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November Garden Tasks

November Garden Tasks:

During the late fall and holiday seasons, we turn our focus to the indoors of our homes, but don’t forget about the many tasks you can still undertake outdoors in the garden. Caring for your garden in the colder months of the year allows you to enjoy your garden year-round.

- Remember that plants don’t need as much fertilizer or water during the winter season, so both can be reduced now. This also hardens your plants to weather the cold months ahead.

- This is a great time to plant new perennials in your garden. Throughout the winter these newbies will really put effort in the root system, and show off your planning and patience in the spring. Look around your neighborhood for plants that you remember admiring last spring, since these will be especially likely to do well in your area. If you don’t know what a plant is, ask your neighbor! Or, snap a photo to bring into our garden centers and we can try to help identify it.

- Continue to plant Spring bulbs that you purchased in the Fall. Get them in the ground now and they will reward your efforts in Spring with beautiful blooms.

- Plant primroses, cyclamen, calendulas and pansies, cabbage, kale, broccoli, onion sets and root vegetables. Set out seeds of arugula, bok choy, fava beans, lettuce, radish and spinach.

- With the holidays just around the corner, keep in mind that some holiday plants should be kept out of reach of children and pets. The most common plant that falls in this category is Poinsettia because they are poisonous. A good resource for pet safe indoor plants is the website. Once you have chosen the indoor plant that is safe for your favorite pet you can stop by any of our Cole Hardware stores and we can usually locate and have in the stock the plant within a week, depending on availability from our vendors.

- During winter storms dead or cracked branches could fall down, doing damage to your home or to neighbors’. Check your property and enlist the help of an arborist if needed to minimize these potential hazards. For newer trees and shrubs, help them stand strong through blustery weather by staking them. Use a lodge pole and keep it in place until roots are able to develop and anchor. (Sku 700509, $8.49)

- If you don’t already have them growing in your garden, consider buying rosemary, sage, marjoram, and thyme plants to have homegrown herbs on hand for your upcoming holiday meals.  For an indoor herb garden, place herbs in a south-facing windowsill.

- Clean up litter from fruit trees and roses and put in your green waste bin. This will help avoid the spread of disease that can infect your plants in Spring. Follow the clean up with a dormant spray. Spray as soon as leaves start to fall for the first time. You can spray a second time in December and a third time in February. We have Monterey brand ‘Liqui-Cop’ copper fungicide (sku 7117112, $12.99) Safer Garden Fungicide (Sku 74806, $9.99)

- Check drains around the house, and remove leaves and debris from areas that could become clogged in the winter rain. As the rain begins, also watch for areas around your yard that pool and could become inundated with water. Modify the landscape or drainage as needed.

- Mulch all bare ground with bark or compost to help prevent erosion, smother winter weeds from germinating, and add nutrients to the soil as it decomposes.



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September Garden Tasks

In the Bay Area, we often enjoy our most pleasant weather this month—an ideal time to work in and enjoy your garden. Think ahead also for the spring months and what blooming plants you can work into your growing areas for some holiday color. Consider permanent landscaping: trees, shrubs, and native plants do especially well when planted in our warm autumn soils and allowed to take in the winter rains.

  • Mums: These hardy flowers will give your garden some fall flair if planted now. Our Cole Street, Mission Street, and Polk Street locations will all have mums arriving in September.
  • Evergreen hedges: A final trim will assure a neat overall look for winter.
  • Dahlias: Delightful dahlias are best suited for a sunny spot with well-drained, fertile soil. If your soil is claylike and heavy, work in up to four inches of manure or compost a couple of weeks before you plant. Fertilize with a balanced 5-10-5 mix monthly as plants start to grow. Do not use a high-nitrogen mix of fertilizer, those with a higher first number, as you will sacrifice flowers for leaves. A general garden fertilizer will work.
  • Spring bulbs: Buy and plant daffodils, lilies, and hyacinths in September or early October. Tulips do better when planted at the end of October. Our garden centers will have an assortment of Dutch bulbs arriving in our garden centers this month, including alliums, grape hyacinths, iris, anemones, and crocus.
  • Garden seeds: Gather seeds from perennials and annuals. Place them in brown paper bags to dry out for a few days; then catalog and store them in envelopes.
  • Water trees: Keep all trees, especially citrus, well watered. As citrus is mostly water, those planted in containers need watering almost daily. Citrus plants will get their last feeding this month. We recommend Citrus Tone®. (Sku 7208671, $9.49)
  • Garden tools: Keep your tools in good shape by cleaning with soapy water after each use. Mineral oil will remove any sticky sap. After cleaning, lightly oil them before storing in a protected place.
  • Winter vegetables: Unless it is still very hot, plant winter vegetables such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, leeks, radishes, snap beans, and spinach.
  • For the birds: Birds eat a lot of garden pests that would otherwise feast in the garden. Consider a bird bath or bird feeder to attract them.
  • Fertilizers and pesticides: These should never be applied during the heat of the day, even if they are nontoxic.

See you in the garden!

Black Gold® Earthworm Castings

This enriching soil amendment is great for use as a top-dressing or can be added to water to make a rich “casting tea.” The use of earthworm castings in many of the Black Gold® potting soils and amendments sets their products apart. Since 1983, Black Gold brand garden amendments, potting mixes, and fertilizers have been available at fine garden centers and have gained a loyal customer following. All Black Gold products are professionally formulated to ensure gardening success

The brand of choice for the gardening enthusiast, Black Gold also boasts a broad line of natural and organic gardening products that are listed by the Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) and approved for organic gardening.  The 8-quart bag of earthworm castings is the newest offering in our assortment of Black Gold products. (Sku 7326440, $6.99)


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April Gardening Tasks

The year started off with a record dry spell unfortunately, so watering wisely will be crucial this spring and summer. If we’re lucky, we’ll have a few April showers to give the ground a good soaking as we head into our dry season. Enjoy the longer daylight hours in your garden this month to realize a beautiful summer bounty.

Watering: Water during morning or evening only. Doing so reduces the amount of water lost to evaporation. Watering early in the day is preferable because wet foliage from evening watering makes plants susceptible to fungal diseases. Use a nozzle hose faucet, a water timer and the proper sprinkler and only water what needs to be watered by controlling the coverage area.

Soaker Hose: Consider a small investment in a soaker hose that allows moisture to seep through its walls. It can be woven through a garden, providing water directly onto the soil, soaking the roots. This also prevents soil erosion and puddling and uses up to 70% less water. Our garden centers stock a variety of soaker hoses, such as the Soaker Pro Hose, ideal for trees and shrubs. (Sku 7300627, $16.99)

Mulch: Place mulch or bark around trees, shrubs and plants. Mulch slows evaporation, reducing plants’ water needs. Mulch or bark can add some curb appeal to the landscaping in the front of your home too. (Mulch: Sku 75958, $6.99; Bark: Sku 7094212, $7.99)

Roses: Start a preventative program of spraying your roses to prevent diseases like powdery mildew and rust. Use a rose defense spray, such as Earth-tone®3n1 Disease Control, as an organic alternative to chemical pesticides. Spray every 10-14 days. (Sku 7272156, $8.99)

Annuals and Perennials: Plant warm season annuals including marigolds, zinnias, lobelia, and border dahlias. Shasta daisies, dianthus, delphiniums, and other perennials can be planted now.

Vegetables: When planning your summer vegetable garden, remember that leafy vegetables need at least six hours of sunlight to develop fully. Fruiting vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers, squash, and eggplant require 10 hours of sunlight.

Snails and slugs: Continue to watch out for snails and slugs and use Sluggo® Plus to rid your garden of these pests. (Sku 7214661, $14.99)

Raised garden: Create a garden space practically anywhere with a cedar raised garden kit. The 4-foot by 4-foot raised garden kit assembles quickly by simply sliding the boards into each corner post. Made of natural North American cedar, the kit secures easily with screws (included) and is expandable and stackable with additional kits. Available at our Cole Street, Mission Street, and Polk Street locations. (Sku 7305907, HOT DEAL $29.99 Regular price $40.99)

Black Gold®: This rich, loamy mix of natural and organic potting soil is a premium choice for all-purpose gardening applications. It is ideal for flowers, vegetables and hanging baskets. The 100% organic base consists of screened earthworm castings, Canadian sphagnum peat moss, compost, and forest humus. Perlite and/or pumice are added to ensure optimum aeration. Available in assorted sizes. (4 quarts: Sku 700233, $4.49; 8 quarts: Sku 7312309, $7.99; 16 quarts: Sku 7264948, $8.99; 1.5 cubic feet: Sku  7265002, $14.99)

See you in the garden!

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January Garden Tasks

January is a good time to plan what you will grow in the upcoming months. Browse through seed catalogs and magazines, read books, take notes, and make drawings. Be adventurous this year and try planting something new.

Live Christmas trees should be outside now. Keep them in their pots or plant them in the ground, but remember, they get big! Water well.

Deciduous fruit trees and roses should be pruned before the end of January. Dennis’s tradition to prune his roses on January 1 started with his father and he carries it on today. Rejuvenating your roses is a nice task to ring in the new year.

* Semi-dwarf citrus trees, including Meyer lemons, Bearss limes, and kumquats, are available at our garden centers this month. Plant them in a welldrained spot in your garden—an area that doesn’t have standing water after rain or irrigation. Give them as much sun as available; planting by a warm wall is also beneficial. As an alternative to planting in the ground, consider planting in a half wine barrel, and you will enjoy the citrus for many years. You can then also move the plant more easily.

Repot your indoor plants. We have a selection of beautiful pots at our nurseries. Just ask us if you need advice on selecting a pot, soil recommendations, or repotting help. NASA studies have shown that houseplants can reduce certain types of interior air pollution. Just 15 houseplants can provide better air quality in an 1,800-square-foot home.

 * Keep your bird feeders stocked with seed or suet depending on the type of birds inhabiting your environs. Some birds may have come to rely on your generosity during the winter months. Remember to discard stale or moldy seed from your feeders or storage. Seed can be kept in airtight bags to maintain freshness.

Spray your deciduous fruit trees and roses before they leaf out. Use a dormant oil spray to kill overwintering insect eggs, mites, soft-bodied insects, and some scales.

Plant onion and garlic sets along with bare-root asparagus, rhubarb, and artichokes.

Stop by our Cole Street garden center for all your gardening needs. The advice is free from the Garden Guys, Dennis and Bill. E-mail them with any questions: or




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May Garden Tasks

Greetings gardeners! The month of May is believed to have been named for the Greek goddess of spring and growth, Maia, who was the mother of Hermes, the god’s winged messenger. How appropriate, as we celebrate Mother’s Day this month, and May is an ideal spring month to get out in the yard or garden to be able to enjoy all summer long. It’s never too late to find your green thumb.

Stevia has become popular as a sugar substitute

  • Plant: If you have not yet put in your vegetable garden, do so now. Many vegetables can be grown in containers and most herbs happily thrive in them. Just buy some organic potting soil and delve in. Gardening is an experiment, an adventure, and with herbs and veggies, it’s especially fun and rewarding.
  • Weed: Weeds steal both water and nutrients from the plants that you are growing. Be sure to give plants a fighting chance by clearing away any weeks—easiest after a light rain.
  • Mulch: Now is a good time to mulch your garden in preparation for the (hopefully) warm and dry months ahead. Mulch conserves water, keeps soil temperatures even, an prevents weeds from germinating. It also improves the organic content and texture of soil.
  • Abate mosquitoes: Make sure that there is no standing water lurking around your garden or yard. This is a breeding ground for mosquitoes.
  • Stevia Sweet Herb: This herb has become popular in recent years as a sugar substitute, marketed as Truvia. Stevia is simple to grow, and its calorie free. A couple of leaves in tea or coffee will sweeten it the same as sugar would. This herb is great for diabetics too. In winter months, Stevia will do better indoors.
  • Cutting garden: If you enjoy fresh flowers in your home, sew some seeds of perennials and annuals for a cutting garden. Choose flowers of different heights that will bloom at different times, so you always have something to pick.
  • Lemon grass: If you enjoy Indian and Asian cooking, lemon grass is a great addition to your garden. The leave can also be used to make tea and it has a fragrant, intoxicating scent.
  • Carrots: Besides the fiber and vitamins packed into carrots, the lacy foliage is a wonderful addition to a garden or container and carrots grow easily from seeds.

See you in the garden!

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March Garden Tasks

In like a lion and out like a lamb? Or vice versa? It’s usually a guessing game as to whether our rainy season is over by now or if March Madness wet weather will prevail. Regardless, there is plenty to do in the garden now to enjoy the upcoming spring months and longer days in your outdoor areas.

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