Monday, December 02, 2013

Christmas tree buying San Diego Style

Where, how, and why……Christmas tree buying San Diego Style

Where? Mission Hills Nursery beginning the week of Thanksgiving until December 24th, or sooner if we sell our 1,000+ trees earlier. Don't wait too long to pick your families beautiful fresh cut Christmas tree. Our trees are grown by a family in Mossy Rock Washington, freshly cut and trucked down to us within 48 hours

How? Just stop in and select the perfect tree for your home or office. This year we are bringing in Noble Fir, Fraser Fir, Douglas Fir, Nordman and Natural Nobles. A Natural Noble has not been sheared over the years and grows with an openness between the layers. Perfect for hanging your large ornaments.

Why? We are San Diego's oldest retail garden center and we operate 12 months a year, so we don't just show up on a corner during the holiday season. We stand behind our trees. We give each tree a fresh cut and put it in a stand with water to keep it fresh. We can deliver your tree to your home or office and take it inside, you just add water and ornaments. We then can pick it up, after you have removed the ornaments and water. How simple is that?

What makes it San Diego Style? On December 7th we will have Casanova Fish Tacos

 set up out in front of the nursery cooking their award winning fish tacos. Now that says San Diego. Casanova will be selling their fish tacos, and shrimp tacos from 11:00-3:00 or longer, you keep buying he will keep cooking. Buy lunch and shop, how much funner could your Saturday be?

We support local businesses and Casanova buys his fish locally, win win scenario.

Monday, November 18, 2013

We are Thankful

As we count down the days to Thanksgiving we want to stop and give Thanks to everyone who works with us.

Juan keeps the nursery clean and watered. Enrique changes the display areas, carries out those heavy bags and trees and now rings up sales transactions on the register. China who is the queen of the bedding area, designing container gardens with love and speaking of love has a following with Socks the cat and our two hens. She keeps the vegetable area filled with seasonal varieties.

Unless you have our crew maintaining your home or business garden you may never have met Ulysses and Henry. They are on the truck keeping yards neat and tidy, from small yards to downtown high-rise complex and everything in between.

If you have gotten a delivery you most likely have met Richard B, he is our trusted driver who will be working more hours as we go into the Christmas tree delivery season.

On the inside you find knowledge on trees, shrubs, fertilizers and more by chatting with Richard L who is also on our holiday decorating crew. He loves to shop and display his special finds.
A growing area for the nursery is maintained by Casey, not sure the difference between a cactus and a succulent? Just ask. Casey also has a broad knowledge of herbs and their uses, she does grow some of the unusual herbs and vegetables in her own home garden.
Our newest member is Emily who you will find at the cash register or off doing any other task we assign her.

Then of course there are our growers and vendors to Thank. We have seen our industry go through many changes with some of the big growers either going out of business or downsizing their operations. Plants come and go and we try to stay up on the latest trends that we feel you will appreciate. Our lines of fertilizer and insecticides have moved to almost 100% organic along with our soils, both for in the ground amendments and container gardens.

Last but not least we want to Thank You our customers. Many of you have been with us from the day we took over almost 25 years ago, you have seen the nursery full and at times almost empty as the economy rose and fell. You have seen Tiger run around and jump from the pallets of soil to begin taking over the daily operation and growing it with his own passion.

Each night as the computers are shut down and the gates locked we say Thank You for allowing us to open again another day.

When we sit down to Thanksgiving dinner we will be thinking of all we have accomplished in 2013 and acknowledging what we have planned for 2014.

Fausto, Toni, and Tiger along with our families wish you and yours a Bountiful Thanksgiving.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Time to Plant Seeds

Seed + Soil = Plant

What to plant now? As the summer is winding down, it’s time to start thinking about your cool season vegetable garden. Plant seeds now for greens like arugula, bok choy, chard, kale, lettuce, mustard greens, and spinach, and vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, carrot, radish and turnip.

If you sow directly in the garden bed, remember to first mix in some Soil Booster or Planting Compost for the best results.  For container gardening, I recommend the Recipe 420 Potting Soil by EB Stone as both a seed starter and planting medium.  As a certified organic potting soil, Recipe 420 is an excellent choice for growing edibles, and contains diverse nutrients and beneficial microbes to protect and nourish young plants.

I’ve found the easiest way to sprout seeds for transplanting is to use the Jump Start Mini Greenhouse.  The small 4”x 10” box holds a dozen peat pellets, and converts into a highly effective greenhouse by simply snapping the clear plastic lid over the tray holding the pellets. I used the mini greenhouse to start my bok choy seedlings outside on a south facing window ledge. The greenhouse design traps heat and keeps enough moisture in for ideal sprouting conditions. Even though I forgot about my seed experiment and cracked open the lid a week later, I was delighted to find 12 perfectly sprouting plants!

Additionally, greens like bok choy can be sensitive to transplanting; they prefer not to have their roots disturbed.  Transplanting my seedlings outside to a 15 gallon container filled with Recipe 420 Potting Mix

was a breeze—the thin “skin” that holds the peat pellet together peels off easily, allowing for a seamless transition from starter plug to planting site.

Stop by the nursery and browse our new assortment of cool season seeds from Botanical Interest. 

Look for a variety of Beets from Renee’s Garden, as well as some new Kale varieties like striking Triple-Curled and versatile Portuguese.  And don’t forget San Diego Seed Company’s local seed selection—all their seeds are especially suited to grow here in Southern California.  Have fun in your garden!

Saturday, August 03, 2013

What I've learned about succulents.

Like it or not succulents are becoming more prominent in our local landscapes. Depending on your own particular aesthetic for plants, you may already love these water thrifty wonders, or perhaps instead turn up your nose at their odd shapes and growing habits.

I myself was mostly indifferent to succulents before coming to work at Mission Hills Nursery, preferring tropical look of leafy plants. Yet I have changed my tune. Why the change? I stopped and took the time to really look at them. I've learned the value of their undemanding character and their hardiness for both indoors and outdoors.

Succulents are a great choice for shady spots, they do acclimate to sun but will always look better with some shade, especially in hot areas of the county. Found naturally in the wild sheltering under overhanging bushes. At Mission Hills Nursery we have a large shade cloth/sail to protect them from the hottest part of the day.

Echeverias, the rosette style comes in a range of colors, from sunset reds, pinks and yellows to cool aquamarine blues and creamy lavenders. Alternately, the bold reds tingeing the leaves of succulents such as Flapjacks (Kalanchoe thrysiflora) and Sticks on Fire (Euphorbia tirucalli) are due to direct sun exposure.

String of Pears (Senecio rowleyanus), Donkeytail (Sedum morganianum), Haworthia and Hatiora are excellent choices for houseplants. Depending on your home environment you may have to only water your succulent houseplants one per month....pretty simple right?  If you want to really keep them happy water them with Cactus Juice, a calcium rich fertilizer you mix in water.

Another trait of succulents is how well they do in poor, rocky soil...many times you can just plunk them down in a bare patch of earth and they will get right down to growing.  That bare stip alonside the garage that you never remember to water?

Try succulents for a no fuss ground cover, or think about adding a couple of new specimens for a low maintenance, ever-evolving plant mosaic.

It's true, succulents eschew the typical plant look, opting instead for bold statements made with chunky, funky thick leaves that hold water, change color in the sun, and take root just about anywhere.

If I have peaked your interest in succulents stop in and see me, I'd be happy to help you navigate the wild, wonderful world of succulents.


Friday, June 28, 2013

Butterflies and Summertime

Longer days, warmer weather…the perfect time for this season’s sun-loving flowers to shine!  Many classic San Diego ornamental trees are blooming all around us, from the ferny leaves and lavender flowers of the Jacaranda (Jacaranda mimosifolia), 

to the vivid canary-edged orange cup like blooms of the African Tulip Tree (Spathodea campanulata).  Flowering vines are also putting on a good show…Passionflower vines both edible and ornamental, Red Trumpet vines with forked leaves and delicate tendrils, and the large open flowers of Mandevilla dipladenia 

are lovely draped over arbors or gracing trellises.  Best of all, these bright blooms do more than just liven up the scenery; they welcome neighborhood friends of all sorts to visit!

You might already know that both hummingbirds and butterflies fall head over heels for red, tubular flowers of all kinds…but did you know certain plants act as a home base for many kinds of butterflies?  For instance, Milkweed (Asclepias

is a popular plant as it is both a main food source for Monarch larvae and a parent plant that adult butterflies lay their eggs on.  We have garden varieties of Milkweed with flowers in shades of yellow, orange, and red, and also carry a native Milkweed in our Native Plants section.  Narrow Leaved Milkweed, Asclepias fascicularis, blooms with creamy white flowers, is a valuable food source for Monarch butterflies, and grows well in full sun.  

Butterflies have several other favorites in the garden as well….the aptly named Butterfly Bush, or Buddleia, boasts plump spires of tiny sweet smelling flowers that tempt hungry butterflies to stay and drink their nectar.  Sage (Salvia) and Penstemon species come in many colors, leaf shapes, and sizes; their tubular shaped flowers are magnets for hummingbirds and butterflies alike.  Native plants like Red Buckwheat and Monkeyflower are tough little beauties that are very low maintenance once established, and entice native fauna to your landscape.  Be sure to notice the butterfly icons on the signs describing our native plants, as they will indicate which plants are best for drawing in fluttering friends.

And of course, summer is the perfect time to relax and enjoy your garden— and appreciate all the hard work you’ve put in earlier this season!  Mission Hills Nursery offers everything you need to put the finishing touches on outdoor entertaining, from cheerful paper lanterns and hanging baskets, to handmade patio furniture and hand painted ceramic table top torches.  Be it a neatly kept container garden on an outside patio, a monstrous vegetable garden rich with the smell of sun-warmed soil and ripening tomatoes, or a pocket garden just starting on a sunny kitchen windowsill, find time to share your growing plants with the ones you love.  Sip a glass of wine with a friend, laugh at the antics of the local wildlife, and watch the sun sink down over your own carefully tended bit of nature.  Cheers to the joys of gardening!  Cheers to summer!

Saturday, June 01, 2013

Bok bok bok bok Ba-GOCK! Have you seen our full grown black and white chicken roaming the nursery? Her name is Ash. Ash likes following Juan and Enrique when they are cleaning up and moving plants because there are usually treats, worms, earwigs, and crickets under the pots. She gobbles them up along with snails and centipedes. Her favorite employee seems to be China because she is the one to let her out of her coop each morning and fills her feeding spots with grain. Ash lays beautiful brown eggs, and in the warmer weather we average one egg a day. 

This month Fausto decided that more the merrier when it comes to chickens, since they are social creatures. Thus he brought in a brood which arrived in the mail peeping very loudly on their first day and each day since. They are quickly outgrowing their temporary housing but love to cuddle under the heat lamp between meals and play time. We are planning on keeping a few to grow up here while the others are ready for you to purchase and take to your own garden.

We have two types, Top Hat Special (photos from the internet)

 which have little puffs of fluff on their noggins and range from blonde to russet to charcoal gray. They grow up to sport stylish hair do's.

 Also in the mix are New Jersey Giants, they grow up to be big docile black chickens that are excellent egg layers.
Do you think we will ever see Fausto walking his around Mission Hills like this guy?

If your curiosity is piqued, check out the City of San Diego's page on keeping chickens in residential areas. The page can answer some Frequently Asked Questions as well as elaborate on the city requirements for chickens. Be sure to check your own city's or county's requirements before purchasing your new family members.

Stop in and hang with our "peeps", we hope to have them in their new coop next week as they are growing bigger and funnier each day.

blog written by: Casey

Monday, May 06, 2013

May in the garden

As I sit down to write this month's blog I poured myself a hot cup of Woolly Blue Curl tea

 from Moosa Creek Nursery, added a touch of honey and am enjoying hearing and seeing the rains wash clean all the plants in our courtyard.

It doesn't matter if you wash your plants regularly from a garden hose or squirt bottle, there is something magical about rain that makes everything shine. The tallest trees not only get a good shower and clean leaves but it is a slow and steady rain soaking into the ground and not all washing down the gutters into the ocean. Hopefully you put fertilizer out this last weekend too.

May in our local gardens is one of my favorite months. The weather is for the most part in the mid-70's sunny with a slight breeze. Flowers are blooming in every color, from the palest pastels to the brightest oranges. If you planted vegetables early enough you are beginning to harvest them. And your herbs certainly are adding flavors to your dishes. Tomatoes are flowering and begin setting fruit along with squashes, beans and peppers. It isn't too late for leafy greens, we carry a variety of lettuces, just remember to plant them in a bit of shade. We buy from different growers so we can carry an array of vegetables and herbs. This week one of the most aromatic herbs selling has been a variety of Thyme.

Look for pizza thyme in eco-pots which you plant right into a container or the ground.

A new line of Organic Fertilizers and Insecticides has been added to our shelves. Espoma a company which began in 1929, just 19 years after Mission Hills Nursery. We are their first retailer in the San Diego area and look forward to a strong relationship. From when we first took over Mission Hills Nursery our fertilizer and insecticide lines have drastically changed from synthetic to organics, we believe in what we sell and will not sell any product we would not use in our own gardens.

May is the month you really should be enjoying your garden, your hard work was done earlier in the year and now you sit back and reflect on the beauty and bounty of your garden. Are you looking for new ideas and inspiration? Then it isn't too late to get your ticket for the Mission Hills Garden Club's annual garden walk, this is their 15th year and the theme says it all....."Something for Everyone"
tickets are available at the nursery thru Friday, May 10th just $25.00 each (cash or check), day of the walk, Saturday May 11th ticket price is $30.00.

Monday, April 08, 2013

Tomato Time

Now is the time of year when we can go a bit crazy with choices of tomatoes to plant in our gardens. Everything from super sweet 100's

to extra large and dark Black Krim.

 There has to be at least one favorite variety you have.  If you could only plant one which would it be?

Tomatoes require enough space to spread out and grow up. They do not want to be crowded as they enjoy air circulating around them. Give them as many hours of sun as possible, with a minimum of 6 for the best crop production.

Also consistency, keep the soil moisture level and temperature consistent. Plus feed, feed, feed.  To produce as much fruit as possible your plant needs to be fed. We recommend organic fertilizer because it stays in the soil longer and your plant takes up what it needs without worries of over feeding. Read the label of what you use and if you don't have any fertilizer then come see us for our recommendations.

If you have had problems in the past growing tomatoes then we have another option for you, Mighty Mato grafted tomato.

Reason #1 Mighty ‘Matos Are Created Naturally

 Hey, what is a grafted tomato anyway?  Grafting is the technique of lining up two different plant stems, and tying them together so the plants end up growing together as one plant.  Similar plants can be grafted together…you might have seen the “cocktail citrus” trees we sell here at MHN. Branches of lemon, lime, orange, and other citrus plants are skillfully grafted onto the branches of a single young citrus tree.  Since all the new additions are in the general citrus family, the tree readily adopts the newly introduced branches and you end up with a tree that produces a variety of fruit.  In the case of the tomato, one plant is selected for its vigorous root system (but maybe doesn’t produce particularly tasty fruit), and it is topped with a plant that produces delicious tomatoes (but doesn’t have an exceptionally strong root system).  Grafting is NOT the same as genetic modification (GMO).  Grafting is a time tested technology dating back in ancient China as far as 2000 BC!  Grafting gives the gardener a leg up on producing natural, homegrown tomatoes.

Reason #2 A Great Introduction into Heirloom Tomatoes

Heirloom tomatoes can be some of the biggest, tastiest, and most visually striking members of the tomato family.  However, some beginning gardeners have found growing heirloom tomatoes in general to be more challenging than growing other tomatoes.  Mighty ’Matos are a great introduction to growing heirloom tomatoes because the hardy root stock offered by the grafted Mighty ’Mato gives an immediate advantage over the traditional heirloom plant, including…

Reason #3 Mighty ’Mato Plants Have a Better Resistance to Soil-borne Disease and Pests

In general, the superior root systems of Mighty ’Mato plants are not as susceptible to soil-born diseases and nematodes as the root systems of heirloom tomatoes.  Additionally, they are better able to withstand extreme temperatures and temperature swings.  Healthier plants mean…

Reason # 4 Mighty ’Mato Plants Typically Yield More Fruit

The super strong root stock is more efficient at pulling up nutrients and water from the soil, so the overall plant is more robust, and can produce more tomatoes over a longer period of time.  Finally…

Reason # 5 Ace in Your Back Pocket

It’s so tempting to try out new tomato varieties every year, especially once you’ve gotten the taste of sweet summer success! When you’re spending valuable time and resources planting your vegetable garden, wouldn’t it be nice to count on harvesting from a tried and true tomato?  Might ’Mato gives you that peace of mind: a tomato plant that produces bigger fruit, longer into the season; is less likely to fall prey to soil pests and diseases; and not only grows but thrives in many types of San Diego soil.  When planning your summer garden, it’s worth considering investing in a Mighty ’Mato tomato plant.  If you have any questions about grafted tomatoes or tomato growing in general, the staff at Mission Hills Nursery would be glad talk to you about gardening.  Come on in and visit us, and be sure to check out our many tomato varieties.  Have fun digging in your garden! 

Monday, March 04, 2013

Plant What You Eat

You've heard the saying, "You are what you eat" and we want to help you take it a step further....

"Plant What You Eat" and "you will be what you plant" sounds a little crazy but if we know where our foods come from and how to prepare them to get the best from them it has been shown that we will feel better.  

Fausto and I snuck away one Sunday to the vineyards in Temecula, after a day of tasting and enjoying the countryside and music we settled into a new hotel for the night. Rising the next morning and going to breakfast the chef was offering a fresh vegetable drink, based on what was available in their gardens or the local market.   That drink was carrots, celery, cucumber and a hint of ginger.

 The sweetness from the carrots blended so well with the cleanliness of the cucumber and I was hooked. I told my kids I wanted a juicer for my birthday.

Well little did I know then how much work really goes into juicing a single glass each morning. The compost worms at work are enjoying the pulp that is left over. Carrots are the main vegetable I blend with cucumbers, apples, celery, kale (not really much juice in kale or other leafy greens), I've added beets and citrus. I will admit I don't do this every morning because of the work involved and you need a lot of vegetables to get a glass full, but when I do I find myself with much more energy.

As we live in a high rise with not much space I will be planting my juicing vegetables at the nursery or shopping the local farmers markets for the freshest ingredients.  

Now is the time to plant your spring/summer edible garden, but first remember your soil.  Without good soil your plants will not perform and with edibles you want the best conditions to get the best results. Begin by amending your soil with E.B.Stone planting compost, we use it in all our installation jobs. If you are planting in raised beds you will use E.B.Stone soil booster and or Edna's Potting Soil. This company has done the research for us, blending the right amendments and they are all organic so you don't need to worry about what your edibles are growing in.  When growing edibles your plants need to be fed so they may in turn feed you and your family. Again E.B. Stone has done all the research and blended a fertilizer just for edibles. Healthy happy edibles are able to fight off insects and diseases easier than unfed ones, similar to us right?

What do you plant now?  Beans from green to soy, cucumbers Armenian, lemon, burpless, English,
corn both yellow and white, eggplants, look at what Celeste grew in her E.B. Stone soil

 peppers from sweet to hot and of course tomatoes. 

What a variety of tomatoes we are bringing in, each week something different including grafted ones. 

What is a grafted tomato?  I will answer that question in my next blog, stay tuned but until turn your soil into a living breathing growing machine.

Monday, February 04, 2013

You Can Grow That

February is a funny month in the garden, located between January which this year kept us inside with a good book and warm fire, and March which shouts SPRING. So I want to follow the advise of garden bloggers and write this month based upon 4 simple words......

You Can Grow That

Gardening really isn't as hard as some people make it out to be, it is hard physically when you are just starting a new landscape on untouched soil. Yet to actually grow something anyone can do it. Since we are in February also known as the month of Love we will focus on growing Love.

Close your eyes and think of something that takes you to a special time or place when you felt Love. What comes to mind, a sound, a place, a scent? If it is a scent is it of something cooking or a fragrance from the garden? For many of us when we walk thru a garden or park and pick up the light scent of a blooming plant we are transported to another place or time and happy memories flood our thoughts. A smile comes to our face and we feel at peace.

You can duplicate that feeling in your own garden. A few of the flowers which speak of Love are roses, carnations, gardenias, lilies. These flowers are always included in bouquets given on Valentine's Day. Why give just the flowers when you can plant a bush which will give throughout the year? For me a rose needs to have fragrance over beauty and this year I selected 85% of our roses based upon their fragrance. Right now they are still just sleeping beauties but if you plant one this Valentine's Day for your Love or yourself by spring you will be enjoying their lovely scents.

Gardenias; a fussy plant but again the fragrance it brings to a room just by floating in a shallow bowl of water. If you don't want to worry about fussy than now is the time to plant stock. To me stock is like light cinnamon toast so yummy smelling.

And don't forget the simple joy of eating with the one you Love. How about growing a herb garden together? Fragrances which evoke feelings and memories can be started in your kitchen window if you don't have a garden or in pots to sit outside your kitchen for easy access. If you do have a large area herb gardens can be formal or simple, whichever way you go just remember.......

You Can Grow That

If you get stuck we are here to help, we don't want you to fail at gardening we want you to succeed and have fun.  Let the biologist and plant propagators do the hardest part of cloning and testing. Yet if you do fail a plant or two don't give up, add it to your compost pile and go forward, grow grow and grow again.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Growing Edible Greens this Winter

This article was written by Casey, she has a passion for herbs, succulents and learning more about gardening. While putting the nursery back together after Christmas Casey has had a chance to really see what we sell. She saw that the lettuces were quick sellers thus she did a little research on different varieties and would like to share her findings with you. Enjoy your salad.

Gardener’s Salad: So many greens to choose from!

Welcome winter time in San Diego with some cool season greens sure to perk up any salad!  We’ve just gotten in some novel edible greens as well as an interesting assortment of lettuces.  The lower temps we’ve been experiencing might be a little chilly for most San Diegans, but lettuces and their counterparts are slower to bolt (go to seed) in the cooler weather.  Insect pests like leaf miner, aphids, and whitefly are also less active during the winter. Another highlight to growing lettuce and greens is that they will grow quite well in the shade, so you can tuck them nearly anywhere in the garden to harvest year round.  To harvest evenly and discourage bolting, just give your plants a “flat top” hair cut about an inch from the soil, leaving the budding centers to re-grow for your next salad.  With so many varieties of leafy greens to choose from, it’s easy to have a gourmet array growing right in your own backyard!

Right now MHN has some delicious choices for lettuce in six packs.  Red Fire has soft green ruffles brushed with red at the edges. It’s attractively colored curly leaves would be a perfect addition to a baby leaf salad.  Freckles is a fun romaine type lettuce that has a scattering of red speckles over each crunchy leaf.  Its upright growing habit means you can harvest mature heads at 55 days or enjoy it earlier as baby lettuce.  Or, try a selection of lettuce types at once with a six pack of Bistro Blend.  The lettuce seedlings sprouting up vary in color from deep purple-red Rouge D’Hiver and Red Salad Bowl to green Parris Island Cos and Oak Leaf lettuce.  We also currently offer Oak Leaf Lettuce in 4 inch pots.
Spice up salad time with greens that have some kick.  Osaka Purple Mustard is beautifully hued and mildly spicy with a wasabi like flavor.  Oakleaf Arugula has eye-catching lobed leaves, while frilly Frisee has a cheery textured appearance.  Give Italian favorite Silene a place in your garden this season, and enjoy the slightly herbal flavor of its mild green leaves, similar to arugula or chicory.  Harvest the young leaves early for salads, saut├ęs and omelets, and then enjoy the delicate fringed, bell shaped white flowers it puts out in late spring/early summer.  Red Rib Italian Dandelion is a striking contrasting green to add to your salad or used in light cooking.
And don’t forget, there’s always space on a windowsill to grow your own sprouts.  A staff favorite for sprouting are the Sunflower Microgreens from Botanical Interest.  These 100% organic seeds are sprouted and ready to be picked in just about a week after planting….and of course have the appealing texture of fresh sprouts with the toothsome taste of sunflower seeds!  What a great combo.  We also carry Spicy Microgreens and a mix of Sandwich Sprouts.  Be sure to ask about our seed trays and Seed Starter planting medium to get your seedlings off to a sure start.  Happy Gardening!