Everything listed under: villager nursery

  • "Leave Trees"

    When Villager Nursery staff head-out into the woods to cut local native Christmas trees we are helping our forests. Our small commercial permit is based on years or doing-the-right-thing. Our mandate is to reduce fuels, improve tree density and to enhance the production of healthy "leave trees".

    Christmas Tree Cutting Specifications

    Road Conditions and Access
    In the event roads are extremely wet due to rain or snow, you will be required to drive on forest service roads while they are frozen, usually before 10:00AM. 

    Red Fir Removal (it’s all about the “leave trees”)
    When Red Fir (Silver-Tip) and White Fir are the only trees in a group of three trees, always leave at least one Red Fir in good health. If one of the trees is a Jeffrey Pine of good form the Red Fir may be removed. We must leave Jeffrey Pine and Red Fir as leave trees within the fuel break. Where Red Fir occur in clumps, leave trees on approximately 14ft x14ft spacing intervals. When you removing trees, the remaining healthy Red Fir should be no more than 14 feet apart. No Sugar Pine shall be cut. No Western White Pine shall be cut. Leave all conifers ≥ 8” d.b.h. (8 inch diameter at breast height or larger). Stump height of cut trees shall be less than 6 inches. Cut all limbs from the stump. 

    Selection Criteria for Leave Trees (the trees we leave to grow for timber)
    Select leave trees from healthy conifers that are free from disease and damage. Leave trees shall be taller and of good form (the best looking ones of the bunch). Selection of leave trees will be in the following order: 1. Sugar Pine, 2. Jeffrey Pine, 3. Red Fir, 4. White Fir. 

     Slash Treatment (the excess trunk and branches)
    ALL stumps shall be cut to 6” or less. Slash shall be lopped and scattered to a depth not to exceed 10 inches (less is better). Remove all branches from trunk, scatter branches and trunk.

  • Reserving your tree = happy children

    We are so happy to select and reserve your Christmas tree of any size and hold or deliver it to your condo, home, villa or castle. For wild-harvested Silvertip trees, we bring along our order list and cut trees to suit ("14 foot and narrow - Nemo" or "21 feet and open enough for candles - Sully", etc...).  It can be challenging for us to find your perfect tree but we love the task.  We offer "dense" and "open" Noble Fir from 5-11 feet tall. Special orders for trees 12-15 feet tall, made before the end of October, will be tagged in the high-elevation plantation a month before they are harvested. The trees are cut and delivered within 36 hours to our refrigerated climate in early December. Reserved trees are tagged as soon as they are delivered (the pick-of-the-litter) and kept in cold, deep shade. 

    Truckee, notoriously, runs short of quality (hydrated) cut Christmas trees in the last days before the holiday.  We actually sell most of our ~300 trees between the 19th and 22nd of December.  We try to have enough fresh trees but still occasionally run-out by the 22nd or 23rd as we did in 2012 (while 40 people picked-up their reserved trees the same days). We offered-up the ornament display tree in the store and the 18-footer out front on the 24th and were VERY sorry to not have enough for the families with small children who were so disappointed on Christmas Eve.

  • Happy Birthday Villager

    December 1, 1975 - December 1, 2013

    We have continued to grow and branch and flower and fruit and hedge and adapt in order to offer our clients an interesting, useful and beautiful selection of plant materials and products that insure your successes.  "We've killed thousands of plants, testing them in our own gardens, so our clients won't have to."

    Our Founder, Jeanette Harper and a partner finalized the purchase of the existing florist in the Gateway center 12/1/1975 and celebrated with Champagne in the office of the Gateway Motel with Roxie Arche and Azad McIver (Our current location is Azad's old home and dairy). 

    Eric showed-up in 1984 and Rob a couple of years after that.  Quite a few nurseries have come and gone in Truckee in 38 years. Some only lasted a season some for a decade or more.  We needed to move our nursery from Gateway to our current home in 1999. The reality is that Truckee is a ridiculous place to run a retail nursery. It seems that you have to be crazy. We also happen to be fanatical botanists and ecologists hell-bent on providing education and materials to local gardeners to show them that they CAN succeed in this harsh climate.

    We've thought that we could just offer the 20% of the plants that 80% of clients ask for and we'd be probably be profitable ... But what about the other 80% of really cool unique native and hardy plants that people SHOULD be using..? And what about that 20% of customers who LOVE natives or thrill at really cool, unique plants, bulbs and seeds from the far coldest corners and peaks around the globe?  It's more interesting the way we've been growing.  We are continually aware that we have YOU to thank for keeping us rooted in Truckee.  Thank You!

    Villager Nursery: helping mountain gardens thrive since 1975.  Experience you can trust / Information you can use.

  • "BIOSOL ! You can grow grass on a lift-tower with that stuff !"

    Biosol Forte Label.pdf

    Biosol MSDS.pdf

    Biosol Studies link

    BIOSOL

    Villager Nursery's FAVOITE fertilizer.  Biosol is our favorite winterizing fertilizer.  We use Biosol in the Villager Demonstration Gardens, and in all of our commercial and residential landscape projects.  Biosol helps Truckee Shrubs, Trees, Perennials and Bulbs thrive.  The Villager stocks Biosol year-round.  

    Biosol is an incredibly long-lasting fertilizer with amazing soil improving characteristics as well.  It is primarily cooked Penicillium that was cultured on and digested organic cottonseed and organic soybean meals.  It was essentially a waste product that was once used for aquaculture.  What it lacks in pleasant aroma (it lacks pleasant aroma) it more than makes up for in its amazing performance in ANY part of the garden.  

    Put Biosol on lawns in Fall.  Now.

    Biosol is an essential with any restoration, wildflower or lawn seeding.  Mix your grass and wildflower seeds with Biosol and Kellogg's Topper and broadcast just before we're expecting a huge snow.  So many folks over the years have said to us.."I know Biosol, we used to use it at (insert any ski area in the northern hemisphere here) and we swore you could grow grass on a lift tower with that stuff!"

  • Moonlight in Vermont

    In late September, I went to New England, piggy-backing, on my daughter Katrin's College Tour.  I was present and active in all the campus tours and meetings with nordic ski coaches.  I also found time every day to visit the college arboretums and local nurseries, to talk to botany professors, hike in research forests and take in the amazing spectacle of fall color in the Atlantic Northeast. Katrin and MB were patient and good sports. While buildings on some of the campus' were built in the 1700's, many of the trees we saw near them are much older than that.

    I have not been to the hardwood forests of the east since I was too young to tell the difference between a Shagbark Hickory and a Sassafras and I was awed by every aspect of what I experienced.

    The first day we found out that, unlike travel in the west, there are many ways to go from point A to point B.  If someone here wants to go to Reno they take I-80 or the very long way around over Mt. Rose.  In New England there might be 5 ways that all differ in travel time by 3-5 minutes.  We took the routes that looked most scenic (along a river or around a lake). 

    We toured UNH (where my grandfather was the football coach from 1941-1946) and we visited Annika T. (a superior local nordic skiier). We also toured Colby, Bowdoin, Middlebury, UVM, and St. Michael's. We drove through Dartmouth, Williams, Smith, UMASS, and Amhurst and had a personal tour of Vassar (thanks Jodi & Rick).

    We ate fresh lobster on the coast of Maine, had a beer on the veranda of the Mount Washington Lodge in the White Mountains of New Hampshire surrounded by glorious fall colors, drove through 6 covered bridges in one afternoon and watched a full moon rise over pastures and the Green Mountains of northern Vermont, we ate maple candy, hiked Smuggler's Notch and Crawford Notch, visited the Trapp Family Lodge, toured a well-known ice cream factory, saw lots of corn and cows, lots more fall colors, waterfalls, and diverse ecosystems borne of humidity and rain.  We had lunch at the CIA in Poughkeepsie, drove on the turnpike from Stockbridge toward Boston and "the Birkshires looked dreamlike" on account of the colors. 

    One nursery I visited in the Green Mountains told me they had "been having frost 2-3 days a week for several weeks" yet there were Angel's Trumpet (Brugmansia) and Impatiens in their landscape.  The protection humidity offers is incredible and the lack of humidity is perhaps our biggest challenge on the east side of the Sierras.

    In a town the size of Truckee there would be 5-6 cemeteries, another location of amazing trees (as well as grave markers from the 1600's).  The wild New England Asters were amazing in their diversity and display as were he 8 foot tall Jerusalem Artichokes.  I saw wild High-Bush Blueberries almost 10' tall and wide, wild Wintergreen and Low-Bush Blueberries.  We hiked under Paper Birch nearly 100' tall and over 2' dbh.  The largest Sycamore I've ever seen was in the center of Vassar.  There was lots of Virgina Creeper and Boston Ivy as well as ubiquitous and showy Poison Ivy.  The Ostrich Fern was golden through the forests where it spreads in solid stands.  Sumac often dominated the openings along the highways. Driving over the White and Green mountains we would almost become frustrated by the density of the forests and the lack of vistas.  In most places the forests are so thick, you would need a machete and chain saw to walk through them.

    I said to one Vermonter that everywhere I looked it was a postcard view.  She said she had been to Truckee and Tahoe and that "everywhere she looked it was a postcard view".  We ARE very fortunate to live in such a beautiful environment.

    Many of their most spectacular fall color plants thrive here in spite of our dry climate.  Serviceberry, Viburnum, Sumac, Blueberry, many of the Maples, Asters and Rudbeckias.  Flying home over the Wasatch Range in Utah, from 42,000ft, I could see mountainsides of SOLID crimson that I first thought were colored rock.  It was acres Rocky Mountain Bigtooth Maple (Acer grandinentatum). That was also amazing.  The unfortunate lady in the window seat next to me was very patient.

  • Back to School Specials!

    In late June, I put together a planter for Erica who is a 2nd year UCLA student and LOVES her school.  The sky-blue Salvia uliginosa was not quite in bloom but the light-blue lobelia and sunshine-gold Golden Fleece Dahlberg Daisy were bright enough.  This is only my second year using S. uliginosa, Bog Sage, in planters and I'm a fan!

     

    I'm working on finishing a Back-to-School / Labor Day newsletter - sending it out Wednesday to be good through Sept. 10.  I'm out-a-here, heading for the Playa.

  • Lake of the Sky Garden Tour 2012

    Lake of The Sky Garden Club Annual Garden Tour is on the North Shore of Lake Tahoe, from Tahoe City to Brockway.  It is ALWAYS worth my time.  Tickets are $25 per person with all the proceeds going to gardening education, beautification projects and a generous scholarship program.  Tickets usually sell-out a few days before the tour.  Tickets are available at Villager Nursery but call ahead (530.587.0771) to make sure there are still some to be had.

  • Truckee Spring - Mid-May

    Day-length pretty close to its maximum now, the soils continue to absorb the sun's radiation and the average temperatures are climbing.  May starts with an average low of 27°F and ends with an average low of 34°F.  Our night-time temps have been WAY above average for weeks an averages are just the mathematical numbers in the middle of the extremes of reality.  It will be nearly miraculous (or ominous) if we don't have more snow and a lot more frost.  That is not to deter gardening, God-knows I've been going at it since early April and am delighted at my gardens.  My comments are to remind you to be prepared to cover when the cold returns.

    We are having a HUGE sale on our pre-packaged 10x12' 1.5oz frost fabric (packaged by "easy gardener") reg. 15.99 on sale for 10.99 through Memorial Day.  It is great to use when transitioning plants from the house or shade to the outdoors as well.  I just leave it over the plants for a few days.  It is also important to have on hand in for fall cold when I often leave it over the garden for days or weeks at a time.  AND as a bonus... WE use it top protect ferns, hosta, rhubarb, thimbleberry and dogwood from HAIL!  it works great.  If hail is called for, I cover plants before leaving for work.


  • Dig.Drop.Done. Bulbs Demystified

    Fall is for Planting.  While Fall is the BEST time of year for planting trees and shrubs it is also the ONLY time of year to plant spring-flowering-bulbs. 

     

    I have ALWAYS been a fan of bulbs.  They are the simplest and most gratifying form of gardening, literally: Dig. Drop. Done.  Enjoy blooms in spring. "The flowering bulb is the little black dress of the flower world. It's one of the simple things that women can trust to make their lives beautiful. Flower bulbs are actually some of the most reliable and fail-proof blooms available."  Check-out the North American educational campaign, "Dig.Drop.Done".  "Books and websites are filled to the brim with numerous species, lengthy planting guides and tedious details on the ins and outs of gardening with bulbs. It's easy to infer that these plants must be time consuming and require a high level of gardening knowledge."

    Dig.Drop.Done brings to life how easy flowering bulbs really are. At the heart of the Dig.Drop.Done education is a clean, pared-down website that is easily navigable for the avid gardener and the first-time planter. The site is so simple, there is no need to know species names or soil conditions. Appreciating beauty is the only requirement.

    Check these out:  Bulbs 101  /  Meet the Ladies  /   Easy Bulbs Video  /  Dig.Drop.Done. Facebook


  • Extending Our Harvest Season

    Frost is imminent... an undeniable fact of Autumn but you do not have to yield your still producing or ripening vegetables to it.   We LOVE our 1.5 oz. Frost Protection Fabric, a medium weight, breathable, permeable, UV treated spunbonded polyester fabric designed to protect crop plants from freezing, drying and extreme temperatures. Usually referred to as Floating Row Cover, it creates a warmer microclimate by capturing heat of the the day - and then slowing the loss of stored heat at night so it raises minimum temperatures, without suffocating, crushing or burning plants the way plastic could.  If days are warm, it is better to remove the fabric during the day and to cover well before nightfall.  Its light density and permeability allow air, water and sunlight through so plants can flourish beneath it even if left on for weeks.  Remember: there is no such thing as cold, just less heat.  The trick is to collect the day's heat and trap it for the night.

     Protect tender flowers from the frequent the late frosts of spring. Even use it over apple trees and lilacs to save the buds (more). Use it in summer to protect plants from hail storms (leave it on for days if necessary).  Use it for flower boxes, vegetable gardens, row crops, fruit trees and flowering and fruiting shrubs (in a pinch, it can be used as filter fabric or a liner for moss baskets).

    In Autumn, your vegetable harvest time and blooming plant season can be extended by a month or more.  When it gets really cold, double up the layers and leave a string of C7 or C9 Christmas lights on around your plants at night.  We have been through dozens of brands and weights and have been delighted with the durability and effectiveness of the one we now use.  Our bulk rolls are 12' wide by 300' long but we sell any length.  Our pre-cut packages are 12' x 10'.

    1.) Drape over the plants to be protected.  Support with stakes over (not touching) the plants if hard frost is expected.

    2.) Remove when weather improves. In early spring and late fall, garden plants thrive under the row cover for weeks on end.  After use, store out of direct sunlight (we use clean / new garbage cans to store ours... keeps out sun, rain and rodents).

    BTW, there is evidence to show that fertilizing your plants with seaweed gives them an extra measure of frost resistance (as well as providing micronutrients, improving flavors, strengthening stems and cell walls, and helping plants fight insects and diseases).  Kelp Meal, Maxicrop, etc... can be used ANY time of year. It is usually my first feeding of the year and often my last as well... (besides the BIOSOL on the lawn in November).

  • Labor Day and Early September Mountain Gardening Notes

    September really is a time of scurrying around.  Before I had the immense pleasure of raising children, my wife and I would leave this beautiful place every fall for the Rockies.  I have had family in southwestern Colorado (Ouray) since the early 70's and I LOVE the Colorado flora.   We would try to go for two weeks.  One week in Ouray, relaxing by the lake, fishing, hiking, botanizing and gardening for my Nana; and one week exploring the Rocky mountains. We would be the only people in the entire campground, MANY times.  Moose would walk through our camp and grizzlies would be browsing for berries two hundred yards away. I collected LOTS of seed over the years. I came to absolutely love fall.  (that was a change: growing up as a passionate amateur naturalist and botanist, I had always loved spring, things rising from the dead but fall was depressing, everything was dying...of course it meant going back to school which may have had some impact on my emotional bent.)

    I still love fall.  I love going hiking when no one else is around.  I love collecting seed (many of the native plants we have in the nursery are from our seed collections).  I love the warm days and chilly nights.  I love the hardiest of perennials that continue to bloom into the fall, in spite of frosts or even snows.  AND I love fall colors.  I think the show of fall colors is more dramatic and can be longer lived than the explosions of spring.  I love the colors of stems and the structure of bare branches.  I love rose hips,  persistent crabapple fruit and pendulous branches loaded with mountain ash berries.

    In spite of the FACT that fall is the best time for planting in our short season and to wait until spring costs gardeners a year's worth of root system expansion, we are slower in the nursery and I am looking forward to getting out and hiking and biking several more times.  By all accounts, the wildflowers in the high country are just beginning to explode and many just won't have time to bloom out before it snows.

    So... In the Villager Nursery... we have an amazing assortment of plants that deliver late and spectacular fall colors like Rudbeckia laciniata, R. triloba, Heleneum, Phlox, Physostegia, Aster, Erigeron, Eupatorium, Sedum, Campanula, Aquilegia (you know our native columbine blooms for about 3 months!), Spiraea douglasii, Potentilla, Hemerocalis, Clematis, and even more...     Under appreciated fall colors from Dwarf Birch (already going dormant), Skunk Bush (looks JUST like poison oak), Mountain Maple and Twin-flowering Honeysuckle (both have etherial, ghostly cream fall color... incredible in dappled shade), Wild Roses (the flowers are a flash-in-the-pan but the fall colors, the showy hips and the cranberry red stems are beautiful)... and AH!  Birch-leaf Spiraea (a Cascade native - perfect mounding shape, crisp white flowers in early summer and fluorescent red-orange - like GLOWING - fall colors)  AND the Villager only carries the hardiest of bulbs, specializing in wildflower bulbs, naturalizing bulbs and bulbs that animals are repulsed by.


  • August Gardening News

    In This Issue...

    ·Top 10 Things to Do in August
    ·In the Shop·Mosquitoes and Hornets
    ·Mulch and Compost
    ·Gifts and Pottery
    ·Get Out & Enjoy
    ·Troubleshooting Tips
    ·The Easiest Perennials on the Planet!
    ·What's In Bloom Now...
    ·Upcoming Entertainment and Classes
    ·Garden Center Shop Hours

    ·Cart-Load Sale 25% Off all you can stack or balance on one cart.

  • Saturday, July 23, 9:30 - Free Mountain Gardening Class: Native and Historical Plants

    Mountain Native Plants, Historical Introductions and Wildflower Plantings
    When:  Sat, July 23, 9:30am – 11:00am

    Where:  Villager Nursery, 10678 Donner Pass Rd, Truckee, CA 96161 (map)

    Description:  Saturday, July 23, 9:30-11:00am- Mountain Native Plants, Historical Introductions and Wildflower Plantings – Learn to choose the best and easiest native plants for many situations.  Learn how to protect and enhance your existing native plant populations. Gather some seed collecting tips and ideas for wild berry jellies and jams.  Bring samples for identification after the class. We'll also cover a few of the historically important introduced species thriving in Truckee without care for more than a century.  Rob and Eric are your instructors for this one.  BTW - We HAVE the most outrageous selection of natives right now including Epilobium canum (Zauschnaria californica) from a Donner Summit seed source.  Thimbleberry from seed collected in a wild (and rare) patch of pink flowering Rubus parviflorus.  We have - about- 30 species of Penstemon, if you like showy, easy care, drought tolerant, flowers that are loved by hummingbirds.  AND Soooo much more!

  • Annual Free Planting Day Fun

    Thank You everyone who participated and huge thanks to our volunteer planters from Kellogg Garden and Gardner & Bloome - Mike and Giselle.

  • Hierloom

    Every day (that we actually have people walking into the Villager from the snow) someone will ask us where we keep our "Hierlooms" and I always give a different answer.  Without labeling them as antiques or relics, we focus on providing only (and all) the toughest, hardiest and most productive plants, seeds and bulbs that will thrive in our harsh climate and poor soils. We do offer hundreds of cool heirloom plants (trees, shrubs, perennials, annuals, vegetables and seeds)... we are avid, fun-loving gardeners and we relish anything unique but we also like improved, hardier, showier, and more vigorous new varieties as well.

    An “heirloom variety”, or “heirloom vegetable” is a cultivar (cultivated variety or selection) that was historically popular (for reasons of color, flavor, scent, habit, etc.), but which is not commonly grown in modern industrial agriculture or horticulture. Many heirloom varieties are open pollenated, some are hybrids, and many have been propagated over the years through grafts and cuttings (think: "great aunt Mildred's Christmas cactus that she brought over from the old country in 1855"). Growing heirloom vegetables in gardens is a hugely popular trend of recent years (I love 'Brandywine' tomatoes but cannot grow them without a greenhouse).  Many, many commercially grown varieties have excellent color, flavor, vigor and production but they are just not quite as old, fun or interesting as some of the heirlooms.


    Another example: only a handful of varieties (of the thousands) of potato are commercially grown. All the others are considered “heirlooms”.  Some old "fingerling" varieties are so widely produced now that they may no longer
    actually qualify as heirlooms!  (Eric's harvest 2009)

  • Unusual Aspen Breakage in Mountain Gardens

    Comments on the storm of 28-29 December 2010

    This storm came into Truckee and Tahoe with a cold front.  It then turned very wet and gradually piled up as the temperatures dropped.  I have seen more broken tops in quaking aspen (Populis tremuloides) than ever before (several dozen while driving in town).  There seems to be more damage at lower elevations, probably because it did not rain at the higher elevations so the snow was not as sticky.  Aspen has a tendency to grow rather quickly when we water and feed it but it is usually fairly flexible.  The trees that broke did not have unusually rapid growth, they were average, healthy trees.  I am guessing that we will see lots of evidence of breakage in wild local aspen as well.  We regularly see very disfigured and broken aspen in the canyons of the southern Sierra where we collect seeds of Villager Nursery's favorite, and indestructible, western river birch (Betula occidentalis var fontinalis). 

    I had been waiting to prune my broken Aspen until a little later.  Any time after mid March should be fine (earlier and there will likely be drying and die-back from the cut). Cut just above, and sloping away from, the next substantial lateral branch, below the break,  that can assume the role of leader.  Do not cut to a small branch if there is any choice.  By large I mean 1/2 - 2/3+ the diameter of the main trunk.  As long as you are at it, go ahead and prune any competing leaders back to large laterals as well, it's called "subordination"of potential competitors. If pruned properly, the tree should "recapitulate" a new leader.  

    Aspen do best with one strong trunk and one stout and dominant leader.  The narrow, pyramidal form that young deciduous trees and most coniferous evergreens exhibit is called "excurrent growth". I find pruning for excurrent growth is relatively simple to visualize and practice.   Our first class of spring is usually, "Resurrection" after the ravages of winter.

    html: http://bit.ly/idtSMr

    iCal: http://bit.ly/hjGBTc

    xml: http://bit.ly/hiE7U5


  • Fall Color Walk Saturday

    Fall Color Walk - On October 2 , Saturday from 10-11:30, we led a Fall Color Walk, a leisurely stroll, through Brickletown and Downtown discussing the trees, shrubs and perennials with the best fall displays. We walk from the nursery and back ~1mi. roundtrip. ALSO - The Villager Nursery received a truck load of native and ornamental trees, shrubs and hardy perennials last Friday including MANY for fall color (like the Amelanchier - Serviceberry in this pic.).  We have another truck-load arriving on Wednesday full of fresh aspen and much more.  Come by and see... and don't forget, please...   FALL IS FOR PLANTING.  You have everything to gain.

  • Truckee's Gardening Season


    I saw a beautiful rainbow today.  A neighbor and friend stopped by while I was hedging my Amur Maples and said "drive down to the end of the street and look!"

    It was a nice summer rain.  Made me want to expand on Truckee's Gardening and Growing Seasons.

    At the beginning of the year it is winter.  January gardening entails paperwhite bulbs and amarylis bulbs and some houseplants.  I do check-out the plants on exposed rocky ridges while skiing and marvel at the toughness of Heuchera, Artemisia and Eriogonum.


    February keeps us busy trying to force bulbs for Valentines Day.  On our south facing rock wall, we have had Crocus bloom by late February and be covered with snow and be still blooming when it melts out a couple of weeks later.  After several months of a warm blanket of snow, the earth warms-up and thaws out the frozen soils that we see in late fall.  I'll often pick-up some hardy bedding plants off the hill somewhere and plant up a flower box to show how tough pants are.  Dianthus, Calendula, Viola, Stock, Pansy, and English Primula can all take temperatures in the low teens.

    The first Tuesday in March is THE day to start tomato and pepper seeds indoor so they'll be big enough to put out in mid-May.  Lots of Crocus and rock-garden Narcissus bloom in sunny spots in March.  In low snow years, I have planted many trees, shrubs and perennials in March to take advantage of pre-leaf root growth.  Pulsatilla Anemone usually blooms late in the month.  The first time YOU see bare Earth in spring is a great time to spread wildflower seeds.

    April is frequently a gardening month.  April 1st is THE day to plant sweet pea seeds outdoor.  I usually try to plant spinach, chard, lettuce, carrot, beet (and more) seeds my mid April (This year some just rotted but warm weather usually arrives before mid June).  I also plant starts of spinach, lettuce, chard, onion, hardy herbs and hardy edible flowers like Dianthus, Calendula and Viola.

     May-June-July are the basic spring - early summer gardening months, everything comes into bloom, the days are long and we get frost here and there.  More plants bloom this time of year so they;ll have time to make seeds and store energy later on.  Our "Average Last Date of Frost", according to NOAA is July 15.  Our "Average First Date of Frost" is August 15.  So August 1 is dead-center, the middle of our season.

    August - September - October are a mirror of July-June-May and are the bulk of the late summer - fall gardening season.  The days are shorter but the soil is much warmer than in spring. It is of course the best time to get out and enjoy the mountains and lakes, to collect seed and to plant for next spring.  We are ALWAYS planting for "next year".  Plants only look their best when they've had a winter in the ground and can rise with our natural spring weather.  When we plant in the fall we don't have to wait as long for "next year" as we do when we plant in May.

    November often has beautiful days (who am I kidding? These are the Sierras; we get beautiful sunny days all winter as well). Autumn Crocus and Autumn Monkshood are often still blooming as are a few Asters and the tallest Rudbeckias.  Planting bulbs before the soil begins to form a frozen crust is a good idea.  As the sun drops lower in the sky and the days get really short, shady spots are the first to stay frozen.  Ecology books speak of the "Autumnal Thermal Overturn" when the air temperature stays colder than the soil temperature.  Though it can be hard on some plants, we hope for a good deep frost before the snows come because it is particularly hard on the rodents.  "If ice skating is good the voles won't be as bad next spring".  Deep in the soil the earth is consistantly warm ad once the blanket of insulating snow covers it, the soil begins to thaw.  Wildflower seeding on top of the first 3" of snow is a technique that has worked very well for many.

    Remember that most deciduous trees and shrubs put on the majority of their annual root system expansion in fall, AFTER they lose their leaves.  The secondary root push occurs in early spring, before the leaves emerge and before most folks get out and plant.

    So - were just into the second half of the gardening season with a few months left until winter.



  • Getting Out: Hiking, Botanizing.

    I wind up working quite a bit.  I love my work and usually don't mind really.  Two of my "fun" days this summer were climbing peaks and checking out the alpine vegetation...  (pictures to follow).  

    I grew-up in Pollock Pines in the 1970's  We moved there from the peninsula when I was in 5th grade - I thought I'd died and gone to heaven... snakes, frogs, trees to climb, creeks, rocky rivers, etc...  We had an ecosystem / arboretum behind Pinewood school and teachers who loved the woods (two were back-country forest rangers out of Wrights Lake).  

    Desolation Wilderness was my old "stompin' ground". Soooo... I begged to go when my daughters' nordic comp-team said they were hiking Pyramid Peak.  We piled in the vans for a fun ride over and hit the trail at Horsetail Falls.  The pace was quick but I wasn't dead last.  The falls were raging as we picked our way up the west side.  Penstemon and Spiraea were in bloom.  The highlights of the hike were the hanging gardens on some of the cliffs with clear water sheeting off clean salt and pepper granite and flowing around little islands of luch vegetation before disappearing over the next ledge.  And, the final pitch up a boulder field to an amazing view from the peak.

    Then those crazy people RAN down the south side.  I wanted to stop every few seconds to take pictures of the wildflowers, but the team would have been gone!  The Phlox and Polemonium were is full bloom.

    The other hike was late in the season up Mt. Rose for the first time.  I was in awe of the huge diversity of plants in the rocks near the top.  I suppose it is a true fellfield, an alpine tundra.  If you've never been, I suggest you make the effort.  It is not a hard hike but if you try to run near the top, you can feel the altitude.   The cascade waterfall halfway up is a nice spot to rest and there are lupine there over 6'tall.

  • Prune Your Mugo Pine

    My wife and I spent 5 months riding around New Zealand in the late 80's pre-kids, pre-marriage...on our bicycles.  During a memorable one-day backcountry ride (that took 3 grueling days) through mountainous sheep country, we were told to look out for "woolies".  These were sheep-gone-feral that hadn't been herded in for shearing in some time.  

    Mugo pines that have missed their regular shearing remind me of "Woolies".  Pinus mugo, Mountain Pine is a high-elevation pine native to European mountain ranges (Alps, Apenines, Carpathians, Pyrenees...).  The subspecies Pinus mugo ssp. mugo is usually a multi-stemmed small tree or shrub up to 15' tall.  It appears very much like our native lodgepole pine in color, needle fascicles, and cones. There are selections from individuals, propagated by grafting, that can maintain a smaller and more dense habit.  Many are grown from seed and habit and eventual height is variable.

    Windswept and frost pruned "krumholze" lodgepole pines can be found on high Sierra ridges. They are artistic, dense and beautiful. To achieve the same look on your landscape Mugo Pines you need to prune. All the new growth (candles) are sheared back or broken-off, about halfway, for a dense and sturdy growth habit.  Once they have been allowed to go "feral", un-sheard for several years, it is very difficult to prune back into a dense shrub.

      


    The candles in the picture above are ready to be broken off.  It took me about 2 minutes to do all of them by hand, leaving some longer than others to accentuate irregularity or all evenly to achieve perfection.  It is extremely easy, don't be affraid.  If you miss a year or two here or there don't worry too much. It can be left unpruned and it may grow into a nice shrub but the open "woolies" are more susceptible to snow breakage and their ultimate size is often unpredictable.

    The reason we prune the candles is because it is easy, the lateral buds have not completely formed yet and the wounds seal flawlessly.  You can use the same technique to prune branches and tips on other pines and on spruce.

    This is a stunted white pine near Bishop, CA

  • Voles in Mountain Gardens

    "Hi Eric- Just a quick question regarding those nasty voles that played havoc on a lot of our neighbors grass this year. I was nominated to email you from our homeowners association and ask what is the best procedure to use in getting the grass back to its original state. Should you rake the dead grass? Is there something to use to prevent this in the future? Any information you can give us would be appreciated.  Thanks" April 2010.  ...from our friend Susan.  She's the 5,343rd person to ask those questions this spring and there are many who ask every year.

    This will require more than a brief blog can cover so I'll put up a lawn-care info sheet in the next day or two.  (see reference).  Voles are not moles.  Moles eat insects.  Voles are not mice but they are called meadow-mice.  They look like hamsters or small gophers and are as destructive and far more numerous.Vole

    Voles are meat.  (Microtus montanus-Mountain Vole / Microtus longicaudus - long-tailed vole / Lemmiscus curtatus - Sagebrush Vole).  (See also lemmings) The role of a vole in the ecosystem  is to convert plant material into meat.  Every native and non-native carnivore in our forests, fields and skies eats voles.  Owls, hawks, ravens, eagles, herons, gulls, snakes, martins, weasels, badgers, foxes, bobcats, mountain lions, coyotes, and many more I'm sure, all eat voles. 

    Voles spend much of their summers in tidy runways through tall grasses, often near water but they are present everywhere. They are fast diggers and burrow underground but are happy to use tunnels left by moles, gophers or ground squirrels.  Voles love the condominium-like dwellings created in man-made rock walls.  The females mature to produce more voles in less than a month, up to three times a year and they have 4-8 pups in every litter.  They have the "highest reproductive potential" of any mammal. These two sites have loads of useful information:  U.C. Davis I.P.M.  or   Cornell / Clemson et. al The Internet Center for Wildlife Damage Management  Voles experience wide population fluctuations depending on predators and weather.

    Voles will eat just about any plant material, leaves, bark and roots. In winter, voles thrive, unmolested, in the subnivean environment (the world under the snow).  The longer the snow-cover the more they eat (we always say that when ice skating is good voles suffer). Under cover, voles burrow with ease through the granular snow at the soil surface.  They eat lawn grasses, perennials, bulbs, and the trunks of shrubs and trees when they bump into them.  Roses are a favorite food.  When our snows melt, the old tunnels, packed with vegetation become apparent.  maple, manzanita, rose

    There's not much you can do for a woody plant or perennial that's had it's roots eaten but lawns usually recover well.  Most of our parks and golf courses have voles, probably millions of them.  I'm not sure but several tens of thousands per acre would not surprise me at all.  (at some locations in Nevada, populations have been estimated as high as 25,000 voles/acre)

    The beauty of lawn as a ground cover is that it is durable and resilient. Bluegrass is, by far, the most aggressive weed we have.  It will spread underground during winter.  Voles USUALLY clip the grass very short without killing it so most of the time lawns recover from vole damage to look great by mid-May. We rake off the dead grass and pine needles so the lawn can see light and receive air, we top-dress with dark finished compost to absorb warmth, hold a little moisture and nutrition (Kellogg's Topper) and we give it a little water when it needs it.  As soon as you put down Topper, the lawn looks great.  The dark brown layer of mulch contrasts with the emerging green grass and you will FEEL better.  If there are spots that don't seem to be recovering by mid-May or within a couple of weeks after snow-melt, then go ahead and mix a little 80/20 lawn seed with Topper and Dr.Earth lawn food to sprinkle in those areas.  In the warmer days of May the perennial rye seed will germinate quickly while the bluegrass seed takes its time.

    I often put smoke bombs down the open vole holes before filling them with sandy topsoil.  Mousetraps beneith a piece of plywood over bricks and above their holes, baited with peanut butter has worked well.  The most effective trapping technique we've seen uses a bit of rain-gutter and mouse traps (Vole Trapping). Aeration of laws in late fall may be a deterrent.  The ONLY large-scale success I've seen in repelling voles from lawns is using  Biosol organic fertilizer in late fall.  Biosol is labeled as an organic fertilizer for every imaginable manner of crop, landscape and restoration work.  It is not a repellant. Ask any ski area revegetation specialist and he'll tell you that "you can grow grass on a lift-tower with Biosol".  For some reason, about eight of ten clients who use it according to the label have a significant reduction in vole damage.  And even when there is significant vole damage, lawns with a fall application of Biosol recover very quickly.  

    We had more plants eaten by voles and rabbits this past winter than we've ever had before.  Plants that we've always thought of as "immune" to voles were devoured.  I've got to run outside now to rake up a few more piles of grass and pine needles before the next set of snow storms.   Spring will be here eventually.

  • Start Tomato Seeds Indoor in March

    (03/2010) March is counted as one of our winter months. March also happens to have the most beautiful sunny spring-like days. Rob likes to quote a famous VanDyke who said that "The first spring day and the first day of spring are often months apart".  We may have beautiful spring days for the equinox but frost-free days are a long-way-off.

    For years, just before Valentines day, I planted violas, dianthus, calendula, pansys, vinca, primrose and stock in a flower box outside the nursery.  Those plants always thrive, no matter how cold it gets.

    The first Tuesday in March is Vermont's Town Meeting Day. According to Lewis Hill (Cold Climate Gardening), it is also the traditional day to start Tomato and Pepper seeds inside in northernVermont (their climate is similar to ours in many ways).  We have used mid-March as our seeding time for decades with great success.   I heard recently that said Tomatoes are the "gateway drug" to vegetable gardening.  We all grow tomatoes here (in containers) with great success (and frost protecting cloth).  It's not THAT hard.  Our goal at the Villager is, and has always been, to share our passion for gardening and to see our clients and friends SUCCEED in this avocation we love so much.  

    We offer several vegetable gardening classes at the Nursery each spring; check the calendar page. It should be updated by mid March with this year's schedule.  

Contact Villager

Villager Nursery, Inc
10678 Donner Pass Road, Truckee, CA 96161-4834
Central Truckee, exit 186 off I-80
(530) 587-0771
www.villagernursery.com
info@villagernursery

Founded 1975, Incorporated 1990

California Nursery License 1975
No. C 3976.001, Co.29CA
Contractors License 1977
No. 413907-C27 LS
ISA Certified Arborist: Eric Larusson
No. WE-7983A

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