Shady Way Gardens Bits and Briefs March 2003
MASTIC TREE, EUCALYPTUS & ACACIAS

MARCH

In March you can plant most anything in the way of trees and shrubs.  It's an especially good time to plant Citrus before the summer heat sets in.  Seed wise, it's time for Beans, Cucumber, Corn, Eggplant, Okra, Radishes, Melons.  When planting Tomato plants strip off lower leaves and put plants deep into the soil.  Roots will grow from the buried stem giving the plant a bigger root system to deal with heat and dryness.  Or you can plant them on their side and mound soil along the stem.  Going into hot weather it's best to let plants grow as a jungle to protect developing fruits from sunburn.  Plant Artichokes now so you can have an eyecatcher like the one in front of Shady Way.  Also if it seems pretty warm put in Gourd seeds.

MASTIC TREE

It seems that the most sought after tree is one that behaves itself according to our standards; that is, by not getting out of control, not making a mess for us to clean up and not sporting unfriendly thorns.  One tree that might fit the bill is the Mastic Tree (Pistacia lentiscus).  This Mediterranean native grows naturally as a large shrub but can be pruned into a fine small tree.  It grows slowly to 20 ft or so tall and as wide, is frost hardy and drought tolerant.  The glossy, dense foliage is evergreen and aromatic and is sometimes used in floral arrangements.  Yes, leaves do fall off, but are fairly innocent as far as leaves go.  Mastic is the dried sap from the tree and has enjoyed centuries of use as a flavoring, medicine, perfume, additive to paints and varnishes etc.  Mastic is still a valuable product which is obtained chiefly from the Greek island of Chios just off the Turkish coast.

CORAL GUM

Another well behaved tree is Coral Gum (Eucalyptus torquata).  Many people run away screaming at the mere mention of !! Eucalyptus !! but, honestly, they're not all huge, brittle and messy!  The truth is that there are many little known small growing or shrubby species that are very desirable for our area.  The Coral Gum, from Western Australia, has been around for years but is still underused.  It gets about 20 ft tall and wide, is frost and drought tolerant, and will grow in fairly poor soils.  The flowers, which can be used in cut arrangements, are pinkish to coral red and occur in spring through summer.

BOAT SPINES

For the lover of the spiny, how about an Acacia cochliacantha?  Better known as Boat Spine Acacia this large shrub or small tree should appeal to any desert plant aficionado with its feathery foliage and super-looking thorns.  Why not impress your friends with something different in your yard?  What else could you possibly want to fork over a fifty dollar bill for?  A nice dinner for two?  What would you have to show for that...certainly not a  Boat Spine Acacia!

THE MARCH HARE

Beware the madly munching March Hare.  If you have a rabbit problem (and who doesn't!), remember to put chicken wire around anything newly planted that you really care about.  Bunnies and squirrels are always waiting in the wings to sample any new delicacies you provide.  If you can stand the smell, Liquid Fence will deter some "munchers".  People too.

CASTINGS

For people wanting to pamper their plants with some organic food, we have some rich and yummy earthworm castings.  With nutrients a-plenty and beneficial bacteria, this is a real treat for houseplants, vegetables, flowers, trees and shrubs.  Castings will not burn delicate roots as can other fertilizers, and the nutrients are more readily absorbed.  Use as a top dressing or mix with potting soil. Try some.  Keep our earthworms employed!

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Web Comments george@mswn.com September 13, 2004 Shady Way Nursery 2004