March 2012

News Archive

Betty Nostrand, Editor
Ann Rivenes, Publisher

Co-President's Letter

They may be having six more weeks of winter in Pennsylvania, but here it looks like spring! With less than normal rainfall, we'll have to use our precious water conservatively. Perhaps our speaker this month, Tom Bressen from the Urban Farmer will shed some light with his talk on Irrigation for our garden and low water use plants.

We are now only six weeks away from our April 21st Plant Sale! I thank many of you for helping already with providing and cutting mini blinds, starting plants, distributing flyers and offers of help. I know that we will have a great sale and a whole morning to get to know one another better while we peddle away our fabulous treasures and plants. Attached to this newsletter is a flyer that you can send out to friends, family, neighbors and business associates to advertise for the big day. We have printed flyers which we will pass around at the meeting.

This month at our meeting we will be appointing at least three members to form a Nominations Committee. The purpose of the committee is to select members willing to serve on our Executive Board for the next year. Consider helping out by nominating fellow members to serve our group.

Another item we will bring up for discussion and approval is the expenditure of not more than $750 for our own digital projector. This will be purchased and kept with our other audio visual equipment for meeting use only.

See you at our meeting on March 8th at Alisal.

Tina Higashi, Co President

Misc. Items of Interest

...Nile Runge showed us at the meeting how he cut down a walker to be of assistance in the garden to get up and down when working outside. A great use for un-needed walkers! Call or e-mail Nile for more details.

...the next Tour for the Mediterranean Plant Group is a trip to UC Santa Cruz to see the Proteas and they are best in April or May, the Banksia are blooming now but the Proteas are so much more plentiful then and truly amazing. Details next month.

...there will be no meeting of the Edible Gardening Group in March. regular Floral Design Group meeting in March but they will be going to Campbell on March 7 at 11:30 to see a floral demonstration from 1-3 p.m. Meet at the Bernal Safeway parking lot in Pleasanton. Contact Lynn MacFarland for more details.

...CGCI will hold a Wildflower Conference from April 4-6 in Palmdale, CA. Fee is $115 and includes registration, all lectures and speakers, 1 lunch, 1 dinner, tour and a box lunch for the tour. One day registration with lunch on April 5 is $25. For more details and the schedule contact Tina Higashi

...Sondra Bierre was interviewed by Jane from district on the form that we filled out here concerning points for what the club does. We made the grade and will be honored with another year of being a blue ribbon club. Thought you might like to know.

...Rice Hulls - If you would like to use rice hulls to lighten up soil or mulch, please contact Jim O'Laughlin. Jim is selling them for $10 a yard.

March Mayhem the garden

...As I write this it is gorgeous weather outside and fun to work in the garden - or at least for me as I am truly a 'fair weather' gardener. Bulbs are blooming and it is a treat to get outside and see what is out and enjoy the fragrance of the hyacinth and white "Churchill" narcissus I have. The hyacinths are in the ground and come back for me for many years. Same with the narcissus. I wish I had a Daphne but they don't seem to like my garden and disappear on me after about 2 years. I don't even take them out of their pots because I know they don't like their roots to be disturbed but they still tend to croak after a short while.

...I'm cleaning out my garden beds again and notice with our dry weather this winter that the leaves that fell last fall didn't compost in situ or get blown out of the plants like they usually do and are still just a big clump of leaves. Perfect for snails and slugs to hang out in and also as the weather warms up and I start watering again a perfect medium for stem rot, especially on succulents and tiny starts. They have held in any moisture that we got from rain but now are probably doing more harm than good. Off they go to the compost pile where I can keep them moist so they do compost into crumbly "black gold".

...The snails and slugs are hungry after a cold winter and are out in force. Time to get them early so they don't have much time to multiply. Tina Higashi said at the meeting that a folded newspaper under her flats of new seed starts really gathered the slugs and snails and then she could just fold up the paper and dispose of it each morning. If you have pets or small children a safe way to use the new organic baits is to take a plastic water or soda bottle and cut off the top 3 inches or so and flip it around so the neck is inside the bottle, staple the top edges together and put bait inside the bottle and lay it on its side. The slugs and snails can get in but not back out...sort of like the Hotel California.

...Don't forget to 'finger prune' your roses and shrubs. Just knock off with your thumb or finger any new growth that is going a direction that you don't want it to grow. Don't let the plant waste any energy on putting out growth toward the center of the plant, or toward a pathway, or anywhere you don't want it to grow.

...If you are over watering or over feeding your plants the growth will have a different cellular structure and be more appealing to bugs and insects. Healthy strong plants are the least attractive to bugs. If you do get aphids on plants remember you can wipe them off with your gloved hand (or barehanded if you are so inclined) or with a spray of water or just wait for a predator to find them and gobble them up.

...Succulent advice from Robin Stockwell, owner of Simply Succulents nursery in Castroville - change the soil in your succulent pots about every 3 years. Soil recipe: 4 parts regular potting soil plus 1 part perlite, pumice OR crushed lava (he prefers the latter two, perlite blows around too much). Give them a half dose of a balanced fertilizer about once a month. His newsletter and blog available at

...Get to know your tiny starts that pop up all over at this time of year (or any time) and be sure you aren't leaving the cute privet babies and taking out those fabulous plants you got last year and hoped they would multiply. If you aren't sure, watch them until you do know what they are. But probably best to write yourself a note or you won't stay on top of it and end up with a garden full of wild onion or some other aggressive thug.

...Prune fuchsias soon. Cut them way back (even if they are still blooming from last year) because they bloom on new growth and to keep them in a manageable size you need to be brutal and cut back to just a couple buds or nubs on each main stem. Fertilize and then keep pinching out the center of new growth to force more and more branches that will have more and more blooms this summer.

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