190 Bamboo Privacy Screen. Battling Rose Aphids.

Garden Basics with Farmer Fred

Tips for beginning and experienced gardeners. New, 30-minute (or less) episodes arrive every Tuesday and Friday. Fred Hoffman has been a U.C. Certifi...
Building a Bamboo Plant Privacy Screen. Battling Aphids. Tips for Planting Carrot Seeds.

Show Notes


Who in their right mind would plant bamboo, close to a house, as a privacy screen? Bamboo, which after a few years, could become an impenetrable jungle, spreading in every direction! Well, America’s Favorite Retired College Horticulture Professor, Debbie Flower, planted bamboo as a privacy screen, six feet away from her house. How is she going to control this rambunctious runner of a plant? Ingeniously, of course. We pay a visit to Debbie’s garden to find out what to do, and what not to do when planting bamboo.

Next up on our garden road trip, we drop by Master Rosarian Baldo Villegas’ delightfully blooming rose garden, where he has close to 3,000 rose plants, near it peak of color. And usually at this time of year, most rose gardens are overrun with aphids. But not Baldo’s.  A retired state entomologist, Baldo shows us the good bugs that are keeping the aphids at bay. And you can do the same in your rose garden.

Plus, we get a Quick Tip from the Brown Thumb Mama, Pam Farley, about another use for toilet paper: planting teeny tiny carrot seeds.

We’re podcasting from Barking Dog Studios here in the beautiful Abutilon Jungle in Suburban Purgatory. It’s the Garden Basics with Farmer Fred podcast, brought to you today by Smart Pots.  And we will do it all in under 30 minutes. Let’s go!

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Show Transcript

Garden Basics 190 TRANSCRIPT Bamboo Privacy Screens. Battling Aphids on Roses


Farmer Fred  0:00  

Garden Basics with Farmer Fred is brought to you by Smart Pots, the original lightweight, long lasting fabric plant container. it's made in the USA. Visit SmartPots.com slash Fred for more information and a special discount, that's SmartPots.com/Fred. Welcome to the Garden Basics with Farmer Fred podcast. If you're just a beginning gardener or you want good gardening information, you've come to the right spot.


Farmer Fred  0:31  

Who in their right mind would plant bamboo, close to a house, as a privacy screen? Bamboo, which after a few years, could become an impenetrable jungle, spreading in every direction! Well, America’s Favorite Retired College Horticulture Professor, Debbie Flower, planted bamboo as a privacy screen, six feet away from her house. How is she going to control this rambunctious runner of a plant? Ingeniously, of course. We pay a visit to Debbie’s garden to find out what to do, and what not to do when planting bamboo.  Next up on our garden road trip, we drop by Master Rosarian Baldo Villegas’ delightfully blooming rose garden, where he has close to 3,000 rose plants, near it peak of color. And usually at this time of year, most rose gardens are overrun with aphids. But not Baldo’s. A retired state entomologist, Baldo shows us the good bugs that are keeping the aphids at bay. And you can do the same in your rose garden.  Plus, we get a Quick Tip from the Brown Thumb Mama, Pam Farley, about another use for toilet paper: planting teeny tiny carrot seeds.  We’re podcasting from Barking Dog Studios here in the beautiful Abutilon Jungle in Suburban Purgatory. It’s the Garden Basics with Farmer Fred podcast, brought to you today by Smart Pots. And we will do it all in under 30 minutes. Let’s go!


Building a Bamboo Plant Privacy Screen

Bamboo Privacy Screen

Farmer Fred  2:02  

Well, we are on the road. We are at Debbie Flower's home garden. She's been giving me a tour of all the great drought tolerant plants that she's put in here, a lot of California natives. But what intrigues me the most is a privacy screen that she is constructing using containers. Some of my favorite types of containers. Basically, cattle watering troughs, or sheep watering troughs or horse watering troughs. I love shopping for garden implements at a Tractor Supply Company Store. Debbie, you've developed a privacy screen with bamboo.


Debbie Flower  2:39  

Yes, my windows from my house face West. And there's a patio right up to the wall of the outside of the house. So it's a very hot place in the summer. And if people are sitting on my patio, they can look through those windows into my house. Not super desirable. So I got the troughs. I have two oval troughs that are about four foot long and two feet wide and they stand about 30 inches high. I had two troughs. I went to Redwood Barn Nursery to see our friend Don Shor, who owns Redwood Barn, and he is very knowledgeable about bamboo. His nursery is in Davis and I asked him what would be good to grow in these pots to create a privacy screen and a little bit of shade on the side of my house. aAnd he suggested golden bamboo. So I put that in two of the oval pots and put it outside. It grew very very well. Bamboo likes a lot of water. So I hooked them up to an irrigation system that also waters my vegetable garden. They're on a different program so I can separate them from the vegetables if I need to.


Farmer Fred  3:45  

Bamboo is an evergreen plant as well. And these are getting pretty tall. (airplane noise) you can tell we're outside. I think we're on the landing pattern for Mather Air Force Base.


Debbie Flower  3:55  

There going to McClellan air base. And there's lots lots of fire planes that come out of McClellan. So yes, we do get plane noise here.


Farmer Fred  4:05  

Fine. The bamboo, though, is already six, seven feet tall and is filling in. But what amazes me is because they do require regular watering, these containers are sitting on concrete yet I don't see any water stains. Where is the water going?


Debbie Flower  4:23  

Yeah, there's a water stain right there.


Farmer Fred  4:26  

You didn't have to say that.


Debbie Flower  4:29  

I'm using an inline drip irrigation system. I bring it over from next to the vegetable garden and I was worried about having drip lines traipsing across my patio. My older son came up with the idea of using the things you buy in an office supply store that you put wires in so that people can walk around in office and not step on the wires. So I'm using the quarter inch supply line to bring it from the vegetable garden which is off on the soil across the patio, up into the bamboo containers and then I do a couple of circles around the top of the container. And they irrigate, like I said, with the vegetable garden, which varies by temperature. That's probably one of the most irrigated sections of my yard, and bamboo do like water. Bamboo are a grass. And so the temptation is to fertilize them with a grass fertilizer. They are thin at this time of year, they will thicken up as the season goes on. So I did that one time, and  it stimulated one of the pots of golden bamboo to flower. And when bamboo flowers, it dies and produces seed. It dropped a bunch of seed in the pot. And then I had all kinds of very odd bamboos. Some were upright, a lot of them were drapey, the plants hanging down the side, they didn't serve my purpose. So my husband and I went out and looked for more bamboo. A friend of mine  has a cultivar, it's a clumping bamboo called Robert Young, it gets 40 feet tall. And the culms, which are the stems, can be as big as three inches in diameter. So I got a piece of that from him. And that has been in the oval trough for not quite a year yet. And it is already 10 feet tall.


Farmer Fred  6:23  

Now I can't see these quarter inch tubing lines anywhere. So you either have them buried in the creases of the concrete slab between the squares, or they are around the back, and I just can't see them there. We're gonna walk around the back. I was so comfortable, too.  Oh, there it is. Okay, all right. So basically you protected them with these strips, electrical wire covers.


Debbie Flower  6:51  

It's a plastic used to cover electric wires, but they work. And they are the supply lines into the containers.


Farmer Fred  7:01  

Oh, it actually goes back to the faucet. Right?


Debbie Flower  7:03  

Right, the vegetable garden is  attached to a faucet, kind of timer, a battery operated timer.


Farmer Fred  7:12  

All right. Now we know bamboo is hardy all the way down to USDA zone five. So check with your local nursery, people. And you can probably find varieties that will do well wherever you might live. And this is a good idea for controlling bamboo. We talked clumping bamboo and running bamboo. And as the name implies, running bamboo can get away if you plant it in the ground. But because you have them in metal watering troughs, on top of a concrete patio, I don't think they're going anywhere.


Debbie Flower  7:42  

No, they're not going anywhere. When I had that one that flowered and produce new babies, I had to empty it. And it was a very interesting process. I have not drilled holes in these troughs, I merely took out the one drain plug that they come with. And that's it on the side, but near the bottom of the container. That's the only drainage I have in these containers. And I found most of the rhizomes, which are actually underground stems, and the root system, very near the bottom of the container. These bamboo love their water. The other thing people ask about is do the containers get too hot? I have not measured the temperature in there. But based on results in our sometimes 110 degree plus weather here in central California. I have never had a problem with the plants burning.


Farmer Fred  8:31  

You could paint them, too. Get some good tractor paint, maybe something like Kubota orange or there's International Harvester red, which might match the brick of your house, or Ford blue, whatever. But you can get very decorative with these galvanized steel watering troughs. What about fertilization of bamboo? Do they need any (despite the earlier try with lawn fertilizer)?


Debbie Flower  8:53  

No, the short answer is no. I use container media which has lots of organics in it. And as it breaks down, it releases the nutrients. But what I learned from Don Shor after I contacted him when the one container had flowered is that bamboo are stimulated to flower after being fertilized. If they flower, they die. That's one a very unusual thing for a plant, but it is what happens with bamboo. And I don't want them to die. If I were not pleased with their growth, I would use an incredibly low analysis fertilizer, single digits for sure. For those three numbers on the bag, concentrate on nitrogen. It could be like a 4-0-0. I don't know what fertilizer that would be; then I would only apply half of the recommended rate and cross my fingers and hope it doesn't flower.


Farmer Fred  9:44  

Yeah, something even like fish emulsion, which can be 2-1-1 or 5-1-1. And what sort of soil mix did you put in for them?


Debbie Flower  9:51  

Well, these containers are pretty big. And so it was a budget item. I didn't go out and buy bulk. I bought soil conditioner. It came in a bulk red and white, like peat moss comes in packed, it had a lot of it's an organic mix, and it had a lot of wood products in it. Composted wood products, and I added pumice to open it up so that because over time, those organic materials are going to break down. And so the bamboo is going to drop and drop and drop from the top of the container. And I will probably go back and add more, I wanted to put some rock material in there so it wouldn't totally compact and disappear.


Farmer Fred  10:31  

I would think, too, you mentioned that if you did feed them with too much fertilizer that would make them bloom and then die. I think it would also make them as you experience kind of weak and might flop over.


Debbie Flower  10:42  

Right. Fast growth could lead to that. People use bamboo in the garden,  it makes great stakes. One thing to know is that you have to wait until that culm dies to harvest it and use it in the garden. If you take the green ones, the ones that still have green leaves on them, they just sort of flop over and degrade.


Farmer Fred  11:01  

You followed the first rule of landscape design when creating a privacy screen. The area you want to keep private will be more successful for privacy, the closer you plant it to the area that you want kept private. And this is about  six feet away from your bedroom window.


Debbie Flower  11:18  

Right, maybe even less than that. I am trying not to plant things right up against the house. I see lots of landscapes where plants are planted up against the house. But that creates problems. Houses have to be maintained, mine needs to be painted, Windows need to be cleaned. You need to have a space, a plant free space, between the house and the plants. And so I brought them out just wide enough that that we can walk behind it.


Farmer Fred  11:45  

Yeah, makes plenty of sense. And plus, when you plant directly underneath the eaves of your house, you're creating a fire ladder which could be disastrous down the line.  Yes, bamboo is a privacy screen, especially in containers. That's a fairly foolproof way to get some quick privacy for some area that you're trying to keep private, maybe around your spa or pool or elsewhere around the outside of your house. Bamboo. Try it. We're at Debbie Flower's garden, Debbie, thanks for the bamboo tour.


Debbie Flower  12:13  

Oh, you're welcome. It's a fun thing to grow and it really does grow fast.


Smart Pots!

Smart Pots

Farmer Fred  12:21  

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Battling Aphids on Roses

Aphids on a rose bud

Farmer Fred  14:17  

When your roses start to bloom, especially in springtime, you know what else is blooming in spring? The aphid population. Aphids love new rose growth. So what should you reach for, what should you do, if anything, to control those aphids? We are with retired state entomologist and Master Rosarian Baldo Villegas. And Baldo, I get the idea that when you spot aphids on a rose because you have 2500 or 3000 roses, you just say well, maybe there'll be somebody else to take care of this issue.


Baldo Villegas  14:49  

A month ago, I was going through my garden and I saw tons and tons of aphids. At that time I was going well, should I spray? Should I not? I don't spray. For one reason  it will take me several hours to spray my garden. But I started seeing a lot of beneficial insects such as three species of lady beetles. So then I said, Ah, we have the beneficials here. I also saw my first soldier beetle. So when I see the first soldier beetle, I know that the aphids are history, because between the lady beetles and the soldier beetles, they will control the aphids, literally 100%. Now I don't spray. I don't spray my roses. So my garden is  literally spray free, and has been spray free for over 10 years.


Farmer Fred  15:44  

Well, that's because you've been cultivating this population of beneficials.


Baldo Villegas  15:49  

Correct. And I have a lot of other things besides roses that will attract the insects and keep them here. For instance, in the back forty, I have a lot of grasses that just grow. I let them grow. And then a month ago I saw huge populations of seven-spotted lady beetles overwintering in the bases of those grasses. So I let them be. That's what gave me the idea that there may be, in a month's time, the aphids will be totally controlled. Here I am. My rose garden is going to be in full bloom this weekend through the next two weeks. And I dare anybody to find any aphids in my garden.


Farmer Fred  16:29  

I was looking hard, and I didn't see any. I go wow, this is pretty good considering some of the gardens I've been seeing lately. There have been a lot of garden tours lately. And so I've been sniffing around people's backyards, and I'm thinking gee, I would think with a garden tour coming, they would clean the aphids off the roses, but no. So for people who haven't built the good bug hotel yet, and by the way, in today's show notes, we'll have a list of the plants that attract beneficial insects, for those people who haven't built the good bug hotel yet. What is a nontoxic strategy for controlling aphids on roses? They love those those new rose buds.

Baldo Villegas and his 3000 Roses

Baldo Villegas  17:04  

Yes, well, you know, it's always a good thing to have a variety of plants in your garden, not just roses, but a lot of other plants that will attract the beneficials. The beneficials love simple flowers, ones that have readily accessible stamens and nectaries, so they can get the sugars that they need for energy, and the pollen that they use for egg production. So if you have a lot of simple flowers, they like a lot of the single petal roses that I love. And I have them because they attract a lot of beneficial insects.


Farmer Fred  17:49  

In your estimation, what are the best single pedaled roses to attract the beneficial insects into your yard? Because all gardening is local, all bugs are local. But in your case, what are those single pedaled roses, that really do serve as the good bug hotel.


Baldo Villegas  18:05  

Always get roses that produce a lot of flowers. Sally Holmes, for instance, is a fantastic, low petal rose that you can use in your garden. It's also very disease resistant, looks fantastic in a garden. I use a lot of those, I use several of the climbing roses, like Altissimo, Lyda Rose, Fourth of July. Those types of roses that have low petal counts, and they look great in your garden. I have a fantastic variety of single petal roses, that  also help me in the garden. (sound of a cricket)


Farmer Fred  18:48  

I like it that when your phone goes off, it's the sound of a bug.


Baldo Villegas  18:52  

It reminds me of crickets.


Farmer Fred  18:57  

That makes perfect sense. Now another aphid control strategy, too, if you only have one or two roses, and you haven't built up that good bug population, would be a spray of water.


Baldo Villegas  19:06  

Yes. But I always look for the beneficials first, if you don't  see any beneficial insects, then go to different strategies, such as jet of water, so that you can blast the heck out of your aphids or, or some of the other insects off of the tips of your roses. You can also squish them, and I've been known to be a bug squisher.


Farmer Fred  19:36  

Yes, you have. Yes, you're a famous bug squisher. How about the placement of the rose itself? We always say the right plant in the right place. If a rose is in the wrong place, if it's getting too much shade or there are issues with watering or some other issue, can that attract aphids?


Baldo Villegas  19:53  

I don't know about that.


Farmer Fred  19:56  

So it's not the case of the rose screaming for help and the aphids are the first to arrive.


Baldo Villegas  20:00  

I think it has to do with shade or full sun. If you have shady situations, and you have the right temperature conditions, you're going to get a lot of powdery mildew. For instance, if you didn't thoroughly prune the roses last year, and you have a lot of moisture in the air or you have a lot of rain, you're going to have a lot of problems with rust and blackspot or even powdery mildew.


Farmer Fred  20:26  

I guess one strategy for that, then ,is when you plant your roses, space them correctly, give them plenty of space, so there's good air circulation.


Baldo Villegas  20:33  

correct. And then the other thing is, don't plant right under a shade tree. Because you're inviting a lot of caterpillars to come to your garden. Especially at this time of the year up in the foothills they're probably seeing an avalanche of caterpillars come down from  the depths of the trees and then they come down into anything that's green on the on the underside. In my garden  I plant my garden in full sun as much as possible, also away from trees. Because my main problem in my other house was with leaf rollers in the month of late April into May.


Farmer Fred  21:19  

We should point out, too, that the single pedaled roses, besides being great at attracting the beneficial insects because they have the mouth part to feed and  gather the nectar from those plants that are just single petals, single petaled roses can also take a bit more shade than some other varieties of roses.


Baldo Villegas  21:43  

Yes. This is why I love single petal roses. I have probably the largest collection of single petal roses in the area. And I love them because I can I can place them everywhere. They love the sun, and they do very very well in as little as four hours of sunlight a day.


Farmer Fred  22:02  

So if you're looking to attract beneficial insects to your yard, it's kind of hard to go wrong with roses. They're pretty of course, but they're they also serve as a magnet for those garden good guys.


Baldo Villegas  22:13  

Yes, yeah. Especially single petal roses.


Farmer Fred  22:17  

Baldo Villegas,retired state entomologist, also a Master Rosarian. Thanks for killing our aphids for us.


Baldo Villegas  22:22  

Thank you. And thank you, beneficials!


Quick Tip: Use Toilet Paper to Plant Small Carrot Seeds

Carrot seeds on a sheet of toilet paper.

Farmer Fred  22:31  

Anybody who's ever tried to plant carrot seeds knows the big problem. They're really, really tiny. How can you get carrot seeds separated? Well, you may have to use your kids. Today's quick tip comes from the Brown Thumb Mama, Pam Farley, with a good idea on using carrot seeds, toilet paper and your kids.


Pam Farley  22:50  

So some things that I like to do to make it easier on the kids to plant the carrot seeds, because otherwise, you're just gonna have a big old jumble of seeds. Layout two or three squares of toilet paper, mist it with a couple of spritzes of water and then flop seeds on the toilet paper. Let that dry. And then place that in the garden. It's kind of like homemade seed tape.


Farmer Fred  23:14  

How far apart do you space the seeds on the toilet paper?


Pam Farley  23:19  

I usually do five per square. You could probably do them closer than that. But that's, that's easy for the kids to count.


Farmer Fred  23:27  

And they have smaller fingers, too, so they can more easily move the little seeds around. This is the first time, I think, I've ever talked about carrots and toilet paper in the same sentence. Well, there you go.


Pam Farley  23:41  

But that makes for breaking new ground here.


Farmer Fred  23:42  

That makes perfect sense. I like that because it is biodegradable, the toilet paper, and so you could plant that with five or six seeds on it and and that's a great way to do it.




Farmer Fred  24:00  

The Garden Basics with Farmer Fred podcast has a lot of information posted at each episode in the show notes. Maybe you’d rather read than listen? Not a problem, a complete transcript is posted, and you can find that link in the show notes or on our new homepage, gardenbasics.net, where you can find that link as well as all the previous episodes of the Garden Basics with Farmer Fred podcast. There, you can leave a message or link up with our social media pages, including our You Tube video page. And at garden basics dot net. click on the tab at the top of the page to read the Garden Basics “Beyond Basics” newsletter, which usually has a bonus podcast attached to it. Plus, in the show notes, there are links to any products or books mentioned during the show, and other helpful links for even more information. Plus, you can listen to just the portions of the show that interest you, it’s been divided into easily accessible chapters.  Want to leave us a question? Again, check the links at garden basics.net. Also, when you click on any episode at garden basics.net, you’ll find a link to Speakpipe, where you can leave us an audio question without a making a phone call. Or, go to them directly: speak pipe dot com slash garden basics. You want to call us? We have that number posted at garden basics dot net. Spoiler alert: it’s 916-292-8964, 916-292-8964. Email? Sure! Send it, along with your pictures to fred@farmerfred.com. Or again, go to garden basics dot net and get that link. And if you send us a question, be sure to tell us where you’re gardening, because all gardening is local. Find it all at garden basics dot net.


Farmer Fred  25:52  

Garden Basics With Farmer Fred comes out every Tuesday and Friday and is brought to you by Smart Pots and Dave Wilson Nursery. Garden Basics is available wherever podcasts are handed out. For more information about the podcast, visit our website, GardenBasics dot net. That’s where you can find out about the free, Garden Basics newsletter, Beyond the Basics. And thank you so much for listening.

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