Get ready for spring planting
Mountain Gardens Nursery & Pet
April 2, 2022
First, I would like to address a recent problem with trees and shrubs in the area. Tehachapi is typically USDA Zone 8, which means the winter lows are in the upper teens, but this year we were 10 degrees Fahrenheit in town and some areas recorded -2 degrees. Some of the trees suffered frost burn.
I get people in every day that ask, "What is wrong with my Cedar and Pine trees?" Thinking they have a disease or they didn't take care of them right. Well, I don't believe any of them actually died but the tops frost burned badly. The trees I have looked at still have green on the inside and bottom branches are green, so I recommend using a product called Superthrive and the trees should be OK. If it's really bad, the tops of the trees will have to be pruned out but Superthrive will help. If they don't recover they are probably too dry from the drought.
Pre emergent or post emergent
A pre emergent herbicide is a product that prevents seed germination. So, if you are trying to prevent weeds from growing, put down a product like Amaze which will nullify weed growth. Early in the season, right after you have weeded an area, would be the ideal time to apply. It will not kill anything that is already germinated, so it is great around plants and saves so much money. Think about what it would cost to pay someone to weed that for you. It’s so much better to get this down early so that doesn’t happen.
A post emergent herbicide takes care of existing weeds. So a product like Monterey Remuda or Spectracide is great to kill grasses and weeds already germinated. I used to use Monterey 2 in 1, which kills existing weeds and is also a pre emergent, so two steps in one, but a fire destroyed the plant so it will be a couple of years before it will be back on the market. Remember, it is always better to prevent weed growth than to deal with them after they are growing. It is a time and money saver.
Dormant oil application to fruit trees
For home fruit growers, it is time to make annual dormant oil application on selected fruit trees. This is probably one of the most important sprays that can be applied to fruit trees, and one of the least toxic of all spray materials for the homeowner to handle. Dormant oil is a refined petroleum product formulated for orchard tree use. It has been in use for well over a century in commercial orchards, and is still regularly used today. It is classified as an insecticide, and acts by coating overwintering insects hiding in tree trunk and limb bark with a suffocating layer of oil.
The two most important insect species suppressed by dormant oil sprays are red mites and scale. Both are common pest problems in fruit trees. It is important to remember that oil sprays will suppress, but do not always totally control these insects. Additional sprays of insecticides will likely be necessary to control these and other insects during the growing season. However, dormant oil decreases the insect populations by killing overwintering adults and eggs, and thus slows seasonal build-ups. This make it well worth the extra time and cost. Later in the season, I have other insecticides that work well on spider mites.
Dormant oil is regularly used on apple, pear, plum, quince and crab apples. It is also recommended for use on currant and gooseberry bushes. As the word “dormant” implies, this spray should be applied before the buds swell or before new growth starts in spring. If applied after growth starts, the new tissue can be damaged. Application should be done when temperatures are above freezing (35-45 degrees Fahrenheit), and when the weather forecast calls for non-freezing temperatures for at least 24 hours after application. For our area, December through March are good target periods. It is important to make thorough coverage when you spray, taking care to spray bark crevices and cracks where insects may be overwintering. Dormant oil can be purchased at any garden center, and is relatively inexpensive.
Peaches, nectarines, apricots and to an extent plums, do not often require an oil spray. However if mites have been a problem in the past, then a dormant oil spray is suggested. More important for peaches and nectarines is a dormant spray containing a copper based fungicide for control of peach leaf curl disease.
For plum pocket disease in plums, apply chlorothalonil (sold as Daconil). Apply these sprays at any time during the winter, but before the buds swell for the new season.
It’s time to plant, but what’s available?
By now you all are aware of the fruit tree shortage. It’s happening all over America. Apple, peach, nectarine, apricot, cherry and pear trees are hard to find this spring for a couple of reasons. First, two of the three bare root companies have closed for good! These three companies sold to all 50 states and Canada. You can see what a dent it has made in nursery stock. Second, the pandemic. How can this affect the nursery business, you ask. Well, everyone has been home looking for something to do and many have taken up working in their yards, planting gardens and orchards. So, yes supply and demand has played a large part in this problem.
Come get your apple, peach and cherry trees before they’re gone for the season! Mountain Gardens Nursery still has plenty on hand. We have some almond and walnut, too.
Blueberries are in stock and they do well in Tehachapi. Also, blackberries and strawberries were in short supply last year, but this year we have plenty.
Check out our perennial bed; Susan, Judah, Kevin, Jaden and Mary Jane have done a lot of work on it to get ready for spring. We have many varieties of perennials – perennials are plants that bloom most of the year, though they go dormant during winter and return in the spring, larger and more vibrant than the year before. This includes delphinium, coreopsis, Jupiter’s beard and Russian sage. Creeping Phlox and Candy tuft (evergreen perennial) and Echinacea and many, many more.
Shrubs are also in good supply right now. Come on in and take a relaxing stroll through our garden. Lilacs are back in stock. Garden veggies will be here in April, but we don’t recommend planting until the first part of May for tomatoes, peppers and squash.
We are happy to continue our tradition of decorating the stage at the Tehachapi High School graduation with trees and plants. We have helped the school for over 30 years by helping make a nice presentation for the event.
So, make this the year to get that yard looking great; don’t procrastinate any longer. It’s always nice to have something new and beautiful in your yard.
Mountain Gardens Nursery is located at 503 S. Curry St. in Tehachapi and is open Monday through Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday 10 to 3 p.m.