It’s Time to Plant Veggies!

Nan is potting a tomatoIt’s a wonderful, magical time of year- cool season vegetable planting time!

Oh my, veggies and other edibles are certainly the thing right now. People really want to grow their own food, and they’re so excited to plant anything and everything……

Thinking of growing vegetable plants, from seed or starts? We carry both- high quality seeds that are guaranteed to grow, and eager young starter plants that are locally grown.

Veggies in winter? Yes! Food can be grown year-round here in Sonoma County, and you can even incorporate them into your ornamental landscape (this trend is called ‘ornamedibles’)

'Bright Lights' chardSince more gardeners have decided they like heirloom and unusual veggies, we like to offer stuff you don’t see anywhere else, like Kalettes- a cross between kale and brussels sprouts that is all the rage right now. or purple broccoli, cheddar cauliflower and savoy cabbage.

Some folks are devoted to reliable stalwarts in the veggie garden. If you are the type who relies on the tried and true, you’ll find the great fall and winter classics here-, Walla Walla onions, romaine lettuce, sugar snap peas, fava beans and a lot more.

It’s wise to add compost and get the soil ready to embrace the new additions you’ll soon be tending, just like you would in spring. We LOVE Paydirt, a stinky organic compost made from chicken manure and mushroom compost. An easy way to add this in is to put a 3-6″ layer over your plot, then rototill as usual. Or, if your not tilling, just ‘double dig’ the compost into each planting hole, leaving the rest of the compost layer undisturbed; it will act as a mulch, keeping weeds out and moisture in (every bit counts in this drought!)

Feed Me!

Feed Me!

Did you know how much of a difference it makes when you fertilize your veggie garden? If you want the most produce you can grow, throw out some granular veggie food, like Master Nursery Tomato vegetable food or E.B.Stone organic tomato vegetable food.  I noticed a big increase in the amounts that were harvested through the season when I fertilized once a month, and it hardly took any time at all. I just scattered the food around the root zone of all my herbs and veggies, then watered it in- done!

Until recently, eliminating slugs and snails from my tender seedlings would require the application of highly toxic snail bait. Now there’s Sluggo- iron phosphate, which is safe for humans, pets and wildlife. This product is perfect for the veggie garden, it’s organic, and any unconsumed pellets even break down into nutrients that feed your plants. How do they come up with this stuff?

Plant most crops in the full sun, or at least 6 hours of afternoon sun, to get your plants to produce well. The lower temps and (hopefully) seasonal rains will make for much easier tending, plus, cold weather will result in sweeter and nuttier flavors.

Remember, King’s is a great resource to help you along the veggie garden path. We will answer any questions, offer growing tips and advice, demonstrate and explain what you can do to have a successful harvest- just come on in!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Want a Butterfly Garden?

It’s butterfly season, and we get lots of ’em

Everyone loves butterflies. Kind of like puppies, kittens or baby chicks- when you see them, it makes you go ‘awww.’

These are the ballerinas of the insect world, showing grace with every movement, fluttering and floating effortlessly about. Here in Sonoma County we are visited by many different types, and you can encourage them to visit your garden by planting certain flowers.

a butterfly’s dream

Young larvae will need food plants, while adults will go  for nectar. A shallow dish or other regular water source is also part of the plan, as they drink water just like the rest of us. Understand that pesticides are a no-no if you want  these beauties to keep coming around.

Although, ideally, a thriving butterfly garden is somewhat overgrown (in order to sustain a working habitat), you can successfully encourage them to visit your tidy flower beds, as long as there are plenty of worthy blooms to check out. Here are a few candidates:

These are a few of the plants that will be eaten by caterpillars, or larvae, who will turn into glorious adults:

Dicentra, or Bleeding Hearts

Bleeding Hearts- a lilting perennial that blooms in late winter early spring.

Nasturtium- a soft looking, low growing rambler with edible flowers

linaria ‘flamenco’

Linaria (toadflax)- sweet mini snapdragons

Sunflowers- we all know what those are!

Penstemon- soft spires of tubular bells; bloom continuously

Hollyhock- tall towers of open-faced flowers; love the sun

Foxglove- lush leaves and large bell-shaped flowers

Here’s a few selections that will provide plentiful nectar to mature butterflies:

stunning delphinium

Delphinium- fat, long cones of many long-lasting flowers. Showy!

Lavender- pleasantly pungent leaves and blooms. Low water, too

Honeysuckle- sweet-smelling vine for full sun or part shade

Lilac- clusters of late winter/spring flowers. Great cut flower

Coneflower (echinachea)- strong-stemmed daisies form prominent cones as they become spent

Sweet Pea- These potently fragrant vines bloom through the cool season

Butterfly Bush (buddleja)- honey-scented conical flower clusters

butterfly bush

Lantana- round clusters of bright flowers. Can be a groundcover or an upright shrub

Flowering Maple- tropical looking, pendulous flowers that resemble hibiscus

Dianthus- sweetly scented, plentiful flowers

A lot of these plants are attractive to other pollinators, and hummingbirds, as well as being drought resistant, deer tolerant. A good many are suitable for cutting bouquets, so you can enjoy the flowers as much as your butterflies do. We stock all these plants and many more, and we’ll gladly help you design your garden and decide just what you need.

 

 

 

I Found my Thrill- Blueberries

 

Ready for picking

It’s berry time, and we’ve got a nice crop of plants that are so LOADED with berries you can barely see the leaves! They will give a harvest the first season and fruit will be produced for months, so they’re gonna give you you’re money’s worth right away.

Why we love blueberries-

Blueberries are an excellent and permanent addition to edible and ornamental landscapes because, thanks to modern breeding, they are very easy to grow. The handsome plants have dark blue-green foliage and attractive pink or white ‘ bell’  blooms in spring, which turn into yummy blue summer berries.

Some even have great autumn color, with a full spectrum of yellow, orange and red. All can be planted in the veggie garden or used in the landscape. All this and the bonus of luscious fruit loaded with anti-oxidants! Since they are a permanent addition to the garden, the yields of berries increase each year.

Planting

In our fabulous gardening climate, blueberries can be planted most anywhere from full sun to part sun. Just be sure the location gets at least a half a day of good sunlight. Since they are long lived, it is a wise idea to amend the soil properly when planting. A wide, fairly shallow planting hole, backfilled with half Master Nursery Planting Mix and half our native soil along with a dollop of Master Start fertilizer would be great. After planting, mulch with a bit of additional Planting Mix to help with moisture retention. Planting distance can be up to 5 feet apart or as close as 3 feet for a hedge effect. Or, intersperse them throughout the garden. Blueberries easily adapt to containers and to make it even easier, you can use Master Nursery Planting Mix straight from the bag. You could even add flowers and herbs to the container for a beautiful effect.

Blueberries are ornamental, too

Care

It’s so easy! The new blueberries are low maintenance, vigorous plants. They like routine water like your other garden plants and monthly feeding March through October with our Camellia Azalea food or our veggie food. Your berries will produce more and bigger fruit with a bit of winter pruning. First remove any dead wood, then thin out about a third of what remains. As the plant grows older, you can select six or so main erect branches to form its permanent structure.

Selection

We select and prefer the southern highbush varieties as they are particularly suitable for us. They love the warm days as well as the cool ones and thrive in our mild winters. Three plants are about the minimum for a family but there are, of course, no limits. Blueberries are self pollinating. So, if you remember 7th grade science, that means you only need one plant to get some fruit. However, the more the merrier in the world of the birds and bees. In fact, the fruit will be much more prolific if you plant two or more varieties. Also, by mixing varieties you can easily extend your harvest. Some of our favorites (but we love them all)…

 

Jubilee: Fruits early, nice and upright
Misty: Fruits very early with lots of berries
O’Neal: Another very early variety
Sharpblue: Fruits early to mid season and great to extend the season. Fast grower with big berries.
Star: Fruits early with large berries
Sunshine Blue: Mid season, a more compact plant and evergreen.

Plus others, of course, and please feel free to ask us any questions about blueberries or other parts of your garden. At least in the garden, we want you happy, healthy and successful.

 

Fragrant Gardenias

BillieIt’s the best time for gardenias- the flowers are loving this weather….

I’ve always thought of the gardenia as the southern belle in my garden, loving the warm nights and summer heat so prevalent in the south. Visions of a flower-filled courtyard in the moonlight, a heady fragrance in the evening air. A lovely lady wearing one in her hair. A gentlemen’s boutonniere.039

These glossy evergreen shrubs are happy to grow here in our climate. A few things about gardenias worth mention:

-Get the grafted ones. They were originally developed for nematode resistance in the southern states, but it was discovered that grafted plants will utilize nutrients more efficiently, making them greener, more floriferous and vigorous.

– Food. Give them acid fertilizer regularly and you will be rewarded with many more flowers. Liquid food every 2 weeks, or granular monthly is best during the growing season (March – October).

– Plant them with acidic Planting Mix. It has great drainage, right out of the bag. Use it straight in containers, or mixed 50/50 with your native soil in the ground. While you’re at it, throw in your first dose of fertilizer.

-Flowers are most prolific when the nights are warm, so pick a nice warm spot. I like to put them near a walkwaya-gardenia-in-the-nursery2-300x273 or window to best enjoy the wonderful fragrance. And yes, I bring the flowers inside- how could you not?

We like to stock these plants most of the year, but now is the best time to see them in bloom. Once you smell those flowers….comea handfull on by to see what I mean. Our staff is ready to tell you more if you have any questions.

 

 

Exotic Clematis

The vine of the times right now is clematis. Our customers are really snatching these up!

Winding, twining, lacy tendrils adorned with masses of tropical-looking flowers. Clematis is one vine that gets noticed…..

We love the look of this when it’s allowed to clamber up through climbing roses, creating a bouquet effect with the two types of flowers blooming together. Try it spilling out of a hanging basket, where it can mound, cascade and wind upward all at once. Use it to fill up sections of chainlink fence for a spectacular ‘living wall’ of color, or guide it up a post for a fountain effect. Add even more ‘wow’ when you blend several colors and styles in the same area.

 

Grow clematis anywhere that you’ve got some sun. It’s happy in the ground or in containers, especially when there’s something planted beneath that will keep the roots nice and cool. The only maintenance it generally requires is once a year pruning; some types don’t even need that. Provide the usual good drainage (as with most things you plant).

 

There are so many kinds available, most with large flowers- some can get 10″ across! We’ve got lots in stock right now, setting flowerbuds and ready to climb. Come check ’em out!

 

 

 

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