Rainy days & intro

garden_tantrumDecember 2, 2012

What to do in the garden when it stops raining? It's been raining off and on here, I swear my vines grew half a foot, irises have new growth, roses are still blooming, seeds are sprouting happily. My clay soil is very manageable right now and I want to take advantage of the daily rain.
Forgive me for the stupid newbie questions, but is it okay to go ahead and plant my potted roses and echinacea seedlings in the ground at this time? Should I bother pulling out weeds or is that pointless? What's good to plant/sow during this time?

It's my first time posting here, but ever since I started gardening I've always been referred to this site by friends and google searches. You guys keep me inspired and on track with my gardening :)

A little about me. My name is Isabel. I'm originally from Southeast Asia. There were plenty of plants my mom and I weren't able to make survive in our humid tropical climate, but we had hanging canopies of orchids, some growing on the wall, anthuriums we almost never water but bloomed all the time. I came to Southern California in my late teens and didn't get back to gardening until my grandmother passed away and left me her house in with a cottage garden. Stupid me rented it out to random people for 5yrs while i finished college. Everything died. I saved her roses and Meyer lemon tree, but it was too late for the rest. I'm glad I live in this part of the country where it doesn't snow, but frost dates and zone hardiness still intimidate me. I'm rebuilding my grandma's garden little by little in her memory. My username here is borne from the violent reaction I had when I moved back into that house and found everything brown and crunchy. Ack.

Here's a photo of my grandma's red roses(I don't know what kind they are, they're 20yrs old) and cosmos I grew from seed that I thought was the yellow kind. They make me smile on gloomy days :)

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hoovb zone 9 sunset 23

Welcome welcome. Yes it's a good time to plant potted roses. A pretty good time to plant most everything except plants that love being planted in warm soil, such as Bougainvillea and Citrus trees. Right before a rain is usually when I hustle to get things in the ground.

Echinacea, I've not had any luck with them. They seem to want a winter chill, which we don't have here, and they vanish never to return the first winter. Of course, YMMV.

Do not worry about your Grandmother's garden being ruined, gardens are dynamic and ebb and flow and live for the gardener. Soon you will make everything beautiful once again, and your Grandmother will be smiling down upon it all.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2012 at 9:43PM
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hosenemesis(SoCal Sunset 19 USDA 8b)

Welcome! And congratulations on completing your degree.

Echinaceas take a lot of water, but they can be grown here. I like to get after the weeds right now, while they are small. Then mulch everywhere to prevent new ones from coming up.

Now is a perfect time to put down annual seeds for spring bloom, but don't mulch them- so many require a bit of light to germinate. Larkspur, poppies, bachelor's buttons, flax, elegant clarkia, nasturtiums, etc. can all be planted now.

I love grandma's rose- red is my favorite color in the garden. Please post more photos this spring!


    Bookmark   December 2, 2012 at 11:00PM
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calistoga_al ca 15 usda 9

Here we have had 12.95 inches of rain in the last 5 days. I am glad to be living in the woods where the soil accepts it like a sponge. Our little winter run off creek which is supplied by all the water oozing out of the banks runs clear with no soil being eroded. The natural mulching of the forest is up to a foot deep. Al

    Bookmark   December 3, 2012 at 9:38AM
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@hoovb - thank you thank you! I planted my last two potted roses this morning. There's one bougainvillea in front of the house that didn't need my saving as it spread all over the walls, I don't think I'll be planting more of that haha. I grew the echinacea from seed and started half outdoors and half indoors. So far they're all about 4" tall.. I hope they make it long enough to bloom

@Renee - Thank you! Yes, so happy yet I'm back for more school, but gardening helps with the stress of school and work. I missed out on free therapy during those 5 years, hahah. The Echinacea will be placed in a spot that gets sun only til early afternoon, soil rarely dries out before I get to it. I've started my poppies and more nasturtiums. Bachelors buttons I was too scared of it washing off, but now the rain seems to have left us for a while so I'm glad I have today off to prepare beds. That's my grandma's last remaining red rose bush. I planted red zinnia profusion and red four o'clocks, but the cosmos took over. I like red too. Just now learning a hard lesson about plant spacing.

@ Al - that sounds lovely, like a serene pitter patter in the woods. We got flash floods and muddy streets.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2012 at 3:31PM
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I just got a looootttt of mulch. I drove around my neighborhood to see what's blooming and what people are doing after the rain and sure enough the really nice ladies I stopped and talked to said they are digging up weeds and mulching. The leaves are finally falling. Back to 68�F and sunny here in Loma Linda (San Bernardino county). I can't believe how much I got done so far, thank you everyone :)

    Bookmark   December 3, 2012 at 4:57PM
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hosenemesis(SoCal Sunset 19 USDA 8b)

Good for you! I'm way behind. Seeds and annual bedding flowers were supposed to go in on Thanksgiving weekend, and it would have been perfect timing with the rain. Now it will have to wait.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2012 at 12:57AM
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Hi and welcome, Isabel!
Your gardening instincts are great--if your neighbors have great gardens, do what they're doing!! Now is definitely a good time for mulch and weeding, especially for a garden that hasn't had a lot of love for a few years. The rain will make all kinds of seeds sprout, most of which you do not want. And for every weed you pull now, you'd be pulling ten--or a hundred--later.
And by all means, be fearless. Gardening means making mistakes--we all do, regularly!-- but it also means discovering happy accidents, color combos you never would have thought of, plant shapes that, put side-by-side, unexpectedly tickle your fancy. Post photos when you can--everyone loves to see a garden come alive.


    Bookmark   December 4, 2012 at 10:32AM
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It's a good time to sprinkle California poppy seeds if you haven't done so already. I also stuck some sweet pea seeds in the ground. Pulling out oxalis is always easier after a rain, but don't walk on the soil and compact it.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2012 at 12:51AM
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garden_tantrum, I would consider your situation more of an opportunity and less of a problem. My yards were a wreck a few years back and I knew I was going to have to start over from scratch. The final plan turned out to be a year round garden and orchard and I've never looked back or regretted the decision. Now I step out my suburban door and bring in seasonal fresh fruits, herbs and veggies at the peak of freshness every day of the year. It takes some planning and research, but the rewards are immeasurable.

To make things even easier on myself, I've allowed many of my favorite plants to go wild in open areas that would normally be weedy. So I allow chives, cilantro, arugula, nasturtium, viola, wild flowers, and various peas and beans reseed freely and out-compete the regular weeds. Instead of weeding I mostly just thin and harvest.

If you look at the bottom left of the photo in this thread, to the right of the low-voltage lighting glass dome, you will see a small chive-weed taking root in the foreground. Nature is an excellent gardener. :)

Here is a link that might be useful: The Art of Successive Ripening

    Bookmark   December 6, 2012 at 12:04PM
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Kay - thank you, thank you! I hate weeding more than anything. Oxalis and crabgrass everywhere. It's been a challenge with the rose garden as the bed was overrun by both and I can't get myself to dig everything up and start with fresh soil as I don't think the old roses would survive. Sometimes I stop and talk to neighbors while I'm walking my dogs too. They're not very friendly, but they're ok to talk to about their plants. The neighbors across the street are friendlier, but all they have are lawns and potted palms. I seek out the gardens that stand out among the agapanthus+jasmine+nandina that most Southern California gardens have and kind of linger in front in hopes that there is someone tending it at that moment hahaha garden stalking.

It's been like The Secret Garden lately, new plants growing amongst dead ones, then later on discovering they're not dead at all. It's all very exciting and I send my mom and sisters photos and we try to remember where grandma placed it in the garden, and what else she grew with it. We are bonding through this collective memory of what it looked like in its heyday. I will post more pictures once things get greener and fuller

1gteacher - I've been too nervous about direct sowing poppy seeds because I think the weeds would swallow them up. Actually, I haven't direct-sown any seeds other than nasturtium in fear that I'd pull it out by accident like I did with the dill and artichoke(that did not look like a weeds, but I was in factory-assembly-line zoned-out weed-pulling frenzy and they were so small and surrounded by Oxalis). I do have a thousand poppy seeds so... Here goes nothing, wish me luck :)

mrclint - yes, my grandmother did this too! She never mulched, she just stuck nasturtiums, peas, spinach, thai chili peppers and cilantro everywhere. She would give me and my brother a list of what ingredients she needed for Sunday lunch and we would hunt everywhere, front and backyard, coz it WAS everywhere. She always had food growing year round. I just miss her a lot. At first I didn't even want the house because I looked at it and kept thinking she was there pruning her roses or then I realize she's never ever going to come back to her garden. I guess I just needed time to mourn her garden too, and now I've set to work and I see it in a different light, see every new opportunity and theres a backyard large enough to make mistakes in :) I have started reading about succession planting and I think it makes a lot of sense. I just have a hard time making decisions on what to actually plant haha. I have so much to learn :) your photo of the Washington Navel is very inspiring! And it's reminded me that I need to prune the Meyer lemon tree in the backyard that is so heavy with fruit. It's also gotten really tall. That one my grandma underplanted with cilantro. This weekend, I'll be weeding and mulching around trees as well.

- Isabel

    Bookmark   December 7, 2012 at 7:30PM
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Your granny was my kind of gardener, for sure. :)

I started my successive ripening planning around a handful of proven performer trees of my youth & fruit from local markets - that I really enjoyed - and then filled in the gaps from the Dave Wilson Fruit and Nut Harvest Dates chart.

My proven performers were Washington Navel, Meyer Lemon, Wonderful Pom, Babcock Peach, Mission Fig, Sequoia Strawberry, and Pink Lady Apple. I may have forgotten one or two others, but I think you get the idea. With that list I upgraded Mission Fig to Black Jack Fig and VdB fig, as Mission just gets too big. Some of the "fill in" trees from the Fruit Harvest Chart have turned out to be real winners such as, Arctic Star Nectarine, Flavor King Pluot, and many more.

Scouting expeditions to the local farmers markets through out the year will give you a good idea of when certain fruits are in season, and give you a chance to discover what you like and dislike. For better or worse, it was from this approach that I determined not to plant Satsuma Mandarin as I never had a good one.

    Bookmark   December 8, 2012 at 1:02PM
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