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Edition 14.04 H&H Gardening Newsletter January 23, 2014

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Planting Trees and Shrubs:
It's time to get planting again. The pleasant weather is great for planting perennials, ground covers, herbs, roses, and trees and shrubs. It's also ideal for planting native plants, trees, shrubs, and perennials. And don't forget native wildflowers. They'll germinate beautifully with the winter rains.

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featured quote


"Knowledge consists of knowing that a tomato is a fruit, and wisdom consists of not putting it in a fruit salad."
~ Miles Kington

New Arrivals

Tomatoes are in.
Available in 4" pots.

Japanese maples have arrived.

Rose mix $5.99, reg $6.49

Dependable Evergreens

Choose some of the easiest and most dependable evergreens as the backbone of your indoor displays.


Many of them are tough enough for the more difficult positions around the home, and most of those suggested here are bold enough to be focal point plants, too.

The glossy evergreens such as dracaenas, fatsias, ficus, scheffleras, palms and philodendrons generally make excellent stand-alone plants, but they can also be used as the framework plants for groups and arrangements. They will be far more robust than plants with thin or papery leaves, feathery and frondy ferns, or even those with hairy leaves.

You need these other leaf textures, as well as flowering plants, to add variety of shape and form and a touch of color, but it makes sense to use the toughest evergreens as the basis of your houseplant displays.

euonymus japonicus

When a tough plant is needed for a cold or drafty spot, such as a hallway or near a back door, consider using some of the hardy foliage plants that have to cope with frost and gales when planted outdoors! Fatsia japonica is a glossy evergreen with fingered foliage, rather like the palm of a hand. Others to look for are variegated varieties of Aucuba japonica and Aglaeonema.

Ivies are also ideal if you need a tough climber or trailer. There are lots of varieties to choose from with a wide choice of leaf shape, size and color.

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Secrets for an Extended Fruit Tree Harvest

One of the true pleasures home gardeners can experience is growing their own fruit. And with a little planning, it's possible to have an extended harvest season. Even gardens that are short on space can have an extended harvest if the proper planting techniques are used.

The key to an extended or year-round harvest is understanding the ripening times of fruit and citrus trees. Most citrus start to ripen in winter, with mandarins coming first and then followed by lemons, limes and oranges through March and April. But most lemons produce a steady crop of fruit year-round. Thanks to some new Australian and New Zealand citrus cultivars that get confused by the hemispheres, you can have citrus in late summer and fall. Then you can always count on kumquats for a November-to-January harvest.

With deciduous fruit trees you can start with early varieties of apricots that ripen as early as mid-May, followed by a crop of cherries in June. The summer months bring in nectarines, peaches, plums and pluots from mid-June through August. After that, apples, pears and persimmons ripen in September and October. Figs will bear fruit from early summer to late fall.

If you are short on space, consider planting more than one variety in the same hole. Just make sure to plant trees with similar growing habits. Apples, cherries and pears tend to be the fastest and highest growers. Since citrus require more sun to ripen than deciduous fruit trees, make sure they get the sunniest locations. Most deciduous fruit trees will produce a great tasting crop of fruit as long as they receive at least 5-6 hours of sunlight during the growing season. Citrus prefer 6-8 hours of sunlight.

The final secret to getting great tasting fruit is to wait until the fruit has ripened completely on the tree. This allows the sugar content to be at its highest level. The problem with most store-bought fruit is that it is harvested long before it is ripe in order to stand up to the rigors of shipping. The fruit never develops the same intense flavor on a shelf as it does on the tree.

Now is a great time to buy fruit trees. We have a good selection of citrus and deciduous fruit trees. If you have any questions, our staff of fruit tree experts will be happy to help you plan your year-round fruit tree garden!

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Backyard Orchard Culture

As homes continue to be built larger and garden space becomes smaller, fewer homeowners have the space to plant as many fruit trees. But that doesn't mean you have to go without the fresh taste of homegrown fruit. All you have to do is incorporate the principles of Backyard Orchard Culture.

The objective behind this gardening concept is to allow for a prolonged harvest of tree-ripe fruit from a small space. This can be accomplished by planting multi-grafted fruit trees, planting two or more trees with different ripening dates in the same hole, or by espaliering fruit trees along a sunny house wall or fence line.

By using multi-graft trees or planting more trees in one hole, a homeowner can now extend a 3-4 week harvest season into 10-12 weeks of different flavors. Planting or creating espaliers along a fence line can also free up valuable garden space for more fruit trees or other ornamental plants.

Close planting also offers the additional benefit of restricting a tree's vigor, because it has to compete for root space and sunlight with other nearby trees. More of the tree's energy will go towards producing fruit instead of sending out new growth. Close planting also can create an environment for better cross-pollination, which also leads to increased fruit production.

Most types of fruit trees need to be pruned each year to stimulate new fruiting wood, remove dead and diseased branches, or to allow more sunlight between the branches to help fruit ripen better and more evenly. If you start pruning consistently when your trees are young, it will be much easier to keep the tree at a manageable or desirable height.

At the heart of Backyard Orchard Culture is the concept of summer pruning. By pruning at the same time you are thinning your crops, you will be better able to distinguish the kind of wood on which the tree sets fruit. You won't accidentally prune off any fruit because you can see it, and the new growth is always above or beyond the fruit.

Reducing the size of the tree canopy will in turn reduce the photosynthesis (food manufacture) of the tree. This helps to limit the amount of food materials and energy available for the roots to store, which in turn will control the tree's capability to produce as much new growth the rest of summer or the following spring.

Pruning for size control in the summer will reduce your pruning chores in winter. Once the leaves fall off, you will have a better opportunity to prune for branch spacing and overall shaping of your trees. To create an espalier tree, simply prune off anything that doesn't grow flat. Then selectively thin and train what's left to space the fruiting wood. You can espalier most fruit trees, but apples and pears lend themselves to this type of pruning better than other varieties.

Smaller fruit trees can be much more manageable to spray, prune, and harvest than large trees. So, take a new look at your garden and you might be surprised at the possibilities you have for growing fruit trees. Then close your eyes and think about how great the fruit from those trees will taste!

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Garden Primer
What makes an organic fertilizer truly organic?


A fertilizer can be labeled as all-organic when it is completely composed of naturally-occurring ingredients. While people place an organic label on manures--and products such as bone meal, blood meal and "hoof and horn" are considered organic--most blended organic fertilizers do not contain these products. Most organic fertilizers use only plant and fish by-products as a source for their nutrients.

The majority of organic fertilizer blends contain a mixture of alfalfa meal, cottonseed meal, kelp meal, feather meal, fish bone meal, mined potassium sulfate, soft rock phosphate and seaweed extract. Organic plant foods break down faster in meal form than in pelletized form, because pellets have a binding agent that needs to be broken down before the nutrients can become available to the plant roots.

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Cream Cheese Potato Soup

What You'll Need:

  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 4 cups potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1/4 cup onions, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon seasoning salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, cut into chunks

Step by Step:

  • Combine broth, potatoes, onion, and spices.
  • Boil on medium heat until potatoes are tender.
  • Smash a few of the potato cubes to release their starch for thickening.
  • Reduce to low heat.
  • Add cream cheese.
  • Heat, stirring frequently, until cheese melts.

Yield: 4-6 servings


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