SLO Tribune Articles - Master Gardeners
New Zealand Tea Tree
By Polly Nelson UCCE Master Gardener
Leptospermum scoparium; Myrtaceae
Planting Zone: 14-24 (Sunset)
Size of plant: height 6-15 feet; spread 3-6 feet
Bloom description and season: ½-1” single or double showy flowers in red, pink or white petals surround a hard center cone that matures into a woody capsule that remains on tree long after petals drop. Profuse blooms in spring, some visible into summer.
Exposure: Full sun
Pruning needs: Minimal. Thin growth to shape while young; avoid pruning bare wood as new growth is unlikely. Older, bare-based or overgrown shrubs can be trimmed into small trees.
Water needs: Minimal once established, depending on soil, sun, wind conditions and winter rainfall. Water to a depth of two inches in summer for the first two years.
Description: Long-lived evergreen ornamental shrub originally from Australia and New Zealand, used by natives as a source of Vitamin C (brewed tea, beer), medicine, essential oils and honey. Thrives in coastal conditions; tolerates poor soil but well-drained soil that is slightly acidic. Feed annually with 12-12-12 fertilizer (half-strength to prevent root burn) in early spring before new growth appears; water in thoroughly. Add mulch to suppress weeds and decrease water evaporation. The Tea Tree works well in containers, coastal and rock gardens, and as a border, while considering the space needed for a full-grown tree. Bees, butterflies and birds are attracted to the slightly fragrant foliage, and it is deer resistant. Overall, the plant is pest-resistant, but may be susceptible to scale and thrips.
Christmas In July
By Tami Reece Master Food Preserver
I am always so busy during the holidays. Are there gifts I can make now that I can give in December?
Courtney M. Paso Robles
There are so many foods that can be preserved now and given as gifts later. One advantage to preserving now is the produce is in season, fresh, and can be purchased locally at farmers' markets or often on sale at grocery stores.
An easy gift and great way to use ripe fruit are fruit rolls or fruit leather. Wash the fruit in cool water. Remove peels, stems, and seeds. Cut fruit into chunks and puree until smooth. For light colored fruit, add 2 teaspoons of lemon juice for each 2 cups of fruit to prevent darkening when drying. Pour onto liners or parchment paper in your dehydrator or onto parchment paper on a cookie sheet for your oven. Leathers need to be dried at 140°F. If your oven does not have a setting that low, it is best not to use it. You will cook the leather rather than drying it when using a higher temperature, trapping moisture in the product. Leather dries from the outside edge toward the center. Test for dryness by touching center, no indentation should be evident. While warm, peel from liner or paper and roll, allow to cool and wrap in plastic wrap. Leather will last for up to one month on your shelf; but for longer storage, it is best to store in a sealed container in the freezer.
A flavorful gift idea is Peach Salsa, and with peaches in season, now is the perfect time to preserve with boiling water canning! You can pair this salsa with chips and other items for a great gift basket. If you would like to see how to make Peach Salsa, the UCCE Master Food Preservers will be having a Saturday workshop on July 28, from 10:00am to 12:00pm. It will be in the auditorium adjacent to the parking lot at 2156 Sierra Way, San Luis Obispo. Another great gift idea that will be demonstrated is drying herbs. You can use these herbs in homemade preserved tomato sauce. Pair this with fresh pasta and a baguette from a local producer or your favorite grocery store, and you will have a gift anyone would love!
To register for the workshop please visit http://ucanr.edu/holidaysinjuly2018
Citrus And Avocados
By Leslie E. Stevens UCCE Master Gardener
Do my citrus and avocado trees need any special care in the summer? Carol P. Arroyo Grande
It's a good idea to keep an eye on these valuable trees, making sure they have sufficient water and aren't overwhelmed by pests and diseases. Citrus and avocado trees may require extra water to offset excessive evaporation during periods of hot dry weather. At the same time avoid overwatering, especially near the trunk, which can lead to root and crown rots.
Healthy citrus trees can withstand most minor pest invasions except for Asian citrus psyllid, a tiny mottled brown insect that is a vector for a bacterium responsible for the fatal citrus disease Huanglongbing (HLB). The disease can kill all commonly grown citrus varieties within five years of inoculation, and there is currently no known cure. If you suspect you have this insect among your citrus trees, call the CDFA Pest Hotline: 1-800-491-1899.
Avocado trees also have their share of pests, including the pesky persea mite. Feeding damage causes visible spots on leaves which can lead to leaf drop and sunburned fruit. Reduce minor infestations in home gardens with strong water sprays, less frequent fertilizing and encouraging natural enemies. Treat heavier mite populations with insecticidal soap and water sprays.
These and other tips for growing healthy citrus and avocado trees will be covered during this Saturday's free “Advice to Grow By” workshop presented by UC Master Gardeners. Informational handouts will be available at this three-part workshop, and audience questions are encouraged following each presentation.
The outdoor workshop runs from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the Garden of the Seven Sisters, 2156 Sierra Way, San Luis Obispo.Docents will be available after the workshop to answer questions until 1 p.m. Remember to bring a hat, sunscreen and water and join your fellow gardeners in the garden.
For more information about UCCE Master Gardeners or to register for workshops, visit our website at http://ucanr.edu/sites/mgslo/./span>
Gaura lindheimeri (Beeblossom)
By Jackie Woods UCCE Master Gardener
Planting areas: thrives in sandy, loamy, well-drained soils
Size: 18-24 inches tall and 12-18 inches wide
Bloom season: early summer into fall
Exposure: enjoys full sun
Pruning needs: trim back flowered stems to encourage new stems
Water needs: drought tolerant once established
Narrative: Gaura, also known as Beeblossom, is a stunningly beautiful plant with long, wispy stems and 4-leafed white or pink flowers. Gaura has a deep taproot and foliage ranging in color from dark green to burgundy. There are several different species of this plant which can be annual, biannual or perennial and it reproduces via seeds or by rhizomes. One of the most common species is Gaura ‘Siskiyou Pink' (Gaura lindheimeri). Native to southeastern Texas, Louisiana and Mexico, Gaura is a hardy plant in zones 5-9 and does very well on the Central Coast.
The best time to plant Gaura is in early spring. Gaura blooms from early summer until frost. Plant in well-drained soils as heavy clays and poor drainage will impede development of a healthy taproot. Once planted, avoid moving relocating. Mature plants do not do well when dug up and moved. This is not a long-lived perennial so plan on replanting or starting over from seed. Gaura does not appreciate fertilizer or over-watering and is susceptible to root rot. Removing spent flowers at the base of the stalk will encourage additional blooming.
Gaura is one hardy plant. It's low-maintenance, thrives on neglect and is disease and pest-free. Deer and rabbits steer clear of it while butterflies and hummingbirds are highly attracted to it. Plant alone, in a large mass planting, in a deep container or in a border. Companion plants include rock rose, Kangaroo Paw, Dahlia, Cosmos, Verbena and ornamental grasses./span>
Lavender Plant Care
Jackie Woods UCCE Master Gardener
Planting areas: prefers mild winters, warm, sunny summers and well-drained soil
Size: 1' to 4' wide depending on variety
Bloom season: summer
Exposure: prefers full sun
Pruning needs: prune after flowers are spent or in early fall
Water needs: water until established, then drought tolerant. Does not like to be wet, but appreciates water during extreme hot weather.
Narrative: Lavender is a versatile garden herb with fragrant, colorful blooms. It is easy to grow, requires little care, is deer and snail resistant and butterflies and pollinators love it. The life span of most lavender plants is typically 7-10 years.
Common lavenders include English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia such as Hidcote, Royal Velvet and Purple Bouquet); Lavandins (Lavandula x intermedia) which are English lavender hybrids such as Grosso, Provence and Hidcote Giant); and Spanish lavender (Lavandula stoechas such as Royal Splendour and Ballerina).
Lavender plants prefer neutral to slightly alkaline soil (pH 7-8) that is well drained. On the Central Coast, the best time to plant lavender is in spring after frost or in early fall. Plant along walkways for a stunning effect when in full bloom, as a border or interspersed throughout your landscape. When using drip irrigation, place the emitter to the side of the plant rather than at its base to lessen the chance of overwatering and potential for root rot.
Pruning helps maintain its round shape and also promotes new growth. Most varieties required pruning only once a year. The best time to prune is after the flowers are spent. Grab a handful of stems and, using a sickle knife or a sharp pair of shears, cut the stems a few inches above the woody part of the plant, leaving a couple of inches of green above the woody stems. If the goal is to dry the lavender for use in crafts, prune the stems when ¾ of the flowers are opened. This is when the buds are most fragrant.