What you and I can do now in the Sierra foothills:
Christmas trees are at our local Western Sierra Nursery right now and as an added bonus, owner, Mark Holland, will be serving from his cauldron of chili most every day to shoppers buying bulbs, bare root veggies and violas, all of which are in plentiful supply. Be sure to check out the three huge bins of ‘Ugly Plant Sale’ in the back near the evergreen trees.
Try Deer resistant shrubs
Do you have deer? You may want to consider growing camellias and rhododendrons. Neither seem appealing to deer and some camellias are forming buds right now to bloom in February, even in our chilly foothills. If you have a Zone 7 or higher garden, try these out.
My Camellia ‘Yuletide’ bloomed in time for Christmas last year, so we brought it inside to substitute for a Christmas tree. This year it will bloom later, but I will continue to fertilize it every two weeks with half strength all purpose fertilizer as I have ever since the buds have started to show.
These last two months have been very dry and windy, so continue to water any new plants and especially patio pots that dry out so fast. Soon it will be time to fill pots with gravel and pinecones for the winter.
Seeds can still be sown, so in these last few sunny days, rake out a garden space and remove weeds that would compete with new seedlings. Wildflowers or any seeds can be sown now before the first winter rains soak them in. Be sure to step on them as you go, so the birds won’t gobble them up right after you. Don’t mulch these areas as they will need the sunshine to germinate.
The one rain in November softened the soil just enough to make bulb planting easier. Here’s my strategy… I use a shovel to dig a hole about a foot wide and 8 inches deep. I place 6 or 7 bulbs in the hole, cover with soil and mark with a circle of stones. I dig my holes along walkways and paths where I know I’ll be walking even in winter.
Now, what are you doing in the garden?