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Gardening Q&A

Jan./Feb. 2016 California Bountiful magazine

As a California Bountiful reader, you have the opportunity to get your seasonal gardening questions answered by gardening expert Pat Rubin. Here are a few questions from our readers.





I just bought a house with a small orchard: two cherry trees, an apricot, an apple, a plum, a pomegranate and a fig. I read this is the time to prune them, but I don't know where to start. What do I do first?

I found myself in a similar situation with my first house. The problem is that each variety of fruit tree needs to be pruned differently. Apples bear on spurs that produce for many years, so you don't want to prune them off. Peaches need to be pruned to encourage new wood, but you don't want cherry trees to reach for the sky. The list goes on and on.

The best thing to do is get a book about home orchards and take it into the garden with you. It will give you advice on pruning, spraying and general care. In my case, I would go to my apple tree each January, turn to that part of the book and follow the directions. I'd repeat the process with each type of tree and soon I was able to identify fruit trees anywhere simply by their type of bark. After a few years of pruning and taking care of the trees, you'll need the book less and less. But for those first few years, it will be invaluable, and you'll get lots of fruit.

What bulbs can I plant now for spring and summer blooms?

Now is the time to plant daffodils and tulips for spring bloom. Also, plant iris, watsonia, callas, cannas and gladiolus for summer blooms. Then sit back and enjoy!

  

About Pat Rubin, California Bountiful's gardening expert

For Pat Rubin, gardening is more than just dirt and plants. "It's about history, romance, adventure and people," she says. "And it should be fun."

California Bountiful's gardening columnist has lived and chronicled this fun, hands-in-the-dirt approach for years—and for additional publications including Fine Gardening, Pacific Horticulture, Christian Science Monitor, Family Circle and The Sacramento Bee. Pat has also volunteered as a Master Gardener, speaks to garden clubs and appears regularly on gardening radio shows.

Need gardening advice? Ask the expert!


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