November 2013

News Archive

Betty Nostrand, Editor
Molly Fisher and Ann Rivenes, Publishers

Co-President's Letter

I am in Las Vegas right now in the arid desert of southern Nevada where I imagine gardening must have its challenges with all of the extremes this area has to offer. It reminds me to be thankful I live in the Tri-valley, even with the clay soil and relentless gophers. At home, my summer garden is winding down and pruning is on my to-do list. I'm looking forward to all of our November activities and I hope to see you at the November meeting!

Karen Abbruscato, Co-Pres

November the garden bulbs arrived the other day and I opened them and have them in a cool dark place waiting for my traditional bulb planting the day after Thanksgiving while everyone else is out shopping for the holidays. Be sure the bulbs are packaged so they have air circulation so they don't rot and if any are a bit squishy at all you throw them out. I plant most of my bulbs in pots but if you put them in the ground be careful using blood meal or any other fertilizer that will attract squirrels and other animals to dig them up. Ground clam shells (available as a calcium food for chickens at pet stores) sprinkled into the planting hole will deter the scavengers as the shell chips are sharp and non-edible. Daffodils are poisonous to animals so they are usually left alone but tulips and hyacinths are like candy so often need some kind of protection when planted in the soil. All bulbs are easier to plant after our first really good rain - and surely it is coming soon, let's hope. When the pots are planted you can put screen or chicken wire over them to protect the bulbs. I bunch my pots (mostly gallon cans) on the patio for the winter so they are easy to water (if I need to) and move them out in the spring and put them on my front steps or around the garden when they are blooming.

....the strong winds at the end of October cleaned out the wimpy twigs and such from our trees but left a real mess in the yard. Luckily at our house nothing large came down. We have a male deodar cedar in our front yard and this time of year it is covered with tassel things that contain a large amount of yellow pollen. I don't know what it means when there is a bumper crop of them but this year there sure is and we have a solid covering of yellow everywhere. Now for a number of reasons I am hoping for a good rain to wash the plants and sidewalks clean. can pick up lots of hints of what to do in your garden now by what the work parties listed in this newsletter will be doing this month (or did last month) - like planting sweet peas now so they will bloom early in the spring and cascade over walls of raised beds. They are still deadheading the roses at Hansen Park so I guess there is time for another round of blooms before the rose planting and pruning in Jan.

....this is a good time to feed your camellias and azaleas while they are setting buds. If you are planning to add camellias to a shady area, this is a good time to start looking at them in the nurseries because the early sasanqua varieties are starting to bloom and you can see what color they are although the photos on the tags are usually pretty accurate. I find camellias are quite hardy; they do need some water but don't croak if you miss a few waterings as azaleas tend to do. They are messing around with azaleas now though and have some that are more suited to our area and even re-bloom during the year. you clean up beds now, notice perennials and plants that need to be divided or moved. Again, easier to do after a soaking rain. Plants that didn't bloom well may either need to be divided or moved to more or less sun. Or they could just be totally inappropriate for our area, but we won't go into that! Although the busy holiday time is upon us and it is harder to get out in the garden, it is a good "break" to go out and clean a small area for an hour or so. Remember clean top to bottom and back to front of a bed or area so you aren't having to re-clean parts that you had thought you had done.

....this is a good time to prune and shape evergreens. Look for diseased or broken branches and cut them out and then get any stems or branches that are just going the wrong direction. You want to get them to an eye-pleasing shape but not completely like lollipops or rigid triangles. Don't prune spring flowering shrubs, evergreen or not, since you'll be taking off the blooms. Prune those right after they bloom in the spring so they have plenty of time to set new blooms. If we do get lots of rain be sure to knock down the water basins that you made around shrubs or trees to lessen the chance of root rot during the winter. On the other hand, if we don't get rain, leave the basins and remember to water every few weeks.

....we can all be very thankful that we live in such a wonderful place to garden!

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