• Gardening Activity Slows in December, But Still Plenty to Do
    Tuesday, November 24, 2015 at

  • Gardeners do not have much daylight in December to work in their yards so they can easily take the month off from garden duties. For those who can't imagine a day without planting and pruning, there is plenty to keep them busy throughout the month.

    Plant azaleas in December.

    Plant California Natives: December is growing season for California natives. Since the microclimates are so varied in Southern California, check with your local nursery for the natives that do best in your area.

    Plant Bulbs, Flowers And California Wildflowers: Plant bulbs in 5" to 6" of soil. Plant azaleas and camellias this month. They are best planted while in bloom which is helpful because you can see what colors you are adding to your garden. California wildflower seeds can also be sown now for next year's blooms. These include traditional California wildflowers such as desert bluebells, California poppies and mariposa lilies.

    Maintain A Healthy Lawn: If you plan to keep all or a portion of your lawn, you might as well ensure it looks its best. If projected heavy rains this winter materialize, takes steps to keep your lawn looking healthy through spring. Rake falling leaves from lawns as leaves could impede lawn growth. If a lawn is in need of repair, sow in annual rye seeds to cover brown spots and to introduce new growth. After seeding, scatter a light covering of top dressing and water thoroughly (or let rain saturate the ground for you).

    Pull Weeds: Remove weeds throughout your landscape so weeds won’t grow once winter rains begin. Place a layer of mulch over the weeded area to prevent weeds from popping up as soon as the soil moistens.

    Prune and Clip: Prune deciduous fruit trees after their leaves have dropped and the trees have gone dormant. Clip off dead brown branches underneath healthy green growth on shrubs and smaller plants.

    Still Time to Plant Cool Weather Vegetables:  Cool-season vegetables such as beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, kale, lettuce, radishes, and turnips can be planted in December. Winter offerings can be a nice change of pace from traditional summer vegetables.

    Buy a Cut Christmas Tree: Farm produced Christmas trees absorb carbon dioxide and other gases while producing oxygen. Once the holidays are over, the trees are 100 percent recycled into mulch that is then used by growers and landscapers. An artificial tree is made of non-biodegradable plastic and metal. Once thrown away, they end up in landfills.
    For more gardening tips, go to www.agromin.com.

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  • Ventura County Star: Ventura County crop values top $2 billion for second year
    Tuesday, November 10, 2015 at

  • Here's an article that appeared on November 4 in the Ventura County Star. It's good to see healthy crop production in Ventura County despite the drought. Limoneira uses Agromin mulch around its orchards to improve water efficiency, keep weeds down, prevent erosion and maintain moderate soil temperatures. 

    ROB VARELA/THE STAR Socorro Vasquez sorts lemons Tuesday at Limoneira Ranch in Santa Paula.

    By Kathleen Wilson

    VENTURA, Calif. - Strawberries ranked as the top crop in Ventura County last year, but lemons surged to second place and kale joined the list for the first time, a report released Tuesday says.
    County Agricultural Commissioner Henry Gonzales said the estimated 2014 gross value of agricultural products totaled $2.14 billion, up 2 percent from 2013 despite the difficulties imposed by a sustained drought.

    "This is the second year in a row we have surpassed the $2 billion mark," Gonzales told the Ventura County Board of Supervisors.

    Gonzales credited the healthy results amid drought to relatively abundant local groundwater supplies and a bounty of crops. The report stated that more than 50 crops generated more than $1 million in gross receipts apiece.

    "That protects us," Gonzales said.

    Strawberries ranked far ahead of any other crop, with a reported value of almost $628 million. That was up by 3 percent from 2013 despite a decrease in harvested acreage, but off the $691 million
    recorded in 2012.

    Values for lemon production soared to a record of almost $270 million, up 43 percent over 2013.

    The growth was driven mainly by rising prices, said Alex Teague, senior vice president of the Limoneira Co., a Santa Paula lemon producer that has achieved record profits.

    Teague tied the increase in lemon prices to rising consumption. The industry has successfully marketed lemons not just for food, but also for skin care and cleaning products, Teague said.
    Although strawberries are still king in total estimated value, the amount of acreage declined by about 2,000 to 11,630 acres, the report stated.

    Strawberry growers are facing low prices, increased competition from Mexico, drought and a heat-driven increase in pests, officials said.

    Kale edged its way into the Top 10 list with an estimated gross value of almost $36 million.
    Demand has skyrocketed over the past few years, said Garrett Nishimori, marketing manager and corporate chef for San Miguel Produce, a major grower of kale in the county. "People want to try and eat healthier," he said.

    Nishimori said the versatile vegetable is being served in trendy restaurants and making its way into salads, smoothies and kale chips.

    Nishimori said he eats about a bag a week.

    "I throw it in everything," he said.

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  • Kids Visit Agromin as Part of First LEGO League "Trash Tech Challenge"
    Wednesday, November 4, 2015 at

  • Camarillo middle schoolers are taking part in the 2015 First LEGO League "Trash Trek Challenge." More than 29,000 teams with 233,000 children from over 80 countries are participating. The goal is to build and program a LEGO robot that is then incorporated into an innovative way to collect, sort and ultimately reuse trash. The students got a chance to learn about organic waste recycling and composting first-hand by visiting Agromin. All attend Los Primeros School of Arts and Sciences and are sponsored by Pleasant Valley Education Foundation.

    The Camarillo team chose a project focusing on setting up a composting system for lunch food waste. The kids collect discarded food items every Friday. They are responsible for putting up posters on Fridays to remind students to toss uneaten food into trash bins designated for fruits and veggies. They then sort the collected food scraps and add them to a compost bin. The materials are turned throughout the week. When the compost is finished, it will be used in the school gardens.

    While at Agromin, the kids got to see what large-scale composting looks like. They learned about the composting process, composting temperatures, the right ratios of brown and green materials--and how to gently scare away nosy birds seeking an easy meal (a tour highlight).

    When kids are encouraged to think creatively at an early age about reusing the Earth’s finite natural resources, just imagine the advances in sustainability practices in the coming 10 to 20 years!


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