Jun 122013
 

by Avis Licht

Mixed herbs in the landcape

Mixed herbs in the landcape

In the garden my plants are bursting with happiness from the latest rains after some very warm days.  In northern California we rarely get rain in June, and when we do, it’s cause for celebration.  Irrigation from the municipal water that is treated with chemicals, is not the same as rain and the plants truly respond to the difference.  Read about nitrogen and rain in this post.

Father’s Day is coming up soon.  Be sure your favorite Dad has the tools he needs for his garden. Great Garden Tools

A few easy and useful tips for keeping your summer garden growing well:

1.Check your irrigation system for leaks and make sure all the plants are getting watered.  With overhead sprinklers plants can get missed by interfering foliage.  With drips, you need to check that they are working, haven’t popped off and that there are enough for your plants. Drip is good at conserving water, but you still need to check for moisture  around your plants.

I recommend Robert Kourik’s book on drip irrigation. He is the expert and as we say, wrote the book on it.  Read about it here. 

Here is the place to get drip irrigation at excellent prices: Drip Irrigation Products

2. Mulch your plants to keep the soil from compacting, to preserve moisture and reduce weeds.  Read this post about different types of mulch. I talk about how to pick the right mulch for your garden.

3. Keep Your Eyes Open.  By this I mean, walk around the garden regularly and look at the plants, the soil, and the birds and the bees. By noticing changes in your plants early you can rectify things. For example,  if they are being eaten by bugs, snails or birds, if they’re wilting due to lack of water, sun or even too much moisture, or just not thriving, you will be able to keep the garden healthy before it is too  late. Doing this one thing can be the difference be success and not so much success.

4. Enjoy your garden.  Take the time to sit back with a cup of your favorite beverage and enjoy the fruits of your labor.  I’ve placed chairs in various places around the garden so that there’s always the right place to sit no matter what time of day it is.

A  quiet shady place to read

A quiet shady place to read or perhaps catch a few winks

May 072012
 
Lettuce with drip irrigation


A bed of lettuce

Closely planted lettuce in Spring

by guest blogger extraordinaire: Robert Kourik

Robert Kourik is a guest blogger for this site. He’s definitely got the right credentials. Author of Your Edible Landscape Naturally, and Drip Irrigation for Every Landscape and All Climates, he’s got lots of experience and lots of opinions. In this article he has some radical suggestions for how to use your drip irrigation.  Give it a try and see for yourself if it works in your garden. Let me know what you think. Being conscious of our water use is imperative and drip irrigation is an important tool.

Robert writes:

It’s about time to start up drip irrigation systems. No matter how you use drip irrigation, frequently or every once in a while, it will always be more efficient than any sprinkler you’re currently using.

Consider daily irrigation for the best growth and greatest vegetable yields. Daily irrigation doesn’t use gallons of extra water. Oddly enough, infrequent watering may use more water than frequent, even daily, irrigation. If you have young seedlings, their roots are shallow, near the soil surface. They need access to water easily. Infrequent watering can have the effect of deep soil moisture and shallow dryness.

The other main consideration for frequent watering of small amounts is the texture of your soil. If you have a sandy or light loam soil, water will go through quickly and not be held in the soil. A clay soil will hold moisture much longer and should be watered less frequently. As with all the other tips you’ve read, observation of your own plants in your own garden will be the best way to determine what works best for you.

1/4 inch drip with lettuce

Newly planted baby bibb lettuce with 1/4 in drip

Lettuce grown

Lettuce fills in with 1/4 in drip

Once I planted a drought-resistant landscape with plants such as lavender, santolina, rockroses and rosemary. The day after planting, the timer was set to irrigate for 15 minutes. After the risk of transplant shock was over, the drip irrigation was turned on each day for only eight minutes to replace the moisture lost each day by transpiration. The plants flourished, even though each one-half-gph emitter was distributing only seven tablespoons of water per emitter each day. Contrast this with a nearby garden with a similar soil and plants arbitrarily watered only twice a month for four hours. This amounts to two gallons per emitter for the two-week period, or just more than 18 tablespoons of water per day—more than twice the water used in the flourishing landscape.

Please visit Robert at his website: RobertKourik.com and find out about all his books.

I would add one more thing to help you decide how much and how often to water. Use a moisture meter. It has a probe that you can put into the soil to see what the moisture is at different levels below the surface. A dry surface does NOT mean the soil is dry. You need to check 2 – 6 inches below to see if your soil is wet or dry.

moisture meter

Best tool ever. This will save you time, water and money.

Mar 152012
 
Blood Meal

It says "All Natural" but where did it really come from?

by Guest Blogger Extraodinaire- Robert Kourik, author of Your Edible Landscape Naturally

As organic gardeners, we’re always looking for natural and non-harmful ways to add nutrient to the soil to aid in plant growth.  One of the most important nutrients and one of the hardest to find in organic form is Nitrogen.  Nitrogen encourages leafy growth and fruit and seed production. As plants grow, they take nitrogen out of the soil and it needs to be replaced.  But how? Growing nitrogen fixing plants is one of the best ways to restore it in the soil.  But this takes time.  Compost and manures, which are also excellent for the plants, have relatively small amounts of nitrogen.

Blood meal is a fast-acting, high nitrogen, organic fertilizer. It is concentrated and often thought of as “hot”, meaning  too much can hurt tender root hairs or roots. Often just a light sprinkling is enough.  It can have a nitrogen content of 12.%, 1.00% phosphorus and 0.60% potassium. It can also attract dogs, racoons, possums and other meat eating animals that will dig up the garden beds. Blood meal, as you would expect, is a byproduct of the animal butchering industry. It takes a lot of energy to create blood meal in the form we use it in the garden. We also don’t know how the animals were raised.  So it’s a bit of a stretch to call it “all natural and organic” in the way we want it to be safe and harmless to nature.

By knowing what blood meal is and where it comes from, you can make an informed decision about whether to use it or not.

You can save energy by growing a legume crop solely for the accumulation of nitrogen in the lumpy nodules located on its roots—fertilizer gathered free from the nitrogen in the air. Legumes that produce enough nitrogen for hungry crops (like corn) are  alfalfa, fava beans, clover and peas. Till under the young foliage before it blooms—called green manuring. This will increase the yield of crops without using blood meal. Use green manuring of any legume in any annual vegetable bed.

You can read more about fertilizers and everything else you might want to plant in the edible landscape in Robert Kourik’s book, Designing and Maintaining your Edible Landscape Naturally, at his website: www.robertkourik.com

 

Hellebore

An early flowering, easy to grow plant- Hellebore

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