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Gail's Gardens - November 2015


Gail's Gardens - November 2015

by Gail Fanning

Fall Yard Care

Fall means falling leaves: don’t let yours go to waste!  Leaves are a wonderful addition to the garden in compost, or added directly to the garden beds as a mulch.  If you have large leaves like sycamore, you can run over them with the lawn mower before raking: then they can go directly into garden beds or the compost pile.  If you are not making your own compost yet, I saw a great, simple idea on the Sunset website.  Use about 4 feet of chicken wire to make a circular cage: dump your leaves or other garden waste in, water, cover with old carpet or cardboard, and leave to rot for a year: remove the chicken wire and you will find finished compost ready to put on your garden!  The wire cage can be used again next fall to start a new batch of compost.

Fall is the time to be thinking about bulbs for Spring!  I personally believe that you can never have too many daffodils in the garden, so I’m ordering the big bags!  Gopher-proof and perennial (they come back each year), they are the favorite of this lazy gardener. Ornamental onions (Allium) are also very easy. You can find a wide selection of spring-blooming bulbs at your favorite nursery or on-line.  Bulbs are a great holiday gift for gardening friends, so be sure to order extra to give away.

Some good uses for household vinegar:  Pour it on weeds in the driveway to kill them: be sure to saturate the root area. For cut flowers, use 2 tbs. of vinegar and 2 tsp. of sugar in 1 quart of water to extend their life in the vase.

Gail's Garden November 2015After the devastating fires this year, I’m sure we are all thinking about how to make our homes and gardens safer from fire.   Among the more useful fire-resistant plants are natives like Ceanothus (California lilac) , Salvia greggii (Autumn Sage), Mimulus (Monkeyflower), and California Redbud.  Succulents in general also make the fire resistant list. All of these are drought tolerant too!  Conifers tend to burn very rapidly, so now you have a reason to get rid of those old junipers!  You can access a more complete list of fire resistant plants at resistant plants

All of us probably have to make some hard choices in the garden this year: will we water more, or let some plants die?  This is the year to really think about how much you need your water hungry plants and your lawn.  Do you have small children or dogs who need a space to play?  And how much space do they really need?  Can you reduce the number of roses you grow?  Sometimes we hold onto things in the garden because we are used to them, but when they are removed they open up new areas for remodeling, new views, and a chance to refresh our thinking about our green spaces.  For years I had a big hedge of butterfly bushes: while they were pretty, they made the garden feel small and hemmed in.  When I got up the courage to remove them I was rewarded with a much more open and spacious feeling in the yard, plus an awesome view of the valley below us.  Don’t be afraid to remodel your garden!


Need help with your garden plans?  One hour consultations are still only $50!  Contact Gail at 707-829-2455, and get your gardening year off to a great start.