By Rick Gillies
Mountain Gardens Nursery & Pet, contributing writer 

Get ready to plant!


February 17, 2024

Stock image.

For home fruit growers, it is time to apply annual dormant oil application on selected fruit trees. This is probably one of the most important sprays for fruit trees and 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 trunks and limb bark with a suffocating layer of oil.

The two most insect species suppressed by dormant oil are red spider mites and scale. Both are common pests in fruit trees. It is important to remember that oil sprays will suppress, but do not always totally control these insects, however dormant oil decreases the insect populations by killing overwintering adults and eggs, and thus slows seasonal build-ups. This is well-worth the extra time and cost. Later in the season, I have other insecticides that work well on spider mites. I use Monterey Lawn & Garden's Liqui-Cop for peaches and nectarines – for control of peach leaf curl. For other fungal disease apply Chlorothalonil. Apply this any time during the winter or summer.

It's also time for pre-emergent application, a product that prevents seed germination, like Preen or Hi-Yield. Think what it would cost to pay someone to weed that for you!

A post-emergent herbicide takes care of existing weeds. So, a product like Monterey Remuda or Spectracide would do it!

Now for planting: we plant trees everyday of the year in Tehachapi. I remember planting trees and sod on Christmas eve in a snow storm and they did great. People don't realize, the best time to plant a tree is fall but winter is second, but you can plant any time. Let's talk about winter planting, it's good because the soil is moist and easier to dig a big hole for the tree. The roots are still growing in winter and it gets you outside for a little exercise, which is nice! When you are finished, it just makes you feel great because now it's done and you don't have to wait until Spring. So what to plant? We already talked about fruit trees. All shade trees can be planted now along with shrubs, Forsythia, Lilacs, Viburnum burkwoodii and Carlesii, Photinia and Osmanthus fragrans, just to mention a few.

Blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and strawberries are all on sale for a short while. The first load of baby chicks are here, and lots more are coming.

Corey, Gonzalo and Rick have done a lot of work this winter to get ready for Spring so come by and take a look at Mountain Gardens Nursery & Pet, 503 S. Curry St., Tehachapi. Make sure to leave your email address so we can send you a specials list.


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