Spring 2014

SPRING All Winter Long.

That about sums up our winter this year. We had a little frost back in November and it has been warm ever since. Some gardens are already seeing their rye grass die off and Bermuda begin to take hold. We suggest sneaking in a few spring-like garden activities before summer settles in.

WATER IS MEASURED IN GALLONS, NOT TIME.

Water, water, water. All we ever talk about is WATER. Despite the frequent subject matter, there are still those gardens who fall victim to water abuse. FREQUENT, BRIEF, DAILY WATER is the WORST THING you can do for your garden; period. It creates shallow roots fooling plant material into craving more water. Soil holds onto moisture at deeper levels. Plants become more sustainable when roots are allowed to seek water deep below the soil level. Temperatures may rise in the spring but there is no need to water established gardens more than every other day. (Daily water isn’t necessary until well into May.) You can manually add a water time anytime if it gets warm one day—but you cannot take it away. Know your irrigation style; is it sprinkler or drip? Adjustable drip heads or drip emitters? It makes a difference when it comes to duration of water times. Choose one irrigation style or the other but DO NOT combine both. Visit Moller’s for more clarification.

Sprinkler controllers tell time too……did you remember to reset the time on your irrigation time clock? This is a good time to check your time clock’s back-up battery as well. The Appropriate Watering Rule Book requires you water early in the day when water does the most good…roots soak up water in the morning and use it throughout the day. Early water times enable roots to dry out before the next application of water.

FERTILIZE

This is a great opportunity to fertilize any and everything in the garden. Use the right tool for the job — rose food on roses, all-purpose fertilizer for shrubs and trees and so on. We like the organics from Dr. Earth and Foxfarm. Hibiscus will bloom prolifically with Dr. Earth Acid Lovers fertilizer. Cactus and succulents benefit from Dr. Earth All Purpose fertilizer. They do not require feeding as often as other plant material but Spring is thee time to feed cactus and succulents to ensure healthy growth.

AVOID BAD HAIRCUTS

Spring pruning is most beneficial when seeking to create beautiful, natural shapes in the garden. We are not talking about the strange, geometric circles and squares we see abused plants reduced to. Gently lace out shrubs and open up trees to create a natural growth pattern as we head into the warmer months. It is important to have clean, well sharpened tools to work with. Scale, mealy bug and spider mite can transfer from plant to plant through contact from hands, gloves and pruning shears. Treat yourself to a new pair of quality hand pruners or tree loppers. Moller’s carries Felco and Corona gardening tools. It makes a difference!

Stock up on gloves, hand trowels and espalier material while you are at it. Espalier—to train to grow flat against a wall. Vines are meant to be attached to the wall, not on wooden trellises. Redwood just doesn’t hold up well in the desert. We stock metal trellises, galvanized wire and anchor kits. Not sure what espalier style you want to use or how to do it properly? This too is important, especially in our windy weather. We are here to answer questions.

PESTS

Garden pests did not ‘fly north’ this winter; there has been no cold weather to deter them this year. Did you know that ants are a secondary sign of a primary infestation? They feed on scale, aphids and mealy bug; ants do not feed on plants. Even the most seasoned gardener can fall prey to scale, mites and leaf minor. These pests are not always in plain sight so it is important to examine plants thoroughly. Check roses for rose chafers and powdery mildew though we are at the tail end of the season for these particular problems. Use Bonide Rose Rx 3 in 1 ready-to-use treatment to rid roses of these pesky pests. New growth is prime real estate for all opportunistic pests. Citrus trees may show signs of thrip as the weather warms up. It is more cosmetic than harmful; you can treat it as long as you are careful not to knock off new fruit when you spray. The same holds true for leaf minor. Captain Jack’s spinosad spray is the best option for the problem. DO NOT USE SYSTEMIC PESTICIDES on your citrus trees or any other food crop.

Bougainvillea have problems with looper; an inch worm variety that causes foliage to appear scalloped and can result in defoliation. These symptoms are tricky and may look like something else entirely. Fear not, bring us a leaf sample and we will help diagnose the problem. Captain Jack’s with spinosad comes once again to the rescue. Soon scoop-like chunks of foliage will disappear from the bougainvillea; remember this is due to the nesting Cutter Bee. It’s a ‘nature’ thing, there is no treatment. Mother Nature always wins.

Tiny holes begin to appear on vegetables, flowers and other new foliage though you may not always see the culprit. Worms are active in the cool of the night. We suggestMonterey Bt Ready-to-Use. It is quick, easy and organic. It will safely stop these unwelcome guests from eating herbs, flowers and vegetables before you can enjoy them. It is important to remember you may ONLY use organic pest controls on food items. Live to garden another day!

palm2WIND AND DUST

Proper pruning will help prevent wind damage to trees when wind is able to move through foliage rather than around it. Think of a tennis racket vs. a paddle. The air passes through a well maintained tree. Dust on plant material is a huge issue as it creates welcome growing grounds for pests like scale, red spider mite and mealy bug. It is a good practice to occasionally rinse off plant material so these pests have one less reason to move in.

Sometimes dust is dust and sometimes it is spider mite. Red spider mite is tough to control and already quite active in the desert. Keeping plants clean is the best deterrent. We suggest Bayer Advanced 3-in-1 Insect Disease and Mite Control for particularly stubborn mites. This treatment has residual effects to help stay off the beasts. As with any stubborn pest, the garden may require more than one application. It is always important to follow the instructions on the packaging. This product is NOT organic and therefore NOT FOOD SAFE. Live to garden another day…
This is the optimum occasion for planting permanents in your garden. Shrubs, trees, roses, perennials, cactus, drought tolerant material, palms and almost anything else we have forgotten. It’s also a great time to transplant material you might like to see in a different location as well. Keep in mind exposure as you choose the new location. Plants that have spent all winter in the shade might not be so happy if moved to a full sun or afternoon sun site. It’s planting season; the garden is open! And so is Moller’s Garden Center.

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