May 2015: California Drought Tips, and Roly Polies!

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Gardening tips, recipes and helpful information you can use!!

Karen’s Corner: Notes from our founder

The big news in Southern California today is the drought. It doesn’t matter if it is a 100 year drought or a 5 year drought, the fact is this: we live in the desert. We should always conserve water. Water conservation and having a vegetable garden or fruit orchard are not mutually exclusive. We can have both! However, it does mean utilizing common sense practices when caring for our plants.

Healthy soil, one that is filled with microorganisms and organic matter, helps retain water and prevents run off. Mulch prevents water evaporating from the soil and keeps roots cool. Not walking in garden beds allows for air pockets in the soil to fill with water, releasing it to the root zone later. On average, a lawn needsat least 1” – 1.5” of water a week, more in the warm season. A veggie garden only needs 1” of water a week, often times much less based the type of irrigation system and the practices I mentioned earlier. By removing your water-hungry lawn, it is still possible to help conserve water AND enjoy a splendid edible landscape!

Good Growing to you ~ KC

In The Garden:

It has been a while since we’ve shown the progress at Chef Marcela Valladolid’s garden and so much has changed since our installation last year. We’ve harvested countless pounds of broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbages. Sadly, the winter produce is on it’s way out, but that means it’s time for the summer crops to go in! We love how active she is in her garden and it warms our hearts to see her utilize her space by hosting different events and parties. Having a chef for a client is always exciting and really keeps us on our toes!

What’s Sprouting:

UP is partnering with LandLAB Landscape Architecture to donate a design for a garden and outdoor play area to the La Jolla United Methodist Church Nursery School. The new space will provide amazing garden and outdoor experiences to hundreds of future children. The non-profit nursery school focuses on play-oriented programming and what better way to learn than by experiencing nature first hand? Funding still needs to be raised for installation, so stay tuned!

Congrats to Cucina Enoteca Del Mar on their 2015 Zagat scores for Best Decor! They received an impressive 26 out of 30 and we are thrilled to be a part of it. The next time you enjoy a meal there, be sure to take a peek at the herb wall on the way in.

What’s Fresh:

POTATOES! There is an old farmer’s saying to have your potatoesplanted by St. Patrick’s Day. Fortunately, here in San Diego, we have the perfect growing climate for TWO plantings ofpotatoes. Our farmers are reaping the harvest from our first planting last fall. Did you know that potatoes were originally domesticated in Peru and Bolivia over 7,000 years ago?  And that there are over 5,000 different varieties? It’s not too late to plant some in your garden. Our favorite go-to varieties are German ButterballNorland Red, and Yukon Gold. Want to be adventurous? Try one of the more unusual varieties like Purple Peruvian Fingerling or All Red.

Helpful Tips:

We are in the fourth year of California’s historic drought and our governor just enacted mandatory water restrictions for the first time in the state’s history. So what does that mean for you and your garden? As UP found out last year, San Diego’s Mandatory Water Use Restrictions do not apply when using drip and micro-irrigation systems. However, we would like to encourage everyone to be mindful when setting your irrigation timers. We also encourage trying drought tolerant vegetable varieties, mulching, and watering in the early mornings or evenings. You can find more information on how you can help conserve from the San Diego County Water Authority. Let’s make every drop count!

As a kid, roly polies were cute, grey, rolled into a perfect ball, and super fun to play with. As a gardener, you might know them differently. Roly polies, also known as pill bugs, sow bugs, and woodlice, are actually not insects, but a type of land crustacean. Much like their lobster cousins, they can’t survive long without water. Roly polies are decomposers, feeding on decaying matter and favoring dark and moist conditions. If populations get out of hand, they can devour a new batch of seedlings or get into your strawberries overnight. The best remedy is prevention. Apply mulch that is loose and quick to drain after seedlings have emerged and become established. Remove leaf litter and decaying vegetable matter as soon as possible. Applying a barrier of diatomaceous earth can prevent seedlings from being munched. Additional methods include a beer trap, the cornmeal method, or an application of Sluggo Plus.