The Digging Fork

A Davis Garden Newsletter
January – February 2007 January Planting
see Plant notes Bare-root plants: artichokes, rhubarb, strawberries asparagus, roses, grapes, ornamental and fruit trees, shrubs, berries Cool season annuals: pansies, Iceland poppies, annual chrysanthemum, calendula Perennials: stock, cyclamen, snapdragons, primroses,
ornamental cabbage

Cool season vegetables: cabbage, broccoli, lettuce, cauliflower, Swiss chard, cilantro, seed potatoes (late Feb.), shallot bulbs Warm season bulbs: gladiolus Cool season annuals: Last chance to plant is early Feb. to avoid the heat.

Warm season bulb: amaryllis (force into bloom

see Plant notes

Cool season vegetables: Outside --peas (late Jan). Inside for transplanting into the garden in Feb. -cabbage, broccoli, lettuce and cauliflower. Warm season vegetables: inside for transplanting into the garden mid April-basil, peppers, tomatoes, eggplant Cool season annuals: sweet pea, larkspur, breadseed and Shirley poppy, forgetme-not, bachelor’s button, Bishop’s weed Calif. native wildflowers: Calif. poppies, mountain garland, farewell-to-spring Warm season annuals: can start many varieties inside Spray nectarines/peaches with fixed copper around New Year’s Day for peach leaf curl. When pruning, look for borer damage and cut off infected limbs.
Spray deciduous trees, shrubs, and roses with horticultural oil to kill over-wintering insects and eggs.

Cool season vegetables: beets, carrots, cilantro, Swiss chard, lettuce, leeks, radish, green onions peas (early Feb., soak first) Cool season annuals: Last chance to plant is early Feb. Cool season seeding has pretty much ended this month. Plants seeded late winter tend to bloom later than those seeded in the fall. We start to think about warm season vegetables and annuals soon. Citrus with citrus fertilizer Spray nectarines/peaches with fixed copper around Valentines Day for peach leaf curl. When pruning, look for borer damage and cut off infected limbs. Start to watch for snail and slug damage. Finish pruning deciduous trees. Finish pruning fruit trees before they bloom. Finish pruning roses by Valentines day. Paint trunk of newly planted trees with whitewash to protect from sunburn. Remove unwanted seedlings or transplant
Divide & replant perennials

Rose hips on ‘Red Max Graf’ (once blooming ground cover rose)

Planting Bare-root
Fall is over, your garden tools are put away and your mind couldn’t be further from thinking about going out and digging in the soil. But wait--don’t forget that January is the ideal time to plant bare-root. Ornamental trees and shrubs, fruit trees, berries, grapes, strawberries, rhubarb, artichokes, asparagus and roses are all available in bare-root form now. Bare-root plants are dormant (not actively growing) and without soil. Nurseries will either carry them bagged with shavings packed around the roots or dug into big barrels of sand or shavings. The advantages of buying bare-root are many. First, the selection is greater than if buying in containers and generally cheaper in cost. Secondly, there is the opportunity to check out the root system. Finally, being planted with only native soil helps the plant become established sooner. One disadvantage is the winter rains preventing planting by making the ground a muddy mess. If you know where you are going to be planting, cover that area with plastic. When it comes time to plant, the area will be dry enough to dig. Sometimes it is not possible to plant right away. The roots should never dry out, so place the plant where the roots can be covered with moist compost or loose soil (heeled in). If bought in a bag, heel in or make sure to put drainage holes in the bag. When planting trees keep these important tips in mind: 1. When you are ready to plant, soak roots, in lukewarm water a few hours to overnight to hydrate. 2. With our heavy clay soil, planting on a mound is advantageous to aid in drainage. 3. When planting grafted trees, locate the bud union and place this side towards the northeast to prevent direct sun on this spot.

Fertilize Pest & Disease Control

see Plant notes

Prune: deciduous trees, roses, fruit trees (don’t
prune spring flowering shrubs, trees, vines or once blooming roses until after bloom)


Continue garden cleanup: pick up leaves, cut back perennials, dig and mulch Remove unwanted seedlings or transplant Divide & replant perennials Order bulbs for spring planting--gladiolus, calla, dahlias, begonia, daylilies, caladium, rain lily, etc. Water under large eaves. Hydrated plants survive frosts better than dry ones.

Weed control starts! Check drip lines and flush them. It is easy now but much more difficult with more plant growth.

Calendar layout thanks to Lyle Wilen

4. After planting, paint the trunk of the tree to prevent sunburn. Some think painting the lower 2/3 or whole tree of fruit trees is even better. Sunburn results in cracking and borer infestation. 5. Even if the tree is standing on its own, it is a good idea to stake the tree for future winds. Two stakes placed about a foot from the trunk located to the east and west will take the brunt of the wind, but still allow for movement of the trunk. 6. For more details on planting home orchards go to UCD website . Bare-root berries, roses and grapes are planted similarly. For good drainage it is a good idea to plant on a mound. Roses can be either grafted or on their own rootstock. Grafted roses are more likely to come with viruses that eventually weaken the plant. Also, grafted rootstock often sends up suckers that, if not removed, can overpower the desired cultivar. Roses grown with their own rootstock tend to solve both problems. For own root roses, a favorite is Heirloom Roses If you are looking for a particular rose, check out the site Strawberry and rhubarb do not need to be soaked and should be planted so their crowns are a few inches above the soil line. If the crown area stays wet, the plant will rot out very quickly. Planting in an area with a drip system is ideal. Rhubarb will also benefit from being planting in an area with afternoon shade. So get out the shovel and realize that a little work in the cold will have big benefits with the first flush of spring blooms appear on your roses and fruit trees. Bare-root can be found locally at Lemuria Nursery in Dixon, Davis Ace Lumber, Redwood Barn Nursery and Youngmark Nursery in Woodland.

Marlene & Patricia’s Garden Workshops
Workshops are held in Patricia’s one acre country garden in Davis. There is time to explore and ask lots of questions. Cost of workshop $25. If you bring a friend or spouse the cost is $20 per person. Class size is limited.

Pruning & bare-root planting (roses, ornamental and fruit
trees, shrubs, berries, strawberries, rhubarb, grapes, etc.)

Sunday, January 7 12:30-4:00 pm Back up date due to rain – Sunday, January 14 Vegetables for Warm Season Saturday, March 10 11am -2:30 pm Back up date due to rain – Saturday, March 17 Spring Garden Cleanup and Planting May –date TBA
To register for workshops: Call Marlene (530) 297-5855 or Patricia (530) 753-0607 or email

Early Narcissus in December (Grand Soleil d’Or)

More local classes and workshops
Woodland Community College Weekend classes: Landscape Pruning Jan. 19-20 Gardening: Selecting Trees & Shrubs Jan. 26-27 Gardening: Designing the Yard Feb. 16-17 Gardening: Controlling Yard Pests March 9-10 Gardening: Irrigation March 30-31
Classes meet Friday evenings and Saturday mornings. For more information and cost: or (530) 661-5700

Master Gardener Workshops: Rose Pruning Jan. 6 10 am -12 noon Fruit Tree Pruning Jan. 13 10 am -12 noon (back up date Jan. 20) Gardening with Disabilities Feb. 3, 10 am-12 noon Garden Symposium in the spring - TBA
Workshops are free. Information (530) 666-8143
Borer damage on fruit tree 2 year old peach tree planted on mound – and still painted

Good News!!! The new edition of the Sunset Western Garden Book is expected to be out in February. For Davis gardeners, this book is very helpful because it uses Sunset Zones rather than the USDA Zones which are based only on minimum temperatures. Sunset zones take into consideration winter minimum temperatures as well as summer highs, length of the growing season, humidity, rainfall patterns, elevation, ocean influence, and so on. Sunset Zones are becoming more and more common on plant labels. Davis is Sunset Zone 14.

UCD Project Compost Workshops: Worm Composting: I Can Compost Under My Kitchen Sink! Jan. 27 or Feb. 24 11am to 1 pm
For information: (530) 754-8227 or

Davis Parks & Community Services & TREE Davis Tree pruning, grafting and proper staking. Jan. 6 or Jan 20, 9 am to 12 noon Cost $16
For information


Plant notes!
Here is more information about some plants mentioned in this newsletter.

asparagus Look for UCD varieties rhubarb Green and red stem varieties. Leaves are poisonous. strawberries Everbearing (day neutral) and June-bearing varieties.
Calendula Pig squeak

Cool season annuals:
annual chrysanthemum Chrysanthemum paludosum Reseeds. bachelor’s button, cornflower Centaurea cyanus Bishop’s weed Ammi majus Reseeds. breadseed or opium poppy Papaver somniferum Reseeds. calendula Calendula officinalis Reseeds-can be a pest. Edible fls. forget-me-not Myosotis sylvatica Sun or shade, reseeds. larkspur Consolida ambigua Sun, reseeds and is much easier to
grow than delphinium. All parts of plant are poisonous!!

Winter in the Garden
There are really only two months of winter in Davis—December and January. So winter is now half over and, if this is a typical year, spring will soon arrive early February. Winter gardens can be quite interesting even if they don’t have an abundance of flowers. Many of the trees are still losing their leaves in December adding a bit of color to the winter landscape. Some of the deciduous trees and shrubs have a beautiful leafless form or interesting bark. Rose hips are the fruit of the rose which come in many sizes, shapes and colors. Not all roses produce hips but it is nice to have a few in the garden to add to winter interest. Many trees and shrubs have colorful fruit or berries. Some examples are the fruit of the citrus and persimmons, beautyberries with bright violet berries, and the California native snowberry with large white berries. Evergreen plants give the garden structure. The “bones” of the garden, the evergreen trees and shrubs, especially stand out this time of year. Leaves of some herbaceous, evergreen perennials change color with the cold weather. A spiderwort called ‘Blushing Bride’ has green leaves all summer that change to green, white and pink during the winter. Many of the grass flowers are still interesting –even if they aren’t green. Unusual pods and seeds can be left on fall blooming perennials to attract birds. And yes, there are some plants that flower in the winter! The common ones are pansies, annual chrysanthemums, calendulas, cyclamen, African daisy and primroses. A couple less familiar ones are hellebore and pig squeak. This year, when adding plants to the garden, include a few plants to increase winter interest.

pansy Viola x wittrockiana Winter sun, edible flowers. sweet pea Lathyrus odoratus Soak seeds overnight before planting. Shirley or Flanders poppy Papaver rhoeas Sun, reseeds.

Cool season vegetables:
peas Pisum sativum Soak seeds overnight or pre-germinate seeds
(4-5 days on wet paper towel inside) before planting.

California native plants:
California poppy Eschscholzia californica Cool season annual. farewell-to-spring, godetia Clarkia amoena Cool season annual. mountain garland Clarkia unguiculata Cool season annual, sun. snowberry Symphoricarpos albus Deciduous shrub, white berries.

Perennials (and biennials):
African daisy Osteospermum beautyberry Callicarpa bodinieri ‘Profusion’ Violet berries. cabbage (ornamental) Brassica oleracea Biennial. cherry (flowering) Prunus Deciduous tree, grown for flowers. forsythia Forsythia Deciduous shrub that blooms in spring. hellebore, Lenten rose Helleborus orientalis Shade, evergreen. Iceland poppy Papaver nudicaule Grown as annual, sun. narcissus Narcissus Early and late blooming varieties pig squeak Bergenia The leaves do squeal like a pig when rubbed. primrose Primula polyantha Often grown as annual. It does quince (flowering)
well under deciduous trees as they need summer shade. Chaenomeles Deciduous shrub that is usually the first to bloom in spring. snapdragons Antirrhinum majus Often grown as annual. If plant reaches bud stage before night temperatures fall below 50 deg F., will bloom all winter until hot weather. spiderwort Tradescantia ‘Blushing Bride’ Part sun. spiraea Spiraea Evergreen and Deciduous shrubs. stock Matthiola incana Often grown as annual. Plant gets woody and eventually declines. Wonderful fragrance!! wisteria Wisteria Deciduous vine that blooms in spring. zebra grass Miscanthus sinensis ‘Zebrinus’ Gets big --to 6 feet.

Warm season bulbs:
amaryllis Hippeastrum Often forced to bloom inside. Then plant
outside in sunny location to bloom again the following year in June.

begonia (tuberous) Begonia caladium Caladium bicolor To get plants earlier, plant indoors in
March, transplant outdoors in May. Plant in shade.

calla Zantedeschia A favorite-- Z. elliottiana is yellow and likes sun!! dahlia Dahlia See article in Nov-Dec 2006 newsletter. daylily Hemerocallis gladiolus (grandiflora) Gladiolus To extend the bloom, plant rain lily, fairy lily Zephyranthes
bulbs every 15 days starting in February. Will naturalize and spread.

Warm season vegetables:
Starting plants inside for tomatoes, basil, eggplant and peppers may not be worth your time and effort unless you want a hard-to-find variety. The nurseries are carrying more and more starter plants of heirloom tomatoes and a larger variety of peppers and basil.
Spiderwort ‘Blushing Bride’ California native – Snowberry


Choosing an Ornamental Tree
Planting a tree is a large commitment. Most trees, even in the urban environment, can live up to 50 years or more. Generations after us will be caring for trees planted today. For this reason, planting the correct tree in the correct place is a must. It’s not uncommon to see a healthy tree being removed because it was planted in the wrong location. A little research before purchasing and planting a tree will result in a big payoff with fewer headaches down the road. The following are criteria that can be used to narrow down the search for the right tree. Size of the tree - Most people live in homes with fairly small yards. A large tree should be planted about 15’ from the foundation of a home, medium trees 10’ and small trees 6’. Keep them about 3-5 feet from the sidewalk as well. Also, look at the size of the house. Would the tree cover the house completely or just enhance it? All trees need to be pruned and maintained. Some small trees can be reached with a ladder while large trees need a pruning company. The size of the tree is a big factor in choosing a tree. Location of tree- If a tree is going to be planted in a lawn, the tree should be able to handle frequent irrigation while trees placed in non-irrigated areas need to be able to live through the summer with no water. Are there power lines close to the area where the tree is to go? Small trees (up to 20’ tall) are the only trees that should be planted near power lines. Utility companies will prune (often unsightly) any trees coming close to the lines. Is a vegetable garden close? Within a few years a vegetable garden, needing lots of sun, can be shaded by nearby trees. Deciduous or Evergreen- Deciduous trees if placed on the south or west of the house can shade your
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home in the summer but also allow light in the winter. However, evergreen trees can create year round privacy. Evergreen trees lose their leaves year round with a heavy drop once a year. Despite what a lot of people think, the continual shedding of leaves from evergreen trees can be just as messy, or even messier than deciduous trees. Are you going to have a garden underneath the tree? Is there a pool nearby? These are good questions to ask. Many deciduous trees have interesting bark or changing leaf color, another attribute to consider. Flowers or Berries - There are some positive and negative considerations when choosing a tree with berries or flowers. Are cars going to be parked under the tree? Are there sidewalks, swimming pools nearby? Some berries are relatively hard and don’t make a mess, while others splatter, are sticky or can stain. With berries come birds and this can be a plus or minus depending where the tree is situated. Flowers are usually welcome, but can be slippery on sidewalks or coat a swimming pool. Also, keep in mind when a tree flowers or sets fruit. Some trees bloom very early February while others bloom later in the year. Pest/Diseases/Cultural Problems- Our water contains a good amount of boron. By the end of August some trees show boron toxicity with dead leaf edges. Other trees tend to attract insects year after year or are more susceptible to diseases, requiring more maintenance. There are no “perfect“ trees nor are there “horrible” trees. Trees need to be planted in the best location with considerable thought beforehand. The following websites are good resources for more help: Yolo Co. Master Gardeners and a directory of Davis trees to view around town .

More gardening tips!
Fertilizing citrus. Most citrus trees flower in March-April and this is the most critical time for the plant to have nutrients available. Therefore, the fertilizer application in February is the most important. Fertilizing in November and December (as previously stated in The Digging Fork Nov-Dec 2006), is not the ideal time. Sources for California native wildflower seeds: Wildseed Farms Larner Seeds Redwood Barn Nursery website: Pruning spring flowering shrubs, trees, vines and onceblooming roses is delayed until after flowering. If pruned now, blooms are sacrificed. The flower buds were actually formed last summer. Some examples are flowering quince, forsythia, wisteria, spiraea and flowering cherries. Try forcing spring flowering trees and shrubs into bloom by cutting stems with swollen buds and putting them in a vase inside the house.
Boron toxicity on Patricia’s potted coffee tree Zebra grass in winter

Newsletter created by: Marlene Simon -- UCD graduate in Horticulture Patricia Carpenter -- Garden Design and Education, with 30 years of Davis gardening experience. The bi-monthly newsletter is free if received by email. If mailed, the cost is $6 per year. To be added to the subscription list or to unsubscribe, contact us at: updated 1-23-07