Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Gardening as the Earth’s Energy Increases: Ushering in Summer

Source: Prawny CP
Greetings from our Garden!

Here in Southern California we get a really short springtime where we bask in the burst of new growth and blooms, damp pregnant soil, birds chirping and cool breezes and then the Sun makes us say Bon Voyage to all that loveliness by late April, early May.

Now is a good gardening time to do the following:
  • Bring more mulch into your garden to protect your soil and plant roots from the scorching sun. I'll be doing this for our entire landscape this season and will probably increase the depth to retain more moisture.
  •  Place intention on deeper watering and organizing ways to provide your soil with deeper waterings like the use of Ollas or creating waffle gardens. Waffle gardens are a traditional technique practiced by indigenous dry-land communities, particularly by the Zuni, in which you dig into the earth for your soil bed rather than raising it or planting at ground level. 
  • Let wildflowers and other annuals re-seed, this will help establish a good eco-system foundation for your plant communities.
  • Weed your garden of invasives by ensuring they do not go to seed. I’m dealing with lots of wild lettuce and morning glory right now. However, healing ‘weeds’ like dandelions are allowed to re-seed.
  • Whatever you do, don’t get into the plant frenzy mode and start planting new perennial plants during this time. You will end up watering them more for establishment because they will want to grow towards the sun, spending almost all energy on new green growth rather than root growth, which happens during darker seasons like Fall and Winter. It will also take them a bit longer to mature.
  • Do start seeds for your summer crops and get some annual herbs in as soon as possible before the heat really sets in. Part-shade is perfect for annual herbs. I encourage you to seek out drought-tolerant/resistant heirloom varieties. Especially for water guzzlers like tomatoes. Here are some great varieties: http://shop.nativeseeds.org/pages/seeds
  • Nourish your surrounding soil by inoculating it with compost 'bombs' in patterns around root systems. Gather some compost in your hands, roll into the size of a baseball and bury into your soil. You can bury them in a grid of sorts, see image below. Bury about 8-6 inches deep. This approach will feed more of your soil web than if you simply place compost near your plant’s roots extending the use of your compost as well. 

  • Tend to your compost more often by ensuring that it is staying moist during dry and hot spells. 
  • Harvest and dry garden herbs that are about to flower of that have just flowered. During this phase most of these herbs will have a high content of essential oils.  
  •  Don't be afraid to plant densely (close together), in the photo above the medicinal plants in that box behind me are very close together and they love it, this also helps retain soil moisture.
  • Feed your soil some herbal or seaweed infusions. Remember, feeding your soil is feeding your plant and healthy soil retains more moisture. Here is a  nifty list of infusions your plants and soil will love:  http://tipnut.com/plant-brews/
  • You may want to also consider adding a bird bath for birds to drink and bathe in. During droughts like our current one, water for wildlife strategically placed in our gardens can be a lifesaver. You may find some bees and dragonflies taking in some H20 as well. 
Here is a great gardening resource from Yvonne Savio that provides monthly tips, see below. I had the pleasure of being in the 2011 Los Angeles County UCCE Master Gardener class that was led by this wonderful lady.  

Gardening in L.A. Monthly Tips: http://www.gardeninginla.net/monthly-tips.html 


What's growing on in your garden? Feel free to share or ask any gardening questions below.