trish grenfell

Choosing Christmas plants that will survive outdoors in foothill winters

Question: Some of my friends are gardeners and I want to give them live holiday plants for Christmas. Can you tell me which traditional Christmas plants can be later planted outsid ...

You can have olive trees without the fruit

Question: My family enjoys our olive trees for the graceful beauty they bring to our property (curb appeal) but the olives are a nuisance. How can I stop the trees from bearing fru ...

Want cleaner air? Get some houseplants

Question: I am concerned about the air quality within our home, especially in the winter when windows are not left open. A friend advises that houseplants could help purify the ind ...

When to harvest the perfect pumpkin

Q: I successfully grew six pumpkins this year in my garden.  Of course I wanted ripe pumpkins for Halloween, but I wasn’t sure if they were ready to pick for Oct 31 - I ...

Know how to recognize black widow spiders

Question: How do I know if I have black widow spiders in my garden? Answer: The western black widow spider (Latrodectus hesperus) — a native species — is quite common ...

Managing ants key to controlling aphids in crape myrtles

Question: What is the best way to get rid of aphids in 30-foot crape myrtles? I tried using a power washer to hit the upper branches and knock them off the leaves — but that ...

Ask the Master Gardener: Mistletoe diverts vital water from trees during drought

Question: I have mistletoe growing in my oak tree. How do I get rid of it? Answer: Mistletoe is a parasitic plant that absorbs both water and nutrients from its host plant. It is ...

Early leaf drop a symptom of drought’s impact

Question:  My neighborhood has many trees, most of which I think are native oaks. I am writing because the trees around here look brown and the ground everywhere is covered wi ...

Ask the Master Gardener: Pruning tomatoes — when, why, how and varieties that need it

Question: Two experienced gardeners in my garden club prune their tomato plants. What is the benefit and how do I do it? Answer: There are many theories out there and even univer ...

Ask the Master Gardener: Tree preservation is important in a drought

Question: I read the Auburn Journal garden article (Feb. 27) about keeping trees healthy in a drought. I learned how important retaining tree shade was to a healthy soil. And mulch ...