Coastal CA Viability Question

Thuringiensis(10b)February 23, 2014


I've had trouble finding good resources around climate questions as they relate to coastal regions (e.g. santa monica, mar vista, manhattan beach, malibu and so forth) ) of LA.

I'm about 1/3 mile from the ocean at around 300 ft elevation, and the climate is definitely a micro-climate. This has been a real pain when my friends several miles inland have great luck with berries and apricots and so forth, but I lack the chill days to pull it off well. I also seem to get different pests and growth patterns. And we get strong fog this time of the year, which isn't the case if you go 10 blocks more inland.

Anyway, does anyone have any general wisdom or better yet a strong online resource around coastal gardening in this area?

Some quick questions that come to mind that I'd love speculation on:

1) Should I ever bother trying low-chill blueberries? How about strawberries?

2) Which fruit tree varieties other than citrus, figs, avocado and pomegranate have a fighting chance? Within those 4, are there any special varieties that you'd strong recommend? Open to suggestions! Anyone had good luck with stone fruits of any sort in this situation?

3) Are there any good resources around chill hour counts or success in this microclimate that anyone can suggest? I feel like there's great info for SoCal gardening in general, but not for very close to the coast.

4) Would you recommend using perennial nightshades perennially, or replanting in this climate?


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Suzi AKA DesertDance Zone 9b


I am posting a link to the interactive zone map. You can find your exact zone by putting in your zip code and zooming in. There are so many microclimates here, it's crazy!

Once you find it, go to your profile, and enter it into the zone field so members can be of better help to you.

We grow persimmon, figs, citrus, avocado, Anna apple, peaches, apricots, plums, Pakistan Mulberry, pistaschio, macadamia and many wine grapes.

Here is a link that might be useful: USDA Plant Hardiness Interactive Map

    Bookmark   February 23, 2014 at 10:00AM
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I'm in the hot, dry, interior valley, so I don't have much in the way of direct experience in your locale. But I have to say that you have the right frame of mind. Knowing that you need locale specific info, and you that you need to do your homework, is half the battle. Plan your plants, and plant your plans.

That said, I would start by talking to your neighbors and by finding a local nursery person. Not a big-box cashier, but a true pro working at a legit nursery. You're going to need to find that nursery any way.

Next, take a good long look at Tom's Picks - Winners for the Low-Chill Southwest Note: "TomâÂÂs top 21 picks were selected for their ability to produce quality fruit in Southern CaliforniaâÂÂs coastal and inland valleys,.." I can't vouch for all the choices in his list, but 'Pink Lady', 'Arctic Star', 'Burgundy', 'August Pride', 'Flavor Grenade', and 'Flavor King' are winners for me,

    Bookmark   February 23, 2014 at 11:32AM
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Thanks for the links and suggestions guys...I appear to be zone 10b -- of course, I'm in an extremely temperate 10b. Given that, I think the suggestion to just talk to the local legit nursery, gardening clubs, etc makes a lot of sense and I'll do that.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2014 at 11:58AM
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It all should factor into your plans. L.E. Cooke has an excellent SUGGESTED VARIETIES - FRUIT TREES chart for our area as well. I agree with a lot of these selections. As for matching chill data with chill calculators and such, I've found them to be less helpful than the Dave Wilson Nursery and L.E. Cooke recommendations.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2014 at 12:37PM
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Suzi AKA DesertDance Zone 9b

Micro-climates are just weird! We live in the hills surrounding Hemet, CA. Hemet is in the valley (zone 9a) where there are a lot of citrus orchards. The temps in the valley are hotter in the summer, and colder (some freeze hours) in the winter. The farmers use turbines to keep the orchards from freezing.

Just a drive up the hill takes you from zone 9a to zone 9b! We have cooler summers and warmer winters and can grow many things that they can't in the valley below.

Go figure!

    Bookmark   February 23, 2014 at 1:34PM
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socalgal_gw Zone USDA 10b Sunset 24

I'm in a foggy, extremely temperate zone 10b (Sunset 24) near the coast in San Diego. I've had great success with Anna apple, Monterrey pear, Florda Prince and May Pride peaches, and Bonanza II dwarf peach. I grafted some Dorsett Golden onto my apple tree and it has set fruit (not old enough to know how productive it will be). I had lots of fruit on a weeping Santa Rose plum, although I got rid of it due to recurring fungus on the leaves. Alpine strawberries do well. A neighbor has some variety of boysenberries.

I have had no luck with low chill apricots or blueberries.

Photo (if I uploaded it correctly) shows Anna apple and part of the May Pride peach, taken recently.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2014 at 4:52PM
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calistoga_al ca 15 usda 9

You can't get any more local than your county extension office. Look in you phone book under county offices. They are familiar with the micro climates, such as that caused by elevation. Al

    Bookmark   February 23, 2014 at 8:32PM
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SoCalGirl -- that sounds really promising if you can manage those fruit trees in san diego -- I should be able to do the same in La. How many miles are you from the coast? What do the 'official' stats say your chill hours are? Would like to compare on that basis... Thanks!

    Bookmark   February 23, 2014 at 10:30PM
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socalgal_gw Zone USDA 10b Sunset 24

I'm in an area called Loma Portal. It is about 2 miles from the ocean and less than 1 mile from the San Diego Bay. The nearest chill hour station is #184 but it is about 4-5 miles away. I only remember one time in 25 years that we went below 32F. We don't have frost, although some neighbors do. Elevation about 100 feet.

The Anna apple blossoms and sets fruit three times a year, although the first harvest of the year is the biggest. The Florda Prince peach blossoms very early, before it could have received much chill.

Here is a link that might be useful: Chill hour station #184

This post was edited by socalgal on Mon, Feb 24, 14 at 9:05

    Bookmark   February 24, 2014 at 9:02AM
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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

Also ask your questions of your county's Extension Service office.

Locate that office with this interactive map

who gardened in Long Beach,CA , for 30-some years

Here is a link that might be useful: locate your county's Extension Service office

    Bookmark   February 24, 2014 at 10:37PM
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I'll recommend Southern California Gardening by Pat Welsh. It's a month-by-month guide to gardening in our various micro-climates in SoCal. Hope you like it.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2014 at 10:30PM
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