Advice for the Home Gardener from the Help Desk of the
UC Master Gardener Program of Contra Costa County
Gardener's Help Desk Request: What should I use to seal rose canes after pruning? Is a dot of Elmer's Glue OK, or is something else more effective?
There is no need to seal the pruning cuts of your roses with Elmer's Glue, or any other product. Rose canes will seal themselves, especially if pruned during their dormant season, roughly mid-December to mid-February at a 45 degree angle. If you have added any sealant, you would be better off re-pruning those canes.
Here is a link to a UC Master Gardener guide to rose pruning, including a chart about “Rose Care by the Month”, that you might find helpful. http://ucanr.edu/sites/mgslo/files/272360.pdf
Please do not hesitate to contact us again if you have more questions. And here's to a great rose year in Contra Costa County.
Help Desk of the UC Master Gardener Program of Contra Costa County (JJM)
Note: The UC Master Gardeners Program of Contra Costa's Help Desk is available year-round to answer your gardening questions. Except for a few holidays, we're open every week, Monday through Thursday for walk-ins from 9:00 am to Noon at 75 Santa Barbara Road, 2d Floor, Pleasant Hill, CA 94523, although we will be moving this spring. We will notify you if/when that occurs. We can also be reached via telephone: (925)646-6586,
Advice from the Help Desk of the
Master Gardeners of Contra Costa County
Client's Request: I've been noticing this “weed” growing in my garden lately. At least, I think it's a weed although the leaves seem to resemble some garden geraniums. Is it a weed, and if it is, what do you suggest I do to get rid of it? Some JPG photos I took of the “weed” are below. ... and (editor's addendum) can you eat it?
MGCC Help Desk Response: Thank you for the photographs. The plant is a type of Mallow, probably “Little Mallow” (Malva parviflora), often also commonly called Cheeseweed for the "small wheels" of cheese like fruit it produces. And yes as the common name implies, it is a winter-sprouting annual weed or sometimes a biannual weed. It quickly develops a deep taproot, making it difficult to eradicate. Pulling them up or hoeing them off as soon as you notice them is the best way to control their spread.
Cheeseweed can also be toxic to cattle and can reduce egg quality if fed to laying hens.
Additional information on this weed and its control can be found at the University of California's website http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/WEEDS/little_mallow.html and http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/PESTNOTES/pn74127.html.
As above, early-on mechanical (hoeing) and cultural control (weeding) are about the only effective controls for home gardeners. Control by herbicides has not proven effective. In fact, this mallow is one of the few weeds not controlled by glyphosate (i.e., RoundUp™).
I hope that this information is helpful. Good luck on controlling it. I've had them in my garden off and on for years and can't seem to keep them out although I find that if caught early enough they aren't hard to keep them at bay and aren't that much of a pest.
HOrT COCO Blog Editor Addendum: It's been brought to my attention that Cheeseweed is edible... and by quite a few cultures... but not by this gardener/editor... see the various comments on its use as greens, etc. by Googling "is cheeseweed edible?". You are on your own for that adventure though...
Help Desk of the Master Gardeners of Contra Costa County (JL)
Note: The UC Master Gardeners of Contra Costa's Help Desk is available year-round to answer your gardening questions. Except for a few holidays, we're open every week, Monday through Thursday for walk-ins from 9:00 am to Noon at 75 Santa Barbara Road, 2d Floor, Pleasant Hill, CA 94523. We can also be reached via telephone: (925) 646-6586, email: email@example.com, or on the web at http://ccmg.ucanr.edu/Ask_Us/ MGCC Blogs can be found at http://ccmg.ucanr.edu/HortCoCo/ You can also subscribe to the Blog (http://ucanr.edu/blogs/blogcore/blogroll.cfm).
- Author: Chantal Guillemin
How can homeowners drastically reduce irrigation and still maintain a viable and pleasing garden? There are many garden practices that can help conserve and maximize water use. By implementing these, even with less water, plants are able to survive summer heat and drying winds. One effective water management strategy is irrigation by hydrozones.
Start by drawing a plan of your property indicating your trees, shrubs, annuals, lawn, a vegetable garden and other plants. Circle and group plants with similar water needs in hydrozones. Separate hydrozones could include lawn/turfgrass, mass plantings or annual flowers, mass plantings or perennial flowers, non-turf perennial ground covers, and individual trees and shrubs. Not sure of your plants' watering needs? Find out the water requirements of specific plants, by clicking on the link: http://ucanr.edu/sites/WUCOLS/.
Design a system with multiple independent zones so you can schedule irrigation according to each area's watering needs. Use a variety of irrigation methods and convert to drip irrigation where possible. To guide you in adjusting and resetting irrigation controllers as weather and seasons change, use UC's Easy Calculator for estimating water needs. You can also explore that site to find out about ET zone maps (ET refers to evapotranspiration). You'll see that Contra Costa County has 3 zones: 1,8 and 14.
Grouping of plants with similar watering needs could also include plants with similar root depths, plants that prefer shade or full sun, or plants located on a slope. Providing you keep your irrigation systems in good working order and with proper planning, irrigating plants according to hydrozones means plants receive only the quantity of water they need. No wasted water or overwatered plants!
Since it is difficult to maintain large plantings of vegetables and bedding annuals during a drought, consider reducing their size or eliminating them altogether. Doing this would allow water to be directed to more valued or expensive perennial plantings such as fruit trees which are considered a high irrigation priority. Consider reducing your lawn hydrozone area and expand your patio or deck to allow air and water to reach the root zone of trees.
Maximize your water use in all hydrozones by following these beneficial garden practices. Apply 2 to 4 inches of mulch to slow down evaporation, inhibit weeds and keep soil cool. Add organic matter, such as compost to the soil. Water established plants deeply and infrequently. Water slowly and evenly around the drip line of trees using low pressure and applying water to a minimum of four sites around the perimeter. To keep evaporative loss to a minimum, water early in the morning, when the wind is down and temperatures are cool. Keep plants out of the wind. Familiarize yourself with your soil type and water infiltration rate as this will help avoid runoff.
By understanding the water needs of plants, drought gardeners can care for many types of plants, even with reduced irrigation. Grouping plants into hydrozones and watering them according to their needs is a proven effective water management solution.
For more about evapotranspiration, see UC's Evapotranspiration and Plant Water Use
- Author: MaryJo Smith
As some of you might know, over the past 2+ years, I re-landscaped my entire yard – both front and back. It was a large project; tearing out sod and concrete, and putting in new irrigation, lighting, plantings, and hardscape. Last year, I filled in the basic landscape with edibles such as artichokes, lemons, strawberries and grapes. These additions are examples of horizontal layering — planting to give levels of color and interest. Now, I am planting out the area around my fountain to add vertical layers.
The Blue Fescue, Oat Grass, New Zealand Flax and Reed Grass were planted last year. This year, I've added larger rocks and small boulders to create some more texture, then added a few plants. Some of the plants will spread out and some of the plants will grow up. Although I want instant gratification, and everything pretty and full right now, that's not always the best way to plant (ugh, bummer). For this area, I restrained myself and put in just a few small-sized plants.
When planning/planting, it's important to think about the plant height and width at maturity, and how that will work within the space. No. 1. on the diagram to the left is the Feather Reed Grass planted last year. It has that nice shape like a fountain grass, but it's more compact and works well in narrow spaces. It will grow nice and high and full to fill in the space behind the fountain without overwhelming the area. The diagram shows the approximate height and width when the grass grows in for the season.
No. 2 on the diagram is a Day Lily. It's a nice filler for that area, provides a nice pop of color and it doesn't compete with the Reed Grass.
No. 3 on the diagram are ground covers and sedum. The ground cover is a simple summer snow. It works in full sun, is easily maintained and will produce a carpet of small white flowers. It will spread out but not up. The accompanying Sedum is a light variegated green with red rims, which will slowly spread out and provide a nice contrast against the white of the summer snow and the pale grey of the stones.
No. 4 on the diagram is a small evergreen shrub called Coleonema Pulchellum “Sunset Gold” that will grow up and out a little (2′ x 4′ at maturity). It has a nice yellow-green foliage that contrasts nicely against the silver hues in that area. It has small light pink-flowers that bloom in the spring and early summer. Also, tucked in the rocks are a couple of Gazania – just for kicks.
With the weather we experience in this area, these plants should grow/spread fairly quickly. Because none of these plants were particularly expensive, if I need to rearrange them, or take any out, there is very little financial pain.
Check back later in the summer to see how this area filled out.
In the meantime, do you have any layering you've done? Share it here. We'd love to see it.
Advice for the Home Gardener from the Contra Costa Master Gardener Help Desk
Client's Questions and Requests
Client called and discussed about his need for more information about pruning his numerous backyard fruit trees. He lives in central county. CCMG Help Desk followed up with an email on advice about pruning his fruit trees.
CCMG Help Desk Response and Advice:
Thank you for calling the Master Gardener help desk this morning. It was nice to speak with you. It was also great to get a new recipe for cooking fava beans!
You have a wide variety of wonderful fruit trees in your yard, many of them not commonly planted in this area. You asked about pruning them. Basically, the idea behind pruning is to control size for easier care in maintaining and picking fruit (taller trees do not bear more fruit!); increase strength – develop strong limb structure; distribute sunlight evenly throughout tree; regulate fruit bearing – removes excess fruitwood; renew fruitwood – to continue strong buds and flowers; and to remove undesirable wood- dead, broken, and crossing branches.
University of California and its Cooperative Extension provides a wealth of information, most of it free through their catalog (http://ucanr.edu/Publications_524/)which you can order from (see also link on CCMG home page (http://ccmg.ucanr.edu/), column left). You can also find extensive UCCE information published on the web. Here is a link to a great publication that describes fruit tree pruning and includes diagrams to help you figure out how to prune your own trees: http://homeorchard.ucdavis.edu/8057.pdf.
You mentioned that some of your trees were getting large-here's a link to an article about pruning overgrown fruit trees: http://homeorchard.ucdavis.edu/8058.pdf. Both of these have enough basic information to cover all your deciduous trees, but for the less-common varieties, I'll give you some hopefully useful hints and tips below, as well as links to more information about each one.
Prune citrus in late spring or summer to shape trees, only to remove twiggy growth, dead wood and weak branches, or any crossing, broken or shaded branches from the interior. Wait until May to prune out any frost-damaged wood, as it may revive. Here is a link to Citrus for the Home Garden in Contra Costa County: http://ucanr.edu/blogs/slomggarden/blogfiles/4260.pdf. You'll find lots of information specific to growing citrus here. Here is another link that covers diseases and disorders of citrus fruit: http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/C107/m107bpfruitdis.html. You'll see that brown rot is common in citrus—this causes the soft dark decay that develops in citrus and occurs mostly on the bottom side of fruit and happens mostly to fruit lower on the tree (closer to the soil). The dark spots on your Mandarins is possibly from a bacterial infection.
Codling moths (common on apples, pears and other fruit) can be a problem for quince. They can be difficult to manage, especially if the population has been allowed to build up over a season or two. It is much easier to keep moth numbers low from the start than to suppress a well-established population. In trees with low levels, codling moth often can be kept to tolerable levels by using a combination of nonchemical management methods; however, it is important to begin implementing these measures early in the season. Sanitation should be the first step in any codling moth control program. Every week or two, beginning about six to eight weeks after bloom, check fruit on trees for signs of damage. Remove and destroy any infested fruit showing the frass-filled holes. It also is important to clean up dropped fruit as soon as possible after they fall, because dropped fruit can have larvae in them. Removing infested fruit from the tree and promptly pick up dropped fruit from the ground is most critical in May and June but should continue throughout the season.
Excellent control can be achieved by enclosing young fruit in bags right on the tree to protect them from the codling moth. This is the only nonchemical control method that is effective enough to be used alone and in higher population situations. However, it is quite time consuming to apply the bags, so this method is most manageable on smaller trees with fewer fruit. You can bag all the fruit on the tree or just as many fruit as you think you will need. Keep in mind that unbagged fruit are likely to serve as a host and increase the pest population, so it would be prudent to employ sanitation to keep the population in check.
Here is a link to information about codling moths from the University of California: http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/PESTNOTES/pn7412.html that goes into detail about controlling these pests.
Prune in late winter after danger from winter freezes, but before the tree blooms in spring. To keep the interior of the tree open during the growing season, prune in summer as needed. Light annual pruning of established trees encourages fruit production; pomegranates tend not to require heavy pruning if maintained regularly. Remove dead and damaged wood during late winter and remove sprouts and suckers as they appear. Heavy pruning will reduce the crop.
As I mentioned on the phone, apricots should be pruned during the summer in late August because of a fungus that infects trees during the cool and wet season. Remove shoots from the center of the tree and cut out interfering limbs and dead and diseased wood. Here is a link to information about pruning apricots:
Fig trees are productive with or without heavy pruning. It is essential only during the initial years. Since the crop is borne on terminals of previous year's wood, once the tree form is established, avoid heavy winter pruning, which causes loss of the following year's crop. It is better to prune immediately after the main crop is harvested, or with late-ripening cultivars, summer prune half the branches and prune the remainder the following summer. If radical pruning is done, whitewash the entire tree. Here is a link to information from California Rare Fruit Growers (CRFG): http://www.crfg.org/pubs/ff/fig.html.
Prune persimmon trees to develop a strong framework of main branches while the tree is young. Otherwise the fruit, which is borne at the tips of the branches, may be too heavy and cause breakage. A regular program of removal of some new growth and heading others each year will improve structure and reduce alternate bearing. An open vase system is probably best. Even though the trees grow well on their own, persimmons can be pruned heavily as a hedge, as a screen, or to control size. They even make a nice espalier. Cut young trees back to 1/2 high (or about 3 feet) at the time of planting. Here is information from CRFG: http://www.crfg.org/pubs/ff/persimmon.html and from UC that includes information on pests and diseases of persimmons: http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/GARDEN/PLANTS/persimmon.html.
Since so many of your trees are not typically grown in our area, one of your best resources is the California Rare Fruit Growers. Their website is http://www.crfg.org/, the local chapter is the Golden Gate chapter (http://www.crfg.org/chapters/golden_gate/index.htm). The Golden Gate Chapter of CRFG conducts meetings throughout the northern San Francisco Bay Area, usually in the odd-numbered months on the second Saturday of the month. Meetings almost always include speakers, tastings, a raffle of unusual plants and the chance to talk to people who live in your area and who share your interests. You would probably find someone who could advise you further on pruning techniques at one of their meetings. In addition, CRFG holds a Scion Exchange in January that you might want to attend. In the past when I've attended, they had classes on pruning of the various fruit trees that you have, let alone the opportunity to get scions that you might want to graft onto your trees (scions are usually free… $5 charge for non-members at the door). Information on the CRFG's Scion Exchange can be found at http://www.crfg.org/chapters/golden_gate/scionex.htm. I have always enjoyed the Exchanges when I attended.
I hope this gives you a start on pruning your backyard orchard. Please let us know if you have more questions.
Contra Costa Master Gardeners Help Desk
Note: The Contra Costa Master Gardener Help Desk is available year-round to answer your gardening questions. Except for a few holidays, we're open every week, Monday through Thursday for walk-ins from 9:00 am to Noon at 75 Santa Barbara Road, 2d Floor, Pleasant Hill, CA 94523. We can also be reached via telephone: (925) 646-6586, email: firstname.lastname@example.org, or on the web at http://ccmg.ucanr.edu/Ask_Us/