April 2011

News Archive

Betty Nostrand, Editor
Ann Rivenes, Publisher

Co-Presidentís Letter

Since I got back from my trip it seems to have been raining and raining! I had to chuckle on my way to receive the award for beautifying the 1st Street pots. I passed the Vine Cinema and they were showing "Singin' in the Rain"! I'm sure all our plants have been singing too but it has been a little frustrating not to get out in the garden. So many jobs to do in the spring especially with the Plant Sale coming up this month. There are plenty of ways that every member of the Club can participate in this event. Please have a look at the requests for help in many different roles. As they say - many hands make light work!

We had some wonderful publicity in the local papers last month. Many thanks to Elizabeth Judge for the article in the Independent regarding the support of the Master Gardeners Association and kudos to Dan McCright for getting us on the front page of the Pleasanton Weekly together with a great piece about the Sensory Garden. Thank you both for getting some free advertising for the Plant Sale too!

Thanks also must go to Sondra for holding the fort whilst I was away gallivanting 'Down Under'. Didn't I miss some fantastic speakers? We have another great program this month with Emma Connery helping us identify the friends and foes of the insect world. There are lots of other opportunities to get together with other members this month from work parties to garden tours so please come out and support those members who have put in a lot of hard work to make these events a success.

Well the sun is finally trying to break through so I'm off to the garden to catch up on a myriad of jobs.

Happy Gardening!

Lydia Roberts, Co-President

April Activities....in the garden

...wow! thereís this bright golden glow outside...or yes, I remember, itís the sun! The weeds seem to have continued growing rain or shine so some of them are really big by now. Get them out as fast as you can and concentrate on any with seed heads on them already. Donít shake the dirt off the roots or do it very carefully, maybe with your gloved hand over the seed heads, so you donít spread seed all over to create the next generation as you pull out this one.

...be diligent about deadheading so that you will either encourage more buds and flowers or in the case of bulbs so they wonít spend any energy on producing seed heads but will put it into big flowers for next year. This is a good time to feed bulbs and be sure they keep moist for several weeks until the foliage yellows and is ready to be removed.

...aphids will be lusting after the new growth on your roses and other plants. The easiest way to banish them is to just run your gloved hand (bare handed if youíre brave) over the area and wipe them off. You can do it with a spray of water also. Or, you can hope the birds and other creatures see them and stop by and gorge themselves. At my house right now the black aphids are all on my succulents that got too soggy so Iím hoping they will be food for some creature or Iíll wipe them off Ė hard to get in the nooks and crannies though so Iíd rather the birds do it.

...prune spring blooming shrubs after they have bloomed. Take out all the dead or diseased branches first and then open up some in the center and then get it in the shape you want Ė very formal or just free form.

...I know we all want to rush out and get busy in the garden after such a cold, wet spring but try not to step on the soil in the garden beds so you donít squeeze all the oxygen out of the soil. The plants need that to survive and wet soil can really compact easily.

...My African daisies are just going crazy with blooms about now. They come in so many delicious colors. They donít seem to like hot weather and go sort of catatonic when it heats up but in spring and fall they are covered with daisy like blooms. They can become a bit leggy so are great over retaining walls or raised beds. I whack them way back when it heats up and they just sort of sit there until it cools down and they go bloom crazy again.

...if you are going to do a lot of container gardening this spring and summer, remember that you need to have pots that are 14 inches wide (at least) and 14 inches deep for continued health of the plant. They need that much soil depth to grow a good root system to help them stay alive in the heat and to nourish them properly. I put a scrap of window screen in the bottom to keep snails, bugs, and slugs from getting up into the plant roots. Most recent research says not to put chards of pots or stones in the bottom of your pot because they mess up the drainage. Blooming plants needs lots of food to produce those flowers so liquid feed the pots quite often (every 2 weeks?)

...if you do hanging baskets which are pretty hard to keep watered, succulent ground covers make the good hanging part spilling over the sides. There are many kinds of succulent ground covers so you can match foliage color with the flowers in the basket. Iíve read that adding ďgreensandĒ to the soil will help toughen up the plants for the heat. If youíve used peat or coir in the soil or sides, donít let it get dried out because it is very hard to wet again. In fact putting the basket or container in a bucket to soak is about the only way to really moisten it again. And adding a drop or two of dishwashing soap to the water will help break through the sort of oily skin that makes the soil/peat so hard to moisten up again.

...this is a super planting time. Great time to plant tuberous begonias, dahlias, cannas, and vegetablesÖ.the nurseries should be just bursting with choices of all kinds of perennials and annuals. This is the time of year you can buy plants in very small sizes and they will have plenty of good weather (letís hope!), moisture and warm soil to grow a sturdy root system. Our plant sale should have lots of good choices too and there will be garden club members there to assist you in your choices. Have a general idea of the area where you need the plant so you can tell how much sun, shade, water, etc it will have in its new location to make the choice more appropriate.

Livermore Valley Garden Club (LAVGC) serving the Tri-Valley: Dublin, Livermore, Pleasanton, Sunol, and San Ramon