• What am I really doing in the garden in October?

    by  • October 26, 2010 • Fall, Garden, How to, Meadow project, Projects

    1st Week

    I’m ready to move some plants around and plant more in a new area of the garden. It’s a sloping hill, about 30×30 on the south side of the house going down to one Sycamore tree planted about four years ago.

    You know how you think and think about a part of your garden, before you finally decide what to do? Well, it was so weedy with this Filaree, Erodium botrys and E. circutarium, terrible stuff that has screw shaped stickers with a fish hook on one end that attach to your dog.

    So, this is what has been done:

    The weeds are all killed, dried up over the summer.
    I raked them off last week and now I’ll water the area with a sprinkler to get any more weeds growing so I can kill them, too.
    I’ve got a wide bed in mind along a path of sorts at the top of the area. Oh and I put in some log steps down the right side. I have some mulch left to cover the bed, I think, left over from my ‘connection’ in pine needle territory, (Bass Lake Village).

    October planting- New 'Sycamore' bed

    October planting- New ‘Sycamore’ bed

    In the picture you can see the Sycamore at the back and the path in the foreground. I started to spread small sized gravel on the path going down the right side.

    I have some Autumn sage and some Desert willow to plant, a redbud or two, and a lilac, some from the last garden club exchange. These I can plant as a start for the border, or around the edges.

    Now that I have a water spigot nearer, I can’t be stopped, eh? It’s fall planting time!

     2nd Week

    It’s very hot out there now, but the planting area is in the shade in the afternoon. We have heat in the nineties again! Went to the nursery’s ‘Ugly Plant Sale’ (half price) and picked up some salvia, agastaches, a cranesbill, and some pink muhly grass. I thought I’d plant groupings and leave the middle for wildflowers and grasses. That’s the idea, anyway. Now I’m looking up everything in Plantfiles and when it’s cooler, I’m out there again!

    Oh, moved a bunch of stuff the other day…things that were in the wrong place or too close together. Gaura, an autumn sage and a pineapple sage sprout.

    Thank goodness that area is shaded about now, but I fear for the plants I’ve moved. Always tricky if the soil falls apart too close to the roots. Gaura, I noticed has a long tap root, which of course I yanked out of the ground snapping it off. It’s still about four inches long so I’ll see.

    Autumn sage from the 'Ugly Plant' sale

    Autumn sage from the ‘Ugly Plant’ sale, stones hold the plant and water

    So, here is the project so far. The Ugly plant sale plants are planted in groups, kind of at the corners, and I put down the rest of the pea gravel on the path down the side. Some places, I had to really soak the ground to dig and some are nice and crumbly, especially under the mulched areas. Nice!

    We’re leaving for a week so I’ll wait to plant the rest. All have nice watering basins to get them through this heat and hopefully it will cool off. Stormy today, but no rain. I heard there were lightning strikes in Fullerton today.

    The rock garden along the gravel path

    The rock garden along the gravel path

    I just found a source for native California wildflower seeds and a native meadow mix. The place I ordered from before, Wildseed Farms in Texas has a lot of Shasta daisies in the Western Wildflower mix which have taken over. I’ve had enough of them…they can stay on the outer edge.

    The meadow mix will go in the center of this planting area and I’m determined to keep the filaree and other weeds out. I like the idea of using all California natives.

    Here’s the seed source:

    S&S Seeds in Carpenteria http://www.ssseeds.com/    I ordered them Monday on the phone and received them Thursday by UPS

     3rd Week

    First rainfall of the Autumn season came this weekend to break our heat wave and to relieve my mind and my watering chores in the newly planted bed. Yea! It’s still raining a nice steady rain this morning. I can imagine it soaking into the roots of my Autumn sages and agastaches.

    Planting on a slope, watering basin above and rocks below each plant

    Planting on a slope, watering basin above and rocks below each plant

    After the rains of two weeks ago, the weeds are popping up in my new planting beds. I need to zap them one more time with a systemic herbicide before planting the wildflower seeds.

    One bit of good luck was that the True Value near us is remodeling the Garden Shop and was selling all their gallon plants for $1! These plants were normally $4.95 to $6.95! Nice! This will help fill out around the edges of this big space. The more planted area, the fewer weeds.

    Erodium cicutarium  Fillaree-seedpod

    Erodium cicutarium Fillaree-seedpod

    All the weeds sprouts are from the wild carrot and filaree, my personal nemesis, now. Filaree have a seed pod that looks like a screw with a fishhook on one end. Our dog, Maggie gets tons in her fur and since filaree is non native, I have no qualms abut killing it!

    Fillaree and wild carrot sprouts

    Filaree and wild carrot sprouts

    The sprouts are popping up around the new plants put in the last few weeks, so I took the hoe or my trowel and scraped them off in the watering basins around the plants. I planted all the sale plants, 4- Veronica allionii ‘Blue Pixie’, 3-Penstamon ‘Lavender Ruffles’, 3-Penstamon ‘Margarita B.O.P.’, 2- Anemone. hupehensis var. japonica ‘Pamina’ and 2-Blue chaste tree. I noticed that some gallon containers were marked $6.95, I saved $5.95 on each. What will I do with the money I’ve saved?

     4th Week

    Erodium cicutarium  Fillaree

    Erodium cicutarium Fillaree

    Now that the filaree sprouts are about 1-2 inches wide, it’s a perfect time to zap them. Even though I’ve been nursing a bad muscle spasm in my back (from lifting rocks, I think), I was able to carefully spray the new weeds in the “meadow” area and around the new plants.  I was delighted to see some blooms on the just planted agastache and autumn sage. The plants I moved survived, except for the nice creeping Salvia ‘Dara’s Choice’, which had to be moved out of the shade and into a place where it could spread. The ground is soft and spongy and the planting went like a dream.

    All plants installed, and weed sprouts sprayed
    All plants installed, and weed sprouts sprayed, next step, wildflower seeds!


    The Meadow project, month by month
    What am I really doing in the garden in October?  Planning and removing weeds
    Do you dream of a natural and beautiful wildflower meadow?  Finding and sowing seeding
    Let’s check for progress on the meadow!  Weeding and watching the weather
    How to weed a meadow in the Sierra Foothills  More weeding…letting the sprouts thrive
    Let’s check on Fall and Winter projects!  Identifying seedlings
    The wildflower meadow in May   Small triumphs
    My California native meadow in June  Starting to bloom
    The midsummer meadow  The peak bloom
    Stomping down the Autumn meadow  Neatening up
    Native California meadow in the second year


    Sue Langley, a passionate gardener and photographer lives and gardens with her husband and Corgi, Maggie on 7 acres just south of Yosemite, Zone 7 at 3000 feet. She also manages the Flea Market Gardening Facebook page and website.