November 2015 Edition
Rain? No rain? What is a gardener to do?
Rain? No rain? What is a gardener to do? That is the question for this month. Those of us who have ever tried to predict this never really know for sure.
While the rest of the country knows that winter means cold and what to do about it, Southern California is a very different story. This is the time of year that our summer dormant plants begin to wake up and grow! Native plants green up, Mediterranean plants look for more water, and the succulents like Aloes, Aeoniums, Cotyledons, and Senecios perk up and look great! This is also the time for our roses to give the best blooms.
Our peculiar weather pattern is not only seasonal, with wet winters and dry summers, but cyclical as well. We will have several years of good rains followed by several years of drought. This is our normal pattern. A wise gardener knows that when there is abundant rain our plants need protection from TOO much water, and when there are drought years (usually seven in a row!) they will need more supplemental water to survive.
There are many problems from too much water. Rot, disease and soil erosion can seriously damage plants and the landscape. Make sure that your garden has good surface drainage and somewhere for the overflow to go. Properties generally have a high and low point. Observe the drainage pattern and remove all obstacles like soil berms, water wells, and debris to prevent flooding. Move potted plants, especially succulents under the roof eaves or raise them up on blocks.
If we have a dry winter the methods of directing the moisture that does fall into the right places will greatly benefit your plants and trees. Soil berms, water wells and lots of mulch will direct the water to the root system. Have you heard of Pitcher Irrigation? This is nothing new. It is an ancient system of distributing water to the roots slowly. Sink porous clay pots in the right places and periodically fill them with water. This can be in a circle around a tree at the drip line or near shrubs. Place a central pot in the vegetable garden bed and plant beans or peas around it.
Be prepared for wind along with rain. Training a young tree or maintaining a mature one takes special treatment. Dense trees need to be opened up inside to allow the wind to pass through without breaking branches. Remove all dead and weak branches. Pay particular attention to crossed branches or ones over your roof! If the ground is saturated and the wind grabs that canopy, it will go over. Stake young trees but tie them loosely so they can move and develop a strong trunk. Check all ties to prevent trunk damage and remove them when the tree is well rooted.
This is it! Move the shrubs and young trees that are in the wrong places. This month is the time to get new plants in the ground and transplant the ones that need to move. Evergreens benefit the most by taking advantage of the natural rainy season to become better established before the heat of summer. Remember to keep as much of the root ball intact as possible. Allow deciduous plants to lose their leaves before being transplanted. You can remove all of the soil from a dormant plant and spread the roots out properly in its new hole. Cut back the tops to balance out the loss of roots.
Do you hate earwigs as much as I do? Please don’t spray poison in the garden. Try this method for getting rid of them. Loosely roll sheets of newspaper up and put rubber bands on the ends. Soak them in water until really wet. Place them around your garden and trash areas before dark. Every morning close off the ends of your traps and seal in a plastic bag. I like to do this on trash day and have them hauled off the property right away. Don’t just throw them into the compost pile. The little pests will be back.
contact Marilyn’s Garden Design.