieties this year? We’ll have them!

We know there’s something to fit your taste and gardening needs. Prepare your soil with our Recipe for Good Garden Soil. If you want to plant your tomatoes in containers we’ll help you select just the right varieties.

April is a great month to start planting your vegetable garden. We have seeds, seedlings and four-inch plants to help get you going. Once the danger of frost has passed you can set out tomatoes, eggplant and pepper starts.

As temperatures warm plant watermelon, cucumbers, pumpkins, beans, and more. Melons, cucumbers, basil are very cold sensitive. We have a great selection of tomato cages, snail and bug baits, and vegetable fertilizer along with tips for good growing. Stop by and see us soon!

Vegetable Plant Time Amount
Family of 4
Special Notes Plant Now
Artichoke Year ’round 3 – 4 plants Permanent, perennial. 4″ Pots
Beans, String April – May Then later again in July and August 15 – 25 ft. row Suitable for a small garden. Can be planted more than once/year for a continuous harvest. From Starts or Seeds
Beets February – April then later again in August 10 – 15 ft. row Suitable for a small garden. Can be planted more than once/year for a continuous harvest. From 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. Can be planted more than once/year for a continuous harvest. From Seeds
Chives Year ’round 1 clump Suitable for a small garden. 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 or Starts
Eggplant April – June 4 – 6 plants Suitable for a small garden. Ok in morning sun From Starts
Parsley Year ’round 1 – 2 plants Suitable for a small garden. From Starts
Peppers April – July 5 – 10 plants Suitable for a small garden 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. 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. From Starts or seeds
Squash, winter March – September 2 – 4 plants Known as winter Squash because it stores over winter but it grows in summer-fall. From Starts or seeds
Strawberries March – September 12+ plants Bare root in November – 6-Pack arriving in Feb. 6-Packs
Tomatoes March – July 6 – 10 plants Suitable for a small garden. Weather permitting, starting in March is possible. From Starts
Turnips February – August 10 – 15 ft. row Suitable for a small garden. From Seeds
Watermelons April – June 6 plants N/A From Starts or Seeds

Protect Plants from Slugs & Snails

Snails and slugs are among the most bothersome pests in many garden and landscape situations. Snails and slugs move by gliding along on a muscular “foot”. This muscle constantly secretes mucus, which later dries to form the silvery “slime trail” that signals the presence of either pest; both pests have voracious appetites.

 Earth and pet friendly Sluggo! The base ingredient of Sluggo is naturally occurring Iron Phosphate that does a great job of controlling snails and slugs in the garden while not harming other creatures including pets and people; and as it breaks down it actually nourishes the plants.

Earth and pet-friendly Sluggo!
The base ingredient of Sluggo is naturally occurring Iron Phosphate that does a great job of controlling snails and slugs in the garden while not harming other creatures including pets and people; and as it breaks down it actually nourishes the plants.

Snails and slugs are most active at night and on cloudy or foggy days. On sunny days they seek hiding places out of the heat and bright light; often the only clues to their presence are their silvery trails and plant damage. During hot, dry periods or when it is cold, snails seal themselves off with a parchment-like membrane and often attach themselves to tree trunks, fences, or walls.

Damage they can do
Snails and slugs feed on a variety of living plants as well as on decaying plant matter. On plants, they chew irregular holes in leaves and flowers and can clip succulent plant parts. They can also chew fruit and young plant bark. Because they prefer succulent foliage or flowers, they are primarily pests of seedlings and herbaceous plants, but they are also serious pests of ripening fruits, such as strawberries, artichokes, and tomatoes, that are close to the ground. However, they will also feed on foliage and fruit of some trees; citrus is especially susceptible to damage. Look for the silvery mucous trails to confirm slugs or snails and not earwigs, caterpillars, or other chewing insects caused the damage.

Make your environment less snail and slug friendly
A good snail and slug management program relies on a combination of methods. The first step is to eliminate, to the extent possible, all places where snails or slugs can hide during the day. Boards, stones, debris, weedy areas around tree trunks, leafy branches growing close to the ground, and dense ground covers such as ivy are ideal sheltering spots. Reducing hiding places allows fewer snails and slugs to survive. The survivors will congregate in the remaining shelters, where they can more easily be located and eliminated.

Note, there will always be shelters that are not possible to eliminate e.g. low ledges on fences, the undersides of wooden decks, and water meter boxes. Just be sure to locate vegetable gardens or susceptible plants as far away from these areas as possible. This will not only protect your plants; it will also reduce the capacity of these pests to hide and proliferate.

Choose and locate plants carefully
Choose snail-proof plants for areas where snails and slugs are dense. Many plants resist damage from snails and slugs including begonias, California poppy, fuchsias, geraniums, impatiens, lantana, nasturtiums, and purple robe cupflower, and many plants with stiff leaves and highly scented foliage like lavender, rosemary, and sage. Most ornamental woody plants and ornamental grasses are also not seriously affected.

Check out our slug traps. These beer or yeast reservoirs are a great organic way of ridding your garden of these plant-eating pests. A penny apiece bounty is a great incentive for kids. Remember to tightly secure the bag before putting into the trash OR you could turn your catch into escargot.

Our Copper Tape is a good mechanical barrier that can be used to protect your plants. Use 2 widths of it to keep snails and slugs from devouring your plants.
Our Copper Tape is a good mechanical barrier that can be used to protect your plants. Use 2 widths of it to keep snails and slugs from devouring your plants.

Use barriers to protect susceptible plants
Snails and slugs favor seedlings and plants with succulent foliage and these plants must be vigilantly protected. Some plants that are seriously damaged include basil, beans, cabbage, dahlia, delphinium, lettuce, marigolds, strawberries, and many vegetable plants.

Copper barriers are effective because the copper reacts with the slime the snail or slug secretes, causing a flow of electricity — to take advantage of this just put 2 widths of copper tape around your planting beds.

Proper water management
An important tool in your anti-snail and slug arsenal is careful irrigation. Avoiding over-watering and/or using drip irrigation will reduce humidity and moist surfaces, making the habitat less favorable for these pests.

Snail and slug baits should be chosen carefully
Snail and slug baits can be effective when used properly in conjunction with a cultural program incorporating the other methods discussed above. However, baits alone will not effectively control snails or slugs in gardens that contain plenty of shelter, food, and moisture. Note, do not use salt to destroy snails and slugs; it will increase soil salinity – making the cure worse than the illness.

EarthBox Vegetable Gardening

earthbox-melonEarthBoxes are a smart option for container gardening. They are efficient water users allowing a plant to grow considerably larger than expected from such a small container, and all water goes to the plant.

EarthBoxes have been tested here and in the gardens of some of our staff and they work amazingly well.  The EarthBoxes produce more vegetables from a surprisingly small footprint because they are a growing system with moisture and fertilizer delivered slowly and regularly.  They have a plastic mulch cover and a water reservoir so no water is lost to evaporation or drainage; it all goes to the plant.

Essentially, EarthBoxes are a passive hydroponic growing system.  Water and nutrients are in place, and the plant pulls water and fertilizer as needed.
A water reservoir in the bottom of the box has an overflow vent so it’s impossible to over water.

Someone worked the bugs out of this system; it just works and if you are interested in container gardening with an eye toward water conservation, EarthBoxes have a few features that mean all of the water delivered to the plant is used by the plant; none is wasted to evaporation or runoff.

EarthBoxes are perfect for a new gardener. The experience will be rewarding and relatively trouble free.  They are also good for the gardener who has downsized and does not have space for a large garden, or who is not as able-bodied as they used to be.  Gardening with an EarthBox is easy on the body, especially if the EarthBox is raised up to waist level to eliminate bending.  Weeds are not a problem.  Come in and take a look.

Blooming Now

The nursery is alive with color, like a parade moving through town

wisteria on arbor
The Wisteria has popped into bloom over the greenhouse this week
Flowering Japanese Crabapple colors the landscape near our back deck.
California Lilac or Ceanothus bring true blue color into the garden
Loropetulum or Chinese Fringe Flower displays its colorful blooms in Spring and Fall
Snow Mound Spirea brings a bridal bouquet to the garden
Aloes are blooming with a spectacular display in our succulent garden
Emerald Carpet Manzanita is a popular native shrubby groundcover




Irrigation Checkup Time

With spring weather upon us it’s time to give your irrigation systems a seasonal look-through to confirm everything is in working order.

Bugs can plug nozzles, heads can shift out of alignment, calcium can accumulate and reduce flow. Turning everything on during daylight hours will let you see what’s working and what’s not.  The following charts can help with a thorough checkup.

Periodic Checklist

Task Annually Seasonally Monthly Notes
Change Batteries X Check connections for corrosion and battery leakage damage. Make sure transformers are working. Check for frayed or broken control wires. Verify fuses, circuit breakers, etc. are OK and the electrical supply circuit is functional.
Flush System X Remove line end caps and run water until clear.
Clean Filters X Clean screens. Replace filter elements and broken or torn filter screens.
Adjust Timer Settings X Adjust for changes in rain. Be sure to avoid zone time overlaps that will affect performance due to low pressure. Watering early in the morning saves water due to lower wind dispersal and reduced evaporation.
Visual Inspection Test X See monthly checklist below.

Monthly Checklist

Monthly Checklist
Monthly test run each valve during daylight hours and perform a visual
Checkpoint Yes No Notes
Is any water being sprayed on the street or sidewalk? We must conserve every drop.
Is there run-off of water? Some surfaces absorb less water than others. Sloping areas often need less water per time and more frequent watering to prevent run-off. Note: our hard clay-type soils may need a periodic application of Grow More EZ-Wet and Gypsum to solve chronic water run-off problems.
Are there excessively damp areas or standing water ? Shaded areas, hard clay-type soils, lower levels receiving run-off often need less water. Note: our hard clay-type soils may need a periodic application of Grow More EZ-Wet and Gypsum to solve chronic water run-off problems.
Are there obstructions preventing the water from reaching the
desired areas?
Be aware that changes in plant size and/or position or the addition or alteration of landscape items may require sprinkler adjustments.
Are there any observable leaks or breaks in the pipe?
Are any heads/emitters missing?
Do you need fewer or additional active heads/emitters? Be aware of changing needs due to changing landscapes. Sprinkler systems should be considered a seasonal work in progress rather than static.

Sometimes adding/activating or disabling heads/emitters will accomplish more than trying to adjust a single head/emitter.

Are any heads/emitters broken? If you have pop-ups make sure they rise and retract fully.
Are any heads/emitters clogged?
Are any heads/emitters pushed too far into the ground?
Are any heads/emitters tilted/spraying in the wrong direction?
Is the pressure too low? Spray not reaching all desired areas. Spray forming large water droplets. Presence of doughnut shaped dry areas. Rotor speed is too slow and/or rotors not rotating. See timer zone overlap note above. Note: choose a time in the
morning when competition for water is at a minimum — in other words, avoid
shower time.
Is the pressure too
Spray overshooting desired areas. Spray misting. Dry areas between heads. Rotor
speed is too fast and/or rotors not rotating. Heads/emitters/supply lines are leaking.
Is the timer working properly ? Confirm program settings are proper for the current season.