An Alameda Garden

Saturday, April 09, 2016

Farewell and Happy Gardening!

Today is the 10th anniversary of the start of this blog. On April 9, 2006 I began this blog with this photo of some Tete-a-Tete daffodils that were in bloom that day in my garden. I started the blog because I was frustrated that we were having a particularly wet spring that was making it difficult to get any gardening done. Of course, in those early days I had no ideas of what this blog would lead to: writing for garden-related websites; writing and publishing two books on gardening in California, one of which won an award from the Garden Writers Association; and speaking at garden shows, botanical gardens, nurseries, and garden clubs throughout the state.

I still love writing about gardening but I've come to the conclusion that what I really love is writing books and that's hard to do while blogging at the same time. I've been neglecting this blog too much in the last couple years so I've finally decided that it's time to bring it to a close. I will leave the blog up so anyone can search it or ramble through it as the mood strikes, but I won't be adding any posts after this one.

I will keep writing, though. I have a new ebook, Not-So-Hot Tomatoes: Growing Delicious Tomatoes in Cooler Climates, which will be released on on April 15th and is available for pre-order there now. It will also be available soon in softcover on Amazon and in ebook format on other platforms such as Kobo, Nook, iBooks, and more. And more books will follow, including some garden-related fiction that I'm pretty excited about.

If you want to keep up on what I'm writing or on other gardening news I want to pass on, you can like my Facebook page, California Gardening Books, or follow me on Twitter at @AlamedaGardener. You can also subscribe to my newsletter, Time in the Garden (see the Subscribe button at the end of this post).

Friday, April 08, 2016

What to Do in the Garden in April

Wow, this is going to be a busy month!  Here's what to focus on in April:


  • If you're feeling the need for some garden inspiration, check out some of the garden tours that pop up around this time of year. You'll find lots of fresh ideas you can put to use in your own yard.
  • If you need to expand your back yard vegetable garden, consider moving some edibles into the ornamental beds in your front yard, Herbs and greens like Swiss chard and lettuces can blend in easily, as can fruit trees, especially citrus.


  • Try implementing a hydrozoning plan with your new plantings. That means grouping plants together by their water needs. Whether you use an irrigation system or hand-water, you'll find that watering will become a much simpler process.
  • Plant annual flowers for a cutting garden. Good choices include asters, baby's breath, calendula, celosia, cosmos, dianthus, larkspur, rudbeckia, scabiosa, snapdragons, statice, stock, sunflowers, and zinnias.
  • This is a good time to plant blackberries, raspberries, rhubarb, and if you live in an area where night-time temperatures are consistently above 50 degrees F, tomatoes.
  • It's also a good time for planting vines such as wisteria and passion fruit vines.


  • There's lots of clean-up to be done this month. You can remove frost-damaged branches, prune evergreens, and keep weeding!


  • Rain can be spotty this month. Make sure you actually check the soil occasionally to see how deep the moisture goes. Even if the surface of the soil is wet, you may need to supplement with some deep watering.


  • Get organized about your fertilizing schedule. It's helpful to keep track of what plants you feed and what amendments you use. If you apply a timed-release fertilizer, note on your calendar when you'll need to re-apply it and where. 
  • Lawns need a spring boost at this time, but take care not to overdo it. Apply about 1/2 lb. of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet and make sure it gets spread out evenly.


  • Go on pest-patrol to watch for snails, slugs, and sucking insects like aphids and scale. If you notice ants going up and down trees, they're probably farming aphids on the trees for their honeydew. You can control both the ants and aphids by applying a sticky barrier like Tanglefoot around the base of the trunk.
For more details on caring for your garden each month, check out my book, California Month-by-Month Gardening.


Friday, February 19, 2016

What to Do in the Garden in February

This month can be such a mix of winter weather and false spring, it can make a gardener crazy. Just when a few days of spring-like blue skies and warm temperatures get our hearts beating faster, rainstorms can come crashing back in on us. But let's be thankful for every drop of rain we're getting this year--it's been a long time coming! And let's not let the rains keep us from our gardens! Here's what to focus on this month:


  • Make a list of winter chores that you've yet to accomplish and make a plan of action for getting them done. Prioritize the tasks that must be done when plants are dormant: bare-root planting, transplanting, pruning or spraying.
  • Order summer-blooming bulbs from catalogs.
  • Make note of areas in the garden that are lacking winter color and consider filling in with winter-blooming natives like ceanothus and manzanita.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

What to Do in the Garden in January

I always feel like January is like a reboot of the garden. Time to wipe away whatever didn't work last year or what you may be tired of this year and start fresh. El Nino rains are helping to ease the effects of the drought but they may also be presenting challenges of their own. Let's get busy planning, planting, pruning and more to make this our best garden year!


  • This it the time to think about what you want to accomplish in your garden this year. What problem do you want to solve? What new feature would you like to add? What new plant would you like to try growing? Then take stock of how your garden looks right now--winter is a great time to really see the bones of your garden--and make a plan for how you're going to move closer to having the garden of your dreams.
  • If you're going to be growing from seed, you should be reviewing seed catalogs and putting in your orders. But before you order, maybe you better sort through the stock of seeds you already have. Toss out the seed packs that are too old and test the viability of those that are of a questionable age.
  • If you still have a lawn, this is a good time to clean and tune-up your lawn mower.
  • Shop your local nurseries or mail-order nurseries for bare-root roses and trees.
  • Are you seeing areas of soil erosion? Make a note to address these spots by planting groundcovers or taking other action in the spring.

Thursday, January 07, 2016

Gardening Flow Chart

To get your gardening year started:

H/T: Coffee for Roses

Monday, November 09, 2015

Books on Sale

There's a great sale going on this week at the bookshop at Quarto (the parent company of my publisher, Cool Springs Press). You can get California Fruit and Vegetable Gardening for $18.39 (down from the regular price of $22.99) and California Month-by-Month Gardening for $19.99 (regular price $24.99). Plus you can enter the promo code VETS15 to save an additional 30%. Plus, there's free shipping on orders of $50 or more. Lots of other books are on sale so it might be a great time to do some early Christmas shopping! (Promo code expires 11/16/2015.)

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