Maintenance Information

If you are searching for particular maintenance information, please see the blogs for the months that correspond to the time frame that you are searching. Also check the labels of the blogs (at the base of the blog page) for blog subjects that might be helpful.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Salvias or Sages- what to do in winter

Salvias or Sages are the beloved garden perennials  of hummingbirds, butterflies and bees These hardy, multi-season blooming plants are colorful and aromatic. There are so many hybrids now that I have a hard time keeping up with the new varieties.  Not to be confused with the short lived annual types, the perennial low and medium shrub versions are long lasting and diverse. 
These plants have aptitudes to both half light and full sun. Some are water loving but most like a dry location. Many are subject to frost damage. Check the Sunset Western Garden Book for information on zones and water requirements for any new salvias you purchase.
In the winter Salvias will go dormant with many having the whole top die back. All the shrub forms of Salvia should be pruned back at the tail end of the frost season (late February) to allow for the new top growth to develop. For many of the shrub forms, if look down at the base of the plant you will see the fresh shoots developing around the crown.  Leaving the old top growth over winter helps to protect the new growth from freeze. The good thing about plants that rejuvinate from the base or grow from the old wood is that you have a whole new, fresh top and flowering stalks each year. If not pruned back the plants will become woody, leggy and not bloom well or at all.  The hummingbirds will be really mad too! 
During the growing season dead head (cut dead flower heads) back, plus about 2-4" of the foliage to keep the plants looking fresh and promoting new blooms.  Fertilize lightly with "Osmocote" or other all purpose fertilizer. They dont need a lot of food or really much care.
Nepeta, teucrium, and daylilies have a similar type of care with the top growth dying back in winter and the new plants emerging from the base.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Citrus Care

Citrus are the easy fruiting trees. They are really big shrubs with a classic rounded shape. They store their fruit well and ripen slowely so that you can pick it over a long period of time.

January is a good time to feed your Citrus with all-purpose citrus food so that the spring rains will wash in the fertilizer.  This will help set the crop for next year. It is also a good time to give them a dose of chelated iron which is a soluble iron that is mixed with water and foliar fed or poured around the root area from a bucket. Feed Citrus again with iron in the late summer and water in well.

Be sure and pick all the ripe fruit each year and clean up any fallen fruit or "mummies" still hanging on the tree to help rid the area of diseases and pests that get into the fallen fruit.
Removing the fruit also helps next years crop to form in that energy isn't going into maintaining
the old fruit still hanging on the tree.

Citrus don't need a lot of pruning just trim any long branches that shoot out and keep them trimmed into a nice rounded, symmetrical shape. Avoid over-pruning as it opens up the canopy and allows the sun to scald the thin bark of the plants.

Prune other trees and shrubs away from your Citrus trees so they get plenty of light, water and nutrients on all sides.

Whitefly can be an issue for Citrus, if they are in an overcrowded area or are not getting enough light.
Hang traps for these pests and wash foliage frequently. Prune back any trees blocking the light to the Citrus.

In Summer, deeply water your Citrus twice a month by setting out a hose at the drip line of the canopy, letting the hose run very slowly for 20-30 minutes. Do this in 4 places around a large tree and two places for smaller trees. Even if you have irrigation the deep watering helps the trees develop juicy fruit- its mostly water after all!

When hard freeze is predicted in the winter cover the trees (if you can) with a cloth sheet (not plastic). Uncover as the freeze lifts.
Some folks put a light under the sheet to generate some heat for the tree.

If you can't eat all your fruit please donate it to the food bank- they really need the donations and appreciate it!

Enjoy the powerhouse of fruiting plants- Citrus!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

What am I seeing Here?

Yes, that really is a California Blacktail Deer on someones roof!  This was contributed to my blog by Erin Sunkel of Belmont, who was amazed to look out her dining room window to see a Deer on the neighbors roof chomping on the tops of her shrubs.  Apparently this rascal had jumped from the slope in the back of the home onto the roof to have a buffet of the foliage overhanging the roof. 

Up at my Mom's house in Marin County we have had many amazing Deer interactions including:

A 3 legged deer who couldn't seem to stand up so my Mother (80 at the time) decided to help out and scared herself and the Deer. Luckily they both tottered off without harm.

A huge Buck getting his antlers stuck between the beams on the underside of the house.
So Mom was in the shower and heard a lot of racket from below. She exited the shower, dressed and went to investigate to find the animal in jeopardy.  With the help of the Marin Humane Society they got the Buck free but it ran off before they could determine if he was o.k.. At least he didn't come back.

When I lived at home I heard  crashing,banging noises coming from the woods out back. I came out the back door to find two Bucks doing a nature kingdom spectacular for me. They were butting their heads together at full speed with giant racks of antlers- Wow!  The energy was terrifying and fascinating at the same time.

One of my childhood friends in the hood found a struggling Deer in their creek and was horrified to find that someone had shot him with a arrow.  The Marin Humane Society (they get a lot of action) came out and tried to help out but this Deer also ran off before it could be sedated and taken to the animal hospital.  We always wondered how it got shot and where it went to.

My favorite though is the time Mom opened the front door to find a little doe laying on the front stoop perfectly comfortable and happy out of the rain and cold weather. She was startled but quietly closed the door and smiled.

For all my acrimony with Deer for the damage they cause to the gardens they are a big part of our lives in the old neighborhood and it wouldn't be the same without them.