Saturday, May 23, 2015

Ah, Somebody Agrees With Me

Recently I did an Off Ramp show for KPCC where I warned of the perils of knee-jerk reactions to the drought, like planting a bunch of drought tolerant plants right before summer and during a time when the more frequent waterings they would need to establish could be eliminated by new water restrictions. I took a lot of flack for saying that right now is not the best time to eliminate your lawn, and that until then you can slow down, but not eliminate, the watering on your lawn until such time as you can decide what to do with it. I got some support in this article below. I like support.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Eight Things That Can Help Your Roses (and other high water use plants) Get Through The Drought

Roses have a long history in both western and eastern cultures, and rose gardens are considered a symbol of prosperity and wealth. Although there are many roses, both native to California and the old world, that are fairly drought tolerant, the dominant rose you’re going to find in most people’s gardens are hybrid teas, followed by the smaller floribunda types and the large grandifloras and climbing roses. These just about all have Chinese tea roses in their ancestry, a rose that, by itself, is not very hardy to Southern California’s dry, arid climate. This means that most of the roses that are popular today have moderate to heavy water needs. Even though roses benefit from a 2 to 3 times a week watering schedule there are some methods and techniques you can use to help your roses get through the drought and, if they have to,  being watered only once a week. Here they are:

1.     Mulch

 Bark mulches (small to medium size) are best for roses. Apply a 3-4 inch layer of mulch around your roses. Mulch helps even out the drying process of the soil, and as an added benefit, compounds that are released during the mulches slow decay are beneficial to your roses and detrimental to diseases and pests.

2.     Put ‘em on a diet.

 Feeding your roses produces growth that is more likely to lose water, so do not feed your roses until next year in the early spring.

3.     Apply Sunscreen

Kaolin powder spray can be applied to your roses to help them get through the drought. The fine, white clay acts as a sunscreen, keeping leaves cooler and lowering the amount of water they lose during the day. As an added bonus it also deters damaging insects. You will have to reapply after a rainstorm and the roses will look a little ghostly with their coating of fine white clay.

4. Strip 'em

If you remove all the leaves from your rose and leave the buds, the resulting foliage will adapt to the roses new, restricted watering schedule.

5.     Get them to the castle and close the drawbridge

Next winter, when transplanting is ideal, aggregate your roses into a single, high maintenance bed where you can control the watering and give them that special care.

6.   Let ‘em wear shades

Erect shade structures over your roses. 10%-20% shade cloth should do just fine. There new, more shaded digs will keep water loss from them to a minimum.

7.   Cover them with plastic (not what you think)

Spray on anti-transpirants are solutions that leave a plastic film covering the leaves and branches of the rose that can help your them get through particularly dry periods, but don’t overuse them.  One popular brand is Wilt-Pruf, another is Cloudcover. This is a last resort, and some experts believe that anti-transpirants aren’t that effective.

8.   Get used to their new ‘rough’ look.

Once you've applied some of the above strategies, watering roses only once a week, even in the dead of summer, probably will not kill them. However they may be a little (or a lot) rough around the edges. Get used to the browning and yellowing leaves that are sign of the plants adjusting to their new water regime.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Hunkering Down With Your Lawn to Survive the Drought

So you're not going give up your lawn until they pry it from the dry parched ground it's now growing in. What can you do to help it survive until you can find a reasonable California friendly replacement? Below are a few ideas:

  1. Mow your lawn on your lawnmowers highest setting; cutting grass low stimulates growth which encourages water loss. Mature grass leaves develop a thicker cuticle (skin) which helps them stand up to drought much more readily.
  2. If your lawn is old and water runs off of it when you irrigate, rent a power lawn aerator and aerate your lawn. Aerators remove 3”4” plugs from your lawn which allow water to penetrate deeper into the soil beneath your lawn. Remember to irrigate for to runoff the day before you aerate in order to allow for the deep penetration of the aerator tines.
  3. Cut back your lawn watering to once a week for 10-20 minutes. Do not allow the irrigation water to run off, if it does, stop the irrigation and resume an hour later; if you haven’t aerated your lawn do so.
  4. Do not walk, play games on , or have parties on your dormant lawn; it is now very susceptible to physical damage and the repair process takes both water and nutrients from the grass that it needs to get through the drought.
  5. Do not feed your lawn; nitrogen makes lawns more prone to drying out. 
  6. If you really can’t stand your lawn being the golden state’s official color then you can make it green with lawn dye. It will not look the same close up, but most people view lawns from a distance.  
  7. Use this time contemplating your close-to-death lawn’s replacement later on with either more drought tolerant grasses, water saving ground-covers, or a major reduction in its size.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Historic Tree Tour at 1 pm May 2nd During Wild West Days

Join me tomorrow at 1pm for a tour of some of the historic trees of the Arboretum. Here's a map of the trees that were here before the Arboretum was the Arboretum.

Hipster Horticulture: A Recipe for Kale Chips

For those of you who took my hipster horticulture class here's a recipe for great tasting kale chips from Bonnie Colcher:

"To make kale chips themselves, I just tear the kale into little pieces, sprinkle with olive oil and salt, and bake at 250 degrees for about 20 min.

However, here's a recipe for Cashew Cheese Kale Chips:

First you'll need to make the cashew cheese. You'll need:

  • 2 cups cashews (soaked overnight)
  • ½ red bell pepper, diced
  • 6 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin

1 cup water, or more to make the mixture a goopy mushy paste like "sauce"
Blend in a blender or food processor until desired consistency.
Wash, dry and tear 2 heads of curly kale into bite size pieces.
In a large bowl, massage the cashew cheese into the kale.
Transfer in single layers onto cookie sheets lined with parchment paper.

Cook in the oven at a low heat, 200 degrees or so, until the chips begin to crisp.