- Author: Terry Pellegrini
Planning your garden now, I feel, will save you headaches and money, come spring. By taking the time to understand how much space you have (or don't have), whether or not you wish to plant directly in ground or containers, or a combination thereof, and what types of plants grow best in your area, you'll only purchase what you need. In addition, you can decide whether or not you wish to devote the time to starting your seeds indoors or in a greenhouse, plant the seeds directly in the garden beds, or if transplants are the way you wish to go.
If you are thinking of planting spring veggies, take under consideration what you and your family will actually eat. If the kids detest string beans, then planting a huge area full of them is probably not a good use of the space, your time, or money. However, if zucchini is something you eat frequently, then two mounds may serve you better than one.
Now is also a good time to get control of any weeds in your proposed planting areas. Removing any weeds now, before the weather gets warmer and they decide to seed, means less work for you come spring and summer. I like to get down, move the soil with a trowel, and pull out any stray roots or seeds that I see. You may even find grubs and larvae of Hoplia beetles that you can remove, saving your precious roses and flowers this spring.
Many of us reuse our favorite pots and containers year after year. As such, these pots will need some TLC and prep as well. All the old soil will need to be removed and the pot cleaned with a solution of one-part bleach to nine parts water. Submerge in solution and soak for at least 10 minutes. This sterilizes them, removing any insects or diseases from the previous plant in the pot.
Planning and prepping your garden now for your spring planting will give you that head start to a successful, satisfying, and fun gardening adventure. So, get out your seed catalogs, notebook, and take a walk in your yard or garden space, and imagine all the possibilities. Happy Gardening!
- Author: Anne E Schellman
They key to attracting butterflies is understanding their life cycle. Adult female butterflies seek out specific host plants on which to lay their eggs. These eggs hatch into "very hungry caterpillars." As you may recall from The Very Hungry Caterpillar storybook, caterpillars eat large amounts of plants so they can complete metamorphosis and emerge as beautiful butterflies.
During our class, you'll learn which plants attract certain butterfly species, and how to grow and care for these plants. Our speaker will also tell us how to identify common butterflies found in Stanislaus County.
You won't want to miss this class. Sign up now and don't forget to mark your calendar!
When: January 26, 2021 6:00-7:30 p.m.
Where: Zoom Webinar
How: Register at: http://ucanr.edu/butterflies/2021
Speaker: Ellen Zagory, retired Director of Horticulture, UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden
- Author: UC IPM
Peach leaf curl is a disease that affects peach and nectarine trees. Although you may not see symptoms right now in the dormant season in California, it's time to think about treatment, especially if your tree had the disease last year.
Symptoms of this fungal disease include distortion, thickening, and reddening of foliage as trees leaf out in the spring. As weather warms, damaged leaves that die and fall off trees are replaced with new, usually healthy leaves. However, after several years without treatment, peach leaf curl will cause tree decline and reduced fruit production.
Avoid peach leaf curl by growing varieties resistant to the disease. For nonresistant peach and nectarine trees, consider spraying with preventive fungicides in the dormant season just before or as buds swell.
See the UC IPM publication Pest Notes: Peach Leaf Curl for more information about the disease and management options. Always read and carefully follow all precautions and safety recommendations given on the pesticide label.
- Author: Elaine Lander
[From Pests in the Urban Landscape blog]
Mistletoe is a familiar sight of the season, often found wrapped in ribbon and hung for certain festivities this time of year. But did you know it is actually a parasitic plant that grows on a number of landscape trees in California?
There are two types of mistletoe in California. Broadleaf mistletoes attack certain broadleaf trees and some conifers, while dwarf mistletoes attacks only conifers. Broadleaf mistletoes have green stems with thick, oval leaves. Dwarf mistletoes are smaller, with short stems and yellow, scaly leaves.
Both types of mistletoe grow through tree bark and into the tree's tissue, living off the host tree. Healthy trees can typically tolerate a few mistletoe infections although individual branches may be weakened by the parasite. Trees with a heavy infestation can be stunted or even killed if they are stressed by drought or disease.
What can be done about unwelcome mistletoe? The most effective way to control mistletoe and prevent its spread is to prune out infected branches as soon as possible. If mistletoe is infecting a major branch or trunk, you can cut off the mistletoe and wrap the area to exclude light. See our Pest Notes: Mistletoe for additional instructions.
Reducing mistletoe is a community effort since it spreads easily from tree to tree. So if you find yourself underneath some mistletoe this season, be sure to share this information with your neighbor!/span>
- Author: Ed Perry
The Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera bridgesii) is native to the jungles of South America, and available in a wide variety of colors including red, purple, oranges, pinks and creams. Its pendulous stems make it a great plant for hanging baskets.
While the Christmas cactus can adapt to low light, more abundant blooms are produced on plants that have been exposed to high light. While indoors, keep your plants in a sunny location. You can move your Christmas cactus outdoors in summer, but keep it in a shady or semi-shady location. Too much direct sunlight during the summer months can turn the leaves yellow, or even burn the leaves.
The Christmas cactus prefers warm temperatures. Good, vigorous growth occurs at temperatures between 70 to 80 degrees F during its growing season from April to September. However, evening temperatures of 55 to 65 degrees F are best for flower bud formation. When you move your plant indoors in fall, keep it away from heat vents, fireplaces or other sources of hot air, especially once flower buds are set. Continuous warm temperatures - especially above 80 degrees F - can cause the flower buds to drop.
The Christmas cactus also requires thirteen hours or more of continuous darkness each day before flowering will occur. This occurs naturally in fall. Street lights, car lights or indoor lighting can disrupt the required dark period, causing a lack of flowering.
The plant is not a true cactus and is not quite as drought tolerant as the name infers. However, it is a succulent plant and can tolerate some drying. Water thoroughly when the top half of the soil in the pot feels dry to the touch. During the summer, water so that the soil is always slightly moist. The plant does not tolerate wet, waterlogged soil conditions, especially during the dark days of winter. When fall arrives, water the plant only well enough to prevent wilting.
The Christmas cactus flowers best when kept somewhat potbound. Plants should be repotted in spring every two or three years, or whenever the pot is filled with roots and the soil no longer holds water and nutrients.
Fertilize your Christmas cactus with a soluble houseplant fertilizer every three to four weeks when new growth starts in early spring, and throughout the summer. Reduce the fertilizer during the fall and early winter. During flower bud formation, stop fertilizing and only water enough to keep the leaves from becoming shriveled.
Prune your Christmas cactus after blooming to encourage the plant to branch out. Remove a few sections of each stem by pinching them off with your fingers or cutting with a sharp knife. You can start new plants by rooting the stem tips in moist potting soil.