• More winter gardening ideas for the Sierra foothills

    by  • January 19, 2012 • Garden, Weather, Winter • 5 Comments

    Did you think you were through gardening in California Sierra mountains?  Usually we have rain and snow, but noooo.  Here are more winter gardening ideas and things to do for the Sierra foothill garden in California:

    Get ready to sow seeds.

    Get out your seed file

    Get out your seed file

    • Rake out and remove weeds in the area you want to seed.
    • Do not add soil amendments or disturb the soil. This would allow weed seeds to be exposed to the sunlight.
    • Just before or after a rain, evenly sow the seeds and step on them gently as you walk over the bed to achieve good soil contact.  This is key.  
    This planter has lasted three winters
    This planter has lasted three winters, trimmed to three inches and tucked under the eaves.

    Take care of ‘delicate flowers’

    Protect tender perennials with mulch.  If you have plants that are happier in a zone or two warmer than yours, like Mexican sage and succulents prone to frost bite, cover them with a thick layer of mulch. Pull pots of pelargoniums (geraniums) under the eaves to overwinter them. 

    Mulched Mexican sage may make it

    Mulched Mexican sage already showing new growth in this pot may make it.

    All this mess on the patio appears every morning and every morning I sweep it back. Wind, raccons.  No, spotted towhees!  ‘Spotted’ them one early morning from the kitchen window….

    Spotted Towhee digs for grubs. Good!

    Spotted Towhee digs for grubs. Good!


    Prune roses

    'Iceberg' Roses

    ‘Iceberg’ Roses

    Roses before trimming

    Roses before trimming

    I can’t tell you the proper way to prune roses.  There are enough tutorials out there.  What I do is just shape it the way I like trimming off old branches and shaping it the way it pleases me. I have two ‘Iceberg’ roses which I’m training up the side of the house and attaching with eye bolts and zip ties to large branches. I also trimmed both my buddleias down to 18″ for the winter.  Last year’s experiment showed that doing this rejuvenates the plant greatly!I know that if you live in deer country and you have plants big enough to prune you’re doing well!

    After pruning

    After pruning

    How to build a new ‘no-dig’ garden bed.

    Fresh new bed and no digging!

    Fresh new bed and no digging!


    • Benefits of raised beds
    • Allow water to drain quickly,
    • Prevents foot traffic and soil compaction
    • Soil warms up quickly in Spring


    Outline the new bed with stakes and string or edge with rocks, bricks or logs.
    Mulch over grass or weeds with several layers of newspaper to suppress more growth.
    Apply 4-6 inches of compost, leaves or a mixture of the two with fertilizer.
    Over the winter the newspaper will decompose while smothering the weeds
    Plant right through all the layers in the Spring.


    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.

    5 Responses to More winter gardening ideas for the Sierra foothills

    1. January 20, 2012 at 9:05 am

      Hi Sue!
      I love this no-dig bed idea. I keep wondering about how I could use it to start a milkweed patch.

      • January 20, 2012 at 9:22 am

        Thanks, Katie. I love love to see milkweed on the place! I’ve thrown out lots of seeds to no avail.

    2. January 26, 2012 at 1:15 am

      Raised beds are such a great thing.
      I see you have blue flax seeds. Do you grow them for the aesthetic appeal or for food?

    3. January 26, 2012 at 7:49 am

      Thanks, Steve, I grow blue flax because they’re native here, easy to grow and beautiful blue. The seeds are easy to collect,..I wonder if I’ll have enough extra to eat. I have another post on Blue flax,…check my archive tab.

    4. Karen
      September 30, 2014 at 4:36 pm

      Hi Sue – I enjoy reading Flea Market Gardening, both by email and FB. I also live in the Sierra Foothills, just 14 miles from the south gate of Yosemite. In fact, from your picture on FB, you look familiar. I’m going to have my granddaughters help me create a “fairy” garden this year against my water tank, one that will winter over and produce spring flowers. What flowers would you recommend for a fairy garden. Shouldn’t they be small? Thanks, Karen

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