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Edition 9.19
May 2009
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Thanks for taking the time to read the Grangetto's Garden Newsletter. If at any time there is a topic that you would like to see in the next newsletter or you have a gardening tip you would like to share, please feel free to email us.

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~Frank McKinney Hubbard

Kevin's Corner

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Spring Flowers


This is the time to plant warm-season annual and perennial flowers outdoors either by seeds or transplants.  If you weren't able to take advantage of fall planting, fill all beds and pots with warm-season flowers now.

Continue to feed container-grown flowers with liquid fertilizer for growth and bloom.

Fertilize cool-season flower beds with a granulated fertilizer if you see a slowdown of growth or flowering.  Water it in well afterward.  Deadhead flowers to keep them blooming.

Though nurseries are filled with cool-season flowers such as primroses, calendulas, nemesia, and violas, wise gardeners remember that these are the flowers that should have been planted in fall.

Planted now, for the most part cool-season flowers will give only a short season of bloom — especially inland.  The height of their bloom season is April, though in coastal gardens some will last through May. 


Stock, snapdragons, calendulas, and Iceland poppies are not the best choices to plant right  now.  Heat or disease knocks them down fast. 

Pansies, polyanthus primroses, cyclamen, and violas  can be popped into blank spots, but don't fill whole beds.  Polyanthus primroses and small-flowered cyclamen will bloom through June in cool coastal gardens, however, and can be kept alive to bloom another year.  And newer varieties of small-flowered pansies are floriferous and heat tolerant. They may last into August.

If you're filling whole beds, prepare the ground thoroughly and choose mainly warm-season flowers. 


Good choices among annual flowers to plant now from pony paks, for color in sunny spots all summer long, include ageratum, marigolds, cosmos, sweet alyssum, verbena, salvia,  petunias, and nierembergia. 

An incredible amount of perennials can be put in now, including  achillea, agapanthus, perennial alyssum, campanulas, candytuft, carnations, columbine, coreopsis,  coral bells, daylilies, delphiniums, dusty miller, dianthus, marguerites, gaillardia, geum, penstemon,  perennial forget-me-nots, Pride of Madeira, statice, and Shasta daisies. 

Many of these perennials and  annuals make great cut-flowers as well, including cosmos, carnations, columbine, coreopsis, coral bells, daylilies, delphiniums, and Shasta daisies.  In semi-shade put in transplants of begonias, lobelia,  impatiens, coleus, and fuchsias.

Manager's Corner

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"Manager's Corner"

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A Very Special Day!

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The earliest Mother's Day celebrations we know of were ancient Greek spring celebrations in honor of Rhea, the mother of the gods. But those were in honor of one particular mother. England's "Mothering Sunday," begun in the 1600's, is closer to what we think of as "Mother's Day." Celebrated on the 4th Sunday of Lent, "Mothering Sunday" honored the mothers of England.

In 1907 Anna Jarvis started a drive to establish a national Mother's Day. In 1907 she passed out 500 white carnations at her mother's church in West Virginia -- one for each mother in the congregation. In 1908, her mother's church held the first Mother's Day service, on May 10th (the second Sunday in May). That same day a special service was held at the Wanamaker Auditorium in Philadelphia, where Anna was from, which could seat no more than a third of the 15,000 people who showed up.

By 1909, churches in 46 states, Canada and Mexico were holding Mother's Day services. In the meantime, Ms. Jarvis had quit her job to campaign full time. She managed to get the World's Sunday School Association to help; they were a big factor in convincing legislators to support the idea. In 1912, West Virginia was the first state to designate an official Mother's Day. By 1914, the campaign had convinced Congress, which passed a joint resolution. President Woodrow Wilson signed the resolution, establishing an official national Mother's Day on the second Sunday in May.

Many countries of the world now have their own Mother's Day at different times of the year, but Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Italy, Japan, and Turkey join the US in celebrating Mother's Day on the second Sunday of May. Britain still celebrates Mothering Day on the 4th Sunday of Lent — but they now call it Mother's Day. By any name, and at any date, it's a special day to honor a special person.

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Have a gardening mother in your family and having trouble thinking of a gift? Bored with the usual chocolate and flowers? Try something different for Mother's Day this year! How about a gift planter?

Get a big flowerpot or a planter and fill it with things she can use in her garden! She'd surely appreciate a new pair of garden gloves, a selection of seeds, new small tools like trowels and clippers, knee pads, some good hand lotion, and other useful items she might not buy for herself.

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Spring Lawn Care

Spring is here. The cool season grasses such as fescue, ryegrass, and bluegrass are those lawns over which people have exclaimed, "You look marvelous!" (Can't you just hear Billy Crystal?) They have been bright green all winter. They are still growing fast; mow them weekly with a rotary mower (to 1 1/2 inches in height).

You should be feeding all established lawns now with a complete lawn fertilizer--containing phosphorus and potassium as well as nitrogen--to get warm-season grasses off to a good start and keep cool-season grasses going longer. A healthy, well-fed lawn is better able to withstand pests and diseases and choke out weeds

Warm-season grasses, such as Bermuda, dichondra, and zoysia, are waking up from winter dormancy. As they start growing, begin mowing weekly with a reel mower to the correct height for each. Mow common Bermuda to 1 inch, hybrid Bermuda to 1/2 or 1/4 inch, St. Augustine to between 3/4 and 1 1/4 inches, and zoysia to 3/4 to 1 inch height. Cut Adalayd grass with a rotary mower between 3/4 and 1 inch in height.

We have mentioned two different kinds of lawn mowers: rotary and reel. A rotary mower is one in which one blade spins horizontally and uses a sucking and tearing action to cut the blades of grass. A reel mower is one in which the blades spin vertically and use a scissoring action to cut the blades of grass.

You notice that we recommend fertilizing with a complete fertilizer (we recommend _SLC813_ for most lawns). While nitrogen gives your lawn top growth and a healthy green color you can see, phosphorus and potassium feed the roots and growth systems of the plant that are unseen but just as important. Phosphorus and potassium are longer lasting in soil than nitrogen, so one feeding a season with them is often adequate. After this complete feeding, you can switch to a less expensive, pure nitrogen fertilizer if desired, and feed warm-season grasses with it once a month for the rest of the growing season.

Before applying your complete fertilizer, be sure to read the instructions for your lawn type. Apply fertilizer when the ground is damp and grass blades dry, and follow up by watering deeply. Otherwise, you risk burning your lawn. As an alternative fertilizer for the cool season lawn, add coated slow-release fertilizer. Cool-season grasses need little or no fertilizer during the warmer months of the year. Slow release fertilizer will work perfectly for this type of lawn.

Irrigate all lawns now, according to their individual needs, if rains have not been adequate.

Both warm- and cool-season grasses may be bought as sod, and cool-season grasses can be planted from sod any month year-round. Although you can plant both warm- and cool-season grasses from seed this month, fall is actually a better time to plant cool-season grass seed. This is because fall planting gives cool-season grasses planted from seed more time to establish a root system before summer heat arrives. When planting warm-season grasses, wait until the weather has warmed up in your area. (If you plan to plant zoysia, it's best to wait until June.)

There are numerous lawn types and you should investigate each of them before choosing and planting one. How do you choose which grass is right for you? There are many considerations: sun, shade, foot traffic, pets, children, hardiness, style, color, and simply the "look" that you like.

When planting a new lawn, regardless of the type of grass and method of planting you choose, be sure to prepare the site thoroughly. If you're planting an invasive grass, such as Bermuda or an invasive variety of zoysia, first install edging to keep it from creeping into borders.

For all lawns, roto-till deeply, add plenty of soil amendment, then level and roll this amended ground. "Level" might mean rolling the area completely flat or it may mean compacting the soil but adding mounded areas of interest. The point is to level out soil so that your new lawn is not filled with hundreds of hills and valleys that would make walking on it (and mowing it) difficult.

If you have chosen to put in a seed lawn, sprinkle seeds evenly. This is most efficiently done using a hand-held fertilizer spreader or a seed spreader and covering the seeds with mulch or a lawn topper product.

Perhaps you are putting in a lawn that can be grown from stolons. Stolons are little portions of the plant that will root once in contact with the soil. St. Augustine is an example of this type of grass. Either roll stolons with a roller to press them into the soil or simply partially cover them with topsoil or a lawn topper product (_SLC813A_ is excellent). Keep your freshly planted lawn damp until established. Sprinkle it two or three times daily, and avoid watering late in the day.

Just water and watch. In a few months--voilà--your new lawn!

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Things to do in May

1. Plant irises, canned roses, tropicals and tuberoses.
2. Transplant potted bulbs into the ground.
3. Replace cool-season bedding flowers with summer-season flowers.
4. Plant zinnias and other heat loving flowers.
5. Plant morning glories.
6. Plant warm-season lawns.
7. Continue to plant summer vegetables.
8. Replace parsley if you haven't already done so.
9. Plant a giant pumpkin for Halloween.
10. Purchase, plant, and transplant succulents.
11. Stop pinching fuchsias if you did not do so last month.
12. Thin out fruit on deciduous fruit trees.
13. Pinch dahlias back when the plant has three sets of leaves; tie the plant up as it grows.
14. Continue to pick and deadhead roses.
15. Divide and repot cymbidiums that have outgrown their containers.
16. Cut off bloom spikes from cymbidiums after flowers fade.
17. Prune camellias if you have not already done so.
18. Clean and prune azaleas.
19. Divide and mount staghorn ferns.
20. Prune winter- and spring-flowering vines, shrubs, trees and ground covers after they finish blooming.
21. Continue to tie up and sucker tomatoes.
22. Remove berries (seed pods) from fuchsias after flowers fall.
23. Pinch back petunias when you plant them.
24. Continue to prune and train espaliers.
25. Feed citrus trees, avocado trees.
26. Feed fuchsias, azaleas, tuberous begonias, water lilies.
27. Feed roses, ferns, flower beds, camellias after they bloom.
28. Fertilize lawns.
29. Side-dress vegetable rows with fertilizer.
30. Feed all container-grown succulents with a well-diluted complete liquid fertilizer.
31. Fertilize peppers when flowers first show.
32. As the weather becomes drier, be sure to water most garden plants regularly.
32a. Do not water succulents.
32b. Taper off watering those California native plants that don't accept summer water.
33. Control rose pests and diseases.
34. Spray junipers and Italian cypress for juniper moths.
35. Control mildew.
36. Control pests on vegetables.
37. Control weeds among permanent plants by mulching or cultivating.
38. Control weeds among vegetables and flowers by hand-pulling.
39. Keep bamboo from running into your neighbor's garden.
40. Harvest vegetables regularly.

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We all have been thrilled by the Queen of the Garden this spring. Don't you agree? The first rose bloom has been absolutely fabulous. If you haven't been by the garden center and wandered through the rows of hybrid teas, floribundas, English, Romantica, tree roses and climbers, we invite you to do so. The color palette and fragrant bouquet are out of this world.

Roses perform best in bright sunny areas. Choose a location where access for pruning and maintenance is easy and where the plant is not likely to be exposed too much overhead watering, (such as lawn sprinklers) which could result in continual mildew problems. Although bare root planting was in early spring, you can plant roses now before it gets into our summer hot weather.

Almost everyone loves roses but many people don't grow them because they think roses are difficult to care for. Not so. They do require some care, but new resistant varieties are much easier to care for than the roses our grandparents grew. Here are the basic care tips for growing this Queen of the Garden.

Planting: Once you have chosen a location, plant your rose carefully to ensure a healthy start. Use a quality soil mix to blend 50/50 with your existing soil. Dig a hole 1.5 times as big as the container size you are planting. Use your soil blend in the bottom and handle the root ball carefully, using two hands to place it inside the hole. Next, using your soil blend, fill in around the sides of the root ball. Water the root ball thoroughly and let the soil settle naturally. Remember to water daily as the rose gets established. You can begin fertilizing in 2-3 weeks.

Once the first blooms fade, what is your next step? Deadhead, water, fertilize and mulch. Pretty darn simple.

This encourages your rose to grow more secondary canes that will give you the next bloom cycle. So, unless you like to grow rose hips, then cut off these blooms. Make your cuts just above (1/4") an outward facing 5-leaflet. How far down the cane? That is your choice. During the bud/bloom time, some cut long stems to take into the house. Others cut back to shape and maintain a certain size to the rose bush throughout the season. Cut off cross canes and any canes coming up from below the graft union (those are suckers from the root stock).

: Roses love water. Keep the soil moist but not with standing water.

: Roses love to eat - wouldn't you, after all the work of these blooms! Just a quick product note: If you use a systemic food with pesticides, it will kill not just rose pests, but beneficial insects as well.

: Cover the soil with 2-3 inches of mulch (cocoa mulch, small or shredded bark) surrounding the rose bush. Keep mulch away from the main stem/graft area. Mulch will keep weeds down, moisture in the soil, and increase the health of your soil.

We look forward to strolling with you through the rose section of our garden center and helping you with the best selection of roses for your garden.
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Many homeowners revel in the glory of their garden in spring, only to be disappointed when plants start to dry out and look stressed in the heat of summer. The natural reaction is to pour more water into the garden to "moisturize" the plants. This in turn can lead to root rot and/or the continuous lowering of soil temperature to the point that plants aren't stimulated to grow--or just plain die (overwatering is one of the main causes of plant death). But these problems can be greatly reduced or, in many cases, prevented by summer mulching.

The goal of summer mulching is not only to reduce summer heat stress on plants, but to create an environment for plants that will be conducive to good growth. Mulch is to a garden what a roof is to your home. We couldn't heat or air condition the home without the roof. The same seasonal temperature variance occurs in your garden. A 2" layer of mulch not only retains moisture in the soil but it maintains a cooler temperature in the summer and a warmer temperature in the winter.

Mulching also brings many other benefits to the garden. It gives the garden a tidier appearance and greatly improves the growing conditions for plants. Mulch helps suppress weeds and helps to conserve moisture. It creates an environment where earthworms can thrive and enhance the soil's condition. Nature provides this for us in natural settings; when we apply mulch to our garden, we mimic what is naturally done on the forest floor.

The strategy is to stimulate the growth of good soil bacteria, which in turn digest plant foods that the plant will recognize as nutrients and absorb. By keeping moisture in the soil you will attract earthworms and beneficial microbes and bacteria. The earthworms loosen up the soil, easing compaction, while the beneficial microbes help digest nutrients more efficiently, making them more readily available to the plants. Maintaining "moist" soil as opposed to "wet" soil keeps the temperature of the soil at a more consistent level for optimum growth. Mulch also provides a blanket to the soil that protects against soil crusting, as it decomposes and adds humus to the soil.

We recommend spreading a 2" inch layer of mulch or bark over the top of the native soil. There are many mulching materials available. Color, particle size, and nutrient exchange are considerations when choosing your material. We recommend _M2007a_, _M2007b_ or _m2007c_. Non-organic decorative mulches such as rock or gravel may be an attractive addition in gardens but give nothing back to the soil. Note: make sure not to place mulch right up against plant stems or tree trunks.

When mulching is incorporated with a good organic fertilizing program, the plants in your garden will not only survive the stress of summer and winter, but will thrive in it. Mulch will also give your garden a more "finished" look, adding to its overall beauty.

Pest of the Month

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Banana Nut Coconut Cake

What You'll Need:

  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 4 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1 medium banana, mashed
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Step by Step:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour two 9 inch round cake pans or one 9x13 inch pan.
  • In a medium bowl, cream together white sugar and 1/2 cup butter.
  • Mix in eggs and 3 mashed bananas.
  • Sift together flour and baking soda in a separate bowl.
  • Add to the creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk, mixing well after each addition.
  • Blend in 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.
  • Fold in 1 cup of pecans and 1 cup coconut.
  • Pour batter into prepared pans.
  • Bake 45 to 50 minutes in the preheated oven.
  • Cool completely before frosting with Banana Nut Frosting.

  • To Make Frosting: Cream together 1/2 cup butter and 4 cups confectioners' sugar until light and fluffy.
  • Mix in 1 medium mashed banana, 1 cup pecans, 1 cup coconut and 1 teaspoon vanilla.
  • Use to frost cake.


Mr. G
'See you next month!'
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