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Archive for November, 2010

Here in Southern California the Santa Anas are upon us. These drying winds (hot or cold) that blow down through the mountain passes bring extremely low humidity with them. This combination of wind and low-to-no moisture can wreck havoc in your garden, especially if you’ve just put some new plants in the ground.

Dry winter winds can cause severe damage to plants and trees just as they can in the warmer months. Today it’s cold and the humidity is around 10% (I’ve got lip moisturizer in every pocket). That means I’ve got to get out into my garden and make sure that the plants are well watered.

If your area is having a dry winter, you should give your plants a good long drink before the ground freezes, or do it when the weather warms up enough that the water can soak down into the roots. You should also check to be sure you’ve got a good layer of mulch around the root zone. This will help your plants survive the winter by retaining ground moisture.

Young trees and shrubs planted recently (in the past 1 -2 years) can be damaged by drying winds and little snow fall in the colder climates. Besides providing sufficient water, you can create protective windbreaks by driving 3 – 4 stakes in the ground around your plant and wrapping burlap around the stakes, leaving the top open for rain or snow. Don’t use black plastic because it can heat up in warmer weather and encourage your plant to speed up new growth in the early spring leaving it vulnerable to frost damage when the weather turns cold again.

Evergreens can be particularly susceptible to desiccation (http://pubs.ext.vt.edu/426/426-500/426-500.pdf), which is when water is lost faster than the plant can take it up from the ground. Besides watering, mulching and providing windbreaks, you might want to consider spraying an anti-transpirant on the younger, more exposed evergreens. Wilt Pruf is a natural organic pine emulsion that does a good job of reducing moisture loss through the foliage of ornamentals such as azaleas, evergreens, rhododendrons, hollies, boxwood and laurels.

So briefly, no matter what climate you are in winterize your plants by:

  • Watering
  • Mulching
  • Protecting

Stay warm!

 

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Durango, Colorado

Irvine, California


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Durango, Colorado


Irvine, California


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This post is late. And why would that be? Well, let’s see. I woke up extra early and started baking cornbread for stuffing. Our guests woke up and we had breakfast. I went to work, got stabbed with a rusty nail and had to go get a tetanus shot (can’t wait to see what that feels like in the morning). I came home, made dinner and cleaned up. And before I knew it the day was almost over and there were a million things I hadn’t done yet, including this post.

Which leads me to conclude that hosting Thanksgiving festivities and blogging are probably mutally exclusive. But blog we must, so I called Mary Beth and we decided to give you just one tip today, but it could be the most important one we’ll ever give you.

Feed Your Soil

In organic gardening the most important thing you can do is feed your soil. Fertile soil encourages the growth of millions of good microbes that will keep the bad guys in check and create a perfect environment for keeping your plants healthy, robust and able to resist most pests.

We like to follow what we call the “forest floor theory.” All that really means is that you should layer organic material on top of the soil.

Instead of digging amendments into your garden beds every spring, leave the ground undisturbed except for planting holes. Then add lots of compost and mulch. Like the forest environment, you’ll be layering organic materials on top of your soil. The microbes living under the surface will do all the work — coming up to the new layer, breaking down the material and drawing nutrients into the soil to feed themselves and your plants. Do this over a few seasons and you will have the most amazing, fertile soil and super healthy plants.

Happy Thanksgiving, friends!

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Durango, Colorado

 

Irvine, California





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By now most everyone is familiar with Cyber Monday, the official start of the online shopping beginning this year on November 29th. Last year consumers spent almost $890 million dollars online and we’re willing to bet our entire holiday gift budgets that a large portion of those dollars were spent on items that are in the back of some dank closet or in the Goodwill bin.

But what if you could really take your gift giving up a few notches by shopping responsibly this year? Well the good folks at The Nature Conservancy are ready to help you put your good intentions into action with Green Gift Monday. They have gathered a wonderful collection of gifts that will protect and save the wild places on this beautiful planet of ours.

On Green Gift Monday you can help The Nature Conservancy create habitats for hummingbirds, adopt an acre in the Rockies, California, or the Appalacians, or protect a coral reef in the South Pacific. So click this link knowing that whichever option you choose you will be making a real difference in the world.

On a personal note, Mary Beth and I want to say how grateful we are for The Nature Conservancy’s efforts in  preserving open space. Readers of this blog know how much we love Block Island, a magical place has been a part of our lives for more than 40 years. The movement to save open space on the Island was started in the early 70′s by visionary Rob Lewis whose tireless efforts were supported by The Nature Conservancy. To date more than 43 percent of Block Island has been protected and will forevermore remain wild and undeveloped to be enjoyed for generations to come thanks to their work and to other generous Islanders who donated land to the cause.

 

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Durango, Colorado

Irvine, California


 




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