How To

Overwintering Your Tuberous Begonia

santa cruz begonia 2017

Tuberous Begonias, like our Santa Cruz Sunset, REQUIRES winter dormancy. This means you need to begin in fall by reducing the water to the plants until the tops have died back and the soil is completely dry. Here is my shortcut: Forget to bring in the basket on the night of the first freeze! See the results in the photo ... Read More »

Grafting

graft_trunk

What Is Grafting? The seed from a Gala apple will produce an apple tree, but it will not produce a Gala apple tree. Likewise, the seed from a Honeygold apple will not produce a Honeygold apple tree. In other words, fruit trees cannot be reproduced “true” to the original cultivar from seed. They can only be reproduced by grafting. Grafting ... Read More »

Dormant Spraying of Apricots

dormant spray for apricots

Apricots are suspectible to several diseases: Brown fungus rot, leaf curl, and bacterial canker. Brown rot is a fungus that appears as a water-soaked lesion on a fruit. This lesion spreads until the whole fruit shrivels up like a gray fuzzy mummy. If the fruit is not removed, the spores of the fungus will drop to the ground during the ... Read More »

Winter Garden Activities

tiller at sunnyvale heritage orchard

Winter is short in Sunnyvale: Typically mid-December to mid-February. In historically normal years, it rains for two days and then is clear for 3 days. Most of Sunnyvale’s 12 annual inches fall between November and March. In January there might be one or two cold spells with temperatures below freezing. Read More »

Seedling Heat Mat

seedling_heat_mat

Use a seedling heating mat to improve the germination of your seeds. These pads are specially made for use with growing seeds, giving the correct temperature while avoiding the danger of using a home heating pad with damp soil and spilled water. Read the seed packet to find the correct timing for planting the seeds. Each variety of seeds will ... Read More »

Dry Farming of Tomatoes

dry-farmed-tomatoes-at-farmers-market

Early Girl is well suited to a technique known as “dry farming”. Researchers at the Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems at the University of California, Santa Cruz, are among those who have described the technique: not watering tomatoes after transplanting, forcing the roots to grow deeper to seek out moisture, producing more “concentrated flavor,” and saving water. Dry-farmed ... Read More »

Submersible Pump

submersible pump 1200gph

When we decided to fill in the swimming pool in our backyard I had to first drain the pool. The Little Giant submersible pump worked well. It pumped at 1200 gallons per hour. It took 10 hours to drain the 12,000 gallon pool. I also used the pump during the torrential rains of 1995. The interior courtyard on the Bahl ... Read More »

Drainage for Pots

flooded pot

Each of your pots should have a drainage hole. If the hole gets clogged, your pot will retain all the water and drown your plants. See the featured image. Ignore the myth of placing gravel or broken pottery over the hole. It will just clog it up. Read More »

Second Line of Defense – Prevention Strategies

autumn leaves on ground

Most of the defensive actions discussed here are organic remedies for a host of diseases and animal pests. Plant Maintenance Avoid deep planting Water from below Water before noon Don’t work around or touch wet plants Don’t touch healthy plants after working with diseased plants Avoid high-nitrogren fertilizers Feed the soil with compost Mulch in spring and fall Control weeds ... Read More »