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July in the Garden & Calendar of North State Gardening Events

July arrives in the North State Garden with relative ease this year. We’ve had a bit of true heat, but not what it likely will be. I like the early-rising, late-setting sun and the arc of the summer days. Spring’s riot has grown up into summer’s more controlled beauty in the ornamental garden and the edible garden is on the cusp of overflowing, but at least in my garden the full-on chaos is still a few weeks out. Photo: Echinacea in full summer bloom with California fuchsia coming along beside it.

Early mornings as the light lifts, I watch bats coming in from the night, enjoy shadowy sphinx moths , and hearing the birds singing in each day. Hummingbirds systematically work the sculptural stalks of my hesperaloe and bees work most of the other flowers – first I see and hear the bumble bees, followed by the honey bees as the temperature rises. Later in the day’s warmth, lizards laze on rocks and pathways. Photo: An early morning sky over garden oaks.

But not everything is always easy or beautiful in the North State Garden. I’m not crazy about watching the grasshoppers. Grasshoppers were tough on many gardens in our region this year. I have had all kinds of questions about them, heard all kinds of approaches to handling them: spray for them with broad-spectrum insecticide, bait for them with a targeted biological control, hand pick them, get chickens, wait them out.

You may have heard, the grasshopper abundance this year was the result of the wet spring last year. As the grasslands in which they like to live dried out, they migrated into the lush plenty of gardens. On the outskirts of towns people have suffered whole gardens of stripped plants. If you were hard hit, have the grasshoppers subsided? History does remind us: These pests are cyclical – within a heavy year and within a 5 – 8-year cycle. For the long term, Pam Geisel, Statewide Coordinator of the UC Master Garden Program assures us: “they really don’t like cultivated garden spaces…they prefer grassy foothill areas and they lay their eggs in the late summer or fall where the soil is undisturbed.” In the meantime she recommends, “use window screen or wire mesh to protect young plants and trees and Hand pick as much as possible (using a net) …” Photo: Grasshopper on curry plant (Helichrysum italicum).

It’s never easy to see our gardens suffer. But before responding to a problem, I ask myself: Will the problem persist or is it self-limited as in the case of the grasshoppers? If I wait, will some other natural control develop to help – for instance more birds in the garden to eat the grasshoppers? Is there some nutrient, cultural or hygiene issue in my garden that I can tweak and which would help? Photo:Green bean leaves.

If the issue isn’t resolved by the natural answers to one of these questions (and it almost always is), then I have to ask: could my response to the problem, such as a heavy duty insecticide create more problems for the long-term ecology of my garden? Is the immediate problem worth using something known to be toxic to bees or birds or amphibians, such as carbaryl? To the microbiology of my soil or the quality of my ground water? Photo: Bees lined up for a drink at a garden water dish.

I’m a home gardener; my garden is a source of deep happiness, but NOT my livelihood. For me, the answer is almost always “No.” Pesticides have their time and place and when properly administered can be effective tools. But they rarely, if ever, have a place in my garden.

For some good information on the control of grasshoppers, see the Integrated pest management pestnotes page from UC Davis: http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/PESTNOTES/pn74103.html.

By month’s end the edible garden will be in full summer swing – ripe tomatoes, spicy peppers, sweet corn, fresh mellow cucumbers and squash coming in to the kitchen by the basketful. By the end of the month we also can have prepared or begun to prepare some of our garden space for the planting of fall and winter crops like carrots, tasty greens and brassicas. Photo: Bee on melon flower.

Keep supporting your summer plants and their all-important soil with weed suppression, regular water and – for heavy feeders – a feeding every few weeks. Organic slow release fertilizer or liquid fish emulsion will do the trick nicely. A fresh side-dressing of compost along the drip lines of your larger plants will help suppress weeds as well as cool and feed the soil. Now is a good time to finish pruning your spring and summer bloomers to encourage a second flush of blooms later in the summer if you wait too long, you will prune back flower buds forming for next spring.

The Farmer’s Almanac tells us that as of July 3rd, the dog days are upon us. Lasting through mid- August, these long hot summer days are named for the Dog Star, Sirius, which is visible (if the smoke is not too heavy) with the rising Sun at this time of year. Sirius is the brightest star in the constellation Canis Major (Greater Dog). Photo: Full moon.

The calendar of North State gardening events in pretty laid back in July, to go with our weather and our summer state of mind. The On-line Calendar of North State Gardening Events at jewellgarden.com adds events throughout the month. I do my very best to keep the calendar up to date and accurate, please confirm all events with the event host. If you have an event you would like listed, or if you are aware of a mistake on the calendar, please send all pertinent information to: Jennifer@jewellgarden.com. Thanks!

JULY

July 3 – FULL MOON

July 7 – Chico: Mt. Lassen Chapter of the California Native Plant Society Field Trip: John Copeland memorial Meadow Slosh – Jonesville, Butte Co Meet at 9 am at west lot Chico Park & Ride (Hwy 99/32) with lunch, water, hiking gear, sun/insect protection and money for ride sharing. Be prepared to get your feet wet! We will admire the historic Jonesville stagecoach inn and barn followed by sloshing through a couple of nearby meadows replete with great plants. Call for alternate meeting place. Leader: Janna Lathrop 530-636-4547. For more information: http://mountlassen.cnps.org/

July 9 – Paradise: Paradise Garden Club Monthly Member Meeting and Program 1 pm. Terry Ashe Rec Center Paradise. Installation of 2012 Officers and presentation of Kitty Fuller and (possibly) Living Treasure Awards. General Membership Meeting following program For more info: http://paradisegardenclub.org/

Photo: Cheerful and colorful summer Martha Washington geraniums.

July 10 – Redding: “Mount Shasta & Lassen Region Farm and Food Economy” presentation by most experienced food system analysts in the U.S., Ken Meter of the Crossroads Resource Center (CRC) 7 – 9 pm. Sequoia Middle School’s McLaughlin Auditorium, 1805 Sequoia Street, from 7:00 – 9:00 pm. This free presentation is open to the public. Light refreshments will be provided. On July 10th, one of the most experienced food system analysts in the U.S., Ken Meter of the Crossroads Resource Center (CRC), will present “Mount Shasta & Lassen Region Farm and Food Economy,” based on his organization’s recent study of the North State’s complex food system. Area food producers, distributors and “locavores” of all kind are invited to attend this presentation. Over the past few months, the CRC has analyzed the food production and distribution systems of Shasta, Siskiyou, Tehama, Trinity, Lassen and Modoc counties. Conducted at the request of a number of regional organizations*, the study addresses questions including: How much do North State residents spend on food produced outside our region? How much do area farmers spend on agricultural inputs (seed, fertilizer, chemicals) from outside providers? And how could changing just a few of the ways we eat keep millions of those dollars at home?” For more information visit www.oursmartfarms.com, www.growinglocal.blogspot.com or www.crcworks.org.

Photo: Fresh summer fruit.

July 14 – Chico: Mt. Lassen Chapter of the California Native Plant Society Field Trip: Lumpkin Ridge Revisted East of Feather Falls above Oroville at the eastern boundary of Butte Co, at 4200’ an area of this ridge top is exposed Lovejoy basalt; site of a 2011 check-listing trip. The plan is to survey for late season plants on the basalt, bordering forest, shrubby areas and a hillside meadow. Come add to the species list and help with another florula for Butte Co. Bring water, lunch, insect/sun protection and money for ride sharing. Meet at west lot of Chico Park & Ride (Hwy 32/ 99) to leave at 9 am, return 5 pm. Leaders: Robert Fischer, rdfischer@comcast.net and Rob Schlising, rschlising@csuchico.edu For more information: http://mountlassen.cnps.org/

July 15 – Chico: Mt. Lassen Chapter of the California Native Plant Society Field Trip: Brady’s Camp Proposed Botanical Special Interest Area (SIA) Meet at the west lot of Chico Park & Ride (Hwy 99/32) at 8:30 am or the SaveMore Grocery parking lot in west Quincy at 10:30 am. On this field trip we will explore the Special Interest Area (SIA), which consists of a large meadow within the Red Fir zone. Springs are numerous, and Pine Creek flows through the meadow, resulting in wide variation of soil moisture and high plant diversity. The area also includes a champion lodgepole pine. Bring lunch, water, insect/sun protection and money for ride sharing. Leader: Marjorie McNairn ph: 530-343-2397 For more information: http://mountlassen.cnps.org/

July 15 – Davis:UC Davis Arboretum Cross-Pollination: Art/Nature Workshop 10 a.m.-noon, Arboretum Gazebo. The UC Davis Arboretum and the Davis Art Center present Cross-Pollination: Art/Nature Workshop, a hands-on, interactive workshop where participants will explore the relationship between creativity and the natural world. All ages are welcome to visit the Shields Oak Grove, collect natural materials, make art, and discover what happens when we encourage cross-pollination between art and nature. The free workshop will take place on Sunday, July 15, 10 a.m.-noon, at the Arboretum Gazebo, on Garrod Drive on the UC Davis campus. Learn more at www.davisartcenter.org/discoveryart. For more information, please call (530) 752-4880 or visit arboretum.ucdavis.edu.

Photo: The dramatic and fragrant Casablanca lily.

July 20 – 21 – Marysville: Marysville Peach Festival 4pm – 11 pm Friday, 10 am – 11 pm Saturday. D Street Historic Downtown Marysville. Come and enjoy the food, entertainment, arts and crafts with the thirty thousand plus other people who regularly visit the annual Marysville Peach Festival in Historic Downtown Marysville! For more info: http://www.marysvillepeachfest.com/

July 21 – Davis: UC Davis Arboretum Tired of Mowing Your Lawn? 10–11:30 a.m., Nature’s Gallery Court, Garrod Drive, UC Davis. Tired of mowing your lawn? Learn how to save water, energy, and money with a sustainable home landscape. The UC Davis Arboretum will offer a special “how to” tour exploring how to convert a home landscape from lawn to low-water, low-maintenance, beautiful plantings. The free tour will take place on Saturday, July 21, 10–11:30 a.m. Meet at Nature’s Gallery Court on Garrod Drive on the UC Davis campus (look for the colorful mosaic mural). Free parking is available in Visitor Lot 55. For more information, please call (530) 752-4880 or visit arboretum.ucdavis.edu.

July 22 – Chico: Mt. Lassen Chapter of the California Native Plant Society Field Trip: Carter Meadow – Lassen National Forest Meet at 8:30 am at west lot Chico Park & Ride (Hwy 99/32) with lunch, water, hiking gear, sun/insect protection and money for ride sharing. We will head up Hwy 32 to Elam Campground and turn off on the gravel forest road to Carter Meadow and the trailhead to the PCT. It is only 1 1/2 easy miles to a spectacular view of the old caldera of Mt Yana with present day Butt Mt (Carter Mt) to our north, Lake Almanor to the east and Humboldt Peak to the south. On the return, we follow Carter Creek through several smaller meadows until we come to the very large Carter Meadow (6,100 feet elev.). Call leader for alternate meeting place. Leaders: Woody Elliott 530-342-6053 and Wes Dempsey 530-342-2293 For more information: http://mountlassen.cnps.org/

Photo: A sphinx moth ornamenting a garden pot one early summer evening.

July 27 & 28 – Chico: Mt. Lassen Chapter of the California Native Plant Society Field Trip: White Mountains – Inyo County We need to know how many people would be interested in going, before we can organize. Please let Jim and Catie Bishop know (cjbishop1991@sbcglobal.net) as well as field trip organizers Gerry and Wes. You can address any questions to Jim & Catie. There is a limit on how many we can accommodate on this outing, so please indicate your interest only if you are sure you would attend. For more information: http://mountlassen.cnps.org/

July 28 – Chico: The Plant Barn Nursery & Gifts’s Annual SUMMER SOIREE! Stay tuned for details on the summer fun the flower floozies will be fixing up!

Photo: Praying mantis on an early summer sunflower.

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To submit plant/gardening related events/classes to the Jewellgarden.com on-line Calendar of Regional Gardening Events, send the pertinent information to me at: Jennifer@jewellgarden.com
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In a North State Garden is a weekly Northstate Public Radio and web-based program celebrating the art, craft and science of home gardening in Northern California. It is made possible in part by the Gateway Science Museum – Exploring the Natural History of the North State and on the campus of CSU, Chico. In a North State Garden is conceived, written, photographed and hosted by Jennifer Jewell – all rights reserved jewellgarden.com. In a North State Garden airs on Northstate Public Radio Saturday mornings at 7:34 AM Pacific time and Sunday morning at 8:34 AM Pacific time. Podcasts of past shows are available here.