• Mesa Union Sixth Graders Design New Vegetable Garden For Their School
    Friday, October 21, 2016 at

  • Sixth graders at Mesa Union Elementary School in Somis are busy planning and preparing for a fall garden. The students are part of the first agriculture class at the school.

    Preparing a garden takes lots of hard work. The students identified the insects that were living in their future garden location. They then tested the soil for nitrogen, potassium, acidity, and phosphorous. Using a test kit, they found that the soil needed a boost of nitrogen. Agromin donated 40 yards of its vegetable garden mix to increase the soil’s nitrogen content and balance the soil's overall nutrients.

    The students voted on what fall crops to grow. They decided to plant carrots, lettuce, cucumbers, celery, kale and strawberries (although they do not think cucumbers will grow in the fall). The class intends to eat the crops and give away any extra to the cafeteria. They are now in the process of mapping out their irrigation system. Once they install the system, they'll plant their vegetable seeds and the garden will soon be in full swing.

    Planning, planting and managing a student garden has many added benefits than just the resulting fresh vegetables (although just-picked vegetables are certainly a wonderful reward). During their class and while in the garden, the students are learning the value of hard work, teamwork, garden strategies and management, botany, food science and career opportunities in agriculture.

    We can't wait to see how their garden turns out!

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  • No Time To Slow Down: October is Planting Season in Southern California
    Friday, September 30, 2016 at

  • Just when your summer garden's best days are behind it, October comes along and a new planting season begins in southern California.

    Cooler Weather Means Less Stress on New Plants: While Santa Ana winds can still bring hot spells in October, average temperatures are generally mild--in the high 70s. The soil is warm so it is perfect for developing new root systems. Less daylight hours means less water evaporation so less watering. And who knows? It may even rain in October.

    Prepare The Soil For Your Fall Garden: Remove any remaining summer vegetables that have stopped producing and weeds that may be sprouting. Turn over the soil, being careful not to dig too deep. Add organic soil amendments to give your fall garden a fresh start. Make sure you select the soil amendment that's right for your soil. Soil tends to be clay (slow draining) or sandy (quick to erode). Amendments can provide the proper balance.

    Plan Your Fall Garden: Buy and plant six packs of seasonal vegetables including cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, garlic, peas, spinach, Brussels sprouts, lettuce and rutabaga.

    Add Trees, Shrubs And Groundcover: Just about all types of trees, shrubs and groundcovers do best when planted in fall. The exception is citrus trees. Ice plant does well as a groundcover on hillsides and does not require much water. Lantana is another drought-tolerant groundcover with almost year-round flowers that come in a variety of colors. Other groundcover to plant now include verbena, purple sage and mountain lilac.

    Keep Critters Away: Rabbits, ground squirrels, gophers, opossum and raccoons are just some of the animals that can feast on fall vegetables. Keeping these animals away from gardens is just as important in fall as it is in summer. Depending on the vegetable plant, consider lining your garden bed bottoms and sides with rust-resistant chicken wire or hardware cloth to keep gophers from digging up roots. Rabbits love broccoli and leafy greens. Surround your garden with chicken wire or other barrier high enough so rabbits and other animals can't enter.

    Revitalize Lawns:  If you are still watering your lawn, it might as well look good. October is the time of the year for lawn repair. If your lawn suffers from patches of crabgrass, remove the area and seed with a lawn seed that matches your lawn. Consider changing over to more drought tolerant grass such as Bermuda, St. Augustine and zoysia. When planting from seed, use topper mix to help keep the seeds moist and at their optimum for growing.

    Plant Cool Weather Flowers: Flowers that do particularly well in fall include sweet peas, pansies, violas, primrose, calendula, chrysanthemums, cineraria, dianthus, delphiniums, Iceland poppies, nemesia, snapdragon and wild flowers. Wildflowers that thrive in southern California and can be planted now are California poppies, larkspur, linaria and gypsophila.

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