Contact Us

Use the form on the right to contact us.

You can edit the text in this area, and change where the contact form on the right submits to, by entering edit mode using the modes on the bottom right. 

4010 Mt Diablo Blvd.
Lafayette, CA, 94549

Life is Beautiful Blog

Bakesale Betty's Coleslaw

Lauren Brookhart

If you've ever been lucky enough to dine at Oakland's Bakesale Betty, you know what we're talking about - scrumptious strawberry shortcake, finger-licking good fried chicken sandwiches and mouth-watering pumpkin bread. If you haven't, we highly recommend stopping by their Temescal location to try! But in the meantime, here is their delicious coleslaw recipe to tide you over until then.

Servings: 6

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small red onion (sliced very thin)
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 green cabbage (core and outer leaves removed; sliced very thin)
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 2 jalapeño chiles (cut in half lengthwise; sliced crosswise)
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

DIRECTIONS

For the vinaigrette:  mix the Dijon, red wine vinegar, and salt in a small bowl.  Whisk in the olive oil.

For the coleslaw: In a small bowl, cover sliced onions with red wine vinegar, allowing to macerate for 5 minutes. Drain off vinegar, discard and add onions to a medium mixing bowl along with cabbage, parsley, jalapeños, cilantro, salt and enough vinaigrette to moisten. Combine all ingredients and adjust seasoning.

This recipe was shared by Kaiser Permanente's Food for Health, Recipes for Life.

Keeping Your Holiday Greenery Fresh

Lauren Brookhart

The time between Thanksgiving and Christmas may feel like it passes in the blink of an eye, but it’s a long time to keep fresh holiday greenery inside the house! Cut trees, wreaths and garland can dry out and drop needles, but there are several ways you can help keep them fresh! 

Fresh greenery - find them in Garden's Gate! 

Fresh greenery - find them in Garden's Gate! 

Before bringing your tree in the house, spray it thoroughly with Cloud Cover or Wilt Stop and allow it to dry. This product is an anti-transpirant which keeps living plants and cut trees from losing excess water through the leaves. We also recommend using it on your wreaths and garland to keep them fresh.

Note that using Cloud Cover may suppress the fragrance of evergreens. Our trick? Stop into the Lazy K and shop their collection of Aromatique's Smell of the Tree room fragrances, potpourri and candles. Infuse your home with the scent of freshly cut evergreens, the quintessential scent of the season! 

Shop the Lazy K for the scent of the season!

Shop the Lazy K for the scent of the season!

Our top recommended products.

Our top recommended products.

Fresh cuts only work when done just before placing the tree into water.

It's the layer just under the bark that takes up water, so there's no need to cut all the way across the trunk. Just make a diagonal cut on the bottom 1/2" of the trunk, paring down the outer bark to expose fresh water-conducting tissue just before putting the tree in water. 

Fill the water bowl immediately after standing your tree, and top off the bowl frequently, especially the first few days, as the tree can take up a lot of water.

Use KEEPS-IT GREEN Christmas Tree Preservative in the water bowl to prevent the growth of bacteria that can block uptake of water. Add 1 ounce per 1 gallon of water. 

If possible, place your tree away from any heater vents, or close heater vents near the tree. 

These few simple steps will help keep your tree fresh till the New Year! Happy Holidays! 

 

Fall Garden Care

Lauren Brookhart

Every month we post our This Month In Your Garden to ensure you have a checklist of just want to plant and what plants need a little extra love. As we near winter, it is important to keep an eye out for anything that needs last minute attention before the weather grows colder, the days darker and we take shelter in our cozy abodes. Here are a few of our must-have garden tips we practice in our own yards, and a few things you shouldn't miss on your next visit...

Screen Shot 2017-11-20 at 1.38.48 PM.png

LAWNS

Feed lawns with Master Nursery's Fall & Winter Feed 20-6-7. Apply monthly to keep your lawns at their best. Why apply this over regular lawn food? The nitrogen in the Fall & Winter Feed is formulated to work even faster in the colder months of the year. 

 

FLOWERS AND FRUIT TREES

Feed spring-flowering plants and fruit trees monthly with Master Bloom 0-10-10 or E.B. Stone Organics Ultra Bloom 0-10-10. These fertilizers are formulated with without nitrogen to boost flowering and fruiting.

We especially recommend feeding your azaleas, camellias and rhododendrons for spectacular blooms. A 0-10-10 will also improve your yield, quality and sweetness of your citrus and other fruit trees! 

PEACH AND NECTARINE TREES

We love their luscious fruit, but peach and nectarine trees are all susceptible to leaf curl, a fungal disease that causes curly, distorted leaves and reduced fruit production. Now is the time to start spraying your trees for prevention of leaf curl. Spray with Copper Fungicide at the rate of 2 ounces per gallon of water. Make your first application at 80% leaf drop, (which is generally around Thanksgiving.)

Make additional applications at bud swell (late winter), popcorn (buds just showing color), full bloom and petal fall. Remember to reapply if it rains within 24 hours of application! 

 

IMG_2184.jpg

FROST TENDER PLANTS

As we approach our first frost (could be any day now!), stock up on our recommended tools to protect your frost tender plants! Apply Bonide's Wilt Stop to prevent drying out, winter kill, wind burn, transplant shock and more. 

We also recommend covering your plants with our Frost Protection Blankets. Available in a range of sizes and by the foot, we use frost blankets in the nursery ourselves to protect our plants through winter (especially our succulents and citrus) and highly suggest it for your garden. Find Wilt Stop and Frost Protection Blankets near our outside shop. 

Looking for something frost hardy for quick greenery and a burst of color? Check out our Bedding Department's stock of Ornamental Kale and Cabbage. With varied foliage and available in a range of colors, these ornamentals are one of our favorite winter plants! Questions? Stop into the nursery and let us help you get your garden winter ready! 

ONION SETS

IMG_2098.JPG

It's not all about preventative care this month; just in at the nursery are our onion sets! Sold in bunches of 25, we also have 6-packs available. With red, white and yellow onions available, we're sure you'll find a variety to your liking. Plant now in full sun with fertile, well-drained soil (we recommend mulching!) Hurry in, they’re going fast!

 

BAREROOT ROSES AND FRUIT TREES

The deadline to receive 20% off your prepaid order of roses and fruit trees is approaching - December 1st to be exact! All stock will be arriving bareroot in January.

Our Rose List features our must-haves and several new beauties and be sure to check out our Bareroot Fruit List for your favorite farmer's market varieties. December will be here before we know it, give us a call or stop in to place your order this week! 

For more of our tips for your fall garden, check out This Month In Your Garden, and be sure to lookout for our December edition! 

From Our Florist: Seasonal Arrangements

Lauren Brookhart

A floral arrangement is the perfect way to bring in the best of the season. Whether you are designing the perfect dining room table centerpiece, dressing up the mantle or adding a bit of color and freshness to your guest room, the possibilities are endless. (And we're not even talking flower variety, color palette, style or shape!)

Although with endless possibilities, it's hard to know exactly what you want until you see it. If you have a clear vision, speak with one our floral designers today and have them help create a custom arrangement to ring in the holiday season! 

If not, keep scrolling and audibly ooh and ahh over the handiwork of our florist team...

orchard2017weddingflowers161 (1).jpg
CariCourtrightPhotography_orchard(4of108).jpg

 Balance colors across a kitchen arrangement with varying textures in odd numbers to keeping it unique and compelling. Think outside the box when adding edibles and keep in mind seasonality! 

orchard2017weddingflowers57.jpg

And hey! While we're in the season of giving, why not indulge in a little self-love and treat yourself to a beautiful bouquet?! 

CariCourtrightPhotography_orchard(49of108).jpg

Looking familiar? You may have seen a few of our arrangements featured in Gentry HOME Magazine's A Bloom for Every Room on pages 46, 48 and 50.

orchard2017weddingflowers28.jpg

Our 3-1 container arrangement is sleek, modern and short enough to have a conversation over. 

For a bedroom, a compact arrangement is versatile and appealing to the eye at any angle. Romantic cream roses and blues provide a calming palate for a bedside table. Pair with in-style blue and white pottery for a more classic look. 

Please note that these arrangements span the seasons and not every flower seen above is in season and thus, currently available. A few of our fall favorites include spider mums, oriental lilies, protea, sunflowers, calla lilies, snap dragons, gerbera daisies and roses. 

Stop in and let us help you create a spectacular arrangement today! 

The Story Of Our Farm Animals

Lauren Brookhart

During our Harvest Festival, we always get excited about bringing in our farm animals. Sometimes it's pigs or alpacas and even one year there was an elephant! 

If you were lucky enough to stop by during October, then you got to meet our furry friends. This year, we got a visit from two Oberhasli goats named Cypress and Ivy, and Clara the sheep (baaack for another visit!). We also had a gang of chickens and ducks too!

Two years ago we met the owners of our animals, Tineke and Torsten Jacobsen. They offered to "rent" us their darling critters for our annual Harvest Festival. When it came time to settle up, Tineke shared that the money would be the seed money for their Rotary project in Uganda. Active members of the Concord/Clayton Sunrise Rotary, the Jacobsen's were spearheading the construction of a medical center for Antenatal, Maternity, Family Planning & HIV Counseling and Testing. Today, that project is complete and for the very first time, the people in the area have access to excellent medical care and counseling.

This year, when we agreed to renew our arrangement we found out that Tineke and Torsten were involved in a huge undertaking in San Felipe, Baja California, Mexico. Along with the San Felipe Rotary Club, in support of The San Felipe Cancer Society, they are hoping to promote early detection and improved hospice care.

The community of San Felipe is located 125 miles from any medical center. Supplies, medical care and access to pain medications is precarious at best. Many of the homes in this rural area don't have conveniently located restrooms, and if so, not as cleanly as they should be.

Initially, the Concord Clayton Sunrise Rotary donated a mammogram machine but because of the location, many patients don't have the luxury of early detection and therefore, competent humane care is all that's left for them at the end of life stage. 

Their goal this year is to raise the $60,000.00 necessary to expand the current location and add a hospice facility. There, pain management could and would be used with the supervision of a doctor and an anesthesiologist, and a patient would be able to face a less painful and more dignified end of life situation. 

We are more than happy to partner with Tortsen and Tineke and support them in their endeavors with the Concord Clayton Sunrise Rotary to make a better life for all those they reach out to. We are honored to be a small part of such a great gift to the people of San Felipe! 

Fall Planting: Lettuce & Chard

Lauren Brookhart

LETTUCE

One aspect of lettuce that sets it apart from any other vegetable is that you can only have it one form, and that's fresh. There are hundreds of different varieties of lettuce and today, an increasing availability so that our salad bowls can contain a wealth of color and texture. Lettuce is rich in calcium, potassium, iron and vitamins A, E and C, along with traces of other elements. Keep in mind, the darker the leaves, the more nutritional value!  

Lettuce likes moist, fertile, well-drained soil and a sunny location. Plants grow quickly, make sure you supply ample watering and nutrients! We recommend fertilizing with either Master Nursery's Tomato & Vegetable Food 5-10-10 or E.B. Stone Organics Tomato & Vegetable Food 4-5-3 to ensure your best harvest. 

Another reason we love lettuce? They make a great alternative for annuals in pots! 

Here are the types of lettuce you'll find this season at the nursery: 

BUTTERHEADS

These are the classic lettuces seen in kitchen gardens. They have a pale heart and floppy, loosely packed leaves with great flavor as long as they are fresh. 

CRISPHEADS

Crisp lettuces, such as Iceberg, have an excellent crunchy texture and will keep their vitality long after Butterheads have faded and died.

LOOSEHEADS

These are non-hearting lettuce with lose leaves and include 'Lollo Rosso', 'Oak Leaf' and 'Red Salad Bowl' lettuces. This group of lettuce can really make a salad look colorful!

ROMAINE

Also known as "Cos", it is very upright and columnar, forming a creamy white, crisp heart, surrounded by sturdy outer leaves. Considered the most delicious lettuce, this has a firm texture and a faintly nutty taste. It is the lettuce for an authentic Caesar Salad. 

BIBB

In appearance, Bibbs look like something between a baby Romaine and a tightly furled Butterhead. They have firm hearts and are enjoyed for their distinct flavor. Like other lettuce hearts, they cope well with being cooked.

LAMBS LETTUCE OR CORN SALAD

This popular winter leaf does not actually belong to the lettuce family, but as it makes a lovely addition to salads. Called mâche in France, it has spoon shaped leaves and excellent nutty flavor.

SWISS CHARD 

Chard can take summer heat and not bolt as well as handle the cold just fine. With regular watering, chard will tolerate most garden soil. Leaves are picked as the plant grows, so one planting can be harvested over many months. Typically we count 30 days for baby leaves and 55 days for full size. Chard is highly ornamental, mix it in the flower garden for color and form! 

Did you know that chard is actually a kind of beet that grows edible leaves instead of roots? Cooking with it is easy; sauté, steam or braise with olive oil, garlic, pepper and salt. (Add anchovies for a nice kick!) Great to put in salads, soups, pasta dishes or omelets, we love to substitute it for spinach! Once cooked, it is also nice to layer into lasagna. 

Don't miss the 'Bright Lights' variety! It's vibrant, multi-colored stems and green to bronze leaves are lovely to look at and delicious to eat! 

Our 'Peppermint' variety (as seen above to the right) is a unique chard with thick, white stems striped in pink on back and hot fuchsia on front. With uniform, mildly savoyed dark green leaves, it's a great color for your salad mixes! 

There is still time to plant a number of winter veggies. Check out our guide on Growing Onions, Garlic & Shallot and our tips for spinach and peas here

 

Holiday Amaryllis

Lauren Brookhart

amaryllis.jpeg

With the minimum of effort, you can bring amaryllis into bloom for the winter holidays. All it takes is water, light and about 6 weeks time. 

For a winter holiday bloom, choose an African variety. Grown to blooming size in South Africa, they are then stored and shipped under controlled conditions. When removed from cold storage, the bulbs sprout quickly and flower in 4-6 weeks. For a guaranteed Christmas bloom, plant bulbs around November 15th. 

Most Dutch and Ludwig varieties are dug and shipped from Holland in September. These will bloom 7-8 weeks after planting. 

DELAY FLOWERING

If you want to delay the flowering of any of these amaryllis until later in the winter or even until spring, wrap the bulbs in newspaper and store them in the refrigerator vegetable crisper at a temperature of around 40°F. 4-8 weeks before the target date (depending on the source of the bulbs) remove bulbs and plant them in containers. 

PLANTING

For each bulb, choose a container that allows 2 inches between the bulb and the container sides. Fill containers with the soil mix; plant each bulb so its neck and top half protrude above the soil surface.

If one bulb makes an excellent display, then grouping several bulbs together is spectacular! Try planting three, even five amaryllis bulbs shoulder-to-shoulder in a broad decorative container. The pot doesn't need to be deep, as each bulb can produce several stems in succession, with each stem topped with four to six colorful flowers. This multi-bulb approach creates a pot dense with multiple stems in various stages of growth. There is also a practical advantage to planting multiple bulbs; broad-based pots are nice and stable!

IMG_1232.jpg
A few of our varieties!  

A few of our varieties!  

WATERING

Water thoroughly after planting; then give you just enough water to keep the soil barely moist, but not soggy, until active growth begins. Keep containers in a bright, warm room - 70-75°F during the day (60-65°F at night). Turn the containers frequently so flower stems will grow upright rather leaning toward the light source. 

FLOWERING

Each stem will produce four or more flowers. Once the flowers open, you can lengthen their lives if you move plants to a cooler location. As each bloom fades, snip it off to prevent seed formation. When all blooms on a stem have faded, cut off the entire stem about an inch from its base. 

The show goes on! Don't assume the show is over after the first flower stem fades. Your bulb will probably produce a second stem with four more flowers. Sometimes a third stem pops up! 

MAINTENANCE

Be wary of tipping! Sometimes amaryllis plants become top-heavy and tippy. Here are a few techniques to keep your potted plant upright:

  • Top dress by adding a little more soil (and weight.)
  • Stake the plant by making a corral of sticks or branches, then securing the stems to these supports with a lasso of ribbon, string or colorful raffia.
  • Double pot by placing the potted plant into a second heavier pot to provide additional stability. 
These amaryllis kits make the perfect gift! 

These amaryllis kits make the perfect gift! 

AFTER INITIAL FLOWERING

Leaves appear either during or after bloom, then die back when weather cools in autumn. For good performance the following year, it's important to keep the plant growing vigorously until the foliage wither naturally - water regularly and give bi-monthly applications of liquid fertilizer Master Nursery's Master Bloom 2-10-10 diluted to half strength. 

When the weather warms, you can move plants outdoors to a spot in filtered sun, or light shade leaving it in the pot or plant into the ground for a spring bloom.  

There's nothing like a cheerful bloom to brighten the winter season! Come see our selection of amaryllis available in a variety of shapes and colors located on our bulb patio near the outside shop today! 

Forcing Bulbs

Lauren Brookhart

paper whites.jpg

WHY FORCE?

Because newly purchased bulbs already contain the embryonic bloom for the following season, you can - with a bit of extra effort - manipulate conditions to induce flowering before the bulb's normal outdoor blooming season. This process is popularly know as "forcing." 

Forcing takes advantage of the fact that bulbs have certain minimum requirements for each stage prior to bloom. Because outdoor climate slows development, bulbs in the ground usually take more time than is minimally necessary in the pre-bloom stages. But under a forcing regime, you can control conditions so each stage is completed as quickly as possible. 

For the most satisfying results, buy large top-quality bulbs. Forcing draws heavily upon a bulb's food reserves, so those that have the greatest amount of stored energy will perform the best.

TIMETABLE FOR BLOOMING

You can calculate the time to plant in order to achieve blossoms at the desired date. Most bulbs planted in potting soil will bloom 12 to 15 weeks after planting. On the other hand, narcissus grown in pebbles and water or in soil take just 6 weeks to flower. 

With the exception of Amaryllis, forced bulbs cannot be forced for a second season. After blooming is over, set bulbs out in the garden; in a year or two, they will build themselves up enough to flower at the normal time. 

3 BASIC METHODS

The method of forcing you use depends in part on the type of bulb. You can "plant" in potting soil, in a tray of pebbles and water, or in water alone. The following are descriptions of each method. 

1. SOIL

This method is especially well suited for tulips, hyacinth, daffodils, grape hyacinth, Dutch iris, scilla and freesia. 

Using potting soil, fill your pot to within 2" of the top. Set bulbs close together an equal distance apart with pointed ends up. Add additional soil to partially cover the bulbs. Soak the entire pot thoroughly with water.

Place the container in a cool, dark place for a period of 12 weeks. During this period, the soil should be kept moist and the bulbs kept cool, with temperatures below 50°F at all times. A cool cellar or unheated garage are very good locations. 

After 12 weeks the root system should be well established and 1-2" shoots should be appearing above the soil. The pot is now ready to be moved indoors to a well-lighted, fairly cool spot (55°F) for 2-3 weeks. The pale shoots will quickly turn dark green and buds will appear. When buds barely show color, move to a warm spot (72-75°F) with plenty of light (not full sun) to finish the bloom.

Narcissus planted in pebbles. 

Narcissus planted in pebbles. 

2. NARCISSUS ON PEBBLES IN WATER

The autumn and winter-blooming Narcissus tazetta varieties do not need a prolonged cool, dark period for root growth before they send up leaves, so you can easily force them indoor in an entirely soil-free medium. Most popular are the Chinese sacred lily (N. tazetta "Orientalis") and the varieties 'Paper White' and 'Grand Soleil d'Or.' For 'Paper White', the interval between starting and blooming is about 6 weeks. If your first planting is made in October, then plant at 2 week intervals until December. You can have flowering Narcissus indoor over a 2 month period. For a beautiful Thanksgiving bloom of 'Paper Whites', plant now. For a Christmas bloom we recommend planting around Veteran's Day or any time during the second week of November. 

Choose a container without a drainage hole and about 3-5" deep. Fill the bottom 2/3 with clean, smooth pebbles such as pea gravel or aquarium rock. Place bulbs in gravel so that the base is slightly covered. Fill with water to the top of the gravel and add water as needed to maintain water level at, or just below, the base of the bulbs. 

Pots can be started in a cool, well lit area until buds appear, then moved as desired. Caution; too much shade or darkness will cause the foliage and stems to stretch and become floppy. Likewise, too much warmth will force top growth at the expense of roots. 

Handblown Bulb Forcing Glass Vase via Elizabeth's Embellishments

Handblown Bulb Forcing Glass Vase via Elizabeth's Embellishments

3. HYACINTH & CROCUS IN BULB GLASSES

Both hyacinths and crocuses can be grown in water alone if you use the special glass vessels made for this purpose. These container look something like exaggerated egg cups: the bulb rests securely in the smaller upper section, while roots grow into the larger, water-filled lower part. 

To "plant" the glasses, fill them with just enough water to touch the bulb's base, then add a small piece of activated charcoal to help prevent the growth of algae. Place the planted glasses in a dark, cool place (around 55°F) until the roots are well developed and top growth has begun; add more water as necessary during this time to keep the level just beneath the bulb's base. When growth is underway, transfer glasses to a room with plenty of light and relatively cool temperatures (65 - 68°F). You can expect blossoms in 14-16 weeks.

We have an abundance of bulbs to choose from located near our outside shop. Stop in and let us help you get your bulb plantings, inside or out, started today! 

Growing Onions, Garlic & Shallots

Lauren Brookhart

Onion_harvest.jpg

For all your veggie plantings, we recommend mixing in a bag of Master Nursery's Paydirt. (Now on sale thru October 31st, buy 3 get 1 free, mix and match with Gold Rush!) A blend of 45% chicken manure, 55% mushroom compost and redwood sawdust, Paydirt is great for loosening our native clay soil and improving moisture retention.

To keep not only your onions, garlic, shallots but all other edibles healthy, fertilize with Master Nursery's Tomato & Vegetable Food 5-10-10 or E.B. Stone Organics Tomato & Vegetable Food 4-5-3 both available in our outside shop. 

ONIONS

Our onion bulbs are due to arrive in the next few weeks, stay tuned for what varieties we'll have in store! Remember when planting to choose a site with at least 6 hours of direct sunlight for a healthy crop. 

SETS

Sets are just tiny bulbs that were started from seed the year before. Onion sets should be about the size of a marble. Larger sets don’t always adjust well and could bolt or split. For similar reasons, don’t buy sets that have already sprouted. And as with all bulbs, onion sets should be firm and healthy looking.

Sets can be planted early in the season, before the last frost, but after the soil has dried and warmed up a bit. Plant onion sets pointed end up and cover with about 2" of soil. Depending on the mature size of your variety of onion, space about 3-4" apart.

TRANSPLANTS

Transplants generally result in larger onions than sets. You can buy transplants or start your own indoors from seed. Start onion seed about 8-12 weeks before your transplant date. Plant onion seed about ¼ - ½" deep. You can plant thickly and thin at transplant time. Keep the soil moist. As the tops grow, keep them trimmed to about 4".

Transplants or onion seedlings will need to be hardened off before planting outdoors. Wait until all danger of frost has passed before planting. Don’t bury transplants too deeply. Plant them close to the surface of the soil, spaced about 4” apart. Keep onions well watered throughout the season. The bulbs need regular water to swell in size. Transplant-grown onions are the type you see pushing up out of the ground. 

Water stressed onions are stronger in flavor and more pungent so water scarcely. 

HARVESTING

You can harvest onions at any stage. The plants you thin from a row can be used as green onions. However, onion bulbs are ready when about ½ the tops have fallen over and the bulbs’ skins have a papery feel. Bulbs allowed to remain in the ground until 50% or more of the green tops have fallen over will store longer.

Once you see ½ the tops are down, very gently coax the remaining leaves down, without breaking them off the bulb. Then allow the bulbs to sit in the ground and cure for a couple of days before you lift them. You’ll have better luck digging the onion bulbs, rather than pulling. You don’t have to go deep, just enough to loosen the remaining roots.

Shake and brush off any loose soil and let the bulbs finish curing in a warm, dry place with good air circulation. Leave the leaves on. You can use fresh onions at any time now.

For storing onions, wait until the outside onion skins dry and the neck - where the leaves meet the bulbs, starts to shrivel. Then you can store them in a cool, dry location, like your basement. Onions keep longer in cool temperatures (35-40° F.) but should not be allowed to freeze. Store onions in mesh type bags or by braiding the tops together and hanging. Just make sure they are not piled on top of each other and not getting any air.

GARLIC

Garlic is one of the easiest plants to grow. You plant the individual cloves within the bulb. Plant the largest cloves you have, to get the largest bulbs. Plant each garlic clove two to three inches below the soil surface and about 6" apart.

WHICH END IS UP?

A common novice dilemma is not knowing which end is up. It’s the pointed end. Your garlic will still grow, planted pointed side down, but the shoot will have to curve around and you will wind up with a malformed bulb.

PLANTING TIME

Fall is garlic planting time. Depending where you are gardening, this could be September to November. Here in California, we can get away with a bit later. Once the soil temperature has cooled off to about 60° F, the roots of the garlic clove will start to germinate and begin to take hold and anchor the plant. Mulch around the plant with straw for moisture retention and weed compression. 

garlic-varieties.jpg

GROWING CONDITIONS

Your garlic should grow well if given the following conditions:

• Well-drained soil

• Soil pH of 6.0 to 7.0

• Minimal weed competition 

• Plenty of organic matter

• An inch of water while the bulb is forming – mid-May to July

BE WARY OF RODENTS

Garlic is relatively pest free, if you use good seed cloves. It is, however, popular with some rodents, especially gophers. If you have gophers, we recommend planting in one of Digger’s Root Guard Heavy Duty Baskets. Available in one, three, five and 15-gallon sizes, the wire baskets are galvanized for increased durability and corrosion resistance. Easy to plant in, they allow generous room for root-growth and up-sizing. For more information, check out our Protecting Your Garden From Gophers

HARVESTING

Dig, don’t pull garlic out of the ground. You may have planted a small clove, but the bulb is now several inches deep with a strong root system. When to harvest garlic is a judgment call, but basically it’s ready to go when the lower leaves start to brown. About the only way to be sure is to actually dig a few bulbs and slice them in half. If the cloves fill out the skins, it’s time. Harvesting too soon will result in smaller cloves that don’t store well. Leave the bulbs in the ground too long and the cloves may be bursting out of their skins, making them unstorable and open to disease.

STORING 

Brush off any soil clinging to the bulbs. Allow the bulbs to cure or dry for three to four weeks in either a well-ventilated room or a dry, shady spot outside. Once the tops and roots have dried they can be cut off or braided. You can also further clean the bulbs by removing the outer skins. Just be careful not to expose any of the cloves. Garlic likes to be on the cool side, 32-40°F.

The softneck varieties may last 6-8 months. Hardnecks should be used soon after harvesting. Hardneck varieties may dry out, sprouting or go soft within 2-4 months. Keeping hardnecks at 32°F sometimes helps them survive for up to 7 months without deteriorating.

SHALLOTS

One of the easiest members of the onion family to grow, shallots not only mature faster but require less space than their counterparts. Growing shallots in your garden is very easy.

Many people wonder “what is a shallot?” Although they’re often confused with green onions (scallions) and the like, shallots are quite different. With their mild onion and garlic flavor, shallots are considered an essential ingredient for flavoring nearly any dish. The most distinguishing factor that sets shallots aside from other members of the onion family can be found by close examination of the bulbs. Unlike onions or leeks, shallots are made up of cloves—much like that of garlic. To get the most from these tasty plants in the garden, it may help to practice some important tips for growing shallots.

GROWING 

The best way to grow shallots is in loose, well-drained soil that’s been amended with organic matter. They also prefer areas receiving full sun. Shallots are often planted in early spring or as soon as the soil is manageable in warmer climates. Plant them about an inch or two deep with the tips slightly protruding from the soil’s surface. Space shallots about eight inches apart to prevent overcrowding.

Some tips for growing shallots are that they require thorough watering once planted but will require less as they mature, with exception to overly dry conditions. Once mid-spring arrives, you may want to expose shallot bulbs to aid in the ripening process, as they develop better on top of the ground. However, a light layer of mulch will help retain moisture while keeping weeds to a minimum. 

HARVESTING

When to harvest shallots can be tricky for some, as this usually depends on when planting took place. Generally, fall plantings are ready to harvest in winter or spring while those planted in spring may be harvested in mid-summer to early fall. Harvest shallots when the bulbs are about ¼ inch around but wait for the leaves to yellow before lifting. For an extended harvest season, plant and harvest the largest shallots first, replanting smaller bulbs in their place for harvesting later.

STORING

Once shallots are harvested, any unused bulbs should be stored. Dispose of any bulbs that appear soft or bruised. Shake off soil once lifted from the soil and allow shallots to remain in a warm, dry area for about a week prior to storing. Then place them in a mesh bag and store them in a cool, dry place.

Growing shallots is easy and require little care, other than occasional watering. These hardy little bulbs are seldom affected by problems; however, you should practice crop rotation every other year or so, especially in areas where other onions have been previously grown. 

Questions? Stop in today and talk with one of our nursery professionals! 

The History Of Orchard Nursery, Florist & Lazy K

Lauren Brookhart

The land where our nursery sits today was originally a pear orchard and fruit stand owned by the Kergan family. The "Lazy K", our gift house, was the family home of the original ranch owners and sat where the freeway is today. The name, "Lazy K" comes from the cattle brand, a rocking "K", used by the Kergan family way back when. 

Orchard Nursery & Florist was established in 1946 by the original owners Jack Schneider and his partner Stewart Wade. The entire nursery was originally conceived and designed with the help of  the renowned landscape architect, Ernest Wertheim

Ernest Wertheim created a seating area including the pond, inviting customers to stay awhile. 

Ernest Wertheim created a seating area including the pond, inviting customers to stay awhile. 

In the middle of the nursery, we created a picturesque patio surrounded by plants. There were a dozen or so comfortable chairs around tables that invited customers to sit, relax, converse, and take in the lovely flowers around them. Jack and Stewart hosted fashion shows, parties and occasions of all sorts on this patio...Sundays at Orchard Nursery became a routine, a weekly social event enjoyed by the whole neighborhood.
— Chasing Spring by Ernest Wertheim with Linda Hamilton 
An Orchard Nursery & Florist fashion show, 1958. 

An Orchard Nursery & Florist fashion show, 1958. 

Ernest is still greatly respected in horticultural circles and is active in the U.S. as well as Europe.  Over the last 35 years there have been many changes throughout the nursery and it is felt that the metamorphosis of the business over time is one of its biggest assets.

In the late fifties the florist department was opened. Our Florist department became famous for its great selection of African Violets that were grown in our upper greenhouses on the hill. Today our florist is filled with gorgeous orchids and many other varieties of blooming houseplants. 

The view from where Highway 24 sits now. 

The view from where Highway 24 sits now. 

In the late fifties Highway 24 was built and the Lazy K was moved to its current location. (That's why you feel like you drive into "the back" when you visit.) The main store was also enlarged to accommodate the increase in business due to the rapid growth in the surrounding area.

Our original store was 1/3 its current size.

Our original store was 1/3 its current size.

In 1972 Tom Courtright bought Orchard Nursery and used the Lazy K as his family home. He's owned the nursery for over 45 years now and been in the nursery business his entire life. His father Gordon opened one of the first retail garden centers in our area, and Tom's sister and her husband own East Bay Nursery in Berkeley. Additionally Tom's wife, Jacquie, owns Alden Lane Nursery in Livermore, which is also an institution in that part of the East Bay. 

Tom has always supported the nursery industry in every way he possibly can. He believes that you only get out of it what you put in. A past President of many nursery state and national associations and lifelong member of Rotary and Chamber of Commerce in Lafayette, he was named Lafayette's Citizen of the Year in 1989.

Our November 1981 newsletter. In those days Tom Giantvalley, the nursery's manager in the fifties and sixties, hand wrote our newsletters from his office on the second story of the Lazy K House. 

Our November 1981 newsletter. In those days Tom Giantvalley, the nursery's manager in the fifties and sixties, hand wrote our newsletters from his office on the second story of the Lazy K House. 

This year we'll be celebrating our 68th Christmas show. In 1949 Orchard Nursery presented its first and over the years we've become well-known throughout the state and among garden center peers for our extensive inventory and extravagant displays. If you stop in today you'll see our team of elves hard at work getting all of our stunning trees decorated and on display in the shop. Stay tuned to find out when Santa will be pulling up in his sleigh at the nursery!