February 2019


News Archive

Betty Nostrand, Editor
Molly Fisher, Publisher

President's Letter

January's meeting was outstanding! Bethallyn Black provided a wealth of information about how to control winter weeds plus told us which weeds were edible. Using the tools she provided, which included hot water, vinegar, eat them or "learn to live with them as you can't possibly get rid of them," we can move forward with a better understanding of how we can control unwanted plants without the use of toxic herbicides.

Nile Runge videotapes each LAVGC speaker and posts it on YouTube for our Members' use. Thanks to Nile, members who did not attend the meeting can view the speaker. Those members who heard the speaker can revisit the talk to confirm a detail of interest. Steps to access the YouTube video: Open up lavgc.com on your computer; go to the Members Only section and log in (don't know password? call Lois or Dolores); look at the column on the left side of the page, click on "Speakers: Past and Present"; scroll down until you see the meeting you are interested in; on the right hand column, you will find "presentation link", click it. That will connect you to the YouTube video of our speaker.

A reminder to all members, the Plant Sale is about 9 weeks away. High time to get serious about getting plants ready for the sale. Any questions, call Daniel McCright or Bill Tallon. They are depending on all of us to make this the best Plant Sale ever. Many hands make light work!

Dolores Bengtson, co-President

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Misc. Items of Interest

...Sunflower Hill Seeks Garden Volunteers. Sunflower Hill is a very active, non-profit organization serving special needs adults. Its first program is operating a one acre garden located at historic Hagemann Farms in Livermore. The garden is beautiful, well-designed and very productive, providing over 17,000 lbs. of produce to local food banks last year. As with all gardens, many hands are needed to keep it productive while serving as a program element for Sunflower Hill's mission. If you are interested, please email Sarah at Sun Flower Hill. Flyers with more information will be available at the Feb. meeting

...Passport to Spring, Saturday, Feb. 16th, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., at Alden Lane. The event offers attendees a morning filled with spring gardening information offered by three speakers. A catered lunch is included in the $45 fee. Contact: Alden Lane Nursery, 447-0280

...Member Alert: if you have changes to your contact information, please email Molly Fisher. See the LAVGC Yearbook for Molly's additional contact information.

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February Follies.................in the garden

...as I write this we have had a whole week of much needed rain but we must remember what it does to the garden beds and not walk in them until they have dried out a bit or we'll squish all the air out of the soil and the plants and roots need that oxygen to survive. Use boards or stepping stones to spread out your weight and not leave foot prints in the sodden soil.

...but it is an excellent time to be pulling weeds before they set seed or flower as pointed out by our January speaker. That is when they really go to town spreading all over the place. If you missed the talk, do go to our website, lavgc.org, and see the presentation video to learn of non-chemical ways to deter or slow down the noxious weeds. Or at least to learn which ones are edible.

...during and after rains is a good time to check the drainage in your garden. Most plants, especially Mediterranean plants and succulents, don't like to sit in water and they will rot if they do. They don't mind the wet as long as it drains off pretty quickly. If you have an area that you just can't change, try planting things that don't mind wet feet or need that water regularly because they are probably getting a heavier soaking dose with your irrigation system too. The ideal thing is not to have the water runoff into the street but to collect the water on your property somehow and use it when we don't get rain. Of course there are barrels to collect rain off roofs and all sorts of collecting systems but even making a seasonal pond in a low spot will help the water soak into your underground water system so plant roots can use it in the drier months - especially trees. You want all the water that lands on your property to stay on your property for eventual use.

...if you haven't pruned your roses yet it is time to get at it. You can look at all the roses in Hansen Park that have been pruned to get an idea of how it should be done. But we are so lucky in this area because no matter what you do to your roses, even no pruning at all, they will probably bloom their little heads off in a couple months. But it does make for a more aesthetic looking bush in the long run if you shape it up now and force growth on shorter canes. And if you pick off the leaves and clean them up under the plant you will have less disease in the coming months. Tedious, but true.

...don't prune any spring blooming shrubs now or you will be cutting off the buds and blooms to come soon. Wait until after they bloom and then shape them up and keep them the size you want them to be. As they are blooming, you can cut branches to enjoy in the house as you prune them.

...if you have decorative grasses you can cut them to the ground now and they will have lush new growth in the spring. This is also true of many perennials that get lots of new growth each year like Shasta daisies. Cut it back to the ground early enough that new shoots have not started and then you don't have to pick and choose as you cut, you can just whack the whole thing off.

...camellias are starting to bloom (japonica camellias are already done in my garden) so be sure to pick up the spent blooms as they fall to prevent petal blight or cut blooming branches to use in the house or give to friends.

...cold weather might be on the way so be sure your plants are well watered before a predicted frost or freeze. Plants can take a lot colder weather if they are well hydrated. This does not apply to succulents. You probably don't have to water succulents at all during the winter. Really tender ones should be under the eaves or in your garage. Don't prune plants that are very tender like geraniums because the cold will get any new growth. Wait until March for pruning tender plants. Usually about mid-March is our last frost date.

...if cold weather does come and you can't get out to garden, it can be a great time to plan for the fair weather months ahead: what do you want to change in your garden? What do you want to add to it? What really isn't working and ought to be removed? What didn't turn out like you thought it would and can be potted up for the club plant sale? On a clear day go out with your notebook (you know you won't remember all of your ideas when you get back inside) and write down what's great and what's not. If you really want to get organized, make a chart of when you'll do each project and how long it might take.

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