October 2014

News Archive

Betty Nostrand, Editor
Ann Rivenes, Publisher

Co-President's Letter

No, no, no. Don't go to Alisal School for the October 9 Club meeting. Instead go to Livermore. If you looked at page 1 of your 2014-2015 Yearbook you would know the October 9 meeting (and December meeting, too) is to be in the Cresta Blanca-North room at the Robert Livermore Community Center, 4444 East Avenue. What, you don't have your Yearbook! You could have picked up your Yearbook at the September meeting or pick it up at the October meeting.

A read of the Yearbook would also let you know that LAVGC is a Blue Ribbon Garden Club, having received a Blue Ribbon Certificate of Achievement from California Garden Clubs, Inc (CGCI) in June. Sandy Rogers was instrumental in our receiving that award. Thanks Sandy. You might also note that last year's LAVGC 2013-2014 Yearbook earned a First Award from CGCI.

How did your tomatoes do this year compared to last? Last year we had tomatoes aplenty; we let no visitor escape without a bag of tomatoes. This year our crop has been so small we can actually eat all our tomatoes. Too hot, too cold, too much water (not likely), too little water? Who knows?

A month or so ago, wife, Karen ,and I gave two of our neighbors a tour of our garden. They seemed a bit intimidated by the large number of bees attracted to our teucrium, lavender, and blue flowering salvias . I imagine our October speaker, Kate Frey, will say that's a good thing. No, no, I don't mean being intimidated, I mean the many bees -- the pollinators.

See you at the October meeting (in Livermore) and, of course, Happy Gardening,

Tom Jefferson, Co-President

Misc. Items of Interest

...Sadly, yet another member of our Garden Club family, Karleta Atkinson, has passed away -- on August 20, just six weeks after being diagnosed with cancer.

...Back Yard Harvest is a high school project to harvest trees of excess fruit. All fruit will be donated to Open Heart Kitchen for the school lunch program. For more information, please contact coordinator Pam Silliman, 925-998-1522, pamsiliman@yahoo.com

...Bart O'Brien, new Director of East Bay Regional Parks BotanicGarden at TildenPark spent 20 years at the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, and is co-author of California Native Plants for the Garden and Reimagining your California Lawn, will speak October 11th at 11 a.m. at Alden Lane Nursery. We suggest calling to reserve a seat at this free lecture. (447-0280)

...Connie DaRocha will no longer be taking gloves or knives orders. She has spoken to Shelli Mitchell the Rep from A.M. Leonard, that she dealt with and Shelli will be more than glad to take orders. We will receive a discount on orders. Atlas Nitrile Gloves in all colors are $6.92, regular price is $8.99 and the Leonard Deluxe Soil knife is $16.95 regular cost is $21.99. These prices do not include shipping and handling. In order to receive the discount please contact Shelli Mitchell at 1-888-558-8665 ex178 or email smitchell@amleo.com If you are thinking about Holiday gifts you might want to order early for better color section on gloves. (Thank you Connie for handling this all these years!)

...SOIL KNIVES AND NITRILE GLOVES: For sale at the meeting will be Deluxe soil knives at $18.00, regular knives with sheath are $18.00 sold as a set. Knife blades are the highest quality of stainless steel from Italy. Nitrile gloves are $6.25 each, in all sizes. Those who do not plan to attend the meeting can contact Connie Darocha.

Remodeling your garden?

Create a wish list to better understand how you actually want to use your property. Consider atmosphere, activities, and features.

The front yard has become a welcoming entryway as well as a comfortable living space. Consider how your front yard could function if you treated it as your back yard.

Use plants to soften the appearance of a driveway and make it part of the landscape.

From "Landscaping Ideas that Work" by Julie Moir Messervy.

October ought-tos........in the garden

...this month is a busy one in the garden. It is a great time for planting and for plant sales. With the weather still dry (although did I hear that there might be RAIN in the forecast???), it is hard to decide how much and what to plant.

...We usually do get a big rain sometime during this month and it loosens up the soil so it is easier to plant all the spring bulbs. Gardeners are optimists so, yes, do think positively and plant those bulbs and assume we'll get enough rain and cold to have them burst forth in a show of beauty next spring. If you haven't purchased yours yet, get to the nurseries or catalogs very soon so you'll have a better choice of colors and styles. Tulips are usually pretty much annuals so I plant them in pots and move them out in the garden or steps when they start to bloom. Easier to water them and keep track of them in a bunch on the patio. Also I can put wire mesh over the whole group of pots so the squirrels and other 'wildlife' don't dig them up. I know that some members have tulips that are in the ground and come up (and bloom!) year after year but all I usually get is foliage the second year and you don't plant tulips for their foliage. My general goal is to plant tulip and daffodil bulbs the day after Thanksgiving or earlier if I can work it in. Just remember that bulbs won't bloom for sure in the bag or box so better to plant them even in January than not at all.

...I do have many bulbs that come up year after year - wood hyacinths, camassia, star of Bethlehem, babiana, Mt. Hood daffodils, wild onions (although I tend to yank them as they are a little too profuse!), and the small gladiolas. Plus in various catalogs you can find more obscure South African bulbs and many of them do well in our climate.

...this is a great time to plant shrubs and trees (again with a positive outlook on weather) and it is often best to start small and let them grow into the space. Just be sure to note how big they will get eventually and don't plant them too close to the house or other shrubs and trees. Plant sales at various horticultural societies and parks are a good source for more unusual plants. Just be sure they are suitable for the climate in the Tri-Valley. Our weather (heat and cold) is so different from Berkeley, Marin County, or SF. Did you know that even Danville usually gets twice as much rain as we do? The latest recommendation for planting shrubs and trees is that you dig a hole at least twice as wide as the pot it comes in and half again as deep (another good reason to start with small plants!) and don't enrich the soil in the hole too much or the roots may just stop growing when they reach the native soil. Be sure the crown of the plant (where the stem/trunk meets the soil) is above ground level a bit because the plant will settle some after planting. Tamp the soil around the newly planted plant firmly but don't squish all the air out of the soil. Just get the oxygen pockets out of the soil. Water in well, letting the water soak in and then filling up the basin you've made around the plant again. If the water doesn't soak in pretty quickly you may have a drainage problem and for many Mediterranean plants this can be a real problem. If this is the case it is better to plant it even higher so the water drains away from the crown. Constantly wet crowns can mean a rotting plant. Not good.

...you can start cleaning out garden beds now but if you have trees around you may have to do it again after leaf fall. And remember clean top to bottom and back to front of the bed so you don't have to re-clean an area as you are clearing out. Fallen debris can be good mulch but it can also be a haven for snails and slugs so mix it up a bit as you clean and even better if you can use a shreader or run a lawn mower over the debris and then put the results back on the soil.

...if you are planting annuals now for some color, this is the time to get four inch pots of them rather than six paks because as the soil cools down the roots and plants will not get much bigger so you need a head start with the larger plant.

...you can get good deals on perennial plants at nurseries and plant sales that don't look particularly attractive this time of year but will spring back into glory next spring. Nurseries don't want to have to keep and care for the stock all winter so usually have great sales so you can take them home and take care of them.


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