• Drought Conditions Require Action in the Garden
    Wednesday, January 29, 2014 at
  • With a dry January in Southern California and very little rain forecasted for the remaining winter months, gardeners can take steps now to ensure their gardens receive enough water to ensure a bountiful spring and summer harvest, say experts at Agromin, an Oxnard-based manufacturer of earth-friendly compost products made from organic material collected from more than 50 California cities.

    Install A Drip Irrigation System: Now is the ideal time to install a drip irrigation system. These systems, available at nurseries and home improvement stores, can be elaborate or simple. They apply water directly to the base of plants. Other forms of watering increases the likelihood of evaporation and runoff. Sprinklers deposit water onto leaves where it evaporates. They often soak unnecessary portions of the yard including sidewalks, driveways and patios.

    Select Plants That Need Little Water: A number of attractive drought tolerant plants thrive in Southern California. Consider planting only perennials because once established, their water needs are minimal. Some plants to consider are bear’s breech (spiral flowers bloom in late spring to late summer), kangaroo paw (long-lasting blooms come in a variety of colors), sage (numerous varieties, attractive fragrance), western redbud (magenta flowers in spring) and deer grass (dense base with slender flower stalks).

    Mulch Your Garden: Use organic mulch around flower and vegetable gardens. Mulch traps moisture in the soil, keeps roots cool during hot spells and reduces erosion so less water is needed. As organic mulch decomposes, it releases nutrients into the soil so plants are healthier. Before mulching, remove weeds from your garden. Then apply two to three inches of mulch to discourage new weed growth and to retain moisture. Place mulch at least one inch away from stems to discourage possible rot damage to plants.

    Reduce Lawn Square Footage: According to the EPA, landscape irrigation accounts for nearly one-third of residential water use. The percentage is higher in dry climates. Lawns are the biggest outdoor water users. Consider replacing all or most of the lawn’s square footage with bark, drought tolerant plants and shrubs. With water rationing a possibility, this preemptive move will keep lawns looking green and reduce water bills significantly.

    Determine How Much Water To Use: Most homeowners have a tendency to overwater. Go to Be Water Wise http://www.bewaterwise.com/calculator.html to calculate how much water is truly needed to water a garden. Calculations are based on location and soil make-up (sandy or clay).

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  • Kids Dig Into Their New Garden at Rio Rosales Elementary School in Oxnard
    Friday, January 24, 2014 at

  • The garden at Oxnard's Rio Rosales Elementary School had been left untended for quite some time, but with donations and community support, students are now planting vegetables, fruits and flowers. The garden is a place where students can get excited about plants and nutrition says Leann Guzik the school’s library clerk who helped spearhead the new garden project.

    "With a school garden, with have the potential to impact our community's lifestyle," says Leann. "It is our hope that our garden can be a place to enrich the classroom lessons and allow students to experience learning from their own observations--all while munching on fresh vegetables picked from the garden!" Agromin was happy to help out by providing the soil for the garden beds.

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  • Parents Get To Work Upgrading Lee Elementary School Garden.
    Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at

  • Parents At Work

    Lee Elementary School parents, staff, and other volunteers were busy digging trenches this month to rebuild their school gardens. The gardens were part of the school grounds that were demolished during a yearlong modernization project for the school in Los Alamitos. Renee Keeler, 2nd grade teacher and avid gardener, always includes components of science and organic gardening as her students work in the garden. She is a strong believer of the "from earth to earth" recycling process--good soil means good food, which we compost to make good soil--that then goes back to the earth.

    Agromin donated seven cubic yards of organic garden soil to fill the garden beds that Mrs. Keeler's classes will plant, cultivate and harvest throughout the year. The gardens are a huge hit with students, staff and parents and are a welcome returning sight to the school.

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  • January is Time For Gardeners to Prepare for Spring
    Thursday, January 2, 2014 at
  • January in Southern California is a time to keep landscapes looking lush while preparing for the spring growing season.

    Plant Winter Flowers: Perennial plants can look worse for wear in January. Give your flower garden a fresh look by planting cool-season annuals such as pansies, snapdragons, calendulas and linaria. Select already-blooming flowers at garden centers for instant color. The flowers will bloom well into spring.

    Plant Bareroot Fruit Trees: Local nurseries should be filled with a variety of bareroot fruit and nut trees in January. Look for a tree with a root system that is in proportion to the branch system. The tree should contain numerous branches that are evenly distributed and be between 4 foot and 8 foot in height.

    Prepare Soil for Planting: Whether planting flowers or trees, planting success begins with the quality of the soil. Organic soil amendments are made from natural ingredients that give plants the necessary nutrients to withstand the initial planting and then take root and flourish. Some amendments are specifically designed for clay or sandy soils.

    Prune and Pinch: It’s time to trim deciduous trees and shape shrubs so they can accommodate spring growth. Pinch back dead portions of perennial and annual flowers to encourage new growth.

    Place Mulch in Garden: Even the slightest amount of rain is all that’s needed for weeds to grow. Keep weeds in check by placing mulch around vegetable plants, flowerbeds, shrubs and trees.

    Extend the Life of Poinsettias: Poinsettia plants will usually remain healthy into March. Once leaves start looking weary, cut back stems to about eight inches tall. Keep the plants indoors until the weather warms and then transplant into a larger container. Prune as needed so the plant remains bushy. New flowers will begin to grow in October and reach their peak in November and December.

    Plant Living Christmas Trees: Living Christmas trees should spend as little time as possible indoors. Once the holidays are over, bring living Christmas trees outside and transplant into the ground. Trees can easily grow 50 feet or higher so select their permanent outdoor location carefully. Factor in root growth (roots can cause havoc on sewer lines, sidewalks and patios) and dropping needles (cleanup can be daily if needles fall onto outdoor living areas).

    For more gardening tips, go to www.agromin.com.

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