Category Archives: Tips & Ideas

Science Triumphs

By Dudley Vines, SCMG A few months ago Linda Walsh, a 2018 SCMG intern, emailed me (one of her mentors) worried about some spots on her cherry tree. She said they looked like tiny red bugs, but since they didn’t move she thought maybe they were some sort of scale or mites. She sprayed the tree with a light-weight horticultural oil, but didn’t see any noticeable results. Then, at the SCMG end of training celebration, Linda approached me and told me her continuing sad tale.…

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Gardening in the Desert – The key is managing evaporation!

By John Zarola, with Dudley Vines Evaporation occurs due to intense sunshine, high winds, low humidity, and high temperatures—all of which we have in abundance. Methods we can employ to minimize evaporation include Amending the soil with compost to improve water retention; Avoiding bare soil by mulching, shading, and cover cropping Putting the right plant in the right place Incorporating efficient irrigation options AMENDING THE SOIL Compost is decomposed organic material. Amending soil with compost improves water infiltration and retention. Because compost decomposes (adding nutrients…

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Cold Frames for a Longer Season

Roy Archibald, SCMG A cold frame is a valuable tool for getting an early start in the garden and extending the season in the fall. We can begin planting at least a month earlier using one. In the fall adding a hoop cover can extend harvest for another month. The use of these adds an additional 60 days to our short gardening season. An easily constructed cold frame will provide protection from frost, temperature extremes, and drying winds. A cold frame in its simplest form…

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Winter Tree Care

By Dave Pojmann As we close one of the driest years on record, it’s time to think about the trees and bushes in our landscapes. Although the leaves have fallen, the roots of the trees are still active, and they need water to stay healthy. Young trees are especially vulnerable to winter damage if they don’t have enough water. A heavy soaking every three or four weeks is preferable to more frequent light watering. The water should be applied around the drip line of the…

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The Garden Sleeps

By Jan Koehler, SCMG There comes a time each year when even the most engaged gardener appreciates the declining day length and cooler temperatures which signal that the end of arduous toil, however be-loved, is winding down for the year. The amount of time spent watering pots or plots, denuding an area of unwanted plant growth, commonly known as weeds, and deadheading flowers to encourage yet one more flush of lively color or harvesting those tasty morsels of homegrown vegetables is finally coming to a…

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Winter Watering, Pruning, and Landscape Assessment

By Sandy Liakus, SCMG Watering Watering in the winter is essential to tree and shrub health in our high desert landscapes. In order for most established landscape trees and shrubs to flourish in our climate, you must deep water them at least once per month in the donut feeding root zone. Continue this deep watering schedule through the end of April, at which time you will need to increase the watering schedule to two times per month. An exception to this rule is newly planted…

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Winter Gardening – Planning for Spring Season by Loren Meinz Master Gardener

So, rather than winter boredom watching TV all day, there are some things we gardeners can and should be doing to get ready for spring season.  First, if you have fruit trees, January/February is the time for pruning.  After several years of my pruning efforts, my two trees are somewhat “odd” shaped, so this year I am hiring an arborist to give them a professional crew cut.  After pruning, consider applying dormant oil spray to rid the tree of left over pest bug eggs that…

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Preserving Yarrow

Yarrow adds color to gardens in the spring, but by the middle of July the flowers fade and turn brown. Usually, the stems and leaves are still green. How can the intrepid gardener maintain the color in the garden? Yarrows are perennials. You can’t pull them out to replace them. Cutting the spent flowers leaves the stems, which are not ugly, but lack color. But, there is a low-cost, easy way to maintain the color until the end of the year. When most of the…

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