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Monday, December 28, 2009

Newsletter from Shades of Green in San Antonio, Texas

January, 2010



If you are looking for new year’s resolutions, we have a few suggestions that will improve

the environment in the decade to come and make our world a safer, healthier place to live.

Resolution No. 1: Discontinue use of all toxic products in your home and your landscape.

It is not that hard. Natural products for the landscape are readily available and work better

than chemicals. In your home, learn to use vinegar, baking soda, and orange oil as cleaners.

You will be amazed at how effective they are.

Resolution No. 2: Use less water. This is critical especially with the dry years we have been

having. In the landscape you can replace expansive turf areas with hardscape and beds filled

with low-water-use plants. Keep beds mulched and apply compost to the lawn twice a year. In

the home, be more conscious of the water you use and find ways to lower the amount. Also,

catch and use rainwater and condensate from your air conditioner.

Resolution No. 3: Garden more. Working in the garden is one of the healthiest forms of

exercise both mentally and physically. Gardens in general add beauty to the environment.

Resolution No. 4: Plant an organic vegetable garden. The produce you harvest will be safer

and more nutritious than any you purchase. Plus, vegetable gardening is very satisfying.

Resolution No. 5: Recycle all that you can. Take advantage of the opportunity to recycle

glass, paper, plastic, aluminum, and more through your municipal recycling program. If you

do not already have a compost pile, create one and turn yard and kitchen waste into a valuable

resource to improve your garden.

Warm your evenings and winter celebrations with Aspen Mulling Spice. Mix it with wine,

tea, cider, or use it in your baking. This tasty treat will exceed your expectations!


For most of us, the hard freezes in December took out most warm weather annuals and

perennials, leaving empty places and in some cases, entire beds without color. Winter without

color IS NOT FUN!

You can easily remedy this situation by planting an abundance of annuals that will perform

well in the cold, providing you with new and exciting sources of color. In sunny areas, plant

pansies with wild abandon and in the shade go crazy with cyclamen and primrose. These

plants will bloom through the winter, and everytime you see them you will smile and be glad

that you filled your beds with happiness!

We wish all of our wonderful customers and greatfriends a healthy and happy New Year filled withfruitful gardening adventures!


Few additions to your home can create the warmth and beauty provided by plants. Yes, there

are fabulous fabrics, gorgeous furnishings, and amazing art, but plants are unique because they

add life to your surroundings.

On a scientific level plants filter toxins making the air you breathe more healthful, but on a

more mindful level, plants make you feel better––more relaxed and serene.

There are houseplants that will enhance any decor, but to be successful it is important to match

the light you have available with the light requirements of the plants. (We have new SunSticks to

measure your indoor light.) Properly placed, houseplants require little maintenance. When you

come in we would love to help you select just the right plants to complement your indoor decor.

We also have an extensive selection of containers to accentuate your plants.

Note: To keep your houseplants healthy and vigorous, feed monthly with Natural Solutions

Liquid Fertilizer.


Many people are very aware of weeds this winter. They are prominent for several reasons.

The past couple of years have been so dry that many lawns have thinned considerably, and weeds

have filled the empty spaces. Good rains after a long dry spell enable many different weeds to

sprout at the same time. Finally, we have had enough cold weather to turn lots of grass brown,

making the bright green weeds more obvious.

The presence of weeds does not mean you need to run for the herbicide. Actually weeds are

beneficial. Some help prevent loss of soil, others build the soil with nitrogen-fixing bacteria in

nodules on their roots. Most all weeds tell you something about the condition of your soil. Grassy

weeds with little root systems indicate that your soil is very deficient in nutrients and fertilizer is

needed. Clover and oxalis only occur in soils that are badly compacted indicating that compost,

compost tea, molasses, and Medina Plus would be helpful.

In all cases, take steps to improve your existing turf. Feed regularly, apply a thin layer of compost

twice a year, mow to keep weeds from producing seed for next year’s crop, and avoid toxic

herbicides. In most cases, healthy grass will effectively choke out the weeds in the spring.


The internet is a truly incredible tool and an important part of life for most people. For

gardeners it is both a blessing and a curse. It can be a blessing because it allows one to research

new plants and products. It is a curse if you assume everything you read is factual, practical,

and beneficial in our area. The simple fact is that gardening is regional, and plants that grow

in one area may not grow in another. People posting information on the internet may or may

not be knowledgeable. Products and practices may not perform the same in all areas. For

example, milky spore fungus may be a great way to control Midwest grubworms but is a waste

of time in our area––it simply does not work on the type of

grubs that damage our lawns. ‘De-thatching’ may revitalize

a northern lawn but will absolutely ruin a southern one. The

list goes on. Even East Texas products such as bark mulch

are not useful in our area.

Enjoy the internet, but remember that local information

such as that found in The Garden Gazette and from the staff

of Shades of Green is your most reliable source of gardening

information for our area.

Start 2010 out right, switch yourvGarden Gazette

to the e-mail format. Tell us next time you are in, call

us, or e-mail us at gardengazette@sbcglobal.net (this

address is only available for subscription purposes).

Please include the address where you are currently

receiving your newsletter so we can match the names


It Is

Market Month

We will be going toseveral gift markets insearch of unique giftsand accessories for yourhome and garden. We

will give you a morecomplete report nextmonth, but the new

merchandise will beginarriving by the end ofJanuary.



Winter is a time of year

when the weather creates stress

for many creatures, especially

birds. Food and water may be

scarce, and they need protection

from the elements.

You can help by providing

nutritious food in the form of

seeds, suet, nuts, and peanut

butter. Offering a variety will

attract the greatest diversity of

birds. Provide protection from

predators and the weather by

putting up birdhouses and

planting dense shrubs in the


The Very Best


Fiskars pruners are our

first choice for quality tools

for many reasons.

n They have received many

awards for their exceptional

designs including the ‘Ease-

of-Use Commendation’ by

the Arthritis Foundation. Ergonomics

are considered in

the design process leading to

products that are comfortable

and require less muscle power

to use. They are designed to

reduce effort, increase power,

and minimize weight.

The reinforced fiberglass

composite handles are lightweight

and durable, and the

corrosion resistant, non-stick

blades reduce friction and stay


Fiskars’ Project Orange

Thumb reaches out to

communities by supporting

neighborhood gardens with

donations of plants, tools, and


Basically Fiskars is a great


Gardening Calendar

aSet out lots of colorful annuals to brighten your


aApply beneficial nematodes to control thrips and


aPlant woody trees and shrubs

aPrepare soil for your spring vegetable garden

aApply compost to turf areas

aScatter rye seed for a green winter lawn and to

reduce mud and erosion in grassless areas

aContinue feeding houseplants and all plants that

have been brought indoors for the winter

aCreate an herb garden

aLiven up indoor spaces with lush, green


a Mulch tender tropicals and perennials, particularly

those that have frozen and been cut back

aKeep fresh water and food out for songbirds

aPlant wildflower seed

aRelocate any woody trees and shrubs (including


a Plant onions and snow peas

aResolve to help make our world a kinder, gentler

place to live.


This is a phrase you are probably hearing more and more as

we move toward buying things that are made or grown close

to home. Buying local is good for the environment because

items are not shipped as far, using less energy and creating

less pollution. When buying plants, it is good for you because

plants spend less time in cold (or hot), dark trucks and are

already adapted to our local soils, water, and climate. Buying

local is good for our community because your money stays

closer to home supporting our economy, creating jobs and

supporting the local government and charitable causes.

At Shades of Green, more than 60% of our plants are

grown within 30 miles of San Antonio and over 75% within

150 miles. All of our fertilizers, compost, mulches, and soil

mixes are made in Texas. Many of our gift items are manufactured

locally––windchimes (Austin), Celtic crosses (Kerrville),

wonderful skincare products (Elmendorf and Fredericksburg),

and CD’s by George Gaytan (San Antonio).

We believe in ‘buying local’ and are constantly searching

for additional sources that are close to home.

company which manufactures

comfortable, long lasting tools

that make your gardening jobs


We value your opinion. Next time you are in the store,

please ask to fill out one of our evaluation forms and

let us know honestly how we are doing.

Presort StandardU. S. PostagePaidSan Antonio, Texas 78209Permit No. 548

Address Service Requested

Business Hours

334 West Sunset Road

San Antonio, Texas 78209



Mon. - Sat. 9:00 to 5:00

Sun. 10:00 to 4:00




We usually recommend applying beneficial nematodes when you have problems––an outbreak

of fleas, an invasion of grubs or chinch bugs, or the appearance of fireants or termites. At this time

of year, however, we recommend an application to help prevent problems, specifically ticks and

thrips. This is the only time of year that ticks are actually down in the soil where the nematodes

can parasitize and kill them. It is also the time when the thrips insect is in its larval stage in the

soil. Applying beneficial nematodes now can diminish problems later in spring and summer when

control is much more difficult.


Even though this is typically our coldest month of the year, there are still things to do in the

garden. You can set out onion plants both for green onions and for bulbs that will mature next

summer. Snow peas, either bush or vining varieties, and leafy greens can be planted at this time.

Be sure to inoculate the pea seed if you are planting them in an area for the first time. (Unused

tomato cages make great trellises for peas.) Also, you can prepare the soil for your spring garden

by putting down organic fertilizer and a thick layer of compost wherever you are going to plant.

By allowing these products to remain on the soil for the next few weeks or months, you will see a

marked improvement in soil texture and increased production.


The fall and winter months are ideal times to plant new trees, shrubs, roses, groundcovers, and

other woody plants. In South Texas plants do not go fully dormant, so although there may be no

foliage production, roots will be actively growing. By summer the plants will be well established

and better able to tolerate hot, dry weather.

When setting out new plants, avoid planting too deeply, add generous amounts of compost to

the soil, water plants in with Super Thrive, and apply 2” to 3” of mulch around the root zones.

This is a great time to upgrade your landscape and to replace those plants that did not survive

the heat and drought of last summer. Note: When selecting new plants consider natives and other

well-adapted varieties over exotic selections. copyright Shades of Green, 2009

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