August Gardening Newsletter
In This Issue...
Summer finally arrived! When the snow finally melted, all the plants began to bloom at the same time making-up for lost time. Now we can see the “red-shift” in the daylight that makes us feel like fall is around the corner. Fall color can be triggered by warm soil, drought, short days or frost.
Here’s what we can do to keep plants actively growing and help them make the most of this short season:
1.Feed your plants! A lot of perennials and vegetables are tired looking from the August sun, but they’re actively growing now and need a boost. Try Dr.Earth All Purpose fertilizer or Biosol (or a combination of the two is best). Dr.Earth Supernatural Lawn now if your turf is less than lush. Gardner & Bloome Cottonseed meal for continuously flowering shrubs like Roses and Potentilla, Butterfly Bush and Russian Sage.
2.Replant lettuce, arugula and cilantro as you harvest them. There is still time to plant seeds for another crop as you make space in the garden. (More starts are arriving soon).
3.Plant perennials now for late summer and fall color, year after year. Aster Summer Phlox, Echinacea, Rudbeckia (several species), Coreopsis, Achillea, Veronica, Veronicastrum, Obedient Plant are favorites.
4.When mowing your lawn, leave grass 3”-4” high and mow in different directions each time. Longer grass blades keep the soil cooler and promote deeper (more drought tolerant) roots, healthier soil, fewer weeds and better color.
5.Water in the morning. If you need 30 minutes to water your garden, try setting your sprinkler to come on for 10 minutes, three times in the morning, i.e. 6AM, 8AM and 10AM. This allows the water to moisten the soil and penetrate deeper with each successive sprinkling. DO NOT water at 6AM, Noon and 4PM as this will evaporate between waterings and encourage weak shallow roots. One exception is that during hot weather, a brief (3 minutes or so) watering in mid afternoon cools the grass and increases humidity around the plants so that there may actually be more water saved than used.
6.Plant perennial, biennial and hardy annual wildflowers at the end of the month or in mid-September so you’ll have seedlings to go through winter and a huge jump on next summer’s growth. Wallflower, Penstemon, CA Poppy, Sweet William, Rudbeckia and more. (Don’t forget the incredible advantage of planting hardy wildflower bulbs in your wildflower gardens: they will bloom next spring and summer and will return for many years to come!)
7.Prune your hedges: Amur Maple, Serviceberry, Hedge Maple, Dogwood, Hawthorne, Willow and Currant should all receive one more hedging if you are growing a screen or hedge. Lilac, Viburnum and Spiraea are best pruned right after flowering but now is fine if you don’t mind losing some of next year’s blooms. Don’t prune any of these past the middle of September as you won’t want to promote new growth late in the season and fresh cuts need time to seal before winter.
8.Plant flowering and fruiting trees and shrubs that add long-term beauty to your home. Shade trees and wind screening shrubs reduce energy costs as well.
9.Sprinkle a bit of lime around Lilacs, Peonies, Delphinium and also tomatoes (to prevent blossom-end rot) and increase your fruit set with Tomato Blossom Spray.
10.Pick up a Cart-Load of plants at the Villager this weekend August 20-21 during the Cart-Load SALE.
Late summer is housecleaning time so we will be having a number of in store specials and clearance areas set up this month and into September - it’s a great time for green thumb bargain hunters! The orphanage has (and will soon have more) real deals. Late summer perennials are hot right now and it’s a great time to get them in and growing before winter.
There is a general sense of urgency in this late-starting season. Folks have been planting veggies and instant color more than anything else. I’ve heard people say “Invest in Color”, which many interpret as “do what feels good”. I love my vegetables and annual color but I deeply appreciate the constancy and reliability of my perennials, trees and shrubs. They may not flower all the time, but they return and improve every year and give me satisfaction. It seems like investing in the future promotes a healthier attitude in these, apparently, uncertain times.
That said, we still have a large selection of colorful annuals that provide color now through frost, and more late season annuals such as violas, pansies, mums, asters, snapdragons, stock, that love the frost, will soon be ready. To help veggie gardeners make up for lost time we have BigBloom and Maxsea fertilizers. We also have fresh perennial herbs still arriving as well as lettuce, spinach, and kale for a head start on late summer gardens.
Fresh ladybugs just flew in and are ready to help you take on your aphid populations and we’ve also just received a new shipment of pruning tools for your late summer puttering..
Mosquitoes are still out there and seem to be even more abundant than earlier. If you have a still pond, or bird-baths, pop in a Mosquito Dunk (BTi) to help prevent future swarms. Yellow Jackets (knock-on-wood) have not been bad this summer but they are usually a late summer annoyance and late summer this year will be fall. We have very effective attractants and traps if you start to see them around.
You can use compost as mulch but don’t use mulch as compost. Compost is organic material that’s been “composted” and aerated and broken down by composting microbes into humus, mineralized organic matter. We use compost in the soil when we are planting to improve the soil biology, hold moisture and nutrients and improve on the aeration and structure of the native silt. NEVER use un-composted bark or wood IN the soil, it creates huge problems that can take years for your plants to overcome. Mulch is loose material organic or inorganic that allows air and water through but shades and insulates the soil surface from heat and cold and from wind and sun. Mulching is the simplest task you can undertake that makes the biggest impact on the health, vigor and beauty of your garden. “NO BARE SOIL” is our credo. A hot dry spot 10 feet from your plants is wicking away moisture from your plants. We prefer organic mulches that break-down over time and feed the soil while protecting it.
Kelligg’s Gromulch is our favorite compost mulch. It is composted fully so you can use it in the soil when planting but coarse enough to provide the excellent insulation of a good mulch. Our 2cf bags of Gromulch (and sister composts: Amend, Topper and Bumper Crop) are on special at Buy 4 and get a 5th one FREE.
Mini-Mulch is a beautiful small size tumbled bark that is very dark brown, can be raked to clean-out pine needles and provides superior soil protection while slowly breaking down to feed the soil.
Be sure to browse our extensive selection of giftware and home décor treasures, ideal for special occasions, hostess and wedding gifts.
The girls have been shopping again and we have quite a few new vases and pots as well as some really unique treasures. There is a lot of really nice metal, wood, stone, glass, feather and felt gifts and ornaments arriving in the next couple of months and for the holidays. Everything they’re bringing in is REAL, solid and lovely.
Explore your own backyard this summer! We offer several wiildflower guides and botanical books for you to take out and learn about the amazing, tough and beautiful native plants. The wildflowers in high country are absolutely GOING OFF right now. Get out there! The snow is still melting and many wildflowers are yet to emerge. We have always had an excellent (the best) selection of Sierra native plants (along with many Great Basin and Rocky Mountain natives). This year we have more than ever! Not always the showiest plants in a garden but certainly very COOL!.
Folks always call us with their mountain gardening questions (because we know the answers). As we enter late summer here are some of the recent FAQs (and answers):
FAQ: I have little brown caterpillars all over my plants and nasty clusters of them on the ends of branches - how can I get rid of them?
ANSWER: More of a problem on the east side of Truckee, Tent Caterpillar season is here. Apply Safers BTk (organic). BTk is a living bacteria that caterpillars consume (so you don’t have to hunt for them.). Spray at twilight when they come out to feed.
FAQ: There are aphids everywhere… what do I do?
ANSWER: The first thing to do is to give the plant a good, strong overhead water. Failing this, you can apply Safers Insecticidal Soap or go the really organic route and introduce ladybugs to the garden (we have them in stock).
FAQ: Powdery mildew is showing up on my lawn and Bee Balm. What do I do?
ANSWER: Make sure you water in the morning and allow plants to dry out a little between waterings. Remove affected foliage if possible and spray with Serenade (another Bacteria, but this one eats powdery mildew).
FAQ: With all the snow we had this winter and spring, do I need to water?
ANSWER: Yes! Water landscape plants deeply and infrequently (drip systems are great for this). Recent plantings need more water and older plantings need less. Even native plants can benefit from occasional “simulated thundershowers” that you can offer them.
Colchicum autumnale 'Lilac Wonder', Autumn Crocus are arriving any day and what stunning bulbs they are! Planted in late August and flowering in October, Colchicums bear gorgeous crocus-like blooms on slender stems. White and pink-toned varieties are available. Foliage appears in spring. They are wonderful naturalizers and are very impressive as mass plantings and nothing eats them. You can also let them bloom indoors before planting them this fall.
We will soon receive the first of our fall bulbs, including our amazing selection of hardy and animal proof Narcissus (the genus of Daffodil). We’ll have various Narcissus varieties that can bloom from February to some that bloom in June!
Wildflower bulbs, some native to the Sierras, the Cascades and some native to the Alps, the Caucuses, and some native to Siberia are usually available for your garden. Most, if not all, are resistant to being eaten by voles or gophers, they are reliable, hardy, colorful and spreading. Plant them before, at the same time as or in with your wildflower seeded gardens. Plant them in your native areas as well to add a little spring and summer interest!
There are a few hardy bulbs that are labeled “Late Spring Blooming” that flower in July and August in Truckee and Tahoe:
Allium christophii, Star of Persia produces 6-10" balls of silvery purple, star shaped flowers on 1-2 foot stems. Even though it blooms in late June, the flower bracts and stem are long lasting and appear to be blooming until winter snows bring them down.
Allium ostrowskianum is a bright pink ornamental onion that looks very similar to our own wild species. It grows and spreads in a sunny or partial shade garden, gets about 5” tall and explodes with color from early to mid July depending on the season...this year they bloomed in late July in the Villager’s demonstration garden.
Allium moly is another wildflower-like ornamental onion, similar in size and shape but usually blooms right after Allium ostrowskianum.
Allium azureum, Ornamental Onion-Blue Globe, has 1-1 1/2" globes of star-shaped stunning sky blue flowers atop 12” straight leafless stems. As cut flowers, they are long lasting and lightly fragrant. This beauty blooms in late July.
Allium sphaerocephalon, Drumstick Allium, Has egg-shaped clusters of reddish purple flowers. Useful for naturalizing in lightly shaded woodland gardens and borders. Excellent for use as a cut or dried flower. Mine bloom in mid-August. With ornamental grasses they make one think the grass is blooming.
Triteleia laxa 'Rudy' and ‘White Queen”, Ornamental Brodiaea are selections of a native wildflower that blooms in April in the foothills and in August in our mountain gardens. Ours have performed amazingly and are increasing in number every year. Excellent for floral decoration and extremely long lasting when cut.
Besides a few late blooming bulbs, some plants in their prime this month include Ligularia, Crocosmia (a bulb too), Monkey Flowers (Pink and Red), Echinacea, Ornamental Grasses, Rudbeckias (especially ‘Goldsturm’ and R. laciniata!, Roses, Potentilla, re-blooming Daylilies, Gaillardia, Sweet William, Native and Golden Columbine, Sunflowers, Nasturtiums, Monkshood, Delphinium, Italian Hybrid Clematis viticella and Golden Bells C. tangutica, Cimicifuga ‘the Pearl’ and the fragrant black stem cultivars, Siberian Catmint, Agastache, Sedums of all kinds, Fleabane Erigerons (early blooming wild-type asters), Shasta Daisies, and much more to come...
August 20 - Saturday 9:30 -11:00 am: High Sierra Planting Techniques - Specific for our climate and soils or “Planting by the Experts”. We'll teach you the methods which our decades of experience and hard earned knowledge have proven to work best in this climate and in these soils. We'll discuss the options and field your questions. These are local, proven techniques you will not learn in any book.
August 31 - Truckee Music in the Park - Fearless Chicken - Come dance with some Villager Peeps.
September 13 - Tuesday, 6:00-9:00 pm: Fall Mountain Gardening--Appreciation of Fall Colors - Are you yearning to have a garden that celebrates the beauty and richness of fall colors? Join us for this informative workshop that will provide you with ways to create a showy fall garden. Learn how to select plants that will thrive in your garden and what to avoid. Many of the gardening activities you perform now will dictate how beautiful your garden will be in the spring. We’ll cover fool-proof bulbs, which trees, shrubs, and perennials have the most colorful leaves, persistent berries or super late blooms. We’ll also discuss winterization. This class is at Sierra College Truckee Campus and requires pre-registration.
September 24 - Saturday, 10:00-11:30 am: Fall Colors for Your Garden – See the trees, shrubs, and perennials with the most colorful leaves, persistent berries or super-late blooms. We'll cover the chemistry and the natural artistry of a showy fall garden. Fall can be our longest season of color.
October 1 - Saturday, 10-11:30 am: Fall Gardening - October is a time to plant, transplant and divide trees, shrubs, bulbs and perennials. Collect seed, propagate cuttings, fertilize, mulch, prepare soil and prepare new beds. There is a lot to do to ready the garden for next year's growth. Deciduous trees and shrubs put on as much as 80% of their annual expansive root growth in the fall, after they lose their leaves. Fall IS for planting.
Monday to Friday.... 9:00am-5:30pm
Sundays and Holidays.... 10am-5:00pm
Saturday and Sunday Only - August 20-21
This was a hoot when we did this last year... People were very clever in the way they stacked the plants and some of the carts were downright dangerous. These are the 3-wheel carts only. [top]