Flowerdale Nursery  & Landscaping
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Flowerdale Nursery & Landscaping

Organic Gardening

 

 

 

Just what is Organic Gardening Anyway?

Organic gardening is more of a philosophy than a rigid practice. Organic Gardeners uses principals & products that are made of naturally occurring components. Again, all inputs & outputs must be of a natural (not man made or synthetic) origin.

 

The Benefits of Gardening Organically

Organic products are no less toxic than their inorganic counterparts. Inorganic compounds however have the potential to last longer in the natural system creating lasting affects & side effects as they decompose. Organic products are safer usually because they are often compounds that only affect a specific organism. An example is using organic soaps to kill insects while leaving many other animals (& humans) unharmed. Other benefits are as follows;

  • Decrease in water pollution & contamination risk.
  • Promotes the uptake of nutrients already present in the soil.
  • Build healthy fertile soil, nourishing the soils biology.
  • Attract beneficial organisms that eat the non beneficial organisms.
  • Less time, money, & effort.
  • Increase the taste & nutrition of your fruits & vegetables.
  • Promotes recycling & is “eco-friendly”.
  • Organic gardening is very easy!

 

Know Your Garden

Become familiar with the greater climate of your garden & all the microclimates within it. Choose plants that come from a similar climate as the one you are in (O. C. is in a Subtropical Mediterranean climate).  Being aware of your gardens climatic conditions is key in being a successful gardener.

·         Mediterranean climates have a cool wet season (winter & spring) countered by a warm to hot dry season (summer & fall).

·         Annual precipitation received is less than 30” of rain.

·         We are located in USDA Zone 9A & Sunset Zone 22 & 23.

 

Watering

The standard watering regimen for landscapes is a deep watering (10 to 15 minutes) once every two weeks or twice a month, spring through fall. In winter, water once a month only if rains fail. Very drought tolerant plants may need only watering once a month spring through fall & none during the winter.

         New plants may need more water for up to six months until their established (four is standard).

         Plants in containers need much more water than those in the ground. Water plants when they need it, watering regimens change with the weather.  

Lawns at most need water 2 to 3 times a week for 10 minutes at a time.

         Everything else needs specialized watering schedules so ask your local nurseryman.

         In sandy soils water more frequently but for less time, in heavy soil water less frequently but for a longer period of time.

Do not over water! It leads to the death of many plants; their roots suffocate & die of rot or disease.

 

Planting

There are two planting seasons in Southern California. The spring planting season: late March until late April.

         This time is reserved for planting of warm season growing plants.

Fall planting season: starts late October through December.

         This time is for cool season growers.

         Fall is also time for planting & scattering most wildflower, & lawn seeds.

 

Pruning

Seasonally prune four times a year. This gives you a balance of work & rest. Some plants need a hard pruning once a year either in spring or fall depending on the season of their dormancy. Pruning will help you control pests, diseases, & your plants growth without “applying” anything.

         Plants that grow in the warm weather should be pruned in the spring, just before growth starts.

         Plants that grow in cool weather should be pruned in the fall, just before growth starts.

Remove dead flowers (deadhead) & corrective prune whenever necessary. Make accurate cuts with clean sharp tools. Remember some plants have special pruning needs so research.

 

Soil Preparation the Organic Way

The more organic matter (compost) you add to your soil the less fertilizer & water your plants will need.  Organic compost is an essential source of Nitrogen & many micronutrients. Compost also allows plants to tolerate more stress by acting as a buffer. In addition compost feeds the organisms in soil which in turn feed the plants.

·         For clay soils that are heavy & poorly drained the addition of coarse compost like BLACK FOREST increases water & air flow to roots (perlight or pumice in some cases).

·         Adding certain minerals like GYPSUM can loosen up hard sticky clays.

·         In sandy well drained soils the addition fine compost like BUMPERCROP increases the water retention in the soil (vermiculite in some cases).

·         Products with humic acid like BLACKGOLD release the nutrients that are naturally occurring in the soil, compost has a similar effect.

·         Adding compost buffers any extremes in salinity or alkalinity in the soil.

·         Good rich compost is easy to make as long as the quality & diversity of the compostable is high (we are what we eat).

·         Use mulch whenever possible, it protects the soil & roots from the extremes in then environment.

·         In containers & pots always use potting soil or cactus mix as your planting media.

 

Fertilizing Organically

The more organic matter (compost) you add to your soil the less fertilizer you need, & the healthier your plants & soil will be. Conventional fertilizers add nutrients directly to the plant whether it needs it or not. With organic fertilizers the fertilizer feeds the soil microbes which in turn release nutrients to the plants as the plant need them. Most organic fertilizers release their nutrients slowly.

         If you are going to fertilize, do it lightly four times a year seasonally; fall, winter, spring, summer.

         You can use an organic fertilizer, DR. EARTH FERTYLIZERS are recommended.

         All plants in containers need fertilizer more often to grow healthy.

         For container grown plants use a liquid all purpose fertilizer BLACKGOLD or FISHEMULSHION is recommended.

         Many plants have specialty diets so inquire & ask your nurseryman.

         The more you fertilize a plant the more water that plant needs. Over fertilizing leads to inefficient water use.

 

Organic Pest Control

The following are the most common offenders; aphids, mealy bug, ants, scale, white fly, grasshoppers, rabbits & gophers. Establish a threshold for a low pest population level (there will always be pests in the garden its normal). Monitor the pests in your garden frequently.

         Remove infestations or pest populations out of control manually at first.

         Use organic pesticides as a last resort for problem situations.

         Biological weapons like BT are useful in naturally controlling pest populations.

         Attract beneficial insects, bats & birds.

 

Aim for prevention

         Keep a clean garden remove dead leaves, twigs, fruits, etc.

         To prevent introducing new pests to your garden quarantine new plants (for two days before planting), inspect their leaves, stems, & roots.

         Use low toxicity (less poisonous) pesticides first before using more toxic weapons.  Consult your nurseryman for more options.

         INSECTICIDAL SOAPS, ULTRA FINE OIL, PYRETHRINS are good organic choices.

 

Disease Control Organically

Most plants grown correctly have few disease problems.

         Chose the correct plant for the right location.

         Know when plants are dormant (not growing). They generally need much less water when dormant.

         Do not crowd plants too close together.

         Keep tools clean & sharp.

Many diseases are caused by improper growing conditions which stress plants.

         Over watering is the #1 cause of plant death besides lack of water!

         Avoid incorrect pruning, or pruning at the wrong time of year.

         Keep lawns away from tree trunks.

         Remove tree stakes, supports, & ties after trees are well rooted

         SULFUR, COPPER, ULTRAFINE OILS, & NEEM are good organic choices for disease control.

         Spray copper & sulfur on plants that are bare of foliage to control fungal diseases. Use ultra fine oils or neem once a month on susceptible plants.

 

Weed Control

Remove weeds often & as soon as they are spotted. Manual pulling often works better than chemical sprays. Intensive weed removal in spring before they set seed helps control the weed population the following year.

         Use mulches.

         Never use plastic weed barriers it is not healthy for soil. Landscape fabric allows for gas & water exchange & is preferred.

         Use “pre – emergent” like Amaze in fall & spring to prevent weed seeds from germinating. The “pre- emergent” kills weed seeds while leaving sprouted plants unharmed.

         Remove stumps of weedy trees or shrubs.

Avoid over watering. Check irrigation for leaks & incorrect sprinkler spray paths. Use edging around lawns to keep the grass in its place. Ask your nurseryman when buying plants to avoid planting potentially weedy & invasive plants in your garden.

 

 

 

 

 

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