- Author: Cheryl Carmichael, Master Gardener
These terms are important factors for choosing the right tree for the intended space, planting and training the tree, and managing the overall tree size and shape.
Excurrent Tree Form: A tree form that develops when the central leader outgrows the lateral branches forming a narrow, cone-shaped form with a clearly defined central trunk. The regulation of the form is by an actively growing apical bud (meristem). This is common for most gymnosperms.
Decurrent Tree Form: A tree or shrub form that develops when there is weak apical dominance resulting in a rounded or spreading tree crown. This is common in most angiosperms.
- Author: Julie Hyske, Master Gardener
Winter is the perfect season to enjoy all the warmth and comfort of our favorite soups. Included in this issue are three soups that you can cozy up to. The Egg Roll Soup recipe brings together all the irresistible egg roll flavors we love. Clearly, it offers a great selection of topping options. So, make this soup your own! The cheesy enchilada soup is a copycat of the Chili's version of my favorite enchilada soup. The trick is to use the masa harina, a corn flour (look in the flour section.) It gives the soup a velvety thickness along with a nice corn flavor. Finally, the Chicken Pot Pie Soup is hearty, rich and soul warming. Don't skip the secret ingredient, nutmeg! In only a matter of minutes you can be serving any of these “bowls of comfort.”
- Author: Kathy Schick, Master Gardener
Weed of the season: Dandelion,Taraxacum officinale
Chill weather slows down grass growth in our lawns and we can notice the bright yellow flowers of Taraxacum officinale,
To remove the plant and taproot with a minimum soil disturbance, many special tools including “dandelion knives” have been developed for hand weeding. The UCIPM video “How to Remove Dandelions” demonstrates several of these special tools.
Pest of the Season: Goldspotted Oak Borer
During these cold winter months, most insects go through diapause, quietly buried or hidden, unmoving and with minimal metabolic processes. Most of the pests will not reappear in the garden until warm spring temperatures bring them back to activity. In the meantime, we humans remain active and spend our evenings huddled around a warm fireplace. We burn oak wood in the fireplace since oaks are common native trees in California.
Previously few of the insects found in oak firewood harmed our forests. Yes, Prionus californica beetles and the giant (stingless) wasp, Megarhyssa sp., frighten homeowners by flying out of unburned firewood, hurting neither trees nor people.
In the past decade, a new beetle species has invaded southern California from Northern Mexico and Arizona. Agrilus auroguttatus, has killed oak trees in San Diego County since 2008. Adults females are about ½ inch long and 1/5 inch wide and males are slightly shorter, but both have a bullet-shaped body. They are black or iridescent green with six gold-colored pubescent spots on the forewings and two gold-colored spots on the edge of the thorax.
Please, buy your firewood locally. Make sure you do not bring firewood from southern California. Our beautiful oak woodlands are at risk.
Disease of the Season: Peach Leaf Curl
By the beginning of January, if you have not already addressed the problem, it is time to treat your peach and nectarine
trees for peach leaf curl, a fungal disease. The fungus distorts the leaf with reddish areas which become thickened and puckered as the leaves grow in early spring. The affected leaves soon turn yellow and brown before they drop off the tree. Young shoots can become infected and stunted. Massive leaf loss weakens the tree, slowing its growth and decreasing its fruit production. If the disease is untreated, the tree may weaken and die within a few years.
Although some varieties of peach are resistant to this disease, even the resistant varieties need to have fungicides applied for the first few years. Few nectarine varieties are resistant.
Treatment with fungicide should begin soon after the leaves fall in November, but this may occur as late as early January. Historically, fungicides used for this purpose were copper-containing products. The higher the “metallic copper equivalent,” (MCE) on the label, the more effective against fungus. Fixed copper products (such as copper sulfate and cupric hydroxide) can be effective, but few of these are available to the backyard gardener. Bordeaux Mixture, requires mixing and a search for chemical ingredients, but we are aided by a special UCIPM Pest Note: Bordeaux Mixture.
- Author: Lee Miller, Master Gardener
Perennials: California Fuchsias (Zauschneria californica or Epilobium canum) (The name has been changed recently from Zauschneria to Epilobium, but either name will work when finding it with Google). A very bright fall blooming perennial that has several colors and cultivars, and there are other species as well. Colors are white, pink, orange and red. Grey foliage provides a nice contrast in the garden although some have green foliage and foliage can be wide or narrow leafed. It blooms in fall and is drought tolerant - though it thrives best with very moderate amounts of water in the Central Valley. It tolerates part shade but does best with full sun. Hummingbirds will visit the tubular flower for nectar. The one pictured here is in my front yard which is comprised mostly of native plants and I enjoy these blooms out my office window each fall. It spreads somewhat, but with diligence can be kept in bounds. The plants should be pruned back to ground level in early spring and they will commence to grow all summer to prepare for the bright fall show.
For more information on various species and cultivars see: https://www.laspilitas.com/groups/california-fuchsia.html
|Vines: Pink Jasmine (Jasminum polyanthum) is a fast-growing vine that has glossy green foliage and features pink buds that open to very fragrant and abundant small white flowers in the spring. This plant can be trained on a trellis or arbor and can also be allowed to roam as a ground cover. It is hardy in the Central Valley (USDA Zone 9). It can climb to 20 feet or more, but it can also be contained to a small trellis by pruning to train or growing it in a container. It handles full sun or part sun and needs regular watering. It is long lived as I have had one for over 20 years but, recently I inadvertently killed it. The container it was in was being irrigated automatically with the lawn twice a week. The water for some reason was no longer draining and I did not detect the standing water in time to prevent it from killing the roots for lack of oxygen. Subsequently, I called a local nursery and picked one up to start over because it is a worthy plant to grow and enjoy. This time I planted it in the soil instead of a container and I have started it on a larger trellis.|
|Trees: The Chinese pistache (Pistacia chinensis) grows to a height of 25–35' and a spread of 25–35' at maturity. It is an excellent deciduous shade tree that grows in full sun with a variety of soil types: acidic, alkaline, loamy, moist, sandy, silty loam, and clay soils. It prefers well-drained soils. Its deep roots make it ideal for areas close to sidewalks and driveways where shallow-rooted trees can raise havoc with hardscapes. It also grows well in drought conditions. If shaded, it can become misshapen; but it is commonly planted as a street tree and in parking lots for shade. The best part is the fall foliage colors which are reds, yellows and oranges. The one shown here is a two-year-old in my garden that produces all the expected spectacular colors. The Chinese pistachio does not produce nuts, but if a male Chinese pistache tree is present, the female tree which blooms in April will have blooms that develop into clumps of brilliant red berries in the fall, changing to a blue-purple hue in the winter. Birds enjoy these berries.|
- Author: Sue Davis, Master Gardener
Just four chores per month, one per week, to consider this wintery season. Hopefully, there are enough pleasant winter days to get them accomplished.
ONE – Plant a bare root rose or fruit tree if there is room in the landscape. If not, pick up a few summer blooming bulbs (such as dahlias, gladiolus, lilies and begonias) and plant them in the ground where they will add color to the landscape or in a pot that can be moved at will.
TWO – Sharpen pruning tools, then dry them and rub them lightly with oil to prevent rust.
THREE – Prune your roses with those sharp pruners. Vines, fruit and shade trees or grapes will benefit from a good pruning if there are no roses needing a pruning.
FOUR - Rake and discard fallen leaves (a compost pile will enjoy the addition) to prevent or reduce over-wintering pests.
TWO – Empty any rain-filled containers around the yard to eliminate breeding areas.
THREE – Cut back woody stems on butterfly bush, fuchsia, and Mexican bush sage to within a few inches of the ground to stimulate new growth and prevent a leggy, scraggly look.
FOUR – Feed citrus trees with a nitrogen-rich fertilizer that contains additional nutrients such as Magnesium, Boron, Copper, and Zinc.
ONE – Prune suckers from trees and shrubs.
TWO – Plant some potatoes. Potatoes can carry soil-borne diseases which are harmless to humans but devastating for a potato plant. Buy seed potatoes from a nursery or a mail-order company that certifies the seed potatoes are disease free. Whole potatoes can be divided to give you a bigger crop by cutting the potatoes into chunks that each contain one or two eyes (the small depression where sprouts will form). To prevent rotting, store the freshly cut pieces at room temperature for three days before planting to allow the cut surfaces to dry and form a callus. Potatoes are heavy feeders, so planting with a good amount of compost will help the plant and your harvest. Potatoes can be heavy producers and harvesting them feels like a “treasure hunt.” This is a fun vegetable for children to plant and harvest.
THREE – Check drip irrigation for leaks in the lines and make repairs as needed. Flush out sediment from filters, check screens for algae and clean with a small brush, if necessary. Make sure all emitters are dripping water. If some are clogged, replace them (if you can't remove one, install a new emitter next to it). Add emitters to lines if plants have grown significantly since the system was installed. Put new batteries in your electronic drip controllers and check the settings.
FOUR – Checking, repairing, adding/changing emitters and all the other things involved in readying drip irrigation for the coming season often takes longer than anticipated. Feel free to make this chore last two weeks.