By Rick Gillies
Mountain Gardens Nursery & Pet, contributing writer 

Spring is here or is it?


April 15, 2023

Josh Crisalli.

A lovely array of flowers available for sale at Mountain Gardens Nursery & Pet, located at 503 S. Curry St.

Last year I talked about the damage to trees because of the near zero temperatures in March 2022. Thanks to those of you who took my advice and saved those trees.

This year's winter is totally different, cold and soggy. I know people who couldn't get out of their house for a couple of weeks because of the snow. The drought is over. What does that mean? No water rationing. You can have a yard again and garden, get your landscape back in shape. Trees, flowers, shrubs, trees and ground cover! You can put a pond in to enjoy and have fish, etc. This also means more weeds. Yes, there is always a negative. What to do?

Pre-emergent or post-emergent herbicides

A pre-emergent herbicide is a product that prevents seed germination. So if you are trying to prevent weeds from growing first hula hoe the area then put down a product like PREEN and Hi Yield, which will nullify weed growth. Early in the season, right after you have weeded an area, would be an ideal time to apply. It will not kill anything that has already germinated. Think about what it would cost to pay someone to weed that for you. It's so much better to get done early so that doesn't happen.

A post-emergant herbicide takes care of existing weeds which have started to grow. I have several products that work great on weeds and are safe to use. 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 tree growers it is getting late but there is still time to apply dormant oil on select fruit trees. This is 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 over wintering insects hiding in tree trunks 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.

It is time to plant but what's available?

Fruit trees are more available this year than last. Cherries are still short. Come and get your apple, peach, pear and cherry trees before they are all gone. Check out our perennial gardens, Gonzalo, Susan and Corey have done a lot of work to get ready for Spring. We have many varieties of perennials: plants that bloom most of the year then go dormant in winter and return in the spring larger and more vibrant than the year before. This includes coreopsis, Jupiter beard, Russian sage, creeping phlox, candy tuft, echinacea, veronica and many more.

Blooming shortly are forsythia, candy tuft, almonds, peaches, plums, apricot, magnolias, purple plum, flowering pear, flowering peach, flowering cherry, viburnum × burkwoodii, viburnum carlesii, crab apple and redbud. I have many varieties of Mahonia Oregon grape Osmanthus fragrans.

I have many mini greenhouses available and wall of water to plant in to protect seedlings from frost. We also have ducks, chicks and turkeys, with more coming.

Don't forget to reset your sprinkler system timers and cover for power out ages this winter and check for broken heads!

Make this the year to get that yard looking great. Don't procrastinate any longer. It is always nice to have something new and beautiful in your yard.

Mountain Gardens Nursery & Pet 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 a.m. to 3 p.m. See you soon.


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