Gardening Tips for Tuolumne County
--> Preventing disease on fruit trees: Click here for information.
March 13, 2023
Having a summer vegetable garden can be fun and rewarding! CLICK HERE TO SEE WHAT WE ARE GROWING THIS YEAR. Being able to walk outside and pick fresh, home-grown, organic fruits and vegetables is a treat you can enjoy all summer long. Although it is tempting to get outside and start planting, it is important to wait until we are past the chance of frost before planting summer vegetables outdoors. The final frost date for Sonora is May 10th, and later at higher elevations. In the meantime, you can start prepping your garden beds with good organic soil and planning. Start by thinking about what you would like to grow and what you have the space for...
• VERY LITTLE SPACE (6 inches or less): onions, carrots, radishes, beets, leeks (some of these can be planted from seed directly into your garden)
• LITTLE SPACE (2 feet or less): eggplant, peppers, lettuce, celery, kale, swiss chard, basil, cilantro, Tatsoi, Chijimisai, parsley, dill, stevia
• MODERATE SPACE (2-4 feet): tomatoes, tomatillos, zucchini, summer squash
• A LOT OF SPACE (3+ feet): melons, cucumbers, winter squash, beans, pumpkins (many of these are trailing so they mainly need space to crawl)
February 10, 2022
If you have a greenhouse or a protected indoor space, you can begin growing your summer veggies from seed as early as February and March! Click here for a timeline of growing vegetables from seed. Simply fill pots with good organic soil, label them with a marker or stick tag, and plant a seed in the middle. Put starts in a sunny, protected spot like a greenhouse or an indoor windowsill. Keep them watered and watch them grow! Starts can be planted outside in early May if there is no chance of frost in the 10-day forecast.
We grow all of our vegetables exclusively in Blue Ribbon premium potting soil by G&B Organics. It is 100% organic, very high quality, and it holds moisture well so your seeds don't dry out between waterings. 1.5 cubic foot bags are available at the nursery for $11.49 each.
October 22, 2021
With cold weather on the way, you may be worried about certain plants handling the freezing temperatures. An easy way to protect more tender plants is to add a 3-6 inch layer of mulch! There are many benefits of mulching your plants - one of the biggest is that it regulates soil temperature. In the summer it keeps soil temperature down which prevents evaporation and can help retain up to 80% more water. In the winter it insulates roots and keeps the soil warmer. In addition, a layer of mulch prevents weeds from growing by blocking sunlight from entering the soil. It also helps control soil erosion from rain and wind. Finally, as the mulch breaks down, it adds valuable nutrients to the soil that make your plants happier, healthier, and more productive. We recommend using an organic mulch like G&B Organics Soil Building Conditioner - available at our nursery in 3 cubic foot bags for just $11.49 each. Mulch your plants now to help them survive winter and come back strong in the spring!
January 5, 2021
Growing your own vegetables can be a very fun and rewarding hobby. If you want to start a summer and/or winter vegetable garden, you’ll need to know the best times to get started. For summer vegetables, you can begin growing from seed as early as February for certain things. Summer vegetables grown from seed will need to be grown in small pots in a sunny spot indoors, or best in a greenhouse. If you don’t choose to grow from seed, you can purchase vegetable starts beginning in
(Click photo to enlarge)
April or so from your local nurseries. Whether you grow from seed or buy starts, you should wait to plant them outdoors until there is absolutely no chance of a frost which would kill them. The final freeze date for Sonora is May 10th, and later at higher elevations. At the end of April you can check the 10-day forecast and make sure there won’t be a late freeze headed your way. For winter vegetables, you can plant seeds in small pots or directly into the ground or raised beds in August. Or you can plant starts in September. Winter vegetables will not require a greenhouse as the temperatures are very warm during the planting months. Refer to the Vegetable Gardening in Tuolumne County timeline to know when certain vegetables can be planted.
October 28, 2020
We proudly carry soils, amendments, and fertilizers by G&B Organics. G&B Organics creates high quality, organic products that can help make your garden better than ever. Here are ways to use their products:
1) Planting in a pot or raised bed: If you will be planting into a pot, wine barrel, box, or raised bed, you will need a mix that is light enough to allow water to move through easily, but rich in organic material. The best options for this are Blue Ribbon Blend orRaised Bed Mix.
2) Planting in the ground: When planting in the ground, mix in a nutrient-rich amendment at a rate of 2/3 soil from the ground and 1/3 amendment. For general planting, use Harvest Supreme or Soil Building Conditioner. Use Acid Planting Mix for acid-loving plants like Maples, Dogwoods, ferns, Azaleas, Hydrangeas, and others. Use Native Planting Mix for California native plants.
3) Mulching: To increase water retention and add extra nutrients to the soil below, try mulching with a thick layer of Soil Building Conditioner.
4) Fertilizing: Feed your plants every 6-8 weeks from "Tax Day to Turkey Day", or whenever the temperature is regularly over 55 degrees. For new plantings, try Starter and for more established plants, use All Purpose. Other fertilizers can be used for more specific purposes (e.g. Rose & Flower to encourage more blooms on flowering plants)
Click here for sizes available and pricing of these products
September 10, 2020
With summer coming to an end, it’s time to start a winter vegetable garden! Plant fall veggie starts early while it’s still warm (September and early October) so that they can get established before the cold comes. There are two ways to use your existing garden to plant fall vegetables: 1) Pull out your entire summer garden and start over with fall veggies or 2) Plant fall veggie starts in the open spaces between your summer plants. Even a little bit of space will be enough to get them growing until you’re ready to remove your summer garden. You can mix in fresh, nutrient-rich dirt in the new hole, or simply spread it on top after planting. Use an organic fertilizer regularly to give them a boost, but you can stop fertilizing once the temperatures are regularly under 55 degrees (usually around Thanksgiving). Happy planting!
July 25, 2019
Crape Myrtles are a favorite in Tuolumne County and at this time of year it is easy to see why. They have very showy blooms in summer and are available in a variety of colors: red, white, shades of pink, and shades of purple. Like many other shrubs – Olives, Redbuds, Oleander, Pineapple Guava, Photinia, and many others – Crape Myrtles can be a bush or a tree. The tree form of these plants is the result of training the bush into a standard tree throughout its life. Unfortunately, Crape Myrtles are not deer-resistant so if you live in an area with high deer traffic then the tree form is more ideal. You can protect the tree until the lowest branches are at least 4 feet high, out of reach of deer. These shrubs/trees also
come in a range of sizes. There are dwarf varieties that only get 4-6 feet tall, some that only get 10 feet tall, most that get 15-20 feet tall, and a few that reach 25-30 feet at maturity. After the impressive summer flowers, Crape Myrtles get lovely fall color that is often a mix of yellows and oranges. The leaves fall off for winter and then it’s the peeling, two-toned bark that adds an attractive feature. Crape Myrtles are often one of the last things to leaf out in the spring. While this can be alarming to have a bare tree even once spring has come, it’s actually a good thing because the Crape Myrtle is protecting itself from late freezes. Trees that leaf out early and then experience a late frost will
often look unhappy for the remainder of the year. By waiting to leaf out, Crape Myrtles avoid frost damage and gear up to be a beautiful addition to any property for the remainder of the year. We carry Crape Myrtles in 5-gallon ($49.95), 15-gallon ($109.95-$159.95), and larger!
June 1, 2019
Now that the weather is finally warming up, it's a good idea to get on a consistent schedule when it comes to fertilizing your plants. Throughout the growing season (Tax Day to Turkey Day), your plants will benefit from regular fertilizer applications. Every 6-8 weeks, apply fertilizer to all of your plants as directed on the packaging. We recommend a good organic fertilizer like G&B Organics granular and/or liquid fertilizers that we carry at the nursery. You should especially stick to organic fertilizers when it comes to plants that produce something you will consume (herbs, fruit trees, anything in your vegetable garden, etc). Organic fertilizers are also convenient because, unlike chemical fertilizers, it is just about impossible to burn your plants from adding too much. So get to fertilizing today and mark your calendar for the next application. It's worth the effort because your plants will look healthier, grow faster, produce more, and be stronger to handle the cold of the next winter.
January 18, 2019
You can help prevent leaf curl, aphids, mildew, scales, and other diseases by acting now while your plants are dormant! Certain plants – especially fruit trees and roses – are susceptible to a wide range of issues during the growing season. An easy way to prevent many of these problems is to apply dormant oil or copper fungicide before leaves emerge, making January and February a good time to do it. There are various brands of dormant oil available, or you can find homemade recipes online. You will need to wait for a dry spell to apply the dormant oil – make sure there is no chance of rain for at least 24 hours after spraying. While this can help prevent problems on all of your fruit trees, we highly recommend applying dormant oil to your peaches and nectarines at the very least. Peaches and nectarines are extremely vulnerable to Peach Leaf Curl - a fungus that causes leaves to curl up and turn bright red, but can also infect the blossoms and create raised wart-like growths on the fruit. We recommend using an organic spray on trees which produce fruit that you will eat. Roses will also benefit from a dormant oil application, but you can instead plan to apply a triple threat product – a fungicide, herbicide, & fertilizer – to your roses later on.
December 1, 2018
It's time for the 2018 Garden Globe Awards! We've compiled a list of the top selling plants of the year in each category: deciduous tree, evergreen tree, perennial, grass, groundcover, shade shrub, sun shrub, and vine. Each plant listed here does very well in the Sonora area and, for good reason, was purchased over and over by both landscapers and homeowners in 2018. If you're not sure where to start with your landscape project, you might consider some of the plants listed here...You can't go wrong with the most popular plants of the year!
October 24, 2018
As we enjoy fall and inch toward winter, it is your last chance to fertilize your plants and trees. It is always a good idea to fertilize during the growing season, but fall is also an important time to fertilize for many reasons. Fertilizers have 3 important components: Nitrogen (N), Phosphorous (P), and Potassium (K). Nitrogen promotes the growth of foliage, which can help your plants recover from the burning hot summer we just had. Phosphorous stimulates and strengthens roots, helping plants
be hardier and more resistant to freezing. Strong roots also provide a strong base on which your plants can thrive next spring. Potassium helps cell function and improves overall plant health. These nutrients will stay in the soil through the winter and can make a world of difference for your plants come spring. We recommend using an organic fertilizer (like G&B Organics All-Purpose Fertilizer) because it works great, is 100% organic, and it is nearly impossible to over fertilize (which can happen with chemical fertilizers and burn your plants). Fertilizer only works when the temperature is 55 degrees or warmer. It's already cooling down so it's a good time to get out and feed your plants!
August 27, 2018
Here at the nursery we see it every year… the colors start to change and everybody rushes in to get their favorite fall color tree. The problem is that when you pick your tree it has to be pulled out, loaded up, driven home, unloaded, and finally planted. That much movement on a tree that is already changing colors can result in losing a lot of leaves. Also, you won't have much time (if any) to enjoy the beautiful colors if you wait until the leaves are already changing to pick your tree. We recommend getting a head start on your fall color planting. If you start early then you'll have a better selection of fall color trees to choose from (before the rush) and you'll get to actually enjoy the color at your house this year, rather than getting home with a bare tree or having to wait until next year for the colors to return. Although you've probably heard that you need to wait until fall to plant, it really is fine to plant now. Just make sure that you give your new trees plenty of water and they will be ready for a fall show!
Click here to see some of our favorite fall color trees!
June 28, 2018
You've probably heard from someone before that you should only plant in the spring or fall. This common misconception stems from the fact that transplanting works better in cold weather. Transplanting involves digging up a plant and moving it - usually by cutting roots and leaving some of the plant behind. However, when you get a potted plant and put it in the ground or a different pot, this is replanting it which does not involve cutting roots or really disturbing the plant at all. The entire root system of the plant is in the pot, so there is no transplanting involved. Another reason people used to say that you can only plant during the mild seasons is that this is when we get rain. Before modern irrigation, you probably would want to wait until spring or fall to plant so that the rain can water for you. This way the plant has a chance to get established before the heat of summer or cold of winter. But now with the help of irrigation, you can easily water your plants and get them going whether it's raining or not. This is good news for gardening lovers...you can plant in spring, fall, winter, and even the middle of summer (if you're willing)!
June 2, 2018
With all this hot weather, you may find your plants wilting between waterings. An easy way to remedy this is to add a 3-6 inch layer of mulch! There are many benefits of mulching your plants, one of the biggest is that it regulates soil temperature. In the summer it keeps soil temperature down which prevents evaporation and can help retain up to 80% more water. In the winter it insulates roots and keeps the soil warmer. In addition, a layer of mulch prevents weeds from growing by blocking sunlight from entering the soil. It also helps prevent soil erosion from rain and wind. Finally, as the mulch breaks down, it adds valuable nutrients to the soil that make your plants happier, healthier, and more productive. We recommend using an organic mulch like G&B Organics Soil Building Conditioner - available at our nursery for just $11.49 per bag.
April 7, 2018
With all of this wonderful rain and the beautiful weather we've been having between wet days, it is easy to catch the spring planting bug. While this is a great time to plant many things, you should be wary of any late freezes that may come. The last frost date for Sonora is May 10th. While it is rare to get a freeze that late, it is still completely possibly up until that point. Your summer garden is one of those things that could be completely wiped out by a late freeze. Unless you have a greenhouse, we recommend waiting
until the end of April to plant your summer garden. Don't forget that you can buy veggie starts that have been growing in a greenhouse for months. You should also keep an eye on the forecast before bringing out any plants that are not so cold hardy. Meyer Lemons and other citrus that were brought in for the winter can usually make it through a 32-degree freeze, but lower temperatures could really harm them. Finally, if you have a favorite tree in your yard that has already leafed out and/or flowered, you may want to protect it with a sheet or other material during a late frost. While the freeze won't kill your tree, it can zing the leaves/flowers and make the plant less vigorous overall in the growing seasons to come.
January 31, 2018
If you are looking to block out neighbors or a busy street, evergreen shrubs and trees can get the job done. Here at the nursery, one of the most common questions we get is "what can I plant for screening?". For this reason, we made a list of evergreen shrubs and trees that make good privacy screens and do well in our area. They are listed in height order (of how tall they are at maturity) from shortest to tallest. Whether you need
something 6 feet tall or 100 feet tall, this list should help you get started. On the list you will also find information on growth speed, deer-resistance, and other defining characteristics. We also included pictures of each plant starting on the third page of the list. For any questions about plants (those listed and not listed here), feel free to contact us or come by the nursery. We can try to assist you in deciding which plants will work best for you, let you know what is in stock, and give you the current prices. We hope this helps you get the privacy you are looking for!
November 2, 2017
As temperatures finally start to drop and we see rain and snow in the forecast, it is time to prepare for winter. If you have an irrigation system, you will need to turn it off to prevent freeze damage. Pay attention to the forecasts to know when it is a good time to shut off your system – before a cold snap and when precipitation is going to water your plants at least once per week. You should also drain the system if possible and insulate any valves (if valves are in a box underground, you can add insulation to the box itself). It is also a good idea to rake up fallen leaves to use as
mulch or throw into your compost pile. Mulching plants can help regulate ground temperature and insulate roots. Be sure to keep mulch away from the trunk and/or stems of your plants because this can cause rotting. You can pick your final summer veggies and throw the plants out, as they will die at first frost. If you haven’t already, plant your winter veggies (although we recommend planting them in July or August for a good head start). Plants that are not cold hardy enough should be brought inside or covered during a freeze (especially Meyer Lemons and other citrus). Finally, go around your property and find weak or loose branches to cut down so that rain and snow don’t cause a dangerous shower of falling branches. Doing these things now can save you time and headaches later and bring you a happier, healthier garden come spring!
June 28, 2017
While the idea of growing your own lemons, limes, oranges, and other citrus is very enticing, it is important to know how to care for them in our climate. If you are above 3,500 feet elevation, we don’t recommend even trying to grow citrus because it doesn’t usually get hot enough for good fruit production. If you are below 3,500 feet elevation, you can grow citrus but there is extra care involved. Most citrus is only hardy to about 20 or 25 degrees. This means that a winter frost will kill your precious bushes and trees. For this reason, we suggest keeping your citrus plants in a pot so
that it can be brought inside (or at least moved under a porch) in winter. Another option is to cover your plant completely with fabric or plastic before and during cold snaps. You could also try hanging big-bulbed Christmas lights (the kind that give off a little bit of heat) on it to prevent frost from damaging the plant. Some people have been successful by using these techniques, but it is still risky if you plan to plant your citrus in the ground. In addition to protecting it in the wintertime, be sure to plant it in good soil, place it in full sun, water regularly (daily if kept in the pot), & use a citrus fertilizer in the summer. This will encourage healthy growth and fruit production so you can enjoy yummy citrus all year.
April 26, 2017
Summer is coming and one of the greatest parts is enjoying fresh fruits and veggies. If you want to pick them straight from your own garden, it's just about time to get started! You'll want to wait until we are definitely past any late freezes (the higher up you are, the longer you should wait). First, choose a sunny spot and fence the area that will be your garden to protect it from deer and other animals. Then, you can mix compost or a soil amendment with your existing dirt, or you can fill a raised bed with a mix that is formulated for vegetables (see what soils we sell by clicking here). Next, dig little holes where you can put each of your fruit and veggie starts. Leave some room between each hole. Place the starts in the holes and pack in the extra space with your soil mix. Be sure to water daily, either by hand or with a drip system. For best results, add a fertilizer a couple times during the season. Keep an eye out for weeds that need to be pulled, and enjoy fresh produce all summer long!
April 7, 2017
We live in an area where late freezes occur almost every year. By April many plants have already leafed out and even bloomed. If we get a late frost (32 degrees or below), you can expect to see a dramatic change in your plants that have put out this new growth. Leaves and flowers that are subject to the freeze will droop and wither away, and the plant is not likely to be as full and beautiful that year. If you have a favorite plant or tree that has already leafed out, you can try to protect it during a predicted freeze period by covering it up with a sheet or blanket or some other material.
You will need to secure it well so that wind doesn't blow it away. This will help protect the leaves from getting burned too badly and give your plant a better start to the growing season. You can't do this for all of your plants, obviously, but you can try to save a few favorites. Trees that have not leafed out yet do not need to be protected and potted plants can be moved under a porch or indoors to prevent damage.
March 22, 2017
Keeping plants in decorative pots, barrels, or any other type of container requires different care than those in the ground. The most important aspect to consider is drainage. When water has no where to go it sits around and can be deadly for your precious plants. Make sure that the containers you choose have at least one hole in the bottom to allow water to escape.
Put a layer of crushed rock at the bottom, followed by soil separator fabric (or weed fabric), then pour potting soil on top. A good potting soil has bark and/or sand for drainage. This setup will let the water run freely through the soil and the rocks, and also keep the hole from getting clogged with soil or roots. Because water is leaving the container, potted plants need regular watering - every day in summer and during dry spells in winter. Finally, container plants don't have the luxury of spreading their roots to new, nutrient-rich places. This means that the soil in your pot should be fertilized regularly to ensure that your plants have everything they need to thrive. Once temperatures are above 55°, add an all-purpose fertilizer (or something more specific for your plants) every 1-2 months or as directed.
February 15, 2017
So you got a live rose for Valentine’s Day and, although it doesn’t have leaves or flowers now, you want to make sure that it will be happy and healthy this summer. Whether you are going to plant it or leave it in the pot, be sure that it is in a sunny spot because roses crave 6+ hours of full sun per day. Place it somewhere that deer cannot reach it or else you may never see a single flower (roses are like dessert for our furry friends). If you keep it in a pot, plan to water it every day in the summer and once a week
in the winter during dry spells. In the ground, you may only need to water it once a week in the summer and once or twice a month in the winter if there is no rain. Keep an eye on it, though, especially during hot summer months…a wilting, droopy rose is a thirsty rose. You can apply a layer of mulch on top to help conserve water, discourage weeds, and promote healthy growth. In winter, spring, or fall you should prune out dead branches. Go online for detailed pruning instructions for optimal care of your rose. Finally, find a combination product for roses at your local garden store that acts as a fungicide, insecticide, and fertilizer. Follow the instructions to add the product during the growing season to help prevent mildew, aphids, and other funguses and insects from hurting your rose. The fertilizer will also pump it up to push out strong roots and beautiful blooms. It may seem like a lot of work, but it’s all worth it when you get to enjoy fragrant, stunning roses year after year after year.