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GARDENING TIPS FOR SONOMA COUNTY




See Past Gardening Tips Here

 

2014 Gardening Tips
October Planning your Garden
plus Gardening Tips for October
September Things to Consider When you Want to Plant a Tree
plus Gardening Tips for September
August Watch out for Wasps while Gardening
July It’s not too Late to Plant Sunflowers
plus Gardening Tips
June Irrigation - Do it Yourself or Hire Out
plus Gardening Tips
May

Know your Foe
plus Gardening Tips

April Have you Checked your Fencing?
plus What to Plant
March Weeding takes Top Priority this Month
plus What to Plant
February Buy Summer Flowering Blubs Mow
plus What to Plant
January Rose Pruning, Sweet Peas and More
plus What to Plant


2014 Gardening Tips

OCTOBER 2014 (recycled from October 2011)

PLANNING YOUR GARDEN

In many ways, gardening is like shopping for clothes. For instance, do you ever want to buy a new swimsuit in September (when it’s really hot here in Sonoma County) but realize that swimsuits were in the stores beginning way back in the cold of April? By the time you think of getting the suit, if you can find a store that has suits, the choices are dismal. Stores stock most of their clothes for the next season not for the current season. This is why, when you’re cold in February it’s hard to find a turtleneck sweater because the stores are stocking spring dresses!

The same thing can happen with gardening in Sonoma County; when it’s hot in September it’s time to prepare for the winter vegetable garden and replace summer flowering annuals, like cosmos and zinnias, with winter flowering annuals, like pansies and Iceland poppies. The winter annuals can get a good head start on growing their roots while the soil still holds the warmth from summer weather.

Trees, shrubs and natives can go in at this time of year too so that the winter rains can help the roots grow in the nice moist soil! All that’s needed is to keep the new plantings watered until the rains arrive in earnest and then, for months, there’s no need to think about watering unless there is a dry spell. By November, it’s time to think about what fruits and roses to buy at the beginning of bareroot season in January before the selection dwindles down to nothing. Unlike the end of season sales at clothing stores, bareroot season is like a ‘reverse sale’ buying bareroot saves money; one would pay several times more later in the season for the same plant that is potted up and sold in a container.

Bulbs are another project that helps if you plan ahead. Bulbs that will be planted in fall can and (for best selection) should be ordered early in the summer months; most mail order companies will then ship at the right time of year for the bulbs to be planted. The same holds true for other bulbs; spring planted, summer blooming bulbs are ordered in fall. Paying attention to what bulbs are coming in at the local nurseries will pay off with the best selection; purchase the bulbs early and keep them dry and cool for planting out when the time is right.

Another way that gardening is like clothes shopping is when it comes to design. Whether one is putting together an outfit or a garden the principles of good design are the same. Would you ever wear all your jewelry at one time? Then why put out every single garden art piece you own in one area of your garden? Like a special necklace on a solid colored background, a single focal point plant backed by a mass planting of a single, low growing species can be very calming for a meditative garden. On the flip side, wearing a bright colored dress of oranges and yellows with solid taupe shoes and belt would be like having the almost confetti like colors of flowers in the English style garden grounded by some large pots of a solid color placed where the eye can rest. Of course, you can just have fun in your garden design like the newest fad in clothing and then switch out the design the next planting season if you want something more classic.

October
2011 Tips

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  • Do you feel like getting out in your garden this month and pruning everything? Many plants need to be left alone at this time of year and not be asked to produce lots of new growth from fresh pruning cuts. Your energy would be better used by pulling weeds and mulching your garden. When you would like help learning which plants to prune and which plants to leave alone contact Mary for a consultation.
  • Buy wildflower seeds now! For best selection shop now and save the seeds to plant out once the rains have moistened the soil.
  • If you would like to add some autumn interest to your garden, shop now for trees and shrubs while they are showing their rich reds, oranges and yellows.
  • Containers can now be planted with lots of winter interest plants. There’s no reason to look outside this winter and see only dried up or dormant plants when pansies, Iceland poppies, cyclamen and primroses can be looking back at you instead.
  • Some perennial weeds like Bermuda grass are going dormant now but once the rains come winter annual weeds will start popping up! If you plan to plant wildflower seeds spend some time weeding the planting area first. For best results, weed the area, water to germinate more of the weed seeds, weed again and then plant your wildflower seeds. Better yet, weed now and then wait for the rains to germinate the annual weed seeds and then weed again before planting. At the Demo Garden Mary sows wildflower seeds in November.
  • Many local nurseries are having their fall sales. You can find some great plants for up to 40% off the regular price. If you have hard, dry soil in your garden make it easy on you, the soil and your new tree or shrub by keeping the plant in the container until the rains have moistened the soil enough to be easily workable. Remember to keep the container plant watered. If you would like to learn more about how, when and what to plant contact Mary.
  • It’s not you. If your Mandevilla vine, Lantana, Bougainvillea, Pennisetum setaceum ‘Rubrum’ (purple fountain grass) do not survive our Sonoma County winter; these are all frost tender plants. In general Sonoma County gardens can experience frost days from Halloween (October 30) to tax day (April 15). In the Demo Garden we have frost into the beginning of May each year.
  • For more October tips view the archives.

Planting Suggestions for October

  • Bulbs: Freesia, Anemone, Alliums, Ranunculus (and all spring flowering bulbs)
  • Container Plants: Asparagus ‘Meyeri’, Cyclamen, Pansies, Satureja douglassii (Yerba Buena-good for spilling over rim of container), flowering cabbage, Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’ (Black Mondo Grass), Sedum ‘Angelina’
  • Ground Cover: Rubus rolfei, Veronica umbrosa ‘Georgia Blue’, Sedum ‘Angelina’