• Winter Gives Gardeners a Perfect Opportunity to Prepare for Spring
    Thursday, December 23, 2010 at
  • Constant rain is rare during January in Southern California, which means there are plenty of sunny days to work in the garden and prepare for a successful spring growing season.

    Plant Dormant Fruit and Rose Trees: Local nurseries have an assortment of well-priced bare root fruit trees and roses in stock: apricot, plum, apple, pear and peach trees, and varieties of rose bushes. Bare-root means just that--no soil is needed around the roots. Winter is the time to plant these dormant trees so they bloom in spring. Be sure to add organic compost planting mix to the soil to increase soil aeration and a layer of mulch to keep in moisture.

    Prune Trees: January is a good time to prune dormant trees. Pruning while a tree is dormant reduces the chance of disease. Remove dead or unhealthy branches, branches at the base of the tree or other small "runners" and limbs that could cause safety issues. Do not prune large branches or those at the top of trees as this can cause tree stress and impede growth. Pruned trees will produce fuller flowers and larger fruit in spring.

    Plant Winter Vegetables: Plant winter vegetables including artichokes, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, carrots, peas, potatoes spinach and strawberries for spring and early summer harvest.

    Rake Leaves: Rake fallen leaves from lawns so grass can soak up winter sun and properly dry in between winter rains.

    Plant Summer-Blooming Bulbs: January is the time to plant summer-blooming bulbs. Nurseries will have good assortment in stock. These bulbs include dahlia, gladiolus, hippeastrum, laitris, lilies, nerine and tuberous begonias.

    Care for Living Christmas Trees: Only keep living Christmas trees indoors for two weeks. Once the holidays are over, the trees should be brought outside and transplanted into the ground. Trees can easily grow 50 feet or higher so select their permanent outdoor location with care.

    For more gardening tips, go to http://www.agromin.com.

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  • The Many Lives of Your Christmas Tree
    Tuesday, December 14, 2010 at

  • Your Christmas tree leads many lives. First, trees are grown from seedlings in one of almost 15,000 tree farms located in just about every state in the U.S. Trees take at least 10 years to grow before they are harvested.

    Once they are harvested, their next stop is a local Christmas tree lot for sale. Families take the trees home where they are adorned with ornaments and are the centerpiece of holiday celebrations. After the holidays, decorations are removed and it's time for the trees' next phase: recycling.

    Christmas tree recycling programs are available in more than 4,000 communities in the United States. When you recycle a Christmas tree, the tree is chopped and turned into mulch that is then used by farmers, landscapers and backyard gardeners. Using mulch in landscapes naturally cuts down on weeds and erosion and reduces the need for water. Without recycling, the trees would be dumped into landfills.

    Christmas Tree Recycling Tips:

    --remove all ornaments, tinsel, nails and the tree stand (your organic materials recycler will also "clean" your tree, but try to do most of the work yourself)
    --cut the tree in half and put it in your green recycling container at curbside within two weeks after Christmas--or take the tree to your local green recycling center. Contact your local waste hauler for any specific instructions or options.
    --flocked trees cannot be recycled

    One last note, if you're considering buying an artificial tree this year: more than 85 percent of artificial trees are made and shipped from China. Most contain non biodegradable plastic and metal. If you want to be "green" during the holidays, your best bet is to get a real tree.

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