Monday, August 26, 2013

Time to Plant Seeds

Seed + Soil = Plant

What to plant now? As the summer is winding down, it’s time to start thinking about your cool season vegetable garden. Plant seeds now for greens like arugula, bok choy, chard, kale, lettuce, mustard greens, and spinach, and vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, carrot, radish and turnip.

If you sow directly in the garden bed, remember to first mix in some Soil Booster or Planting Compost for the best results.  For container gardening, I recommend the Recipe 420 Potting Soil by EB Stone as both a seed starter and planting medium.  As a certified organic potting soil, Recipe 420 is an excellent choice for growing edibles, and contains diverse nutrients and beneficial microbes to protect and nourish young plants.

I’ve found the easiest way to sprout seeds for transplanting is to use the Jump Start Mini Greenhouse.  The small 4”x 10” box holds a dozen peat pellets, and converts into a highly effective greenhouse by simply snapping the clear plastic lid over the tray holding the pellets. I used the mini greenhouse to start my bok choy seedlings outside on a south facing window ledge. The greenhouse design traps heat and keeps enough moisture in for ideal sprouting conditions. Even though I forgot about my seed experiment and cracked open the lid a week later, I was delighted to find 12 perfectly sprouting plants!

Additionally, greens like bok choy can be sensitive to transplanting; they prefer not to have their roots disturbed.  Transplanting my seedlings outside to a 15 gallon container filled with Recipe 420 Potting Mix

was a breeze—the thin “skin” that holds the peat pellet together peels off easily, allowing for a seamless transition from starter plug to planting site.

Stop by the nursery and browse our new assortment of cool season seeds from Botanical Interest. 

Look for a variety of Beets from Renee’s Garden, as well as some new Kale varieties like striking Triple-Curled and versatile Portuguese.  And don’t forget San Diego Seed Company’s local seed selection—all their seeds are especially suited to grow here in Southern California.  Have fun in your garden!

Saturday, August 03, 2013

What I've learned about succulents.

Like it or not succulents are becoming more prominent in our local landscapes. Depending on your own particular aesthetic for plants, you may already love these water thrifty wonders, or perhaps instead turn up your nose at their odd shapes and growing habits.

I myself was mostly indifferent to succulents before coming to work at Mission Hills Nursery, preferring tropical look of leafy plants. Yet I have changed my tune. Why the change? I stopped and took the time to really look at them. I've learned the value of their undemanding character and their hardiness for both indoors and outdoors.

Succulents are a great choice for shady spots, they do acclimate to sun but will always look better with some shade, especially in hot areas of the county. Found naturally in the wild sheltering under overhanging bushes. At Mission Hills Nursery we have a large shade cloth/sail to protect them from the hottest part of the day.

Echeverias, the rosette style comes in a range of colors, from sunset reds, pinks and yellows to cool aquamarine blues and creamy lavenders. Alternately, the bold reds tingeing the leaves of succulents such as Flapjacks (Kalanchoe thrysiflora) and Sticks on Fire (Euphorbia tirucalli) are due to direct sun exposure.

String of Pears (Senecio rowleyanus), Donkeytail (Sedum morganianum), Haworthia and Hatiora are excellent choices for houseplants. Depending on your home environment you may have to only water your succulent houseplants one per month....pretty simple right?  If you want to really keep them happy water them with Cactus Juice, a calcium rich fertilizer you mix in water.

Another trait of succulents is how well they do in poor, rocky soil...many times you can just plunk them down in a bare patch of earth and they will get right down to growing.  That bare stip alonside the garage that you never remember to water?

Try succulents for a no fuss ground cover, or think about adding a couple of new specimens for a low maintenance, ever-evolving plant mosaic.

It's true, succulents eschew the typical plant look, opting instead for bold statements made with chunky, funky thick leaves that hold water, change color in the sun, and take root just about anywhere.

If I have peaked your interest in succulents stop in and see me, I'd be happy to help you navigate the wild, wonderful world of succulents.