June and July are usually the months when everything in the garden is growing--including weeds. This is the time of year the garden may feel more like a burden than a blessing, because if plants are too close there could be problems with crowding, and getting into the thick of things to pull out the weeds may take a bit more effort. If you leave the garden alone at this point, the weeds will take over. Pulling new weeds daily or weekly is the easiest way to deal with this chore. If you leave the weeding for later, you may find yourself looking at a large job that seems almost impossible.
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6220 Lakewood Blvd
Lakewood, CA 90712
Mon.-Fri.: 7:30 to 5:30
Sat. 8:00 to 5:30
Sunday: 9:00 to 4:30
"'Tis my faith that every flower
Enjoys the air it breathes!"
~ William Wordsworth, Lines Written in Early Spring, 1798
Have a safe and Happy 4th of July.
We will be closed in observance of the holiday. We will resume our normal operating hours on Sunday, July 5th from 9:00 - 4:30
When we talk about beneficials in the garden, we generally talk about companion plants and predatory insects. While they have their benefits, there is a class of beneficials that hides beneath the surface. You may only see mushrooms occasionally, and know them as a sign that you have too much water or too much wood in your soil, but fungi play an important role in your garden.
Decomposition is the main job of fungi, but some also create a mutually beneficial relationship with the plants around them by creating connections in the soil. These are called Mycorrhizal associations. This relationship helps plants to be more drought-resistant by allowing them to collect water from a larger area than their roots would normally allow. The fungi that do this are sometimes referred to as Mycorrhizae.
Mycorrhizal fungi can be added to your garden to do their job. They help plants grow deep roots and to utilize moisture that otherwise wouldn't be available to the plant roots. They are also known to help plants to take up nutrients, especially phosphorus, and are pioneers in sterile soils by fostering the growth of other beneficial microbes.
As long as we are short on water, it is critical that your plants have every possible advantage if they are going to continue to thrive. Mycorrhizae are included in some composts and mulches, but the best way to ensure that each plant is part of the fungal eco-system is to directly apply it by using a product specific to the plant you are working with.
Mycorrhizae are available in one of our favorite fertilizer lines from G&B Organics. G&B's dual-certified organic product line is tailored to every plant's specific needs. Formulas range from Starter fertilizer, Acid loving, Tomato/Veggie, all the way to Palm/Tropicals. We also carry straight mycorrhizae in the form of a product named Mykos. If you're not sure what would work best for your situation, don't hesitate to ask.
Here are a few little-known facts about our national holiday. Feel free to use them as conversation-starters at your annual barbeque or just as a way to impress your friends and family with your patriotic knowledge!
- Betsy Ross actually sewed the first American flag in May or June, 1776.
- On June 14, 1777, the Continental Congress adopted the national flag as a way to promote national pride and unity.
- So far, there have been 28 versions of the U.S. flag to date. The most recent version was designed in 1958--after Alaska and Hawaii joined the union--by high school student Robert Heft as a school project. Robert received a "B-" on his project.
He then submitted it in the national competition to select the next flag and his design won! Subsequently, his teacher raised his grade to an "A" (oops!).
- Both Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, who were life-long rivals, died on July 4th, 1826. Adams' last words "Thomas Jefferson lives!" proved to be untrue: Jefferson had died five hours earlier, but Adams had not received the message.
- James Monroe also died on July 4th in 1831.
- We probably have John Adams to thank for our modern-day fireworks displays. He wrote that the day (he thought it should be celebrated on July 2nd) "Ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more."
- During the days of horse and carriage, before cars became the popular mode of transportation, July 4th was the most miserable day of the year for horses due to the loud noise.
- Since static electricity in synthetic clothing can unleash sparks that can detonate fireworks, people who manufacture the shells are required to wear cotton clothing (including their underwear).
Declaration of Independence:
- July 2, 1776 was the actual day that the Continental Congress voted on and declared independence from Britain.
- The Declaration of Independence was actually signed on August 2, 1776, by 50 of the 56 signers.
- Only one of the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence recanted. This man was Richard Stockton, who was taken captive by the British in the middle of the night. After harsh treatment at the hands of the British, he declared his allegiance to the crown before being released.
Before his death, Stockton re-affirmed his belief in the document and the country it created. Four other signers were also captured and treated harshly by the British, but did not recant.
- It's thought that the name "Uncle Sam" came from Samuel Wilson, who was a meat packer who provided meat to the U.S. Army. The meat shipments were stamped with the initials "U.S.", and someone jokingly said that they stood for "Uncle Sam." Somehow, around 1813, this joke eventually led to that name symbolizing the United States government.
- The traditional Uncle Sam depiction was the creation of political cartoonist Thomas Nast in the late 1800's. Nast was also responsible for the still-used images of Santa Claus, the Republican Elephant and the Democratic Donkey.
Save the Date:
- July 4th was declared a federal legal holiday by Congress in 1941. Unlike most other federal holidays, its date is "sacred" and has not been moved to the nearest Friday or Monday.
Have a Happy 4th of July!
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The Fourth of July is almost here. It's not too late to create an Independence Day planter in red, white, and blue! For reds: try verbena, petunia, Sweet William, or salvia. For blues: bachelor's button, salvia, petunia, or lobelia. For whites: alyssum, petunia, candytuft.
Now...on to the July tasks in your gardens!
You can still plant some annuals and perennials in your summer gardens. For annuals, try marigolds, portulaca, and zinnias for that huge splash of color. For perennials, and even more color, plant coreopsis, gaura, rudbeckias, salvias, and many more.
Tropical plants are popular now and can be brought into any garden, whether tropical, cottage, or country themes. Flowering shrubs include hibiscus, brugmansia (Angel's Trumpet), canna, bougainvillea, and vines such as passion flower or Burmese honeysuckle. Large-leaf evergreens include philodendrons, xanadu, tree ferns, and gingers. You can even include abutilon, which comes in several colors including red, yellow, orange, and pink.
You are probably busy harvesting and enjoying your summer vegetables like green beans, tomatoes, eggplant, squashes, and peppers. You can also continue to plant these veggies to extend your crop harvest.
This time of year is often a major "pest" time in our gardens. Those holes in your rose leaves are from the rose slug. Aphids love the rose buds, and more. You can wash off these pests with water. Caterpillars are abundant; try a spray containing Bt. And we can't forget snails--they won't let us.
It's feeding time for your flowerbeds, roses, vegetables and warm-season lawns. Come in and ask one of us which fertilizers will be best for each of your plant needs. We offer a wide selection of fertilizers: multipurpose, organic, and slow release.
You can do some pruning, even though it's summertime. Fuchsia 'Gartenmeister,' gaura, and salvias will look much better if cut back by about 1/3. Oh...and your catmint, too.
If you forgot to increase your watering from the spring months, you must do so now. Trees (non-citrus) and shrubs will need deep soaks once each month in the summer, and regular irrigation in between. Citrus and your flowerbeds need regular weekly watering.
Those of you growing tomatoes and peppers, watch for tomato hornworms. They will need to be hand-picked from your foliage.
As usual, mulch, mulch, mulch! We will always tell you to mulch. This does not mean mound up the mulch to 5 feet. It means continue to replenish the mulch and maintain a 2-4 inch blanket over your soil. So when you hear us singing the MULCH song, you know just what we mean!
And last, but not least, have a very Happy Independence Day!
Trying to think of things to keep your kids busy over the summer? Summer is a great time to "sow" the love of gardening in them by engaging them in some fun summer projects.
Build a Living House or Teepee:
Help your child construct a house or teepee by using stakes and twine.
To build the house, place 4 (6'-8') stakes about 6'-8' apart making a square; be sure they are sturdily set in the ground so that they won't collapse when the future "walls" and "roof" are covering them.
On one side of the square, create your doorway by placing 2 stakes about 2' apart in the center.
Secure the stakes with twine near the bottom, in the center and near the top by starting at one side of the doorway and going all the way around the "house" to the other side of the doorway, wrapping the twine several times around each stake as you go.
Prepare a planting bed all around the "foundation" of the house, incorporating a good quality planting mix into the soil.
Plant sunflower seeds and/or a fast growing--non-poisonous or even edible--vine. These will grow up around the walls, making your living house.
If you string some twine across the top of the structure, your vine will grow along the twine, forming a roof.
A teepee can be constructed using 5 (6'-8') poles that are tied together near one end, forming the teepee shape.
Near the bottom of each pole, plant pole beans, preparing the soil as above. These will grow up and cover the teepee.
These structures make great shady "get-away" areas for your kids to go to have a little private time to commune with nature!
Plant a Garden in a Bag:
Many potting soils and some soil amendments can be used to plant right in the bag. This is a fun, easy and inexpensive project to instill the love of growing and harvesting home grown produce.
Simply purchase a bag of soil (ask us which type would be best), cut off the top of the bag and position it where it will get at least 6 hours of sun a day. Punch a few small holes in the bottom of the bag to provide drainage.
Let your child choose the vegetable of his or her choice.
When you get home, plant right in the bag.
Your child can be responsible for the plant by checking it daily to be sure it is getting the right amount of water. You can also teach him or her about feeding the plant when needed and explain how every living thing (including plants) needs nutrients.
When it's time for the harvest, you can cook a meal with your child using the vegetables he or she grew. This one easy project will provide many opportunities to share the love of gardening!
When your flowering plants go to seed, show your child how to collect the seeds and explain how these seeds can be planted in the garden for next year's flowers.
You can turn it into an art project, too, by helping your child make their own seed packages; allow them to decorate each pack with the names and pictures of each plant. Next year, when its time to plant, you can use the seeds that they collected!
These easy and fun projects have the added benefits of getting your child away from the television set or computer, getting them out in the fresh air and sunshine, giving them some much-needed exercise - and maybe even getting them to willingly eat some veggies!
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The next time you order escargots at an expensive French bistro, perhaps you should reconsider, remember your history, and save some money by ordering the onion soup; the most common snail causing problems in California gardens is the brown garden snail (Helix aspersa) which was introduced from France during the 1850s for use as food.
Snails and slugs, both members of the mollusk phylum, similar in structure and biology except for the fact that slugs lack the snail’s external spiral shell, are among the most bothersome pests in many garden and landscape situations. Problematic slugs include the gray garden slug (Agriolimax reticulatus), the banded slug (Limax marginatusi), the tawny slug (Limax flavus), and the greenhouse slug (Milax gagates).
Slugs are hermaphrodites and can stretch to 20 times their normal length, enabling them to get to seemingly unreachable food sources.
A very effective biological control for the brown garden snail is the predatory decollate snail (Rumina decollate) which has been released in southern California citrus orchards. It feeds only on small snails, getting a head start on controlling the brown snail population. However, the decollate snail's very predaceous nature has led to a ban of its use in California outside of Fresno, Imperial, Kern, Los Angeles, Madera, Orange, Riverside, Santa Barbara, San Bernardino, San Diego, Ventura or Tulare counties.
Both snails and slugs use a muscular “foot” for movement, which secretes mucus, which then later dries to form a silvery slime trail signaling the presence of either pest.
It's rather like a trail of bread crumbs leading the originating slug, along with others, directly back to the host plant to feast at another time.
And those host plants that are particularly susceptible to snails and slugs include basil, beans, cabbage, dahlia, delphinium, lettuce, marigolds, strawberries, our beloved hostas, and many other vegetable plants.
Have you ever lifted up a rock and seen a grouping of at least 80 spherical, pearly white eggs in the topsoil? These are probably the work of an adult brown garden snail, two years of age. They may lay eggs up to 6 times a year!
Slugs, on the other hand, mature after only 3 to 6 months, and lay clear oval to round eggs in batches of 3 to 40 under leaves, in soil cracks, and in other protected areas. So don't let the leaves from your deciduous trees remain in corners where you think visually it won't matter. Gardening is sometimes an icky job.
This brings us to how to rid ourselves of these pests. You can squish them: sprinkle them with salt: drown them in a jar of soapy water (we strongly suggest wearing gloves if you use this method): become a night detective and using a flashlight, search for their shiny trails: place ceramic flowerpots upside down where the snails and slugs will accumulate to rest in the shade (eating your hostas can take a lot of energy!), and when you overturn them remove the snails daily - eventually the infestation will be eradicated: but our favorite method of removal is to sink a shallow jar into the ground so that the top is flush.
Then fill the jar with beer and wait for the snails and slugs to fall in and drown.
However, if a prolonged and often futile battle does not appeal to you, try one of the baits with iron phosphate as the active ingredient, which can be found in all of our garden center.
Also, be wise and plant a snail and slug resistant garden. Begonias, California poppy, fuchsias, geraniums, impatiens, lantana, nasturtiums, purple robe cup flowers, ornamental grasses, and the highly-scented lavender, rosemary, and sage, are not attractants to these destructive creatures, yet will provide color, texture, and scent to your garden.
How often should I water the plants in the ground in my garden?
The simple answer would be however often it takes to keep your soil moist but not wet.
As a rule, the hotter it gets, the more you will have to water. In the cooler months, you only water between periods of extended dry weather or high wind, which can also stress or dry a plant out.
When it is hot, increase the length of time you water your plants, not the frequency of watering. Watering slowly will allow the water to soak down to the roots. Using drip irrigation is the most effective method. It is also important to group plants with similar watering needs together.
Most plants need to be watered at least twice a week; new plants that have yet to be established should be checked every other day. Check that the soil has dried out a bit before watering. Use a stick or dowel to check moisture levels. Cactus and succulents will rarely need water. Even in desert areas these can thrive without any supplemental watering.
Remember that checking does not necessarily mean adding water! Roots need to breathe, and overwatering stresses plants as much as underwatering, promoting root rot and flushing out nutrients from the soil. If the soil is muddy without having been watered, you may have a drainage problem.
If a plant is too dry, the foliage will have a wilted appearance or begin to burn on the outside leaf tips.
If a plant is too wet, it will lose its luster and quickly drop faded leaves, starting from the inside of the plant and working its way to the leaf tips. Fruiting plants like squash and tomatoes will show signs of blossom end rot.
Make sure not to use soft water on any plants. The salt in the water can burn or kill plants. Tap water is fine, but rainwater is better.
Adding mulch will help retain moisture. Mulch keeps the sun off the soil, while allowing the soil to breathe and adding organic matter.
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This recipe makes any novice cook a gourmet chef! Enjoy!
What You'll Need:
- 1 pint heavy cream
- 2 sticks butter
- 8 ounces parmesan cheese (for creamier texture, grate fresh)
- 6 ounces cream cheese
- 1 lb. fettuccine
- 8 ounces cauliflower florets
- 8 ounces broccoli florets
- In a double boiler, combine butter, cream cheese and heavy cream over low heat until thoroughly melted and smooth.
- In a large pot, cook fettuccine in boiling water until done. [Note: salted water will speed up the time to wait for water to boil and add some flavor to the fettuccine]
- Blanch broccoli and cauliflower in boiling water until tender; do not over-cook. Drain and place aside for combining with other ingredients.
- Drain fettuccine (do not rinse with water!), then place in a large bowl.
- Mix in vegetables and sauce and sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese.
- Serve immediately.