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Garden wisdom from deer country!

Gardening in the Sierra Foothills with Carolyn Singer

The seasoned gardener

published in The Union in Grass Valley CA

More information on soil preparation and mulching is detailed in Deer in My Garden, Vol.1: Perennials & Subshrubs and Deer in My Garden, Vol.2: Groundcovers & Edgers!

CA FuchsiaAugust in the Garden
A mild summer, a steady harvest

by Carolyn Singer
August 14, 2010

While tomatoes have been later to ripen this year than in past years (partly because I did not follow my own good planting advice to wait until after that predictable frost in mid-May), there has been a steady harvest of many crops from my garden.

This week as I picked edible pod peas, I appreciated the mild summer that has kept this spring vegetable producing. And now it's time to seed peas in the garden for a fall harvest.

Sweet peas are also blooming prolifically. Heavily mulched with straw, if mild temperatures continue I may have flowers all summer.

The first tomato to ripen in late July was a black plum. Within two days it was followed by a tomato I am growing for the first time this year, 'Black Ethiopian', an heirloom tomato from a local certified organic grower, Naked Farms (Nevada City). Shopping for plants in late spring, I was drawn to the description on the label, "…plants that yield copious amounts of red-mahogany-bronze, five-ounce, plum-shaped fruit. Exceptional, rich, fruity, tangy taste. Originally from the Ukraine region." True! I will be growing this one every year.

Raspberries are beginning to produce. I am delaying production on some of the taller canes by tip pruning now. When I remove the top 2-3 inches of the cane before flower buds form, strong laterals grow, and the harvest will be even heavier in late fall. It's a gamble. If October temperatures are too cold, it will cut the harvest short. In most falls it's worth the risk: last year I picked one to two quarts of raspberries every day beginning in late September and continuing into early November.

August is a good month to evaluate the garden. What worked, what didn't. Improved methods for next year. Plans for the fall garden before September arrives. And even plans for winter gardening to make the whole gardening year easier.

Russian sageThis is also a good month to visit others' gardens. The Colfax Garden Club holds their tour in late summer, this year August 28 (10-4). There are several August-blooming perennials that add beautiful color to the garden this month: Russian sage (left), blanket flower (below, right), CA fuchsia (above, left), wild black-eyed Susan (bottom, left), and Rudbeckia nitida. Ornamental grasses are strong in August too.

blanket flower One of my favorite gardens on last year's tour had a small garden room created where natives formed a natural enclosure on three sides. An old door had been installed on the open side, and within were sitting places and even an old rug. My friend and I joined the two visitors already sitting "inside", and soon we were all talking and laughing as old friends. More garden visitors came to the door, curious about the gaiety in this quiet section of the garden. This would be a perfect secret place for children.

On this year's tour is a community garden in the town of Colfax. It was started just this year, and already the enthusiasm of local gardeners has filled most of the plots. Another garden, this one in the Chicago Park area, is a garden utilizing many unusual plants. Because this garden is rarely open to the public, it is an opportunity to learn about the diversity of perennials, groundcovers, and ornamental shrubs suitable for the foothills.

wild black-eyed Susan

©2009 by Carolyn Singer. All rights reserved.

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