These days, getting exactly what you want to eat and drink is as simple as getting in your car and traveling to the nearest grocery store, which is almost undoubtedly stocked full of thousands of different varieties of fruits, vegetables, meats, processed foods, and drinks, among others. While supermarkets have dramatically increased the variety of foods available and the times of year they are stocked, our relationship to food and the concept of growing one’s own produce has dwindled as a result. As food prices continue to rise and major corporations come closer and closer to relieving themselves of the requirement to label genetically modified foods, growing your own fruits and veggies might arguably represent the best decision a modern and health-conscious consumer can make. In addition to providing a way to free yourself from the unnecessary and burdensome binds of big agriculture, you will also gain an invaluable understanding of and connection to the natural, biologically symbiotic relationship of plants and the earth. So, with the start of Spring this year, we thought we’d provide you with some helpful tips for gardening in Southern California. And what a better time to start planting than May!
- Plant Herbs: It’s no secret that using fresh herbs when cooking makes everything taste up to 1,000,000 times better. Plant your favorites, like basil, cilantro, dill, mint, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage and tarragon and harvest the leaves for cooking as needed. Pinch back any signs of flowers to increase the plant’s longevity.
- Aphids be gone! (naturally): Aphids are tiny bugs, usually green or black, that attach themselves to new plant growth and feed on plant sap. Unfortunately, an abundance of aphids doesn’t usually bode well for plants, and need to be controlled to maximize plant growth. You can remove aphids naturally by focusing a strong spray of water on the aphids several times a day for a week. This way, the aphids will be unable to reattach themselves to the plant, and the plant won’t have to endure any harsh chemicals found in pesticides. If water doesn’t suffice, try spraying a mixture of 1 cup veggie oil, 1 1/2 cups water and 2 teaspoons of dish soap onto the plant. Wait several hours and then wash the soap off of the plant. Then, put some ladybugs in the garden. They love to eat aphids!
- Include Annuals: Spring and summer are great times to plant flowers that only grow seasonally. Some examples include begonia, chrysanthemum, geranium marigolds, zinnia, petunias, impatiens and sunflowers. If you’re planning to buy these plants from the nursery, select smaller sized plants with healthy green foliage, because bigger plants will take longer to assimilate to the garden and will not be as prolific.
- Be conscious of your water consumption: Warmer weather usually leads people to water their gardens excessively. Soil should be moist four to six inches below the surface of the garden, and you can check this by making a small hole in the soil and sticking your finger in the dirt to check for moisture content. If your garden has grass, step on it. If it flattens, your garden needs water. The best time to water your plants is in the early morning so that less water evaporates. Water less often, but for longer periods. Deep watering allows roots to grow downward so that they will be protected during hotter days.
- Thinner is better: Fruit trees should be in full bloom during May. My boyfriend’s avocado tree, for example, has already produced thousands of beautiful, delicious avocados that can grow to be the size of a small papaya! As is true with this avocado tree, fruit trees typically produce more fruit than can grow to maturity, leading some of the immature fruit to fall of naturally. Thin the remaining smaller, unhealthy- looking fruit from the branches. This will help the stronger fruits to thrive.
- Veggie time: Plant your veggies now to enjoy during the hot summer months. Some great choices for this region are artichokes, beets, cucumber, eggplant, peppers, tomatoes, beans, corn, melons, and squash.
- Perennial galore: Fill out your flower garden with perennials that bloom in summer. Be sure to include asters, coreopsis, clematis, coneflowers, daylilies, ice plant, speedwell, Shasta daisies, salvia and stokes aster.
We hope this helps you in your planting pursuits this Spring! We would love to see what’s in your garden, so post some pics on our facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/OCFoodAccess?ref=hl! We’re looking forward to seeing some great produce, flowers, and full- on gardens! Happy planting, everyone!
Information about gardening taken from: www.agromin.com