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Blue Hills Newsletter
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Blue Hills Nursery News February 8, 2018
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FEATURED QUOTE :

"An addiction to gardening is not all bad when you consider all the other choices in life."
~ Cora Lea Bell



New Arrivals!

Our first shipment of herbs and tomatoes has arrived!

Also succulents and blooming flowers.



Moss Planters!

Teapot, purse and cup & saucer moss arrangements.



Growing Blueberries

Blueberries are one of the healthiest fruits around; they are low calorie, almost fat free, packed with vitamin C, antioxidants and dietary fiber--and they taste wonderful. As if that weren't enough, they can add striking beauty to your garden. Whatever your reason for growing them, blueberries will work very well in your landscape plans. In addition to the fruit they produce, they have beautiful bell-shaped blooms in spring, handsome glossy foliage in the growing season, striking fall color and bright red stems in winter.

Blueberries are easy to grow, require little care and are seldom bothered by pests. They can vary in size from low ground-covering varieties to large bushes ranging 4-6 ft. high. Their versatility allows them to be used as background shrubs or as border plants. They even make excellent hedges, if spaced correctly. If you are limited in space or just have a patio, consider planting them in containers.

Different varieties of blueberries produce different sizes of fruit, with flavor ranging from tart to very sweet. Larger fruiting varieties produce fruit perfect for fresh eating and large desserts, while smaller fruiting varieties are better for adding to cereals, muffins and pancakes. Be sure to select different varieties to lengthen your harvest season from June until the end of August. For blueberry lovers, we suggest at least two plants per family member.

Blueberries can tolerate full sun in milder summer climates but prefer partial shade in the afternoon. They prefer a light, airy acid soil, so adding 50% peat moss to each hole is highly recommended. Blueberries like to stay moist but not wet. If your soil does not drain well, consider building a raised bed to plant them in. Amend with GBO Acid Planting Mix before planting and feed with an acid fertilizer in spring and midsummer for best results.

Blueberries can be planted as close as 2-1/2' apart if a solid hedge is desired or up to 6' apart if you want to grow them as individual specimens. Just make sure you have access to them so you can get at those tasty, juicy berries!

We love blueberries and invite you to add them to your garden. We have a nice selection of varieties that grow well in our local area. Stop by soon and one of our garden experts will help you select the perfect variety for your family!

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Perfectly Primrose!

If you are looking for the perfect flower to bridge the gap between winter and summer, consider the primrose. Like a ray of sunshine on a damp and gloomy day, primroses (primula) provide early spring blooms in almost every color of the rainbow.

They prefer cool temperatures and moist, rich, well-draining soil (with lots of compost). Primroses can tolerate full sun in spring but definitely prefer afternoon shade once temperatures get warmer. They can easily be grown indoors during winter, provided that you maintain cool night temperatures in your home (below 65 degrees), filtered sun and moist soil. Use a good potting soil and fertilize as needed with Gro-Power Flower 'n' Bloom.

The most popular types of primroses include English primroses (Primula vulgaris/polyanthus), Fairy primroses (Primula malacoides) and German primroses (Primula obconica). All are heavy bloomers and well suited for garden planting or in containers.

Originally from England, most English primroses now are grown along the Pacific Coast. They produce large clusters of flowers above the foliage, with dwarf varieties just a few inches above the foliage and taller hybrids growing up to one foot above the foliage. They are available in almost every color shade.

German primroses are often called perennial primroses, since they can often come back to re-bloom the following season. They have larger rounded leaves, and grow up to 12 inches high, with taller flower stalks. The flowers come mostly in shades of red, rose and salmon.

Fairy primroses have a more delicate look, with smaller leaves and flower clusters on 6-12" stalks above the foliage. They generally are available in color shades of pink, lavender and white.

So if the winter blues are getting you down, chase them away with some perfect primroses!

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Pothos

Pothos (Epipremnum aureum) is one of the best known houseplants out there. Tolerant to low light, infrequent watering, and outright neglect, it is best known for its shiny leaves, long, draping foliage, and its ability to purify air where it is kept.

Depending on conditions, Pothos will grow shoots that are as long as 6-10' long, dangling from the outside of its pot (in the tropical climates where it is native, these can be as long as 40'.) This makes it ideal in a hanging basket. Pothos can survive with minimal sunlight, but cannot do entirely without, so plan to place it in a room with a window. It will also do fine under the bright fluorescent tubes most offices have, so if you want to take it to work with you, don't worry about windows.

Care for this is very simple. Let the dirt dry out before watering again. Too much water can cause root rot and wash out nutrients in the soil. Too much watering will cause drooping and possibly black spots on the leaves. The best way to tell if it needs water is to use a finger and dip it into the soil. If you get wet dirt on your finger, wait a couple more days.

They prefer slightly acidic soil, but as long as your soil drains well, it should be fine. The plant can either be allowed to grow long vines to drape down around it, or pruned up to give it a bushier shape. As with any plant, confine your trimming to less than 1/3rd of the volume of the plant.

When the leaves start to regularly droop, even upon watering, it is a good sign that it's time to transplant into a larger container. If you're cursing your black thumb, or just hoping for some low-maintenance greenery in your home, give Pothos a try.

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Planning a Xeriscape Garden

When xeriscape is mentioned, many people think of cactus and sand--or rock gardens. Mind you, both cactus gardens and rock gardens can be quite attractive. But that is not all xeriscaping allows. You can have a xeriscape landscape that is fully planted, colorful--and water-conserving. Nor do you have to use only drought-tolerant plants. The idea is to reduce overall water use by grouping plants with similar needs together--so you can have one area that uses some extra water and another area where you need no more water than nature provides. If you grow edible plants, the same principle applies.

Advantages of xeriscape

  • Water saving: Using native and other drought-tolerant plants can significantly reduce water use.
  • Money saving: Reducing water use can lower your water bill. Xeriscaping can also reduce maintenance costs--while adding to the beauty and value of your property.
  • Time saving: xeriscape landscaping can significantly reduce the time you spend watering, fertilizing and mowing. (Buy a hammock--you'll have more time to use it.)
  • No worries: It's nice to be able to go on vacation for a few weeks and know your plants will still be alive when you return.

The seven principles of xeriscape:

  • Plan and design for water conservation and beauty from the start.
  • Create practical turf areas of manageable size and shape, and appropriate grasses.
  • Select plants with low water requirements and group plants of similar water needs together. Experiment to determine how much and how often to water the plants.
  • Use soil amendments (we recommend Gardner & Bloome Organics) as needed by the site and the type of plants used.
  • Use mulches to reduce evaporation and to keep the soil cool.
  • Irrigate efficiently with properly designed systems--and by applying the right amount of water at the right time.
  • Maintain the landscape properly by mowing, weeding, pruning and fertilizing properly.

If you've just moved in to a new place and want a whole new landscape, consider xeriscape. We'd advise you, in that situation, to hire a professional landscaper to help you design the landscape--and to do the hard work for you. Doing a whole landscape at once is too much for most individuals. But you can use the "bit by bit" approach or a simple substitution approach, and move your landscape gradually to xeriscape.

Perhaps you have a problem area where it's difficult to keep your plants growing well, an area that is difficult to irrigate, or a lawn area that's hard to mow or keep green. Look at these areas as candidates for the first moves to xeriscape.

One of the major things to look at when xeriscaping is, "Can I get rid of some of that lawn?" Out of all the things we grow in our yards, turf is usually the biggest overall water-user. If you live in an area with a homeowner's association that requires you to have a certain percentage of lawn, at least make your long-term plans to get the lawn down to the minimal acceptable percentage (or get the rule changed).

When planning a xeriscaped area, keep in mind that curves are more natural (and easier to mow around) than sharp angles. Also look at the soil type, the amount of sun or shade, elevation, and ease of access.

Do you have some plants that already do well in that area, even if neglected? Keep them for xeriscaping in that particular micro-climate in your yard. Remove, or move, plants that are not doing well and amend the soil before planting any new plants. Then mulch.

Keep in mind that even xeriscape plants will need extra water when first planted--until established. Once established, however, they will need much less maintenance than other areas.

You may find you like xeriscape so much you'll continue till your whole yard (or as much as possible) is xeriscaped. You can then lie in the hammock you bought with the savings on your water bill, sipping a cool drink on a hot summer day, and watching your neighbors sweating over their vast expanses of turf. Have fun!

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Happy Valentine's Day

Garden Primer

Is it a bug or is it a fungus?

Telling the difference between insects and fungus or disease problems is not a simple task! Remember when giant whitefly first showed up? Many thought it was fungus because of the fuzzy filaments hanging from the undersides of the leaves and reacted by spraying fungicides, which weren't any help at all.

Actually, insecticides didn't help much either--as we soon found out--due to the many generations present (some of which were resistant) at the same time. Since the mouthparts of giant whiteflies are long and tubular, a good blast with the hose is actually one of the best methods of getting rid of them!

article pictureMany other bugs also leave damage that looks much like fungus. In some cases, such as aphids (honeydew produced by the aphids promotes the growth of sooty mold), they actually attract mold or fungus. Using a fungicide may get rid of a symptom but leave the original problem.

Another example: small holes in the leaves of plum, nectarine, almond, and apricot trees are actually symptoms of "shot hole" fungus, but if you see tiny holes in your eggplant's leaves--you probably have flea beetles!

As you can see, diagnosis is not always easy! Bring a sample in and we'll try to help diagnose problems and find the best cure for your problem.

As always, the first and best line of defense is prevention. Keep plants healthy--avoid injuries (such as hitting trees with lawnmowers, etc.). Choose varieties that do well in our area and are naturally resistant. We can help you choose resistant plants that will thrive for you.

Disease occurs when the conditions exist to allow it. It is an interaction between the pathogen (causative agent), environmental conditions, and host (plant). All these must be present. That's why prevention is so important. Consult our nursery professionals for help.


Spraying Tips:
Whether you use our organic or conventional sprays, you can get the most out of your spraying by following these tips:

  • Make sure the spray is getting underneath the leaves. Mites, whiteflies, and many others spend most or all of their time there, so spraying only on the top surfaces will not control them.
  • Don't spray a bone-dry plant, and don't spray in the middle of a very hot day. Early morning is a good time to spray because it's usually cooler and less windy, and the insects are less active--so more spray hits the pests.
  • Follow all label directions. Don't use a more concentrated spray than the label recommends--you can easily burn your plants, and usually it is no more effective. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to consult our nursery professionals.

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Featured Recipe: English Bangers

What You'll Need:

  • 1 package of your favorite link sausage (any will do: bratwurst, knockwurst...sausage links)
  • 1 green onion, rough chopped
  • 1 white onion, rough chopped
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup of dark stout beer
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Step by Step:

  • In a large skillet, place olive oil and bring to medium heat.
  • Add green peppers and onions, allow the onions to cook until translucent.
  • Add the sausage, then add the stout beer.
  • Cover and allow to cook on medium low heat for approximately 20 minutes.
  • Serve over mashed potatoes, pasta or rice!

This is a super-easy, quick recipe that is sure to please!

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If you haven't already done so, now is a good time to start carrots, lettuce, spinach, beets, and other cool-season crops.



Contact Information:

Telephone:
(562) 947-2013

Address:
16440 E. Whittier Blvd.
Whittier, CA 90603

Hours:
Open 7 days a week, 8:30 am-5:00 pm

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