A California native plant is a plant that has grown here naturally,
without help from man, before the settlement of Europeans. Northern
California has an abundant natural beauty comprised of native
plants growing in a wide range of ecosystems. There are many
advantages to landscaping with these plants.
The use of native plants in your landscape will give your garden
a bio-diversity which will bring health and vigor to your garden.
Natives are less work and strain on both our personal and ecological
resources. A garden of native plants is long lived and hardy,
designed by nature to thrive in the challenges California gardeners
face. A native plant has built in defenses against pests which
means an easy and organic approach to pest control. A native
garden will also attract natural predators for injects. Indigenous
species are designed with a system of co-operation with native
fungus, feeding on these mycorrhizal organisms, which protect
these plants from disease. A diverse native garden is easy to
maintain and will allow for more time to discover the new beauty
of your garden. You may find you have new beneficial insects,
new birds and maybe even a furry animal to admire.
There is no mystery in doing something as natural as growing
natives. Here are some simple guidelines that with help ensure
Native plants grow better grouped together so they
can form an interdependence with each other and your
local soil. It is important to understand where and
how the plants grow in nature and group them accordingly.
Most native plants are drought resistant and can
easily drown, so don't overdo the watering. If you
use drip emitters, replace them with spray to mimic
the natural rain these plants survive on.
Your native plants will need no fertilizer and you
should also avoid using soil amendments. Organic mulches
are beneficial and should be appropriate to the nature
of you garden, such as rock for desert gardens; redwood,
oak, and pine for mimicking forest undergrowth. With
the wide variety of natives to choose from you can
easily select plants appropriate to your original
There are a wide range of resources to help you with
your native garden. Native plant societies provide a wealth
of history and advice; magazine and web articles offer
how-to information; and your independently owned garden
center can assist you on selection, planting and care.
The ideal time to plant natives is in the fall so they
can take advantage of the cooler, wetter weather to establish
their root systems under natural conditions.
There are many native plants sold commercially and you
may already have them growing in your neighborhood. Many
native species of Salvia are very useful landscape plants,
from flat growing ground covers to shrubs, blooming spring
to summer. Matilija Poppy has large white flowers. California
Fuchsia with its tubular red, pink or white blooms provide
nectar for hummingbirds in fall. Toyon or Christmas Berry
provides non-toxic berries for birds in winter. California
Manzanitas are beautiful hardy shrubs for the landscape.
The many species of drought tolerant Wild Lilac offer
beautiful blossoms to your yard in spring.
negundo v. californica
Santa Barbara Daisy
Berry, Skunk Bush
Imagine a twilight world where the color and the
heat of the summer fade to a cool monochromatic evening.
The moon rises to paint your yard with a whole new perspective.
Once the eye adjusts, there is a landscape of Silver
Ghosts, Midnight Candy and Fairly Lilies. White is no
longer dull, but luminous. Gray shimmers to life in
a cool evening breeze. Water turns to liquid silver.
Moon shadows shift and perception changes further. The
night garden reveals those snails that chomp leaves,
the beetles that control the aphids, nocturnal birds,
and maybe even a wise old owl. The chores that seem
impossible in the heat of day, ease in the cool of the
evening. Night gardens can expand your appreciation
and extend the length of time you can work at your hobby.
This is the magic of a nightscape.
Plants are the mainstay of the moon garden. It is likely
you already have plants that shine at night - perhaps
a silver leaved conifer; white and yellow blooming perennials;
patterned flowers or variegated foliage. Consider adding
color and fragrance such as Evening Primrose or Star
Jasmine. Sweet Alyssum and many types of salvia will
add scent and hue to your night garden. Lavenders are
fragrant and have silver foliage that will wake up the
dark. Spotlight a tree with interesting bark such as
Crape Myrtle, White Birch or Dogwood to add texture
to your garden at night.
Plants that specifically bloom at night such as Evening
Primrose, Moonflower and Phlox 'Midnight Candy' are
especially sweet because their nectars have not been
dissipated by the hot sun. Pink Night, Red Night and
White Night Water Lilies open across your pond in the
evening, and close before noontime. Some plants such
as Perfumed Fairy Lily, Tuberose and Carolina Jessamine
are open during the day but won't release their scent
As a general rule, desert and hardy tropical plants
shine at night. Your locally owned and operated garden
center should have a knowledgeable staff that can help
you with your night garden landscape. Lots of information
is available on-line, searching under "night gardening."
A listing entitled Plants Suitable for Moonlight Gardens
Your nightscape should include a clear level path or
lawn so you can safely admire your moonlit garden. If
you plan to spend a lot of time or work at night some
overhead light will be needed. Solar or low voltage
landscape lights can enhance you garden. You may want
a place to sit and enjoy the subtleties of your moonlit
garden: a simple chair, garden bench, and a trellis
vining with night blooming Moon Flower could be the
perfect touch. Additions of a silver garden globe, an
illuminated fountain, or a chime to catch the night
breeze are details you may wish to consider. There is
an ever-growing selection of solar-powered garden accessories
now available, including a great collection of unusual
statuary in Red Bluff Garden Center' gift shop.
As the moon waxes and wanes from summer to fall, then
fall to winter, don't forget to appreciate your garden
at night. Enjoy the naked branches against the moon;
watch the frost glitter with the stars. You may find
that the perception of your garden is forever changed.
Suitable for Moonlight Gardens
Plants for Moonlight Gardens Colors
that will glow in the moonlight
Blooms at Night Plants
that save their scent for night
Nicotiana alata Flowering
Evening Primrose (perennial)
Four o'clocks (annual)
Night Phlox Midnight Candy (perennial)
for Moonlight Gardens Silver
and variegated foliage for light reflection.
Gardenia, many varieties
Wormwood many varieties
Rosa banksia 'Alba Plena'
Lady Bank's Rose
Festuca ovina glauca
Phalaris arundinacea variegata
Variegated Ribbon Grass
Star Magnolia Tree (fragrant)
Birch, European white
Dogwood, many varieties
Calla Lily Hybrids
the Season to be Planting
Here in the North State, gardeners
often refer to Fall as the “Second Spring.” It is
an excellent time for planting trees, shrubs and perennials,
as the still mild weather gives plants the opportunity to establish
roots and become acclimated while the soil is still warm. Mild
Redding winters allow root systems to continue to grow during
the winter months. Long-awaited rains alleviate the need for
constant watering, though it’s still important to keep
things watered during heat spells.
Most trees and shrubs can be planted now, and many varieties
are known for their breathtaking fall color. Ginkgo biloba
(Maidenhair Tree) is a hardy tree with leaves that turn a
bright gold in the fall. The leaves of Nyssa sylvatica (Sour
Gum) turn coppery red, and its, red-tinged bark makes a dramatic
picture against the winter sky. Quercus coccinea (Scarlet
Oak) is a moderately fast growing deciduous tree whose leaves
also turn a bright scarlet with the onset of colder autumn
nights. All Maples (Acer varieties) will take on color as
well. Among the countless varieties of shrubs, Nandina domestica
(Heavenly Bamboo), Coleonema (Breath of Heaven), Cotoneaster
and Spirea are excellent choices for fall color.
Fall is also an excellent time to plant perennials. They
are easy to plant, require little care during the winter,
and are good filler for bare patches in the landscape. When
spring arrives, you will have a jump on garden tasks, as some
of the work will already be done. Some species which over-winter
well in the North State are: Aster frikartii ‘Monch’,
Erigeron karviskianus (Santa Barbara daisy), Lavender, Penstemon
(P. gloxinoides), and Scabiosa ‘Butterfly Blue’
and ‘Pink Mist’.
Calendula is perhaps the showiest winter flower. Other good
flowers to plant now for winter color include Iceland poppies,
pansies, violas, and primrose. If planted now, these early
bloomers will be larger, better established and produce more
flowers than similar flowers planted in spring.
Fall is also the time to plant spring flowering bulbs, like
tulips, iris, daffodils and crocus’. Filling hillsides
and open areas in the garden with bulbs will result in gorgeous
displays of cheery, bright flowers in early spring. Use lots
of bulb fertilizer and compost for best results. Cover bulb
beds with fall & winter flowers, or plant the beds with
a hardy evergreen perennial ground cover like verbena or thyme.
Scatter wildflower seeds now, as nature would. Use seed you
have collected or purchased from a reputable seed company.
Keep seeds watered during dry spells, especially if seeds
have sprouted. You should be rewarded with beds of exotic
blooms in spring.
If you find yourself with a collection of plants in nursery
containers that never quite got into the ground this summer,
plant them now - they will have an easier time in the
ground than in the pots over the winter. Fall is also a great
time to put in a new lawn or refurbish an existing one.
Its best to wait until spring to plant tropical plants, citrus
and other frost sensitive plants, such as fuchsia and bougainvillea.
Protect these with frost cloth, by building a frame around
the plant and draping the material around the frame. Avoid
touching the leaves with the cloth. Wrapping twinkly lights
around the trunks of the plants will raise the temperature
a few degrees, perhaps enough to ward off frost damage, besides
being very decorative. Also consider keeping frost sensitive
plants in containers on wheels, so they can be moved inside
when temperatures plummet and frost threatens.
General fall clean-up is as much a part of the yearly gardening
cycle as tilling the soil and planting seeds. Harvest as much
produce as possible, collect fallen vegetables, remove spent
plants and clean up under your plants. Make sure the harvest
is finished on fruit trees. Clear off fruit that has not been
harvested and collect what has fallen on the ground.
Pull up weeds before they set seed. Don’t put seedy
weeds or diseased vegetables, fruit or plant clippings into
your compost pile. Rake leaves weekly - don’t let them
collect, as they can cause fungal problems in spring.
Fall is an excellent time to have soil testing done, to be
sure of the nutrient composition of your soil. MONARCH LABS
in Chico does thorough soil testing, and can be reached at:
(530) 343-5818. It is also a good time to correct any deficiencies
noted in the soil. Add soil sulfur to correct alkalinity and
oyster-shell lime to correct acidic soil.
Think about care and feeding of native wildlife over the
winter by planting locally native plants for birds and small
animals. Also choose shrubs that bear fruit and berries. Provide
a source of water. A pond with a shallow side or a birdbath
will offer water for drinking and bathing. Frogs and toads
eat a wide variety of insect pests & will take up residence
in or near a ground-level water feature.
During the slow winter months, study the microclimates in
your yard. Which areas collect frost? Which areas dry out
quickly? Which are the wettest? Which are the most/least sheltered.
Draw maps, make notes of the successes and not-so-successful
things from the past year, plan for the coming year, and begin
dreaming with seed catalogs and magazine ideas.
a Winter Vegetable Garden
Fresh garden produce unquestionably
tastes better and is higher in vitamins than grocery store produce.
This is especially true during the winter, because store-bought produce
is mostly grown far away in warmer climates. The selection becomes
more limited and the prices higher during the winter months, and sometimes
shopping for produce during the doldrums of winter can be down-right
If you’ve never grown vegetables during the winter, now is the
perfect time to start. The Mediterranean climate of our area is perfect
for year-round vegetable gardening, and by using a
few special techniques and the correct selection of crops, one can
easily have year-round harvests at home. Cool weather crops are hardy
and many will survive temperatures below freezing, others down to
Winter vegetable gardening is easy, especially compared to the summer
vegetable garden. There are fewer insects. There will be little watering,
and less weeding. You can let the weather do the work for you this
winter instead of fighting the arid heat. Give your winter vegetables
extra space when you plant them so the air circulation can help prevent
rot. You don’t need to fertilize the winter garden - in fact
it is better not to. High levels of nitrogen will bring on a new flush
of growth, which will be more susceptible to frost. Fertilize in the
spring to replace depleted nitrogen.
Location is key to a successful winter garden. Choose a warm location,
one that does not frost early. Frost pockets form in low-lying areas,
so locate your vegetable garden in the highest point in your yard.
You will want good drainage for the rain water. Amend your soil with
gypsum or Soil Buster to help with poor drainage.
of mulch will keep the ground insulated, and even out swings in soil
temperature. Mulch prevents soil from compression of winter rains.
It will also help keep the mud off the plants and reduce winter weeds.
Mulch, such as Mirana Natural Cocoa Mulch, is easy
to spread, light to handle and environmentally friendly. Master Nursery
offers a Forest Bark and Shredded Red Cedar
Bark mulch as well.
Easy access to your garden is important, as winters are muddy. Use
a layer of straw to line the paths between your plants. Not only does
the straw provide a non-muddy walkway, but also helps with weed prevention.
In spring, you can simply cultivate the straw in with your soil, to
be ready for another growing season.
Winter favorites include cole crops such as cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower,
kohlrabi and brussels sprouts. These can be started by seed in August
or purchased as seedlings in a nursery throughout the fall/winter
season. These crops need cool weather for their heads to form.
Spinach is best grown in cool weather, as it bolts in the heat. Spinach
will re-grow as you cut it, but if you want to harvest it all winter
make several sowings
throughout the season. There are many varieties of lettuce which thrive
in cool weather. Red leaf lettuce is especially beautiful, with crinkly
leaves and splashes of red. At our nurseries, the six-packs of assorted
lettuce varieties are especially popular. There are other delicious
greens for your salad, such as mesclun mixes and arugula, which add
unusual flavors, textures and colors.
Here at Red Bluff Garden Center we carry a wide variety of cool-crop vegetable
and herb seedlings and specialized tomatoes that will set fruit at
lower temperatures, to help make winter gardening even more exciting.
Choose varieties that are adaptive to chilly temperatures and shorter
daylight hours such as the tomato variety, Siberia. If you start from
seed, plant between July and September. Seedlings should be planted
as soon as they become available.
Other great and hardy winter green include kale and Swiss Chard. Beets
and turnips will overwinter, plus provide greens for steaming. Successive
plantings of carrots are highly recommended. And don’t forget
the onions, garlic, and peas. (For more information about planting
onions, please read Sherry Rosen’s
If space is limited, try a “Completely Edible Salad Bowl”.
Choose a container with a fairly wide top (it doesn’t need to
be very deep), and plant your favorite varieties of lettuce, chives,
parsley, peas, and Swiss Chard. Be sure to include some edible flowers
like calendula, nasturtiums, and pansies. Keep in a convenient, sunny
location near the kitchen door is best, and you can harvest fresh
salad for many months.
With so many great vegetables to choose from, there’s no reason
not to grow winter vegetables. And when the artichokes, asparagus,
rhubarb, strawberries and potatoes arrive at your Garden Center, it’s
a sign that spring is not too far behind.
Emotional Benefits of Plants
The end of daylight savings time starts
the countdown: Halloween, The Day of the Dead, Thanksgiving, the Winter
Solstice, Hanukah, Christmas- whew, no wonder we’re a wreck
by the New Year. With all the shopping, cooking, visiting, and cleaning,
we barely have time to find the magic of the season, much less garden.
Looking for a way to take the stress out of your holidays? Or maybe
you have a Grinch in your life. Learn how plants can reduce stress,
help with depression and soothe the savage shopper. Scientists are
now discovering what we gardeners know instinctively - Flowers trigger
happy emotions, help us feel satisfied and have a positive effect
on social behavior.
* Published scientific studies are showing that flowers have an
immediate impact on happiness and a long-term positive effect on
our moods, helping us with depression, anxiety and agitation.
* Senior citizens who receive a gift of flowers not only feel less
depressed, but score higher on memory tests.
* The presence of flowers leads to more contact with family and
* Studies of inner cities have shown that residents with trees and
green spaces in common areas socialize more often and feel a strong
sense of community.
* Employees that have a view of nature from their desk are more
satisfied and healthy than their windowless counterparts, who had
a 23 % higher rate of feeling ill.
* Workers with flowers and plants in their workspace have improved
creative and problem solving skills, up to 15%.
Here are some good reasons to expose children to gardening:
* Research has shown that contact with green, natural settings
relieves symptoms of Attention Deficit Disorder.
* Inner city girls with a view of nature from their home score
higher on tests of self-discipline.
* Outdoor green spaces foster creative play and child-adult interaction.
* Children reap the same benefits as adults from flowers and plants:
reduced stress and lowered aggression.
Here at Red Bluff Garden Center we offer a variety of ways to help you
give the gift of emotional health. Our Colorful Container Gardens,
Completely Edible Salad Bowls and our serene Bonsai are gorgeous
plants for home and gift giving. Or, make some time for your own
happiness by taking advantage of our easy new gift card. If you
have the wintertime blues sign up for one of our fun and informative
hands-on workshops. Check our Events
Calendar for listings of upcoming classes.
To learn more about these studies check out these links.
The Emotional Impact of Flowers, Jeanette Haviland-Jones, Rutgers
The Human Environment Research Laboratory
Kathleen Wolf’s research on human dimensions of urban forestry.
Worms - A Creepy Story -or-
How Do I Fix My Lawn?
They came in the dark of a warm summer
night, attacking defenseless lawns all over Shasta County. While we
slept, unaware, stealth moths deposited clusters of eggs in our blue
grass, fescue, and rye. Out of the mild humidity, an army was born,
several hundred worms per egg cluster. It was only a matter of days
before they had chewed and cut each lawn to the root. They swarmed
on people’s decks, and even into homes. They were coming back
in hordes, faster than people could sweep them away. Then, like an
army in formation, heading into battle, they marched onto the next
One day our lawns were beautiful, the next, one small irregular spot.
By day three there was total decimation. We were helpless to do anything
but water judiciously and hope our lawns would come back.
Early fall and spring are a time of recovery for our worm ravaged
neighborhoods. Lawns damaged by insects may have to be renovated
or completely re-sown, to correct the problem. If you have a few
patches of dead lawn, renovation will probably be enough. Here are
the steps to take to
Do not use a pre-emergent prior to sowing your seeds, as this will
adversely affect the germination of new lawn seed. Systemic weed
killers with Glyphosate such as Monterey
can be used up to seven days before planting.
* If you have not de-thatched the problem areas of your lawn, do
it now. Water and pesticides have a hard time penetrating the thatch
layer and thus, pests find protection. Aeration will remove a thin
or medium thatch layer. It may take a thatching rake or vertical
mower to remove thicker thatches.
* Once the thatch is removed, mow the turf to about ¾ of
an inch high.
* Remove sod over any high or low spots so your lawn is level.
* If your turf is patchy and thin after raking, over-seed the lawn
at half the recommended rate for establishment. Prepare bare spots
by turning the soil, leaving a loose one inch layer for the new
roots to take hold. Remember to keep seed bed consistently moist
to ensure germination. Spread seed evenly. Scotts Easy Hand-Held
Spreader is inexpensive and easy to use. Your lawn will
grow from remaining stems and crowns in addition to the new grass
seed. If your lawn has more than a few brown patches and has not
recovered, you may need to completely re-seed it.
* Decide which kind of lawn is best for your area conditions. Here
at Red Bluff Garden Center we have four types of bulk lawn seed. Annual
Rye is a tough lawn that will take traffic and stay
hardy, though it does go dormant and turn brown in the winter. California
Green is very hardy; it is the Old Shasta mix that
the feed stores used to sell. Royal
Turf has softer, finer, blades but it won’t
hold up to kids and dogs. Sun
and Shade is sturdier and will take some shade.
* Preparation is the key for starting a successful lawn. Don’t
just scrape the ground, break up the compacted soil. If it is a
large area use a tiller. Rototillers can be rented from your local
rental center. Now is a great time to add gypsum, such as Soilbuster,
which will help break up clay, provide primary nutrients and improve
soil drainage. Spread Master Nursery brand, Master
Start Fertilizer, then till again, mixing the amendments
into the soil.
* Rake the soil to begin to level it out, removing any rocks and
debris that you find. To avoid problems with excess water-runoff,
make sure that any grading you do allows water to flow away from
* Finish leveling the soil by using a roller filled with water.
Like tillers, rollers can be rented from a local rental center.
Here at our nursery, we loan out seeding rollers and water filled
rollers to our customers. Water the soil lightly after leveling.
* Following the recommended seeding rate, spread 1/4 of the seed
over the entire lawn area. Then repeat times, each time using 1/4
of the seed. However, each of the 4 times you distribute a load
of seed, push the spreader in a different direction, to encourage
* Rake lightly, so as to cover the seed with a thin layer of soil.
a multi-purpose soil conditioner, makes a great top dressing, as
it is heavy enough to keep the seed from blowing away.
* The seeds must be watered properly, in order to germinate. Use
just a fine spray, as you don't want to create a flood! The soil
should be kept evenly moist, which means you must water several
times per day (depending on the weather). After the grass blades
sprout, you'll still need to water a couple of times per day. If
you know your schedule won't permit this, now is the time to look
into automatic irrigation systems before
starting a new lawn.
Remember as you maintain your lawn that pesticides kill both destructive
and beneficial bugs. We need the beneficial bugs to pollinate, prey
on destructive insects, and keep a general balance to our gardens.
Keep your lawn healthy, encourage a balanced eco-system, and use
pesticides only when necessary. As always, if you have any questions
about you lawn our knowledgeable staff will be happy to help. Call
us at 530-527-0886.
Event at Red Bluff Garden Center
On August 20, 2005, Red Bluff Garden
Center and Wyntour Gardens proudly hosted this summer’s big
events: Fruit Tasting and Home Orchard Seminars. It was a day packed
with fun and information for the home gardener.
Home Orchard expert Ed Laivo from the Dave Wilson Nursery, gave
an engaging and informative presentation on back yard orchard culture,
a technique of prolonged harvest of tree-ripe fruit from a small
space. Ed’s discussion included planting several or many fruit
varieties close together, which ripen at different times. Ed also
covered the technique of keeping fruit trees small by summer pruning,
which makes trees easier to maintain while providing plenty of high
quality fruit for home use.
The seminar culminated with a Fruit Tasting, generously sponsored
by Dave Wilson nursery. Fifteen varieties of fruit were served,
including pluots, peaches, nectarines, plums, and Asian pears. The
samples for the tasting were selected based on their proximity to
peak maturity, and tasted wonderful. The fruit was graciously served
by Joe Laivo, who was also a font of information.
Over 100 people attended the event at Red Bluff Garden Center, including
a photographer and a writer from the Record Searchlight. Another
50 people attended in Red Bluff. The event was very successful at
both locations, and we hope to do it again in the future.
In conjunction with Dave Wilson Nursery, Red Bluff Garden Center implemented
a Soft Order program where our customers could special order fruit
trees that we normally would not carry. The deadline for the Soft
Order fruit tree program is September 30th, 2005. Participants received
a 10% coupon to use at Red Bluff Garden Center. This coupon expires September
22nd , 2005.
For more information about High Density Fruit Tree Culture go to,
BIRDS TO YOUR YARD
Providing nutrition for wild birds is
especially important in the winter, when food is harder to find.
Planning a garden to welcome birds begins with observing and
noting which birds already frequent your neighborhood or pass
of bird has particular preferences for food and shelter. Know
the favorites of the birds you wish to attract. There are
many books to help identify birds. Sunset’s Attracting
Birds has excellent section on birds
& their preferences, while Audubon field guides remain
the classics on American bird identification.
All bird habitats must supply the following:
- Berries, fruits, nuts, nectar; seeds of grasses, flowers,
shrubs & trees, and various insects (earthworms, caterpillars,
flies, aphids, mites) all provide nourishment for birds.
- Birds must have water for drinking and bathing. Keep birdbaths
clean, with fresh water. If you live in an area where it gets
very cold, consider purchasing a heater especially made for
birdbaths, to keep the water from freezing.
& Cover - Birds need shelter from the elements
and from predators - from shade to foliar canopies. In very
cold areas, needle-leafed evergreens are essential for protection.
Shrubs can provide sanctuary from cats and dogs, while thorny
shrubs provide even greater protection from intruders. A group
of shrubs is optimal.
Sites - Birds use many different styles of housing
- on the ground; in grasses or under foliage; at different
heights in shrubbery and trees; in and on different parts
of many structures.
The greatest mix of bird species occurs where two
or more different habitats come together in borders of mixed vegetation.
For instance, where a field joins a grove of willows, or a forest
opens into a meadow - tall trees giving way to shorter ones, then
merging into shrubbery. The goal as a gardener is to create an arrangement
of plants that simulates these “edges”.
Diversity of plant species is the key to successful landscaping
for attracting birds. Plan your landscape with lots of variety in
height, types of plants, flowers, pods, seeds, etc. Plan for succeeding
and overlapping seasons. In very cold climates, be sure to include
dense, needle-leafed evergreens. Include a garden oasis, with shallow
water for bathing.
Create a hedgerow between yards or along roadways using a fruiting
hedge for a screen. Serviceberry, blueberry, raspberry, elderberry,
holly, hawthorn, and rugosa roses are great hedge plants. When pruning
shrubbery, take care to not disturb bird nests.
Do not use pesticides near birdscapes. Check that no preservatives
have been used in any commercially prepared bird seeds.
There are many types of pre-made bird feeders and bird houses available,
suitable for different types of birds. Research the birds you wish
to attract, and purchase the appropriate type of feeder and seed.
There are many prepared mixes of seeds and other
bird foods available.
Black oil sunflower seed is considered the best
all-around food for attracting the largest variety of songbirds.
Other favorites are sunflower hearts, peanuts,
other nutmeats, safflower seeds or specially prepared seed mixtures.
Fresh & dried fruits are enjoyed by many
species, but take care that these are fresh. Do not allow fruits
or any bird food to become moldy.
Suet. Wild birds need very high levels of fat
to survive, and suet contains the fats that birds need.
Birds find food by sight. Initially, place the feeder
in a spot far enough out in the yard to be visible to the birds, yet
where it cannot be reached by squirrels other predators. Once the
birds realize there is food available, and begin to frequent your
“bird oasis”, the feeder can gradually be moved closer
to the house to allow for better viewing.
Consider your bird garden an ongoing project. Let the birds rate
your choices. Notice what works well. Remember, it will take time
for the birds to discover and begin to use the habitat you’ve
Compost is a nutrient rich soil amendment that fertilizes,
conditions and improves soil structure.
Fall is a perfect time to get a compost pile started, because there
is so much green matter and leaves from garden cleanup.
Decomposition depends upon air, water, bacteria, fungi and other
microscopic organisms, as well as larger organisms including earthworms,
slugs, spiders, ants and flies.
GOOD FOR COMPOSTING- HEALTHY GARDEN CLIPPINGS
cut annuals, perennials, vegetables
kitchen veggie waste, including egg shells,
coffee grounds and unbleached paper coffee filters
weeds that do not have seed pods
DO NOT USE:
Only use undiseased
matter. Discard any disease-infected clippings in trash (any clippings
with signs of mold, aphid, other insect infestation, etc.) to avoid
meats, fish, cheeses
weeds that have gone to seed
thorny branches (roses, blackberries)
USEFUL TIPS FOR SUCCESSFUL COMPOSTING:
MOST IMPORTANT NEEDS: AIR, WATER
Add new ingredients in layers, alternating wet/green
The smaller the pieces are cut, the faster they
Use chippers if possible. Shred piles of fallen leaves with a lawn
Use COMPOST STARTER or Achillea (Yarrow) clippings
to accelerate decomposition
Turn the pile often - bi-weekly is optimal.
Organisms need air to break down garden clippings and kitchen refuse.
Turning aerates the pile, hastening the decay and ultimate breakdown
of composted materials. Use a fork to turn the pile.
The compost pile needs to stay moist but not
wet - like the consistency of a squeezed out sponge. If pile is
very wet, add sawdust to absorb excess water.
Your compost pile should smell sweet and fresh.
If it smells poorly, it is probably not getting enough air. Turn
more often, and add dry, carbon-rich materials like dead leaves
Rotted manure gets treated as a wet/green material
- it speeds decomposition.
When adding high carbon ingredients such as
sawdust, wood shavings and ground bark, also add additional nitrogen
to the mix (grass clippings).
THE COMPOST PILE
should measure at least 3 feet on all sides, so that it will generate
enough heat to decompose contents quickly. Maximum size: no more than
6 feet high & wide.
There are many types of Compost Bins:
Rotating barrels - easy to turn
Simple chicken wire structure
3-box set-up made from new or recycled wood
Easy access to finished compost is very important.
Lids for keeping out excess moisture are also useful.
seeds and disease organisms will be destroyed if the temperature
of the compost pile reaches 150 - 160 degrees.
One can also make a compost pile and leave
it untended and unturned for up to a year. It will slowly decompose
but weed seeds will not be killed. This is considered “cold
composting”, and is useful for large quantities of leaves, grass
clippings and other garden waste.
blood meal & fresh grass clippings are high in nitrogen and
they speed decomposition.
When decomposition has completed, sift the compost
to remove any large matter that has not decomposed completely. Return
these materials to the next pile.
Mix your new, nutrient rich compost into flower
and vegetable beds, or use as mulch.
COVER CROPS TO IMPROVE YOUR SOIL
Green manuring is the growing and turning under of
crops to fertilize and improve the soil. It is a very old practice,
with Chinese gardeners using green manures for nearly 3,000 years.
The ancient Greeks and Romans also practiced green manuring.
Cover crops, or green manure, are one of the cornerstones
of ecological agriculture.
They provide outstanding benefits for the soil & future crops
in the following ways:
Enrich the soil by increasing organic matter
Increase earthworms & beneficial microorganisms
Increase the Nitrogen and other minerals available
to the plants
Stabilize the soil to prevent erosion (victims
of the recent fires should consider using cover crops on their bare
Provide habitat for beneficial insects
Improve water, root & air penetration in
Increase soil’s moisture-holding capacity
Choke out weeds
Break up subsoil
Provide aesthetic value and color
Cover-crops are easy, more economical and more environmental
than applying chemical fertilizers. It is essentially turning your
entire garden into an efficient compost pile.
The basic idea of cover-cropping is to plant a field with a crop
that will benefit the soil. Planting this crop directly after the
growing season is over will help keep existing soil nutrients from
washing away during the winter.
The cover crop seed is broadcast on well-tilled ground, then covered
with a thin layer of soil. It is especially important to keep the
seed moist when just planted, keeping the soil wet 1”-2”
below the seeding depth. Keep irrigated throughout the growing season.
The more growth ahe cover crop makes in the Fall, the better. The
crops will continue to grow throughout the winter.In spring, the
cover crops are mowed down then tilled back into the ground, roots
and all. The best time to till in the cover crop is when 50% of
the flowers are in bloom. It is important to till the mowed crop
into the soil as soon as possible, because the green matter loses
nitrogen and carbon very rapidly if left exposed to the sun. If
possible, chop the crop for faster decomposition. The green material
is then allowed to decompose for a few weeks in the soil, putting
valuable nutrients back into the soil. The breakdown process takes
Legumes like alfalfa, clover, vetch, peas & beans are excellent
for cover cropping because they build (or “fix”) Nitrogen
in the soil. Alfalfa is the best of the nitrogen-fixing crops. Buckwheat
and ryegrass are effective against weeds, by growing so quickly
that it soon overpowers the weeds and chokes them out.
It is important to inoculate (or coat the seed), to insure a high
level of viable rhizobacteria when the seed germinates. Rhizobacteria
fixes beneficial bacteria to rhizomes of legumes to assist in the
breakdown of plant residues and convert them to humus for plant
growth. An increase in this organic matter maximizes the soils ability
to retain moisture, reducing run-off of moisture and fertilizers
due to erosion by wind and water. Rhizobacteria naturally exists
in the soil, but not in sufficient amounts to maximize nitrogen
If you are planting your first cover crop, we suggest planting
a seed mixture specially formulated for the specific season (spring
or fall), such as our GREEN MANURE mix, consisting of Bell Beans,
Austrain Field Peas and Common Vetch.
If possible, test the soil prior to planting to determine whether
it is deficient in any specific nutrients. A cover crop can then
be selected which can address the deficiencies.
Ideally, crops should be rotated after each season, allowing for
a fall/winter cover crop between plantings.
for Fall Planting
Fall is an excellent time to plant perennials.
The warm weather gives roots time to establish before cold sets
in. Perennials are easy to plant, require little care during
the winter, and are good filler for bare patches in the landscape.
When spring arrives, you will have a jump on garden tasks, as
some of the work will already be done.
There are many species of hardy perennials which will over-winter
well in Shasta County. The following list is a selection of
plants available at Red Bluff Garden Center:
Coreopsis. Daisylike flowers in yellow, orange, maroon,
or red. Full sun.
Delphinium (D. elatum). Tall spires of flowers, mostly
in shades of blue; some strains have flowers in shades of
raspberry rose and lilac to deep violet. Giant Pacific hybrids
can reach 8 feet tall; Flue Fountains grow 2 to 2 1/2 feet
tall. All need rich, porous soil. Sun.
Diascia. Low-growing plants with coral, pink, or lavender
flowers. Full sun to partial shade.
Erigeron karvinskianus (Santa Barbara daisy). Spreading
evergreen perennial ground cover grows 1 foot tall by 4 to
6 feet across. White or pinkish daisy flowers appear all year
in mild climates. Reseeds. Sun or light shade.
Gaillardia grandiflora (Blanket flower). Daisylike
flowers in shades of red and yellow with orange or maroon
Guara lindheimeri. Spikes of white or pink blossoms
that last for many months. Full sun.
Lavender. Beautiful shrubby perennials with spikes
of bloom in shades of purple to sky blue. French lavender
(Lavandula dentata) is an upright, rounded, evergreen shrub
2 to 3 feet tall with highly fragrant lavender flowers. Spanish
lavender (L. stoechas) grows 1 1/2 to 3 feet tall and bears
showy purple blooms in early summer. English lavender (L.
angustifolia) is the classic fragrant lavender used to make
potpourris and perfumes; plants grow to 4 feet tall. All lavenders
need loose, fast-draining soil.
Nemesia fruticans. Vanilla-scented lavender and pink
or white flowers on a bushy evergreen plant; frows to 1 foot
tall. (Zones 16-24 - does it grow here?)
Nepeta faassenii (Catmint). Spikes of lavender-blue flowers
on mounding plants with gray-green foliage. Sun.
Penstemon (P. gloxinioides). Bush, upright perennial
2 to 3 feet tall with red tubular flowers along the stems.
Apple Blossom (pink), Firebird (red),
and Midnight (purple) are particularly long-blooming
Phygelius (Cape fuchsia). Shrubby perennial with drooping,
fuchsialike flowers in pink, red, or pale yellow; to 4 feet
tall. Sun or light shade.
Salvia. Many kinds. Autumn sage (Salvia greggii), a
bushy evergreen shrub to 3 feet tall, bears small flowers
in many colors, from white and yellow to orange and lipstick
red (depending on variety), late spring to fall. Sun
Scabiosa Butterfly Blue and Pink Mist).
Lacy-looking, 1-inch-wide blue or pink flowers. Blooms much
of the year in mild climates. Full sun.
Scaevola aemula. Low-sprawling plants produce masses
of lavender-blue flowers. Full sun.
Verbena. Mostly ground cover plants that thrive in
heat. Homestead Purple grows up to 18 inches tall
and has large (2-inch) purple flower heads. Varieties of V.
peruviana come in pink, purple, red, and white, and stay 3
inches tall. Sun.
Achillea (Yarrow). Finely cut green or gray leaves;
flowers borne in flattish clusters.
A. millefolium grows to 3 feet tall and bears white flowers;
hybrids have flowers that range from red and rose to cream.
A. filipendulina (4 to 5 feet tall) has flowers in shades
of yellow. Sun.
Clay Soil with Gypsum
Clay soil is easily identified because it is
hard! It is so tightly compacted that little
oxygen is able to get through the soil particles. Water is able
to soak through, nutrients are available to the roots, but there
is no oxygen which is critically needed for plants to survive.
Gypsum is the most basic soil amendment for the clay soils of
Compacted soils can cause numerous problems besides stunted
growth or death of large plants and trees. Moss and algae may
appear. Results of compacted/clay soils usually show within
six months to one year after planting.
The soil particles need to be separated to allow for free flow
of oxygen, nutrients and water. Gypsum does this.
Good soil provides plant roots with aeration as well as retention
of water and nutrients. Folks tend to forget the importance
of oxygen in the three necessities of healthy root growth -
water, nutrients, and oxygen. In root growth, keep in mind the
root tip needs to be able to move through the soil looking for
water and oxygen. Small hairs on the roots absorb the nutrients.
What does gypsum do?
Gypsum is calcium phosphate. When added to the soil, gypsum
helps to break up the soil particles allowing movement of particles
stuck together, allowing air and water to penetrate and reach
those deep roots looking for oxygen or air, water and nutrients.
It is best to cultivate the soil as deeply as possible before
adding gypsum, then add the gypsum in the proportions specified
on the package, and cultivate again, mixing it in as thoroughly
as possible. Water thoroughly before planting. It is best to
wait at least 24 hours before planting to give the gypsum time
to work. You will find that in a short time your soil is much
more friable (breaks apart easily, rather than sticking together),
and is easier to handle. Gypsum can be added to the soil any
time planting is done.
Think of the hole you are digging for your new plant as a pot
without a hole, with no where for the roots to go once they
reach the edge of the pot. This is why it is important to dig
the hole two to three times as deep and wide as the root ball.
Remember to add some gypsum at the bottom of the hole, to open
up the soil so the roots can penetrate the hard clay. Then add
a mixture of 50% existing soil mixed with 50% good planting
mix around the root ball to fill the hole. Be sure to water
thoroughly, making sure the entire root ball is completely saturated.
We have several excellent gypsum products available at the nursery.
and When to Use Dormant Sprays
Most deciduous plants undergo a period
when their growth process greatly slows down. For many plants,
this coincides with the onset of winter, as days grow shorter,
and temperatures grow colder. You can recognize when the plant
is dormant, by the leaves falling from the trees or shrubs.
This is the time to apply dormant
sprays to fruit trees and roses, to help control various forms
of fungus and disease (including black spot, peach leaf curl
and many blights), and insects such aphids, whitefly, spider
mites, scale and mealybug, which can devastate your plants
when the weather grows warmer. The chemicals in the dormant
sprays will not affect the fruit at this time, since the sap
is barely flowing through the trees.
For pest control, fruit trees should be sprayed
with Dormant Oil once each year, during December. Master
Nursery Pest Fighter Year-Round Spray Oil, Lilly Miller Superior
Type Spray Oil, Monterey Saf-T-Side, and Neem Oil
are a sampling of the Dormant Oils we recommend for your deciduous
For disease, it is most effective to spray
Fruit Trees and Roses three times: Thanksgiving, Christmas
and Valentine’s Day. Copper Sulfate products are recommended
for fruit trees, and Lime Sulfur is best for fruit trees.
Lilly Miller Polysul Dormant Spray, Lilly Miller
Microcop Fungicide (comes with container of
Sta-Stuk “M” for better adherence)
and Monterey Liqui-Cop are all effective
products for disease control.
There are also products that enhance Dormant
Spray application. Spray Grip helps spray
adhere to branches. Signal is a colorant to be mixed with
sprays so you can see where it has been applied.
In addition to the products mentioned above,
Red Bluff Garden Center carries a wide selection of other products
to benefit the overall health of your plants, as well as to
address specific problems. Our staff are extremely knowledgeable,
and are happy to answer your questions regarding amendments
and overall gardening products. Also, refer to the George’s
Almanac section of this website for more information
and specific Fall gardening suggestions.
(Rhus diversiloba and Rhus toxicodendron)
One of the most widespread and troublesome
of all pest plants, this woody perennial inflicts a high toll
of suffering every year, especially during the summer months.
Rhus diversiloba is a shrub
or sometimes a vine climbing to about 8 feet high. It is native
from British Columbia to California. Rhus Toxicodendron
is a low shrub, native from New Jersey to Tennessee and southern
Missouri and southwards to Mississippi and Florida. Poison ivy
(Rhus radicans) and Poison sumac (Rhus
vernix) are closely related to poison oak, and are
equally toxic and nasty.
The leaves of poison oak are divided into three distinct leaflets,
either elliptical or oval in shape. Green leaves turn brilliant
orange to red in the fall. In May and June, clusters of greenish
flowers bloom from the centers of the leaves. The flowers are
followed by round, green to tan fruit containing seeds. New
plants sprout from the seeds as well as from creeping, underground
Poison oak prefers dry areas with poor, sandy soil. It is frequently
found in wooded lots, along roadways, in yards and non-crop
Poison oak is known for the irritating rash caused by the oily
sap found in all parts of the plant. The greatest irritations
occur in the spring when the sap is flowing freely. However,
rashes can develop if the plant is contacted at any time of
the year. Irritations develop after direct contact with the
plant, by contact with contaminated clothing, tools, pet hair,
or smoke from burning plants.
Contact causes inflammation and swelling of the skin, followed
by intense irritation, itching and blisters. Often the skin
breaks, the liquid escapes, and scabs or crusts form. Symptoms
may appear from 12 to 24 hours after contact, although it varies
from a few hours to several days. Some persons are apparently
more susceptible than others, and in serious cases, medical
attention is advised. Also, contact with the plant at different
times of the year may result in varying degrees of infection
and skin irritation.
CONTROL: Do not
hand-pull or burn poison oak plants. Any pieces of root
left behind will sprout into new plants. The oil also remains
potent on clothing for up to two years. When burned, the oil
vaporizes and the smoke causes skin, eye, and lung irritations.
Herbicides are the safest way to rid an area of poison oak.
We have found the following products to be most effective: Monterey
Brush Buster, Lily Miller Blackberry & Brush Killer and
Bayer All-in-One Weed Killer.
In large areas, poison oak can be controlled by mowing
close to the ground in midsummer followed by plowing or harrowing,
or by grazing sheep or goats. For smaller patches, the roots
may be dug out, taking extreme care not to let the plant come
in contact with skin. Wearing long sleeves and leather or vinyl
gauntlet gloves (available at Red Bluff Garden Center) are essential
for such a project. Smothering the roots under heavy black plastic
or cardboard can also be effective, especially in areas where
it is difficult to mow, such as under trees.
Place dead plants in plastic bags and tie securely. Discard
bags, gloves, and any other products and clothing which may
have come in contact with the plants. Soaking affected clothing
in water with a small amount of ammonia is useful in removing
the oil from the fabric.
If contact with poison oak is known or suspected, immediate
lathering with a strong alkali soap (Lava) with frequent rinsing
can prevent inflammation and blistering. The alkali soup emulsifies
the oil and, by thorough rinsing, this may remove the oil from
Applying a drying agent such as rubbing alcohol or a solution
of baking soda and water are also effective measures.
Several over-the-counter products are available, should you
happen to contact poison oak.
- Guardians of the Crops
Scarecrows are an ancient art form. They
have been used for more than 3,000 years, in cultures all over
the world, scaring the birds away from crops to insure a complete
harvest. Native American tribes throughout North America used
scarecrows or human bird scarers to protect their crops.
Scarecrows were extremely popular in fields
and Victory Gardens across America during the Great Depression
of the 1930’s. After WWII, when farming became big business
and chemical sprays were used on a large scale, scarecrows
became less used.
Yet Scarecrows really work! It’s important
to put scarecrows out as soon as crops are planted, to keep
the birds from eating the newly planted seeds.
Scarecrows also celebrate the beauty and tranquility
of fall and add charm and whimsy to yard and garden. They
can be serious, scary and downright funny. They tend to look
like people, yet cats and large, scary birds are also popular.
Scarecrows can be made of many different materials, though
are mostly made of clothing stuffed with straw. Often the
faces are made from pumpkins or gourds.
In the late 1800’s, Zuni children in
the American Southwest has contests to see who could make
the most unusual scarecrow. Today, Scarecrow Contests remain
a popular activity in communities across the US.
Other things to use to keep birds away are:
inflatable scarecrows, shiny streamers (these work great for
grapes), old CD’s hanging on fishing line, motion activated
sprinklers (for larger animals), bird netting, flags, cans
on strings, noisemakers.
This is the fourth year Red Bluff Garden Center has
hosted a scarecrow contest. We received many creative entries
from individuals and schools around the County. Here is a
list of the winners and photos of some of the scarecrows.
Red Bluff Garden Center' 2004 Scarecrow Contest Winners
- Individual Category
Fred Will Shoot
Hunter Spade, Redding
Jacko the Contractor
Nicole Peletta, Redding
Travis Uncapher, Redding
- Group Category
Whitmore Elementary, Grades 3-4-5
Whitmore Elementary, 8th Grade
Whitmore Elementary, 7th Grade
Australian Hat Outlet
The Alta Mesa School Garden Club
Whitmore Elementary K-1 & 6th Grade