The Digging Fork

A Davis Garden Newsletter
May - June 2008 May Planting
Warm season vegetables: eggplant, sweet and chile peppers, tomatillo, sweet potato slips, tomato, basil Warm season annuals: coleus, petunia, lobelia, moss rose, celosia, impatiens and more Perennials: all, but especially frost tender plants Warm season bulbs Warm season vegetables: beans (dry, snap, lima, yard long), cucumber, corn (all kinds), melon, okra, pumpkin, soybeans, summer/winter squash, watermelon, peanuts Warm season annuals sunflowers, tithonia, zinnias, scarlet runner bean, cosmos and more Lawns as needed Roses after bloom
Snails, slugs and earwigs damage –use baits or traps. Emerging seedlings and transplants are the most vulnerable! Aphids. Can spray off with water and watch for lady beetle & parasitic wasps Scale. Keep ants under control with ant stakes and rub off scale insects

Warm season annuals Perennials Can still plant, but need to keep plants well watered until they are established.

see Plant notes

silver sage

Darcy sage

More Salvias
Warm season vegetables beans (dry, snap), corn (sweet and baby), okra, melons, pumpkin, summer/winter squash.
(Snap beans & summer squash often have disease problems, a second planting will prolong the season)

directly into the garden

see Plant notes

Warm season annuals: see May Lawns as needed Look for nutrient deficiencies – especially iron and nitrogen.
See May.

Fertilize Pest & Disease Control

see Plant notes

Prune deciduous shrubs and vines after they flower.
They will soon start setting buds for next spring.

Spring garden cleanup continues (see May) Stake dahlias and other tall plants that need support Weed control continues!! Tall, fall bloomers like mums, asters, perennial sunflowers, etc. can be cut to 12” in late June to encourage branching and reduce plant height. This may delay the bloom time.

Spring garden cleanup begins. Cut back spring blooming perennials, pull out cool season annuals, cut bulb foliage when yellowing. Good time to dig and mulch. Thin stone fruits, cover cherry trees (bird control) Weed control continues!! Many plants benefit from support: dahlias, peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, etc. Add stakes and/or cages when planting. Lift ranunculus-leave dirt on them and store in cool place in open container Water deeply and infrequently to encourage deep roots!! Water compost piles.


This is the month of the highest water needs due to rapid plant growth and warmer temperatures. Water as needed. Deep water trees and shrubs.

It’s May and that means once again it is time to plant Salvias. The nurseries should have a good selection and the last chance of frost is passed allowing frost sensitive species to get established and thrive. With over 900 species of Salvias existing in the world, it can be difficult to narrow down to a few to plant in the garden. Many salvias can add fragrance, attract hummingbirds and are happy with low water. These qualities can help in your selection. Many salvias are known for their fragrance such as the popular herb, garden sage, but others are equal if not more aromatic. If fragrance is a must in your garden here are several ideas. Grape-scented salvia has a wonderful grape scent when in flower early spring. Some people describe it as “grape cool-aid”. Two California native salvias, hummingbird sage and Cleveland sage have intense aromatic leaves that can be smelled from afar on hot days. White sage leaves have been used for centuries for smudging while pineapple sage leaves have a hint of pineapple and edible red flowers. If summer watering is not possible or is sporadic, some salvias will thrive from this absence of water. Not surprisingly, these salvias are native to areas where summer rains are rare such as California, South Africa and Mexico. Good drainage during our winters is required, so planting in raised beds or on a slight mound can help. Brown flowering Salvia Africanalutea, the California natives Cleveland sage and black sage are good choices. Silver sage with fuzzy, whitish leaves is also a lovely drought tolerant plant that makes a statement in the garden. White sage, discussed above, is another great candidate for dry gardens. Looking to attract hummingbirds to the garden? Salvias can lure them spring through fall. Most hummingbirds prefer orange to red flowers but are also attracted to other hues. Darcy sage blooms late in summer until the first big frost with an abundance of orange-red flowers. Salvia microphylla is another magnet for hummingbirds. Of course the hummingbird and pineapple sages are also good

choices. The blue flowered anise-scented sage also adds a great splash of blue to the garden.
May want to see another salvia article in The Digging Fork May-June 2007 issue. Good web site with lots of pictures: Salvia book: Sages For Every Garden by Betsy Clebsch

Plant sales and events
UCD Arboretum
Lots of great guided tours and workshops coming up!!
Email below to have a monthly reminder of events sent to you For information 752-4880

Jepson Prairie Preserve – Vernal Pool Tours
Saturdays & Sundays, until May 11, 10 am
Information (707) 432-0150

Davis Garden Club
Herbs - Rose Loveall, Morningsun Herb Farm May 19 Garden Tea June 22
For information 222-3052

Davis Flower Arrangers
Flora Pacifica from Brookings, Oregon Talk is about preserved and fresh wreaths and swags and driftwood filled with succulents
3101 Fifth St, Walnut Terrace Community Room. 756-6722

Plant Sales at The Gifted Gardener

white sage

hummingbird sage

Saturday/Sunday May 3rd and 4th, May 17th and 18th Saturday/Sunday June 7th & 8th , June 14th & 15th 9:30 am to 3 pm. 200 varieties of perennial plants.

18th and J Streets, Sacramento. Sales benefit local charities Information (916) 923-3745

Local classes and workshops
Woodland College Mini-courses:
Landscape Irrigation Systems May 9 to 17
These courses are held Friday evenings and Saturday mornings. For information 661-5720

Friends of the Davis Library Book Sale
June 6 (noon-7 pm), 7 (10 am-5 pm), 8 (10 am-3 pm) Often good finds on gardening books! Info. 758-4754

Pence Garden Tour
Sunday May 4 12 noon to 5 pm
For information

Master Gardener Educational Workshops
Summer Pruning Fruit Trees – Fruit Bush Culture May 10, 9-11 am Woodland Community College Starting Plants from Cuttings June 14 9-10:30 am 70 Cottonwood, Woodland
Workshops are free 666-8143

Woodland Library Rose Club
All About Roses Saturday, May 10 1-5 pm Woodland Public Library, Leake Room Cost $5
Information Betty 662-6277

Davis Botanical Society
Butterflies, Native Plants, Invasive Weeds and You Speaker: Dr. Art Shapiro Thursday, May 15, 7-8 pm Davis Public Library
Free. For more information 752-1091
Cleveland sage ‘Allen Chickering’ tricolor sage

Davis Central Park Gardens Workshops
The Magic of Mulch May 17, 9-10 am Plants to Attract Beneficial Insects to you Garden May 17, 10:30-11:30 Identify Common Pests and Beneficial Insects June 7, 9-10 am Water Wisely: How to Irrigate Effectively June 7, 10:30-11:30
Free, more information

~ Garden Intern Needed ~
For a few years now, Patricia has tried to have a paid intern one day a week. The intern learns about plants, garden maintenance, irrigation, propagation, etc. and Patricia gets a bit of help in the garden. Days and hours are flexible. If this sounds interesting to you, send an email to Patricia.

City of Davis Worm and Garden Composting
Free compost bin by taking Davis Compost Correspondence Class
Information (530) 757-5686

Global Climate Change and Your Backyard
California Center for Urban Horticulture May 30 and 31
$125(UCD Arboretum members), $150(general public)
Information 752-6642
anise-scented sage Salvia African-lutea


Plant notes!
Here is more information about some plants mentioned in this newsletter.

Garden record keeping
When gardeners visit a garden, whether public or private, there are questions that are often asked. -What is that plant? -When was it planted? How big will it get? -I want that plant! Where did you get it? This is when the owner of the garden or tour guide relies on his/her memory or some sort of record keeping. Keeping track of what is in the garden, when it was planted and other important information usually isn’t on the mind of most beginning gardeners. They are still trying to “grow’ the plant successfully. However, keeping records can help you become a better gardener. For instance, if a plant isn’t growing well and further research is needed you may need to know the plant’s scientific name, as common names aren’t reliable. This will help both with looking it up in a book or asking another knowledgeable gardener. Garden record keeping is as individual as gardens. There are many ways to keep the information you may need about the garden and/or plants. These include plant labels, computer lists, binders of notes and garden journals.

anise-scented sage Salvia guaranitica 4-5’tall, sun to part shade.
Dies back to the ground each winter, but fast growing in spring.

black or honey sage Saliva mellifera Drought tolerant CA native
with very fragrant foliage. Loose, floppy growth habit up to 3-5’ high. White to pale lavender flowers, attracts bees . Does best in full sun and good drainage. Cleveland or CA blue sage Salvia clevelandii Woody CA native shrub 3-5’ tall and wide with pale lavender flowers in early summer. Full sun, good drainage needed. Cultivars include ‘Winnifred Gilman’ and ‘Allen Chickering’. Darcy or Galeana sage Salvia darcyi Red flowers bloom summer until frost. Does best in full sun. Dies completely to the ground in winter but will grow back up to 3’ in spring. Don’t cut plant back till spring. garden or common sage Salvia officinalis 1-4’ tall, culinary. Many cultivars are ornamental as well, including ‘Tricolor’, ‘Icterina’, ‘Purpurascens’ and ‘Berggarten’ grape-scented sage Salvia melissodora Woody shrub up to 6’ high and 4’ wide with lavender flowers spring until frost. Takes full sun and needs good drainage. Native to Mexico. Attracts butterflies and hummingbirds. hummingbird sage Salvia spathacea Evergreen 3’ tall herbaceous plant. CA native with fuchsia colored flowers that bloom all spring. Prefers partial shade and humus soil. Spreads by underground rhizomes. pineapple sage Salvia elegans Red flowers bloom in late summer until frost. Can reach 4-5’ tall. Flowers are edible. Needs full sun. Cut plant back in spring when new growth appears. purple or gray sage Salvia leucophylla Arching, evergreen woody CA native shrub. Flowers are pale purple and bloom in early to mid spring. Plant reaches 3-5’ tall and wide. Salvia African-lutea 3’tall woody evergreen shrub from South Africa. Flowers emerge yellow and turn brownish-orange. Full sun and good drainage required. Salvia microphylla Woody evergreens shrub 3-4’ tall. Blooms in spring and then again in summer. Does best in full sun. Many color variations of pinks and reds. silver sage Salvia argentea Has basal growth of fuzzy silver leaves. Flower stalk emerges and blooms in spring. Cut flower stalk off before seeds set to prolong plant’s life. Biennial or short lived perennial. Needs full sun and good drainage. white sage Salvia apiana 4-5’ tall evergreen woody shrub with white to pale lavender flowers. Needs full sun and excellent drainage. Very aromatic foliage used for smudging.

Plant labels: copper, zinc (and replacement label), aluminum with wire, plastic (yellow with pencil, white with label maker, from nursery, small white for seedlings) , laminated with wire holder (detail of wire), wooden

Warm season vegetables:
basil Easy to find transplants in the nurseries. If there are many seedlings
in the pot, separate before planting. Protect seedlings from snails, slugs and earwigs with baits. Keep leaves picked to prevent flowering. beans (snap, dry and lima) Best direct seeded in the garden as they germinate and grow quickly. Snap beans can be bush or pole type. Pole beans twine counter clockwise, important when helping on a trellis. corn Wind pollinated so best planted in blocks (except baby corn that never gets pollinated). Leave suckers to increase photosynthesis as there is no change in yield. Baby corn is usually a popcorn variety. A favorite is “Chires Baby’ available from Seeds of Change. Harvest when silks first appear and cob is ½” in diameter. If this window is missed, the cobs can be allowed to mature and dry for popcorn or decoration. cucumber Some think bitterness is caused by uneven watering, others think it is genetically controlled. There are burpless, vine and bush cultivar. Tendrils grab onto a trellis, large tomato cages work well. The first 10-20 flowers are male and don’t produce cucumbers. eggplant Plant when daily air temperature is above 70 deg. F. They need lots of sun and water! If plants are stressed, they won’t set fruit. peanut Spanish and Valencia types need shorter growing season than Virginia types. The fertilized flower produces a peg that grows downward into the soil which needs to be easy for the peg to penetrate. Can use raw supermarket peanuts for seed, shell before planting. Harvest whole plant when leaves turn yellow, hang 2-3 weeks to dry. peppers Afternoon shade best as peppers burn easily in our hot sun. Can also plant peppers deep. Support plants, they break from heavy fruit. tomatoes Plant deep with only a few leaves showing, roots will form on the stem.

Plant Labels. One advantage to plant labels is that the plant name is with the plant in the garden. Other info, including date planted, size, flower color, maintenance needs and even where it came from can also be recorded. This is especially nice when you have planted a plant you just met and are still getting to know. The disadvantages of plant markers is that they can get easily broken, lost (end up in the compost pile) and/or the information disappears off the marker. There are many types of plant labels and the type needed is often dictated by whether it is important to be able to read it easily when walking by or if it is ok to bend down to read the label. Most are made of metal, plastic or wood. Information can be put on labels in many ways including #2 pencil, permanent marker, grease pencil, label makers, engraver, paint pen, or using laser computer printers. Pencil is the most permanent, but not easy to read. Permanent markers do fade, even those made for horticultural use. Grease pencils don’t last forever. Label makers can produce plastic labels that adhere to either plastic or metal and are easy to read and last many years. Zinc labels with galvanized legs. Patricia’s favorite are the 10 inch rose markers. Use #2 pencil to write on both sides. The writing can be immediately erased and corrected but over time the pencil and metal react to make it very permanent. It is possible to use a permanent marker to write


over the pencil for easier reading. Our water, full of salts, may make the writing difficult to read, but a little spit or water will solve the problem. The zinc label part can be purchased separately. A good source is Eon Industries ( 419-533-4961). Before using, spread the legs and crimp the label with pliers . Copper labels. These are similar to the above zinc labels but more expensive. The copper can be indented with a pen. Aluminum identification markers. These are easily etched on both sides with a pen or pencil. They can be wired, stapled, or nailed. The wire is really thin and can be replaced with tie wire. These are especially useful for labeling irrigation valves. Plastic. The disadvantage is that breakage is inevitable with exposure to sun. Pencil is the most permanent for marking, however a label maker or permanent marker is easier to read. Printing with a laser printer is another option. Wood. Similar to plastic in that they don’t last forever because they will eventually rot. Laminated plant labels. These are usually printed on paper and then laminated in a plastic sleeve which is easy to do at local copy shops. They are flexible in layout and information and are easy to read but the plastic eventually will need to be replaced. 12 ½ gauge galvanized wire can be used to make holders. A leather punch works well for holes.

More gardening tips!
Putting tomato cages around your tomatoes is not good enough to keep them under control. Every few days, the tips of the branches need to be pushed into the center of the cage to prevent them from growing outside. Trying to weave the branches through the cage often results in them breaking. It is a good idea to stake your cages to prevent them from tipping when plants get big and heavy with fruit.

Tomato control.

When to clean up bulb foliage.

Bulbs ready to clean up: tulips, daffodils, naked lady

Other types of record keeping. Another way to keep
records is to use files or binders, garden journals or a computer file for plant information. The advantage is that it is possible to keep more information than on a plant label. Many gardeners do both. Some methods are easier than others for transporting the information to the garden or nursery when needed. Binder or file. Many gardeners devote a page or two to each plant with information including where the plant was purchased, when planted, plant characteristics and information for growing requirements. Photos, seed packages and observations can also be included. For vegetables, harvest information is useful. The binder or file system might make sense divided by subject. Possibilities include trees and shrubs, flowers, vegetables , pest problems, plants you want to grow, garden maps, irrigation (layout and watering schedules) weather information, general garden notes, newspaper and magazine articles, useful websites, nursery information….. Garden journals. Journals are often more about the garden in general, what is blooming, weather trends and general observations rather than detailed information about plants. Many garden journals are available to purchase but are usually very structured and may not meet your specific needs. Lee Valley Tools ( 1-800-8718158) has a 10 year garden journal, perfect for weather information and just a couple observations daily. It is fun to see how the garden changes over time and what is blooming. Computer records. Plant lists can be easily compiled using the computer. The Excel program allows for lots of flexibility, sorting, etc. It is easy to print a plant list and carry it to the garden or nursery. Is there such a thing as recording too much information? Absolutely!! It does take awhile for gardeners to figure out just what information is useful. We don’t want to spend all our time recording useless information -- we need time to enjoy our garden, too!

Now is the time to start cleaning up the withering foliage of many bulbs. Spring flowering bulbs of daffodils, tulips, freesia, Spanish bluebells, etc. and summer/fall flowering bulbs like naked ladies and spider lilies (flowers come up first and then the foliage grows during the winter) are starting to yellow and flop over. There is no need to wait until leaves are completely dead and brown. We want the leaves to photosynthesize and store energy in the bulbs but when the leaves start to decline, they can be cut or gently wiggled out a few at a time. This is a great time to loosen the ground around the bulbs with a digging fork. If you dig a bulb up, just replant it. Summer annuals can now be planted over and around the bulbs.

Ace Hardware now sells Presto compost bins!!
The Digging Fork May-June 2007 issue talks about turning yard waste into compost using these bins.

Do you have a red rose growing in your yellow one?
Many roses are grafted onto hardy rootstock. Sprouts below the graft usually have red flowers, but also sometimes white and rootstock leaves are usually very different from the graphed rose leaves. These rootstock sprouts need to be cut off as they take energy away from the desired plant and if ignored can take over the grafted rose.

Staking dahlias is a personal preference. Some gardeners
don’t mind them flopping and growing among the other plants but others want straight stems for cutting An easy way to keep them upright is with a large tomato cage. Newsletter created by:
Marlene Simon -- UCD graduate in Horticulture Patricia Carpenter -- Gardening Coach (Design and Education), with 35 years of Davis gardening experience. The bi-monthly newsletter is free if received by email. If mailed, the cost is $15 per year. To be added to the subscription list or to unsubscribe, contact us at: