- Author: Jutta Thoerner
- Editor: Noni Todd
By Jutta Thoerner UCCE Master Gardener
Size of Tree: 6 to 35 feet high, depending on rootstock
Bloom description and season: Apricot blossoms have five bright white petals that can sometimes be tinged with pink. Blooming time is in the spring.
Pruning needs: needs to be pruned in summer.
Exposure: full sun.
Water needs: needs regular watering to produce ample fruit
Apricots are member of the rose family and the origin of the apricot is disputed. Theories have its beginnings in China, Armenia or Japan. We do know it was domesticated more than 4000 years ago. Then English and Spanish settlers brought it to North America in the 1700's. Apricots grow best in a light, loamy soil in full sun. They produce fruit for about 25 years. Reasons why apricot trees fail to produce fruit include:
1. Blooms have been destroyed by late frost or heavy rains, preventing pollination and fruit set. Planting a mid or late blooming tree will mitigate this issue for the most part.
2. The tree did not receive enough water during bloom or fruit set. Apricots need one inch of water weekly for a successful fruit set.
3. The apricot tree is an alternate or 3 year alternate varietal for fruit bearing. Today's industry has a wide selection on yearly bearing apricot trees to choose from.
4. No fruiting wood to bear fruit on. Apricots bear fruit on spurs which need to be pruned to force new growth. If you have not pruned the spurs in four years or more, poor or no fruit set will result.
If you love apricots, consider a semi dwarf or dwarf rootstock for your yard. By following some of the tips, selecting the perfect tree for your needs is easy. Apricot trees don't require a lot of space and they will give you many years of gorgeous spring blooms and juicy apricots. You'll enjoy eating them, as the astronauts did on their Apollo mission to the moon.
- Author: Carol Michael
- Editor: Noni Todd
By Carol Michael, UCCE Master Food Preserver
It is cold and gloomy outside. We need something to brighten our days. What do you recommend? Nora S., Paso Robles
A favorite activity is preparing chicken bone broth. Make a stockpot or slow cooker full. Your kitchen will fill with a delicious comforting aroma.
Containers of chicken bone broth tucked in the freezer is my secret treasure. Make as large a batch as you can safely store. It can be heated with a dash of red pepper flakes and a squeeze of lemon to sip and warm you.
It can be used to prepare soups, and stews, in place of water for rice and pastas. Use it to sauté vegetables instead of oil or butter. The broth can be used for many comforting dishes: chicken & dumplings, tortilla soup, scalloped potatoes, rice pilaf, or pastas.
Try making broth; you likely have the ingredients on hand. Keep a designated container in your freezer adding roasted bones and vegetable trimmings until you have enough for a recipe.
Adapted from Natasha's Kitchen©2019-Stovetop Method:
2 ½ lbs. of roasted* chicken bones
1 tbsp. cider vinegar or lemon juice (draws collagen and calcium from bones)
1 tsp. salt
1 onion, peeled and halved
2 celery ribs cut into thirds; leaves attached
2 carrots, peeled and halved
2 garlic cloves, smashed
1 bay leaf
16 cup stockpot
Quart or pint size wide mouth mason jars; or other freezer safe containers
* Place bones on a lined rimmed baking sheet and roast at 400˚F for 20 minutes. Skip if using bones from a cooked chicken.
- Place bones and accumulated pan juices into stockpot. Add 4 quarts water, vinegar, and salt. Bring to boil; reduce heat to simmer. Skim off impurities. Cover. Simmer on low 6 hours; add vegetables.
- Continue simmering 9 hours for total of 15 hours. Don't bring to hard boil or broth will look “foggy.”
- Strain through fine mesh sieve into a container. Discard solids. Cool strained stock, cover and refrigerate.
- The following day it will thicken. Remove fat from top. Store in refrigerator 3-5 days, or transfer to freezer safe containers and freeze up to 3 months.
- Broth expands when frozen. Leave space in containers for expansion: 1” for wide mouth jars and containers, 2” for regular mouth jars.
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- Author: Andrea Peck
- Editor: Noni Todd
By Andrea Peck UCCE Master Gardener
Planting Area: Full Sun, USDA Zones 8-11
Size: up to 20' in height
Bloom Season: Fall
Fruit Season: Fall/Winter
Exposure: Sensitive to frost/freeze.
Pruning Needs: Yearly.
Water Needs: Medium.
The guava tree is a non-assuming plant with thick, silver-green leaves and oblong fruit. Though the guava is not a showy tree, it has an amazingly delicious fruit which is rich in Vitamin C. This tree is sensitive to frost but can grow in more temperate areas of the Central Coast as long as it is located in a protected, sunny spot. Alternatively, the guava can thrive in the right greenhouse environment.
The guava grows best in well-drained soil and once established, can tolerate some drought. It is considered a 'heavy feeder.' The young guava needs ½ pound of fertilizer every other month. Decrease fertilizing to 3-4 times a year as it becomes more mature and increase the amount of fertilizer to 2 pounds. Using a 6-6-6-2 fertilizer, spread it a foot away from the trunk, up to the drip line, and rake it in. A foliar spray of copper and zinc is recommended 3 times a year (skipping winter) for the first two years to promote healthy growth.
Prune your guava tree each year in late winter or early spring. The guava fruits on new growth. A yearly pruning will promote growth and increase fruiting. During the first year, trim the tree to establish a shape, leaving one trunk and three or four lateral branches for a classic 'tree' shape. You can also leave it to grow in bush form if you like. After the first year, trim excess growth, particularly interior branches that shade out the center of the tree---this will allow sunlight in for greater photosynthesis and promote air circulation.
When winter arrives, the quiet guava will surprise you with the most amazing fruit---you'll have to hunt for it though, this fruit tree expertly hides its treasure in silver-green camouflage.
- Author: Linda Lewis Griffith
- Editor: Noni Todd
By Linda Lewis Griffith UCCE Master Gardener
Common Name: Catalina Ironwood
Planting Zone: Sunset Zones 14-17, 19-24
Size: 20-50 ft. tall, 25-35 ft. wide
Bloom Season: Late spring or early summer
Exposure: Full sun
Pruning Needs: Prune in winter to manage shape and growth
Water Needs: Moderate amounts of water are needed from winter through spring; low amounts of water are needed during summer
Narrative:This beautiful, evergreen tree is native to the Channel Islands, where it grows on north facing slopes and canyon habitats from sea level to 1600 ft. in elevation. It is the only species of this genus. But over time, two subspecies have evolved. Lyonothamnus floribundus ssp. asplenifolius is known as Fern-leaf Catalina ironwood and is found on San Clemente, Santa Rosa and Santa Cruz Islands. Its leaves are deep green above, gray and hairy beneath and pinnately or palmately divided into 3-7 deeply notched or lobed leaflets. L. f. ssp. floribundus is native to Catalina Island. Mature foliage consists of simple, linear leaves, 3-7 inches long with finely toothed margins. Both varieties are found in cultivation and can hybridize with each other. The bark is red-brown and peels and shreds with age, revealing smooth, new bark underneath. Flowers appear as small, flat clusters of white blossoms, 8-18 inches wide. Old clusters eventually turn brown and can remain on the tree for years. When practical it's best to remove them. Fern-leaf Catalina ironwood is the most commonly grown subspecies and thrives in well-drained soil in coastal and adjacent inland zones throughout the state. It will survive in warmer climates if provided adequate drainage and periodic deep watering. It is often planted along roadways with other native plants or used to create attractive screens or groves. Excessive litter from flowers, leaves and bark can make it a poor choice in more manicured environments. Chlorosis, or yellowing leaves, may be a problem in heavy soils. Lyonothamnus is named for William S. Lyon, a 19th century resident of Los Angeles and a collector of plants from Santa Catalina Island. Thamnos is a Greek word meaning shrub. Floribundus means free-flowering.
- Author: Polly Nelson
- Editor: Noni Todd
By Polly Nelson UCCE Master Gardener
Common Name: Plumeria (Frangipani)
Scientific Name: Apocynaceae
Planting area: Depends on species, generally USDA zones 8-11
Size: Depends on species and if grown in ground or container.
Bloom Season: Spring-Fall
Exposure: Minimum 6 hours of full sun
Pruning needs: Minimal; to remove dead branches, maintain desired size and shape
Water needs: Moderate
Snapshot: Did you receive a lei in Hawaii and savor the scent? Plumerias may have been part of the lei, exuding a combination of jasmine, citrus and gardenia fragrance. Native to tropical America, the Plumeria genus is comprised of 11 species of shrubs and small trees. Branches are widely spaced, with thin, grey bark and milky sap when cut. They can be upright and compact, or open and sprawling. Fleshy leaves have an alternate pattern; shapes vary from round to pointed, glossy or smooth; positioned on the tips of the branches. Flowers are 2-4 inches in diameter and have five rounded, overlapping petals, in pink, red, white, and yellow color palettes. Fragrance may be strongest in the evening, to attract night-flying sphinx moth pollinators.
Plant in slightly acidic, well-drained soil, as Plumeria do not like “wet feet”. Container plantings should be placed in cactus mix. Water deeply and allow plant to dry out some before watering again. Stop watering once plants enter dormancy (winter); resume when new growth appears in spring. Fertilize with high phosphorus (10-30-10) solution every 1-2 weeks Spring through Fall. Too much nitrogen will result in more foliage and decreased blooms.
Propagate by seeds or cutting but know that cuttings are the easiest and most successful. Take 12-18 inch hardwood cuttings when dormant, allow the milky sap to dry 2-3 days, then place deeply in free draining soil mix with 1-1.5 inch tip above the soil line. Keep at approximately 70 degrees F.
Pests include: 1) Plumeria Rust, which affects foliage. Airborne spores spread by splashing rain or irrigation, appear as yellow specks on upper and undersides of leaves. Leaves can curl or otherwise distort. Treat by removing afflicted leaves, pick up dropped leaves, increase airflow around plants, and keep area weed free. 2) Spider mites may be treated with Neem oil.