Things just aren't looking great in my garden...

annewaldron(SoCal,10)September 26, 2005

I used to think I wasn't watering enough- leaves turning yellow, things wilting, but I found out that I was OVER watering, so I backed way off. Unfortunately not soon enough because some of my vincas are slowly dying- flowers getting smaller and smaller, leaves turning under- root rot I think...

ANYWAY- so now that I'm not watering as much (all gets a good watering every other early morning by the sprinklers) things still aren't looking that great. My mexican heather has yellowing/browning leaf edges almost all over and just looks sad. My vinca that's still alive still has leaves that are looking rather orangey. Nothing's really looking spectacular. My verbena- mildew, and 2 look like they're on their way out- have sprayed with milk/water solution...

All was planted in amended soil and mulched around.

Any thoughts?

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username_5(banned for no reason)

what is the ph of your soil?

    Bookmark   September 26, 2005 at 1:48PM
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A very good question, but I don't know the answer. Before I started my garden I went to the local nursery to buy a soil test kit and the guy said I'd be wasting my money because "all the soil in my area is the same" and that I should amend it for drainage purposes and be done with it. Of course soil type has nothing to do with soil pH, so I probably should have bought a test kit regardless.

So I suppose this should be my next step? Any recommended brands/types?

    Bookmark   September 26, 2005 at 2:51PM
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I wonder if maybe you're still overwatering, or, if you're not, maybe you're watering shallow-and-frequently when deeper-and-less-frequently would be better? Do you have any neighbors that you can ask about their watering habits?


    Bookmark   September 26, 2005 at 7:22PM
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I had the same thought as Burnet, you could still be overwatering. Look at your soil. It should be drying out somewhat when it's time to water. If you are watering when the soil still looks wet on the top, it's too much.

Also, you can dig down a few inches to see how wet it is down where the roots are. If the plants look perky and it is wet an inch or two below, then wait another day to water.

Also, are your plants planted to get the appropriate amount of sun or shade, whatever they need?

Sounds like you did a nice job amending the soil. Don't get discouraged.

By the way, when you say "a good watering"--how long do the sprinklers run? 15 minutes? An hour?

That's what I do.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2005 at 7:38PM
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username_5(banned for no reason)


I don't know if soil ph is an issue for you or not, it is just something I thought of when you described most everything as not doing well. It might well be excessive watering, but I hesitate to tell folks many zones warmer than I how often to water.

Regardless I would definitely encourage you to test your soil ph. You can either talk with local nurseries about sending in soil samples for analysis (the helpfulness of the results you get vary from area to area) or just buy any of the $5-$10 color indicating kits you see in stores, they all more or less work reasonably well. It is a good thing to know just for general purposes.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2005 at 7:46PM
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Thanks all for your comments.

If I am still overwatering, then here's the rub: we share the watering system with the neighbors in the back (we live in a 2 on a lot condo), so whatever adjustments I make have to be good enough for them, too. Of course the wife, who has done most of the planting, admits she knows less even than me, so if it IS overwatering, maybe it's been too much for her too. I'll have to have a conversation with her.

Our sprinklers run for 15 minutes every other morning at 4 a.m. There is a segment that waters the lawn, and a segment that waters the beds- I fear I cannot turn one off without turning the other off, and our lawn kind of needs more watering (at least it has looked that way!)

The soil was sandy to start, but I did a good job of getting compost in there (maybe I should have left it sandy!) and it is also mulched on top. Maybe I need to take up all the mulch?

Oy- so many questions! I want to bring a master gardener to my house to figure it all out for me!! ; ) but then I'll never learn...sigh....!


    Bookmark   September 27, 2005 at 5:22PM
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The answer to your question may lie in other questions:
1. What part of Southern California do you live in? If you live near Palm Springs or out in the desert somewhere, your soil is probably very alkaline (aka no organic material). Those soils also tend to get a lot of caliche in them (nasty stuff like concrete).
2. Is your yard all sun, part sun-part shade, or mostly shady?

Watering things like bushes for 15 min. every other day is probably way too often. But, then again, I live near Tucson, Arizona. And I tend to water my stuff on a drip system that's set to go twice a week for 2 hours or so at a time (in order to get infrequent deep irrigation).

Other things like annuals I would likely water by hand more often as needed.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2005 at 7:46PM
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I live about 1.5 miles from the beach southwest of LA in Redondo Beach. I would say half of my flower beds get all day sun and half get part day sun, because of bushes & etc. And there's also periodic fog that comes in from the ocean, so I'd say out of 7 days, maybe there are 1 or 2 on average that have fog until noon or 1:00 pm.

Maybe I can talk the neighbors to watering every 3 or 4 days.
And do a soil test
And monitor the wetness of the soil more closely

: ) Anne

    Bookmark   September 28, 2005 at 12:38PM
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Anne, we are in the San Gabriel Valley, hotter and drier than Redondo, and we are watering 3 X a week at 15 minutes each time. Some areas are ok with this, and I see other areas where it is more than enough. So maybe you are overwatering.

If you cut back on watering, inspect the yard periodically watching for areas which are getting too dry. You might have to do a little hand watering rather than rewater the whole yard because one area looks dry.

As the days get shorter and temp drops (near end Oct.), we can water even less. We don't turn our sprinklers off completely though.

PS I don't know why we come up both in Zone 10. Our high here today will be 86, Redondo's will be 76.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2005 at 3:43PM
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omg all of you who live in California, im jelouse, I was born and raised there my first 12 yrs. Now im in Ohio, parents are from here, so we came back. I wish I could go back to visit. I remember all the flowers and plants my dad had in our back yard. He didn't even have to pull up anything for the winter. :( I was born in El Monte, and grew up in Baldwin Park.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2005 at 6:07PM
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Chadnliz, don't be jealous! Every place has its good and bad things. We have to do yard work and water 12 months a year!

Ha! I just read your Member's Page in which you said you'd like to be outside more! Oh well, one of these days you'll just have to migrate back to CA, if only for a visit!

    Bookmark   October 1, 2005 at 6:39PM
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