Davis Garden Show

Nursery pro Don Shor has been gardening and selling plants in Davis for more than three decades. Join Don and co-host Lois Richter as they discuss and answer your questions on all things for the garden. To submit a question (or a brag!) send to gmail.com for DavisGardenShow.

Replays Saturday 9-10am
Live Thursday 12-1pm
Music programs are only online for two weeks after they are broadcast.

Davis Garden Show, Sept. 9, 2021, Houseplants and water

Today's topics:

  • Tomato problems this year
  • Water needed for growing food is more than water needed to just grow foliage
  • Almond trees
  • Nematodes -- what are they and what to do if you have them
  • House plants that are, and are not, easy to grow
  • Don recommends for new gardeners: Golden pothos (and relatives), Easy ZZ, and Snakeplant (Sanserveria)
  • Growing trees indoors
  • Ficus benjamina  = flexible about lighting, but fussy when you move it.
  • Is it too late to plant tomatos? Pepper? Pumpkins? YES, those get planted in the spring to be HARVESTED in the fall.
  • Now is the time to start planning (and planting) your winter garden! (More details next show.)

Davis Garden Show, Sept. 2, 2021, butterflies and hanging baskets

Many, many questions this time!  (Some carried over to the next show.)

Gardening for butterflies,

hanging baskets for coastal zones,

time to plant brassicas (cabbage-family) and a winter garden,

persimmon trees struggling to establish,

tomatoes that didn't do well,  and more.

To send in questions, brags, comments, or commendations; write to Don Shor and Lois Richter at  DavisGardenShow@gmail.com

Davis Garden Show, August 12, 2021: Questions

Lots of listener questions today! 

Wide-ranging answers keep returning to common themes: beneficial insects -vs- applying poisons, hosing things off -vs- applying poisons, saving bees and other beneficial insects -vs- applying imidacloprid (a neo-nicinoid systemic poison that makes flowers poisonous to pollinators), thwarting phytophthora by watering deeper but less often, and conserving water in this drought year.

Specific discussions about:

plants for a dry front landscape [with LOTS of ideas!];

Colocasia ["elephant ears"] and taro root [for poi] CAN grow here!;

what ethylene gas is and what it does (ripening bananas and apples, strenghtening tree trunks) [including Don's suggestion for some kids' science fair projects!];

spider mites, predatious mites [which are small and red but are not chiggers!], and other beneficial insects;

'What causes leaf burn on maples?'; and

more about phytophthora [a word which traslates as "plant death"].

Davis Garden Show August 05 2021, Plant Death

Lots of science today!  Phytophthora [fi-TOF-thir-a] is an organism [no longer considered a fungus] that has invaded world-wide.  Many species exist. The one of concern in Davis and inland California attacks plants when ground conditions are HOT AND DAMP! (That is, high humidity and high temperature at the crown or roots for 48 hours.)  Since we don't have rain here for eight months, the only way there can be enough moisture to allow Phytophthora to grow is if HUMANS  apply water too often -- that is, they don't give the area time to dry out between waterings!  Luckily, Don Shor has studied this organism extensively and helps us understand Phytophthora's life cycle and so learn how to reduce our risk.  PS:  That word "Phytophthora" literally translated to "plant death"!!!  PPS: It's already here -- in the ground, on plant roots -- you can't avoid it if you garden.

Even old, established trees can be killed by Phytophthora if the watering changes.  This photo is Dr Milton Hildebrand standing beside a cork oak he planted in 1949. 

Davis Garden Show, July 29, 2021: Water 50% for ornamentals, 100% for food producers

NEW, EASY WAY to figure out your drought watering! Don shared the research from the University of California, Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources -- Center for Landscape & Urban Horticulture, showing how little water different plants can survive on. Not be happy, but survive.

Lots of info about watering -- trees, shrubs, food plants, and beneficial insects. (Lois asked about making an insect watering hole with wet sand.) One listener writes about her "spider mite apacalypse" and wonders how to keep her melons alive until harvest. 

Why do plants look stressed the third year in the ground when "they did fine last year"? How much water a plant needs depends upon how big it is! So as a young plant grows bigger, you need to give it more water (either water longer or add another sprinkler head).

"Grad Students Help with Soil" is the Davis Enterprise headline; "providing soil diagnosis [texture and pH test] and advice to gardeners" is the service; Saturdays (9:30-11:30) at Davis Farmers Market is the when/where. The service will continue every Saturday thru August 21.

Davis Garden Show, July 22, 2021: Tree roots, watering, and redwoods

Watering in  a drought. Reducing lawn water while keeping your trees alive. Root distribution of trees, "circle watering" strategy.

Coast redwoods in interior California. Many redwoods were planted in Davis years ago; should we add new ones now? What might we substitute for them?

What's wrong with these struggling tomato plants? 

Compacting soils can cause problems.  

"Mulch is for on top, not underground."

And more answers to listeners' questions. Submit yours for inclusion in a future show by emailing Don Shor and Lois Richter at DavisGardenShow@gmail.com

Davis Garden Show July 15 2021, Summer Pruning

Don Shor and Lois Richter talk about July pests -- what 's around now and how to handle things -- and lots about fruit trees -- including broken branches, thinning possibilties, reduced size method, and summer pruning. From that Facebook @ re feeding squirrels -- just don't!

And, of course, we talk about the GLORIOUSLY WONDERFUL WEATHER this week.

Davis Garden Show, July 8, 2021: Heat wave prep

Too many  questions to get to all of them! Come back next week and hear the rest.

Mid-June topics: 

La Niña and rainfall patterns. How to water -- and how not.

What plants want you to do when there's a heat wave. Or, better still, BEFORE one!

Privacy plants -- including avoiding undesired co-habitants (like raccoons and rats)!

Figuring out how/when to plant seeds. Some tips and tricks for certain seeds!

and more ...

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Don and Lois,

Hi! First I would like to let you know that my donation for the bake sale at the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden's Fall Plant Sale is a receipe that I remembered from when I was in fourth grade. I do not remember what it is called, so under Eric's advice, I call it a dessert. They are made with eggroll wrappers, so I renamed them Fried Chinese Butterfly Desserts. Eggroll wrappers are cut in half, each half is slit in the middle, then one part is folded through the slit to look sort of like a butterfly, they are fried, and then coated in sugar. They are very tasty. Your other listeners and yourselves are welcome to make these. My young daughter was helpful in the makeing of these desserts. We used an entire package of eggroll wrappers. As for my question, our ficus has several branches shriveling up. It is well watered (the soil rarely dries out), potted in a ceramic pot near two windows (one is next to it and is West faceing, while the other is near the other window and is North faceing with a few trees near it), and this ficus is very tall at about seven feet including the pot. The leaves on the shriveled branches are dry yet green and the bark is somewhat loose feeling. I tried checking for borers, but I can not see any suspious holes. What is happening to our ficus?

-Robin in Southern California

On the Oct. 20th Davis Garden Show, the live streaming wasnt working, now I have to click like three buttons to download the podcast archive. Geeeeeezzzz! That's ok, I didnt want to get up at noon to catch the live show anyways ;) hey, it's 1pm, that means its time for my first nap.

Don and Lois,

Hi! I am back! I have something to add to your notices at the begining of your show. I know that Southern California is kind of far for most of your listeners, but on the off chance some might be visiting down here or know people who live here, I thought I would mention the following. Rancho Santa Botanic Garden will be having their Annual Fall Plant Sale on November 5 and 6 of this year. Members are allowed in at 8am and until 11am on Saturday. After which the general public is welcome. Their will be a bake sale both days. I am contributing this year to it. Eric, myself, and my daughter will be attending. I am listening to your most recent podcast as I type this and I am enjoying it as always.

-Robin in Southern California

That's a great botanic garden! I'll be happy to mention it. Thanks, Robin.

Don and Lois,

Hi! I would like to recommend to your listeners the use of what I call fish water. This is better known as dirty aquarium water. I have three small tanks whose dirty water I give to Eric for use as plant food for several plants including orchids. I am thrilled to have this water be used instead of wasted by being poured down the drain. I would like to know if freshwater aquariums that have a little bit of salt put into them are also okay to use with plants. If so, would certain plants tolerate the salt better then others?

I am looking forward to listening to more of the podcasts of your wonderful gardening show.

-Robin in Southern California

Don and Lois,

Hi! I enjoy doing unusual experiments with gardening or growing unusual plants. I am in the process of growing a tiny indoor lawn of Marathon II Dwarf Brand grass. It is square shaped and about 6" by 6". What should I know about its watering requirements and do I need to fertilize this lawn? On a side note, the egret flowers are doing great and one even has a flower bud on it. What a surprise at how small the flower bud actually is. It is about a third of an inch. The actual flower looks so big in the pictures I have seen. I will try to send a picture to you of the flower when the flower bud opens. I am looking forward to that happening. On another side note, my now 3 year old daughter is so into cuttings and the planting of them, that this her favorite play activity when outdoors. You have such useful information on your radio show, that I am looking forward to listening to the latest podcast of it as I do every week.

-Robin in Southern California

Don and Lois,

Hi! Your mentioning the Topsy-Turvy tomato brought to mind my Down Under pot. It was designed in Australia and is an upside down terra cotta pot. I have tried to grow several types of plants in it with some living longer than others. My current plant is a Sweet Potato vine. It's beautiful in all of its purple and purpleish red foliage. I grew it from a cutting that Eric brought back one day. In fact, he brought back several branches for rooting and while most rooted, this upside down plant is the only one that survived. I had made a giant staple (as I call this wire structure and others that I previously made for previous upside down plants.) of silver wire to hold the young plant in the upside down plant. I did not want it falling out on to any of our heads. Now it is an older plant and growing happily. What I am interested in knowing is will it bloom upside down and if so how do I help it to bloom? I have seen pictures on the internet of Sweet Potato plants with beautiful red flowers and I look forward to mine doing the same. By the way, Down Under pots can be found by either googling them on the internet, or by buying them in the Garden Artisians catalog which can be found on the internet or by requesting their catalog in the mail. I hope my question along with my previous questions and comments can be useful to others too. Thank you again for answering them.


Don and Lois,

Hi! Where can I buy a rose with varigated foliage? Hybridizers should try breeding varigated roses regularly. That would be a nice new trend in roses. After all there are so many other plants with varigated leaves. I now have irises and geraniums with white varigated foliage. They are a lot of fun and very pretty. I have viewed pictures on the internet of these roses, but can not seem to find somewhere that sells them. Your help would be much appreciated. Thank you for so many useful and fun broadcasts!

-Robin in Southern California

Don and Lois,

Hi! In between all that is happening in my life recently (if recent it can be considered after nearly two years of this horror that I live through. Some of the huge wonderful parts of my life being Eric and my daughter.), I decided I have another comment to write to you about. I am listening to your April 28th broadcast in podcast form as I type this comment. I have handled Flannel Bush when I volunteered directly at our local public garden Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden (RSABG.) I have handled bare handed the healthy live parts of this plant and have had no reactions to it. However, when I have handled the dried flower heads, I have found it hurts my hands. It is like holding a bunch of little sharp needles and they break off into my skin. I have cautioned Eric to be careful with the dried flower heads of Flannel Bush if he should ever come into contact with it. In fact I would caution anybody to be careful with dried Flannel Bush flower heads. By the way, sometime I should call in again.

-Robin in Southern California

Don and Lois,

Hi! I have recently discovered a remedy for cracked finger tips. I do not know if it is sold in your area, but it is absolutely wonderful. It is called Mango Mend by California Mango. They have a whole line of products with mango in them as well as all of them are mango scented. The mango hand and body lotion also works well. I thought I would mention these products because a lot of people who work with their hands, such as gardeners, can develope cracked finger tips. Cracked finger tips are so painful, but these mango products not only heal them, but work as a great preventive. I apply them once in the morning and once at night. My young daughter enjoys using them too. They are eco-friendly as well as the company is California based in Huntington Beach. Thank you for all of your helpful advice. Your podcast is the first one I listen to after I download all of the podcasts I listen to.

-Robin in Southern California

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