new to this gardening passion

marthajo(z9 CA sunset 8)March 15, 2005

Tonight I cut some flowers for my mother in law. I haven't cut flowers since I took a rose to my fifth grade teacher. We recently moved out to the country (a temporary home) on my M-I-L's lot. I cut some bright yellow daises(those bushes so many people here seem to hate), purple irises and summer(?) snowflakes, along with some asparagus fern, love-in-a-mist and some ferny-weed-thing. I don't know what of it will last, for how long BUT--OH MY GOSH--It was so fun!!

Now the question-- It gets very hot here and our house is "coming" in about 2 weeks I have no garden- (except wild grapes and river willow oh yeah-elderberry) but want to start one right off. What would you guys recommend that would do well in my summer heat? or do I just have to wait till next year. We were in the 80's this week but today it was "cold" again (65 or so). Our property is on the St. John's river in the central Valley of CA.

Thanks so much,


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susiq(NW AR 6B)


I can't answer for some of the plants you can grow, but Sunflowers, Zinnias,& Celosias LOVE heat! Grow tons of those! (An aside--you're in CALIFORNIA! The assumption "all" of us Non-Californians have is that you guys not only can, but GET to grow ANYTHING!!!!! Or, as Napolean Dynamite said, "Luckeee!")

You might also check w/ other CA respondents (there's a lot over on the rose forums), but in my opinion, it's never too late to start a garden! As long as YOU can stand working in the heat (or cold), MAKING the garden can happen at almost any time. Transplanting a baby seedling in 100 degree heat or in an ice storm is more tricky, but making the garden --and planting it--can happen most of the year.

I LOVE design, so here goes:

Do you just want random plants that you can cut that are scattered throughout your whole yard, or do you want a whole dedicated section of the yard to be JUST for cutting?

There's a difference, because the cutting garden will be in constant use (being cut), and NOT usually on display, like the whole garden/yard might be.

If you're installing the WHOLE garden/yard, that's a longer, more involved process (views from inside the house, outside the house, paths, curves, depth/width of beds etc.).

If you're installing JUST the cutting garden, start w/ a rectangle as big as you think you can handle (5 feet x 8 feet, 50' x 100', whatever). If you want it to be a focal point for you from inside your house, place it so you can see it from inside your house! (stand where your house will be, and where you guess your best picture window will be, and "look out" to see that perfect cutting garden area!)

IMPORTANT!!! Keep that area protected or far enough away from the house moving equipment, trucks, heavy booted men, etc. as possible! DON'T let ANY of the men or their machines tromp all over your brand new garden area! Use temporary orange construction fencing if necessary. Might be a little bit of initial expense for the fencing, but worth it to protect fragile soil. That fencing is also good for ANY area you think might be future gardens or lawn, if you can convince husband and crew that that much space HAS to be fenced off.

Try to arrange your cutting garden so it lines up N-S, but an E-W configuration will also work. Spray the area with the weed killer of your choice (organic or chemical). Wait a few days to let the chemicals do their thing. Then, use a tiller , tractor, or shovel to dig the area. Leave it alone for a few days to a week or two, til the new weeds start coming back up. When they're up quite a bit, re-apply the weed killers, wait a few days, then til again. (I know, it's a LONG process, but will make your future gardening much happier!)

When you've done the weed killer routine a couple of times, then, divide that area into as many 3-4' wide "bed"s and paths that it will hold, usting the tiller or tractor. Once you have your beds and paths made, figure out how you'll water this area (drip irrigation is VERY helpful, but needs to be laid down BEFORE you plant), then start planting your plants. Oops, forgto to mention adding your soil ammendments, preferrably AFTER you get a soil test done either through your Extension office or through a commercial soil testing lab. The results will tell you how much--if any-nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and trace elements you'll need to add, and if your soil is acid or alkaline. Get the soil test done ASAP, so you can get the right ammendments working ASAP! Til those into your soil after you've done the weeding thing.

Making your garden (cutting or whole yard) WILL take time, but as you said, "OH MY GOSH--It was so fun!!" when you cut your OWN flowers for any purpose! Even the digging can be fun! And whatever you prepare now, will surely be in perfect shape to recieve plants if you must wait til cooler times--microbes LOVE munching away on ammendments and perfecting your soil til you can plant your plants!

Welcome to the wonderful world of all sorts of gardening, especially cutting! Have fun, and keep that joy in your life!

Writing way too long as usual,


PS--go visit the rose or antique rose forums, ask for Leanne or debinsocal--they will only be TOOOO glad to "enable" you into "some" roses! Which of course, CAN be cut for indoor boquets! LOL!

I'm sure the people at the Iris forum will be equally helpful!

    Bookmark   March 15, 2005 at 10:09AM
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Noni Morrison

You might like to try gardening with a headlamp since the nights are cooler.


    Bookmark   March 16, 2005 at 10:30AM
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Marthajo, I am in Visalia and grow LOT of cutting flowers. I can give you starter plants. If you want roses, go over to OSH or Walmart. They are getting rid of them for under $5 each. Look for good healthy green canes with new leaves and get them going immediately. You will be smarter though to wait a year and get things ready for them. Get a soaker hose for watering. If you are right on the river you are going to be sandy and need to water twice a week once it warms up. You can get things in right now, before it really heats up, but a really good time to plant here is in October. By then you might be settled and ready to do more. Actually, I have zinnia and marigold seed I got on a seed trade and you are welcome to those as well.



    Bookmark   March 18, 2005 at 11:29AM
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marthajo(z9 CA sunset 8)

Thank you so much! I am really getting excited about this. it has been kind of crazy around here but I am enjoying planning and picking. I have decided I will plant a garden in the fall. I am going to plant a lot of bulbs and sweet peas and poppies and more i haven't even decided yet. I have my sunset western book and I am going post it nutso. I am trying to plot out what I want to plant with what so that it will all work out color wise and also plant-logistically.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2005 at 1:43AM
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During a stint in CA a while back, I many times haunted one of the larger, local garden centers getting used to a whole gamut of plants new to me. In a really good center, you should also find folk with good local information.

Since you plan to wait 'til Fall to start, take the summer to check out gardens in the area. If it looks good for someone else and you like it, put it on your wish list. BTW, if you come across some irresistible bargains (perennials or shrubs), you could start a very limited nursery garden which can be carefully tended with water and some sheltering from heat. That could give you a few backbones for the new garden come Fall. When I say limited, I mean not more than a half dozen or dozen things.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2005 at 9:58PM
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marthajo(z9 CA sunset 8)

actually --

I am doing something like that right now with collecting seeds and watering some different bulbs that I plan to transplant in the fall. I also have some pots with different things i know i already want. I have them all in this haphazard grouping on the deck. along with a treasured favorite- a pregnant onion (the ancestor if which was given to my mom when she was pregnant w/ me.) Not agood cutting plant however!

    Bookmark   May 15, 2005 at 2:26AM
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Pregnant onion, huh? That's what I call a true heirloom.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2005 at 2:15AM
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marthajo(z9 CA sunset 8)

I think so too. I am going to start giving a small one in a cute pot at baby showers to the mom to be. They are fun to watch although they can be baby heavy when they get big!

    Bookmark   May 16, 2005 at 2:57PM
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