- Author: Tina Saravia
I learned recently that my house is in the currently quarantined section of Solano County because medflies had been found in the area. What that means is that I'm not supposed to move fruit and vegetables out of my property unless I process them first. Likewise, I should not be accepting fruits and vegetables from friends in the quarantine area, unless they've been processed. It will be hard because in my social circle, that's what we do, we share our produce.
But I have no problem following rules, especially when I understand what they mean.
Kathy Low blogged about this back in November:
So I was shocked when I found a bag of grapefruit in the house one day. A friend, who also lives in the quarantine area, gave them to my husband, who didn't have the heart to say no to a gift - never mind that he can't eat grapefruit and I don't like grapefruit.
What to do? I couldn't give them back; that would mean the fruit would travel out of my property. I couldn't eat them, well, I could but... too bitter for my taste. (Although if they were bitter melon, I'd welcome them with open arms and an empty pan ready for cooking.)
I had two choices: I could double bag them and dump them in the trash or close my eyes and eat them. Seriously, trashing was not an option - too wasteful. So I cooked them and ate them; and the experience wasn't too bad.
Lesson learned: Noli equi dentes inspicere donati. Don't look a gift horse in the mouth, or in this case you should.
- Author: Erin Mahaney
Two years ago, when life and work were particularly tumultuous, I turned to my husband and said, “Life is already chaotic; let's get a puppy!” Really. I actually said that. And we ended up with a digging dog in our newly redone backyard.
Roxy is a Bernese Mountain dog whose enormous paws are perfect for scooping and moving massive amounts of dirt. She expresses such delight as she excavates a hole and dirt goes flying! At one point, she was even scooping plants out of my larger pots. It's especially exciting when she hits a whistling drip line, which creates a fountain, which then creates a mud puddle, which apparently is the most fun of all to dig in. She is not trying to hide or escape. Rather, her digging is a picture of pure joyfulness.
While we've had several dogs, I've never had a digging dog before and so it wasn't really on my radar. At first, I chalked it up to puppy behavior and tried to redirect Roxy when we caught her digging. When it became apparent that the behavior was going to continue for a while, I researched the following reasons why dogs dig and tips for preventing digging. I'll share them in the hopes that they may help someone else with a digging dog (I'm sure I'm not the only one) preserve at least a portion of their backyard garden. Ideally, you will be able to identify the reason for your dog's digging and address the underlying cause, such as boredom, separation anxiety, looking for a cool place, hunting for prey, or other reasons. But digging is an innate canine behavior, so sometimes a digging dog just has to dig!
- Exercise. To address inactivity and excess energy that can lead to digging, a leading suggestion is to provide the dog with more exercise. This didn't really work for us, although perhaps it prevented worse behavior. Roxy already gets two walks a day of at least two to three miles each. As my husband ruefully said, “exercise only makes her stronger.” In fact, she is more prone to dig after a long, vigorous walk. She is especially energized then!
- Activities. Some dogs dig because they are bored. Provide them with toys and chews that distract them or give them a chance to work for a reward. We had limited success with this approach, which gave us up to approximately 1.5 hours of non-digging time. For us, a long morning walk followed by some treat-dispensing toys was optimal.
- A cool place. Some dogs dig to create a cool space to rest so providing a cool area might help.
- A place to dig. If you are able to supervise and redirect your dog, consider creating an acceptable place to dig. We sunk a big rubber container into the ground and created a “treasure chest” which we filled with buried toys. Needless to say, Roxy loved it! Because however, we could not supervise her every minute, we were not consistent in catching her digging elsewhere and redirecting her to the treasure chest. Otherwise, I actually think we may have had more success with this approach Some people wondered if creating a “dig zone” might create an incentive for Roxy to dig elsewhere, but since she was already digging everywhere else, we decided it was worth a try.
- Deterrents. If the dog tends to dig in certain areas, try making those areas inaccessible by covering them plastic mesh, rocks, or other material. Some people recommend citrus peels, but Roxy finds them to be delicious. We were somewhat successful in using short border fencing (the wire type that is about 12-16” tall) around plants and our vegetable garden. For some reason, this provided a sufficient deterrent even though Roxy could easily step over it. It also made our yard look like a plant zoo with many plants in “cages” until they grew over them. Not the look I was hoping for. Also, in our case, deterrents in one area only led to a game of “whack-a-mole” around the yard where Roxy simply moved onto a new location once we closed off a previous digging location. At one point, I even had to “fence off” my pots.
- Gophers and moles. We are fortunate that we don't have burrowing animals in our backyard, but Roxy loves to dig in gopher holes in my parents' yard. Controlling such animals may help minimize digging.
Two years later, the digging has slowed, but not stopped. Our backyard renovation isn't the oasis of peacefulness I once envisioned; instead, we have a yard full of caged plants, half-hidden, mulch-covered mesh, numerous dog toys, and a few holes. I can't pull weeds without a smelly, dirty plush toy being shoved in my face in an effort by Roxy to get me to play. But she makes me laugh and remember how fun it is to be invited to play. I wouldn't trade a pristine garden for all the joy that my digging dog brings.
- Author: Jenni Dodini
Those of you who have ever worked with me, or have ever heard me speak, know that my favorite advice is, "Do your research." Well......I had the opportunity to do just that recently.
I have been doing a garden make-over lately, and it rather got out of hand. It started as an addition off to the side, and then it got legs and ended up being the whole area!!! Some plastic pots had decided to show their age and break, so that they required new pots, and moving plants from one place to another, etc. You know how it goes. Well, I looked into one such pot and noticed the Clivia plant that has a NEVER gotten more than 6 inches tall with maybe 4 leaves in the numerous years that it has lived in that pot. Granted, when I got the plant I hadn't fully developed my "Do your research" mantra to incorporate gardening. I generally saved it for nurses to whom I was trying to teach something. Needless to say, it got placed into a pot with another plant, a big pot at that. So, I decided that if it was not ever going to bloom, I ought to pull it out of the place it had been living and put it in another pot and place.
I got out my little hand trowel and dug it out of the pot. Well, to my Surprise!, it had been working right along to try to get itself root bound in that big pot. In the process of digging out the "rootball" I found no actual ball. I know that I broke a LOT of roots but still came away with a good clump of roots. I was getting ready to put this plant into a pot with regular potting soil, and my grandmother's voice said to me, "Jennifer, DO YOUR RESEARCH!" When Grandma talks to me about gardening, I know better than to ignore her.
I pulled out my phone (I actually remembered to take it outside with me for a change) and typed in "Clivia". I, of course, got the cursory sales sites first, but I scrolled down to the GardeningKnowHow site (because I like that site the best) and started reading. I found that the plant was named after Lady Florentina Clive and that it is native to South Africa. I also found that it is generally grown as a houseplant, but can be grown outdoors in a completely shady area, and in a pot so that one can bring it indoors during the winter, usually around October. (I'm now thinking to myself, "Well no wonder you have never bloomed. I've been treating you like a regular old plant all these years. At least you didn't just up and die!") This poor plant has been living outside for at least 5 years and has never been given a "dry period" of 12 to 14 weeks during which time it gets minimal watering, with a period of 25 to 30 days without any water and a temperature range of 35 to 60 degrees. (I got that part right.). During the winters, it got the same water that all the rest of Fairfield got or didn't get. Lastly, I watched the 2 really good videos on how to repot said plant and then how to care for it. The one thing that I got correct without doing any research at all was the temperature during the winter, except for the freezes that we had. Anyway, once the "dry period" has happened, one should resume watering gradually, and give a 1-time application of higher potassium fertilizer to force it to start blooming, usually around February, and take it back outside if there is no chance of frost. Once it starts blooming, it likes 20-20-20 fertilizer monthly. (Like I said, I got 1 thing right.). The videos both said that they prefer a loose soil - namely orchid mix- that is rich and fast draining and they like to dry out between waterings. Once divided, the young plants may take 2 - 5 years to bloom. (Oh well, it has never bloomed yet, so I'll just hope that I haven't killed it by treating it right for a change.)
The picture below is 1 that I took at the Botanic Garden in San Diego when we were there in March. As you can see, they are growing in the shade of a massive tree and are planted into the ground. I saw Clivia growing all over San Diego in shady garden spaces, even the grocery store parking lot! I. Was very jealous, but I realize that San Diego and Fairfield are very different climates. I'll just wait and see what happens with mine for now.
- Author: Betsy Buxton
Did you know that the Vallejo Market is the largest farmers' market in Solano County? Did you know that it is a year-round market, the only one in Solano County? And if you know, why aren't you there every Saturday between 9 am and 2 pm? The Master Gardeners have been on the corner of Marin and Georgia Streets for the last 5 years and we would really you to come visit with us!
We are there to answer your questions, give you all the handouts on tomatoes, herb gardening, when-to-plant guides, and much more from our table. We will try to identify insects that you bring to us and what that plant is from the piece you brought to us. Something eating your veggies or roses or trees? We'll suggest possible culprits and how you can catch them for positive id.
Want to sign up for our free e-blogs or to get information about upcoming events (sorry you missed the Fairfield Garden Tour 2018, it was wonderful) in a more timely manner? We can do that, PLUS tell you what's coming up that month as well!
We LOVE to talk plants and other topics plant and flower related. Stop by and say “HI”!! See you there!
- Author: Brenda Altman
Ouch! Recently when I looked out my bedroom window I was shocked when I saw this tree with overly excessive pruning cuts. I don't know why this drastic type of pruning was needed for this tree. Perhaps the landowner was fed up with raking the leaves in the fall, or maybe the tree was blocking the light to a newly planted garden. Nonetheless, tree topping is rarely a solution.
The tree now reacts to the loss of leaves by going into an accelerated growth phase. The tree will use its stored energy to create new branches and leaves. There will be many new weak branches sprouting from just beneath the cuts. The use of the stored energy will leave the tree vulnerable to infection and stresses. Stored reserves in drought times may have to be used to grow new roots, now the tree cancels new root growth for new leaf growth. The pruning cuts are not in areas the tree can readily form bark to seal off the wound. Each cut is an open gateway for rot, disease and insect infestation. Stressed trees slowly recover and tree life maybe shortens its lifespan.
The new growth resulting from these cuts will be prolific and now there may be even more leaves to rake than before. In addition, all these new branches will have weak attachments to the tree and in a strong wind storm might break off causing damage to cars and other objects below. If this tree's weak branches were to fall and damage someone else's property the tree owner could be held liable for those damages
Tree topping is not tree pruning. In fact, many local municipalities have ordinances that regulate tree pruning within the city limits. The National Arbor Day Foundation recommends: “Don't top trees and never remove more than 1/3 of a tree's crown.” Consult your local city ordinances before topping or removing a tree. In Vallejo. “Per the Tree Ordinance, in most cases, residents are responsible for the maintenance of trees located on their property.” “Tree trimming and tree removal permit may be required.”
Consult a certified arborist on how to prune your trees. Tree topping is not an answer.