Thursday, May 27, 2010

Garden Checklist

From The Fresno Bee, May 27, 2010:

The garden is in full bloom and starting to produce a crop this month.

Tasks--Mow lawns frequently, removing only one-third of the growth with each mowing.
Pruning--Trim fast-growing hedges regularly.
Fertilizing--Apply a light feeding to summer flowers and vegetables. Water thoroughly after application.
Planting--Fill in bare spots from earlier plantings of annuals; clivia, lily-of-th-Nile (Agapanthus), bougainvillea, butterfly bush (Buddleia davidii); from seed: beans, cantaloupe.
Things to Ponder--Annual and vegetable plants that are set out now should not be planted in the heat of the day.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Rats In My Orange Tree

Recently a question was asked about the roof rats in my orange tree--the picture shows the damage they do (I posted about rats in my orange tree last January here). I thought others might have the same question, so I am posting it here:

Anonymous asked--
"I know that its been a while since your post, but how did you remedy this problem? I could really use some advice since we just recently acquired this same situation with our orange tree. I have trimmed the tree dramatically already but the rats persist and return. Which is totally creeping out myself and our kids. Thanks for your thoughts."

I'm sorry to say that I haven't done anything about the roof rats in my orange tree. The tree is a mature, full-size tree (about 23' high), so there are a lot of oranges that I can't reach and the rats can. Early this past spring I had cats leave me three dead rats in a one week period, but there is at least one still living or eating in my orange tree. The tree is next to a fence, with the neighbor house just a few feet from the tree. That house has been empty for the last 2 years and the rats may be living there, too. I have never seen the rats myself (other than the dead ones), and I have not pruned back the tree.

I would not use rat traps (the larger "mouse" traps) as kids or cats might be injured when the trap is triggered. Rat poison may harm or kill children, cats, birds, or dogs (if the poison is knocked or wind-blown to the ground). You might have to have an exterminator remedy the problem; but other rats may come in, something you could discuss with the exterminator.

Caution--be careful pruning back citrus trees, as the branches and trunk sun scald very easily. You can paint the trunk with one part white enamel paint and one part water. I nearly killed my orange tree when I pruned up the limbs (so it looks like a tree instead of a huge bush). The trunk burned so bad I thought it was beyond hope. At that time I was a gardener, but never had citrus trees. I learned that lesson real fast.--Gard'n Judy

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Garden Checklist

From The Fresno Bee, May 6, 2010:

When plants grow where we don't want them to grow, we consider them weeds.

Tasks--When using herbicides for weed control, spray on a calm day and protect plants by shielding with a large piece of cardboard.
Pruning--shape spring-flowering shrubs after bloom.
Fertilizing--Feed vegetables and lawns with all-purpose fertilizer.
Planting--Many annuals and vegetables can be planted from seed or transplanted; from seed: coneflower (Echinacea), beard tongue (Penstemon), gloriosa daisy (Rudbeckia); gladiolus; from seed: corn, pumpkin, spinach, squash, watermelon; bluebeard (Caryopteris); globe amaranth (Gomphrena).
Things to Ponder--To cover 100 square feet of space with mulch 3 inches deep, you will need 1 cubic yard of trunk space.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Taking Care of Fruit Trees

Last week I finally got time to get my peaches thinned. It should have been done sooner, but this is still OK (they are still just a little smaller than a golf ball). Peaches and other fruit should be thinned so that there are 4-6" between fruits. The tree leaves feed the fruit and have just a certain amount of food. If you leave a lot of fruit on the tree, then the fruit will be small when ripe. If you thin the fruit properly, then you will have nice, large fruit. Carefully remove the fruits so that you don't damage the tree branch. Sometimes when I try to remove a fruit, the tip of the branch pops off. That's really not a problem, unless it happens a lot--I figure it just prunes the branch a little. All fruit that you remove, and those on the ground should be put in the trash or green recycle bin, as they could harbor pest or disease problems.

I also took the time to prune back my semi-dwarf apricot trees (planted February 2009) by half of their new spring growth. Apricot trees tend to have super-vigorous growth and can get quite large in size if you don't cut them back 1-3 times in the spring. If you want to let your apricot trees grow to their normal height (up to 10-12' for semi-dwarfs), summer pruning later in the season is best, compared to winter pruning. Winter pruning will make apricot trees more susceptible to Eutypa disease, which causes severe gumming and branch die-back.--Gard'n Judy