Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
December, 2010
Regional Report

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The Grape Escape! Dormant season pruning arrived early this year!

Winter Pruning

The early cold snap helped me decide to start dormant season pruning a bit earlier than usual. Many of the roses have already lost their foliage. I'm glad they don't all go at once because I could never manage such a monumental task unless I could spread it over several weeks.

The roses that I transplanted from containers to the garden downstairs are doing very well and seem to have settled in. All of the floral carpet roses were ready for pruning last week. They are very easy to prune back to a basic vase-shape. Some of the hybrid teas and grandifloras are still blooming, so I will wait another couple of weeks before I tackle those. All of the mildew-prone rose plants have been pruned and dusted with sulfur powder. I also picked up all the diseased debris from under those plants and dusted the surface of the soil with sulfur.

Dormant Spraying
I'll give all of the dormant plants a treatment of copper and oil once I complete all of the pruning. I'll need a few days of dry weather for best results so I'll watch the forecast.

I use a hose end sprayer for the dormant spraying. I can't get all the way to the top of the apple tree, but this system seems to be adequate for the roses, hydrangeas and grapes. I buy a concentrated product and follow the directions on the label. The hose end sprayer has a dial so I can measure the application-- not exactly, but close enough.

The grape vine-- what can I say??? Without Buzz Bertolero on hand to do our annual grape pruning segment and accidentally cutting the poor thing to the ground, it has gone wild! Vines have escaped 15 feet into the trees on the adjoining property. Pruning it will be like taming tigers. We never get any grapes from this vine-- the squirrels and birds beat us to them every year. I would love to find out if they are table grapes, wine grapes or something wonderful like Ladyfingers. I guess I'll never know...

Mrs. Henry loves hydrangeas. I am going to alter my normal heavy-handed pruning for these blooming shrubs and just tip-prune the plants this year. I see photos of huge hydrangeas and I don't think they got that way by scalping them almost to the ground every winter. Time will tell...

The apple tree will be easy to prune this winter. The Bartlett Tree experts gave it a good going over last year while they were still sponsoring Henry's Garden. All that will be required of me is to clip off any water sprouts that have grown straight up from the main branches.

We had a good crop of apples this year, probably because I sprayed the copper/oil and got rid of the Light Brown Apple Moth larvae that had decimated the previous years crop. Humans weren't the only ones who enjoyed the apple harvest; the squirrels worked in tandem with the rabbits in harvesting the sweet, crisp crop. Mrs. Henry said she watched from the kitchen window as the squirrels worked an apple from a branch. Meanwhile, a rabbit was waiting down below, twitching his whiskers in anticipation. Once a few apples had fallen to the ground, the feasting began. I wondered why I kept finding half eaten apples. I blamed it on Che, the golden retriever, but then he always takes the rap for most anything that goes wrong in the garden. Poor boy...

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