• Pamela Froman

It's Easy to be Green

Springtime is the perfect time to start a new gardening project. Whether it is flowers, leafy plants or even a vegetable garden it is fun to see your plants grow and thrive. Diana Bustamante is the store manager at Green Thumb Nursery in Canoga Park. “We take pride in that we have been operating since 1946. We have Certified, experienced associates that provide customers the information they need to complete their whole garden experience.” Why does she enjoy her job? “It makes me happy to see plants thrive and bloom year after year. Working in a nursery, sometimes I wish I had every plant! Plus it has given me the knowledge to help tons of people with their gardens."

She offers a few tips:

Always check the sun exposure in your garden and research the plants you are interested in purchasing. Assess what type of soil you have. And don't be afraid to ask for help. “Some people see a plant they like and buy it for that reason – then they wonder why it dies,” Diana says. “Research your plants first to make sure they will survive and thrive. Prepare the area with the proper soils, which depend on what the soil in your garden is like. And last, come in to Green Thumb. We can help with your plant selection!”

Weeds are a problem for any novice gardener. So how do you get rid of them? “You can purchase a weed killer, but make sure it is the correct one. Some killers will kill all plants,” Diana says. “If you have weeds in a landscaped area, there are killers that are safer for use around other plants. Or you can pull them the old fashioned way. But they can come back. You need a weed preventer to prevent that.”

So you've decided to start growing your own fruits and veggies. But what kinds are good to plant in the spring? "The most popular veggies we sell for spring planting, are tomatoes, chilies, any greens like lettuce and kale or cabbage,” Diana says. “Dwarf fruit and citrus trees are popular because you get the same fruit as a large tree, but the tree stays small and is more manageable. Peaches, plums, and any berries are good to plant in spring.”

You've planted your garden. But how can you keep your plants thriving? Again make sure your plants are in the correct sun exposure. Routine watering, trimming, and fertilizing are important and recommended. And what about those pesky critters we all know and hate – insects? There are a handful of things you can do. Insecticides come in more natural ingredients now, or certain plants like purple basil, or marigolds keep certain insects away. And beneficial insects like ladybugs, or nematodes can also be added to soils or plants to kill or deter insects.

Diana's own personal garden includes lots of veggies and flowers. “I love salsas and salads in the spring,” she says. “And anything that blooms and scented. Especially the butterfly and hummingbird attractant plants.”

What's her favorite – and most important – tip? "Have patience. A plant needs time to properly adapt, and it depends on the plant and the way seasons change.”

Green Thumb offers events and seminars throughout the year for more tips. They also have a weekly newsletter you can subscribe to that has good information and how to videos. Pop in at the store to ask questions from their Certified Nurserymen and Master Gardeners. They can provide help at anytime. Green Thumb is located at 21812 Sherman Way in Canoga Park. Call them at 818-340-6400 or log onto their website at

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