Selecting and Caring for your Live Christmas Tree

on Thursday, 28 November 2019.

'Tis the Season for...Conifers!

Live Christmas tree sm

This year, instead of bringing home a cut Christmas tree that was cut weeks ago and kept in cold storage or putting up one of those “trees in a box”, consider getting a live Christmas tree.

It’s easy to understand the charm of a live Christmas tree; one that can be planted outside after the holidays and go on to brighten your garden for years to come. Here are a few tips that will help you pick the best live tree for your home, and keep it alive and healthy until you plant it after the holidays.

 

 Let’s start with a few basic conifer facts:

  •  Most conifers don’t actually stop growing. Some may grow very slowly (less than 6”/year); others can grow much quicker (over a foot a year). When you see the mature size of a conifer listed, that size is just a snapshot of the size the plant will be in 10 to 20 years.

Unless otherwise noted, most conifers prefer at least 5 to 6 hours of sun per day. Most can take full sun

Conifers generally prefer soil with a neutral to slightly acidic pH; most prefer well-drained soils

When planting your conifer, if it is wrapped in a burlap ball, cut the twine that holds the ball together but don’t loosen the burlap (that can damage the roots) – the roots can grow through the burlap, and the burlap will eventually disintegrate

Remember to plant the crown slightly above the level of the surrounding soil (link to planting guide)

Caring for your live Christmas tree:

If you are bringing your tree into the house, be sure to keep it away from fireplaces and heat vents

Minimize the time your live Christmas tree spends indoors. Ideally, your tree won’t spend more than 3 or 4 weeks inside.

The best way to keep your live Christmas tree watered is to place ice cubes in the pot. They’ll melt slowly and the plant will soak up the water gradually – and you won’t be left with big messy puddles on the floor!

When you’re transitioning your tree from your house to the outdoors, do it gradually. Remember: your house is a good 30 to 40 degrees warmer than your yard at this time of year! Once the holidays are over, move your tree into a sheltered place outside – maybe on an unheated porch or under a sheltered overhand. While your trees will be happier in the ground, you don’t need to plant them right away - as long as you keep your tree from drying out.

For more information on some of the varieties of dwarf and compact conifers we have in stock, check out this Plant of the Week post!

The Fruits of Persia

on Thursday, 28 November 2019. Posted in Edibles, Fruit trees

Delicious Additions to Your Edible Landscape!

What do figs, pomegranates, persimmons, almonds, peaches, apricots, and grapes all have in common (aside from being delicious)? They’re part of a group we like to think of as “the Fruits of Persia’, as they all originated in the Fertile Crescent region and figure prominently in Persian cuisine.

The Rogue Valley shares several similarities with the climate of Persia: Hot summer days and cooler nights, relatively low rainfall, a long enough heat spell in summer to ripen fruits, and ample chill hours in winter. Thus, it makes sense that many of our favorite fruits come from this rich and abundant area of the world. In fact, the word ‘paradise’ has a Persian root, meaning walled garden. This year, let’s create our own paradise of luscious fruits!
 
figsFigs
Love our hot summers
Very traditional in Persian and Mediterranean cuisine
Best flavor when picked very ripe and soft to the touch
Choose early ripening or two-crop varieties
Appreciate a well-drained soil
 
PomegranatePomegranates
Thought to be the ‘apple’ in the Adam and Eve story
Drought tolerant and very heat tolerant, grown as a large shrub to small tree
Like figs, locate in the hottest location you have and provide well-draining soil
Choose early ripening varieties
 
all in oneAlmonds
To avoid potential spring frost damage, choose a late blooming variety like ‘All in One’, which has the added benefits of being semi-dwarf and self-fertile
Encourage your pollinators by planting pollinator-friendly plants nearby. They’ll repay your efforts by improving pollination!
Well-draining soil is best but can tolerate some clay
 
suncrestPeaches
Nothing beats the taste of a sun warmed peach
Long history in Persian culture. In fact, the botanical name for peach is Prunus persica!
Lots of varieties so you can stretch out your peach harvest time
Look for disease resistant varieties to avoid Peach Leaf Curl, or use a dormant oil spray
Does best in a well-drained soil; all varieties are self-fertile!
 
apricotApricots
Early blooming like the Almonds. For best results, choose late blooming, self-fertile varieties like Harcot, Chinese, Moorpark, and Autumn Glo
Best flavor when picked ripe, and always better than store-bought!
Very traditional fruit in Persian cuisine: fresh, dried, and preserves
Like most fruit trees, Apricots do best in well-drained soil
 
GrapesGrapes
Love our hot summers; drought tolerant and fast growing
Very traditional in Persian and Mediterranean cuisine, leaves are culinary as well
Choose different varieties to enjoy contrasting flavors and colors and ripening times
Can tolerate different soils, but well-drained is best. Avoid overwatering
Maintain good air circulation and sun exposure to avoid mildew
 
fuyuPersimmons
Persimmons originally developed in China and Japan. However, the word “persimmon” likely come from a Persian word meaning date-plum: a nice description of the flavor!
Very ornamental tree with great fall color and decorative and edible sweet fruit
Best flavor when allowed to soften
One of the latest fruits to harvest, cold hardy to Zone 7 
Persimmons can handle clay soils better than most fruit trees
 

 

  

Getting Your Garden Ready for Winter

on Thursday, 31 October 2019.

Leave the Leaves!

leaves 20163145791The nights are getting down below freezing. Fall color has come and gone and leaves are falling fast. Our summer songbirds have been replaced by winter residents like dark-eyed juncos, golden-crowned sparrows, and hermit thrushes. The signs are inescapable – it’s time to start transitioning our gardens into winter mode. 

 

Even though the sounds of leaf blowers are everywhere, there are some really powerful and compelling reasons to leave those leaves right in your garden. This fall, instead of bagging your fallen leaves and putting them out on the curb, consider raking them on top of your garden beds instead. Why?

  • Creating a leaf much for your garden beds is the equivalent of tucking your plants in with a nice warm blanket. Mulched leaves help insulate plant roots against extreme cold snaps and are a great way to help insulate your perennials over the winter.
  • Fallen leaves – and the dead stalks from this summer’s perennials - provide shelter for overwintering beneficial insects and pollinators (native bees, butterflies, etc.). These beneficials will more than repay you next year by helping to control any garden pests that might try to get established. Once cold weather has passed, you can prune back your perennials to get them ready for their spring growth.
  • Your leaf mulch will break down within a few months; creating a free source of nutrients for your plants. Leaving the leaves is also a really simple way to introduce more organic material into your soil; something that’s beneficial to all soil types.

Finally, if you absolutely cannot stand to have leaves on your garden beds, this is a great time to start a compost pile. Add green trimmings, vegetable scraps, manure, and turn a few times over the winter and – voila! – you’ll have fresh rich compost ready for next spring’s growing season!