Are you ready for fall season vegetable gardening yet?
Summer is almost over and in Southern California it’s time to think about your favorite cool weather crops.
For many gardeners, autumn means cutting back on the amount of gardening you do and getting your garden ready for cold weather, but for us, that is not the case. Instead, we get ready for another growing season filled with delicious vegetables and fruits. Continue reading “Autumn Vegetable Gardening in So Cal”→
I know it doesn’t feel like it yet, but before you know it the air will cool and the time spent in the garden won’t be as exhausting as it has been over the last few months. The sun won’t be beating down on you with its full power and the smell of heated roof tops, and scorching pavements will be replaced with the aroma of dew on the grass and the freshly harvested fields nearby. Continue reading “Fall is Finally Here in Southern California”→
It’s September and time to start thinking about autumn in Southern California. The weather doesn’t really agree with that theory, but it’s inevitable – autumn is just around the corner. Here’s a quick reminder of a few chores to take care of around the garden.
IN THE GARDEN
It’s just about time to pull out old veggie plants and spent annuals. I’m sad to see them go, but a clear veggie patch really does look nicer than a bunch of mostly dead plants that probably won’t produce any quality vegetables. Trim branches that are too close to power lines or the house. Keep in mind that some bushes (like ficus) will grow more if you prune them at the wrong time. Many flowers are still blooming, so you can hold off trimming back roses and other bushes.
Soak trees, bushes, and perennials to encourage deep roots. If you’re able to tell when the wind is about to pick up, soak them before. They’ll probably need it after, too. It seemed like it was windy more often than not last year.
If you’re close to the grassy hills, make sure you clear dead bushes, branches and trees that are within 30′ of your home. Cut annual grass to no higher than 4″. To learn more about fire prevention, visit readyforwildfire.org.
Batten down the hatches, the winds are coming! With any luck, we’ll have a good deal of rain in a few months, so you may as well get ready for that, too. One weather report claims we can expect an “ark storm” – meaning a bad winter that only comes around every 150 years. Another weather report claims that we’ll have a bad El Nino winter, but they don’t know if any of it will hit the US. Either way, put away anything light that could be blown away to Oz. Also put away anything you don’t want soaked, in case it does rain. If we have another mild and dry winter, you can enjoy a nice clean yard because you were prepared for the worst. Remember to take down your wind chimes, too. (I always forget till they wake me up at 2am)
Although we should keep our tools clean and well maintained throughout the year, but how many of us actually do it? Since there isn’t a lot of gardening to tend to, now is a good time to clean and sharpen tools, and clean up lawn equipment and such. Be sure to store everything out of the rain.
If you haven’t already started, plant your next crop of seeds. There’s still time to grow and harvest another crop of cucumbers, chard, basil, etc. Lettuce is a wonderful winter crop for us, so plant away!
It reached 102° at CSUN yesterday and today wasn’t much cooler. Around about the time you start thinking it’s time to turn on the heater in the house, it’s also time to wrap your greenhouse. There’s no need to remove the shade cloth unless it’s ready to be replaced anyway. Be sure to add 1”x2” boards at strategic points over the plastic to keep the wind from ripping it off in the middle of the night. (can you tell we tend to forget potentially noisy items till it’s the middle of the night?)
PETS & CRITTERS
If you have any pets that spend the majority of their time outside, look around their area with fresh eyes – do they need new blankets in their house, a new food or water dish? Is their house out of the wind? Will they stay dry if it rains? What if it rains heavy? If you have free-range chickens, do they have a place to go to get out of the wind, rain, and mud? Will water get into their house or their feed?
We used to wrap the aviary and rabbit cages in plastic when the temperature dropped (leaving a window for air flow). It wasn’t pretty to look at, but the finches and bunnies were much happier and that made us happy.
Local hummingbirds do not migrate, and neither do many of our wild birds. If you feed in the summer, please remember to feed in the winter. Keep birdbaths full and clean, and move feeders to an area that won’t be affected by wind or rain. It’s nice to keep planter dishes on the ground for lizards and other small critters that might wander into your yard.
It’s surprising how little water mosquitoes need in order to develop, and they do not need warm weather to thrive. Last January, I found mosquito larvae in a cup that had blown into the yard and then collected a bit of water from the sprinklers. Keep a constant look out for anything that can hold water. (This should be a year-round activity.) Rinse out birdbaths and water bowls every few days, too.
In the process of looking for craft shows to sell our magnets at, I’ve run across a few good websites listing local Farmers’ Markets.
If you don’t live in the Ventura/LA county area (or even if you do), the USDA has a searchable list that is easy to use. Scroll down to the pre-populated list and type in your zip code and how many miles you’re willing to travel. When you have your list, there is a small box to the left of the market’s name (in the Info column). Clicking this little box will give you a pop-up containing the address, contact info, whether or not the market is Certified and usually a website to the market. http://search.ams.usda.gov/farmersmarkets
There are several lists for Ventura County and our area of Los Angeles County – I’ve included a few at the end of this post. To save you some time from having to search and organize all the info on these sites, I’ve made a list for you:
Midtown Ventura 9:00am – 1:00pm at Pacific View Mall (3301 N Main St, Ventura)
Pleasant Valley 3:00 – 7:00 at Camarillo Community Center Park (1605 E Burnley St, Camarillo, at the corner of Burnley and Carmen) ** Pleasant Valley FM also has a Crafter’s Corner for crafters and artisans to peddle their wares. **
Northridge 5:00pm – 9:00pm at Northridge Mall (9301 Tampa Ave, Northridge, between Plummer and Nordhoff)
Thousand Oaks 1:30pm – 6:00pm at the east parking lot of The Oaks Mall (near Wilbur Rd and Hillcrest Dr, close to HWY 101)
East Ventura FM 3:00 – 7:00 at Ventura Community Park (corner of Telephone Rd and Kimball Rd) ** it looks like there are craft booths at this FM **
Downtown Oxnard FM 9:00am – 1:00pm at Plaza Park (N 5th St and C St, off HWY 1)
Moorpark 2:00pm – 7:00pm at Los Angeles Av and Miller Pkwy in the Staples/Petco parking lot. (I stopped here once in 2013 and they had craft booths)
Simi Valley 11:00am – 3:30 at Civic Center Plaza a.k.a Regal parking lot (2757 Tapo Canyon Rd, next to TGI Friday’s)
Simi Valley 4:00pm – 8:30pm at Simi Valley Town Center (a.k.a. Simi Mall) at Center Court
Thousand Oaks 8:30am – 12:30pm at The Lakes at TO (2200 E TO Blvd)
Main Street Canoga Park 9:00am – 1:00pm at Owensmouth Ave. between Sherman Way and Wyandotte St
Downtown Ventura 8:30am – noon at the corner of Santa Clara St and Palm St
Ventura 1:30pm – 6:00pm at Johnson Dr and Northbank Rd
Newbury Park 9:00am – 2:00pm at Newbury Library (Borchard Rd and Michael Dr)
Calabassas 8:00am – noon at Calabasas Rd, west of El Canon Av (across from Sagebrush Cantina)
Santa Clarita 8:30am – noon at College of the Canyons on Valencia Dr (Parking Lot 5) ** The Santa Clarita Street Fair is in an adjacent parking lot the 4th (weekend) of every month, from 10:00am – 5:00pm. **
The Channel Islands Harbor Farmers’ & Fishermans’ Market 10:00am – 2:00pm on Harbor Blvd, adjacent to the Marine Emporium Landing (Fish Market?? How awesome is that??!) **they also have craft/art booths **
Westlake Village 10:00am – 2:00pm at Village Glen (2707 Agoura Rd)
Ojai 9:00am – 1:00pm at 300 E Matilija St, near N Montgomery St
Agoura Hills 9:00am – 2:00pm at Agoura’s Famous Deli parking lot (5835 Kanan Rd)
Malibu 10:00am – 3:00pm at Malibu Civic Center (23519 Civic Center Way)
Did you know that California is in “possibly” the worst drought in recorded history? I didn’t. Our water company hasn’t sent any literature or notifications with the bill and I don’t read the news online or watch it on TV, so I’ve missed any notifications there.
NPR has an article with pictures of Folsom dam at 17% of its capacity. The photo above shows the the snow pack in the Sierra Nevada 10-30% of what we need.
Though I won’t be able to plant much in the flower beds this year, I can still plan what will go in when we have the budget. I’ll share what I learn about drought tolerant plants.
I bet your seedlings are beginning to peek up from the soil, your catalog orders are placed, and your gardening books have a hundred colorful tabs sticking out from between the pages.
Mine aren’t. Well, that’s not completely true, but I have much less done that I wanted. I swear I was so much more productive when I worked full time.
We gave the plum a good pruning this winter, removed a couple brush cherry trees the wind tore apart, and made some preliminary plans to redesign the flower beds. Since I’m not working and my only paycheck comes from etsy, we’re extremely limited on what we’ll be doing in the garden this year. Veggies are worth the expense, replacing roses with regular bushes is not. I also want the flower garden to be more chicken-friendly, which means bigger bushes and stronger perennials – they can devour a flat of alyssum or pansies before you realize they’re out of their yard!
Fred and his dad remodeled the greenhouse this month. It is now down to just three bays and two aquaponic ponds (YA!!) We’ll start rebuilding the raised veggie beds this weekend, using CMU blocks instead of 2x4s. The blocks are less expensive and termites won’t eat them. I’m concerned about the extra heat the concrete will generate, but since the veggie garden is on the east side of the house, it shouldn’t be too bad. (NOTE we removed the blocks the following year and replaced with 2×4 boards)
It’s tempting to line the beds with pond liner to help conserve water and keep the gophers out (maybe!), but it’s a huge expense for an experiment. We had originally lined the wooden raised beds with chicken wire and white plastic sheeting, but the plastic degrades pretty quickly (and who knows what kind of chemicals it leaches into the soil), and the chicken wire eventually rusts away to leave behind tetanus-laden splinters for unwary hands.
It’s September and my garden is definitely looking worn out. I would love to rip out every scraggly annual and perennial I planted just a few months ago, but I must be patient because second spring is coming. While I wait for the heat wave to pass (what is with the sun the last couple weeks??) I’m continuing to deadhead, keep the vines under control and pruning back the blackberry vines. It’s too hot to deal with the grass encroaching in my flower beds and it’s the wrong time to prune fruit trees, and I don’t like to plant when it’s this hot. The risk of losing the plants due to stress combined with high temps isn’t worth it, in my opinion, never mind that I don’t want to work under this angry sun.
Keep watering deep, giving extra attention to the plants that need it. Snip back spent flowers and remove dead branches or plants. Continue caring for veggies and harvesting as they ripen. Be careful to not over water your tomatoes will split.