Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
April, 2005
Regional Report

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Goldenrod attracts beneficial insects as well as beautifies your garden.

In the Garden Yet?

Most gardeners have been out in the garden for several weeks already, but anytime this month is a great time to start incorporating soil amendments, sowing seeds, and putting in transplants. The soil is (finally!) dry enough to be worked without compacting it, the air is warm enough to enjoy working outside, and the soil temperature is ideal for germinating all kinds of seeds and getting transplants growing well. In short, it's garden time! But hurry to get everything started, 'cuz it'll heat up quickly!

Teaching plant roots to grow deeply for water will lessen irrigation needs during hot weather. Make sure irrigation drip lines, soaker hoses, sprinklers, and trenches are in place before root systems get too large.

The weather and the texture of your soil will determine the amount and frequency of irrigation to apply to your garden. Heavy clay soils require less irrigation than sandy loam soils. During periods of long, hot weather, plants need more frequent and longer irrigation than during periods with more moderate temperatures. Irrigation that keeps the soil soggy will increase root rot problems.

Mulch the soil -- especially with organic matter, such as leaves or grass clippings -- to temper the drying and heating effects of the sun, and irrigation will be more efficient.

Food for Beneficials
To encourage beneficial insects to populate your garden, provide them with their chosen foods and habitats. Many weeds, including lamb's-quarters, nettle, knotweed, pigweed, and cocklebur, as well as many cultivated annuals, perennials, and herbs are food sources for two of the most important orders of beneficials: wasps and flies.

Most of these plants are members of two families -- the umbelliferae and the compositae. Umbelliferae, such as anise, carrot, caraway, coriander, dill, fennel, and parsley, have many tiny flowers arranged in tight umbels. Compositae, such as black-eyed Susan, goldenrod, and strawflower, have central disc flowers surrounded by many ray petals. Rows or interplantings of these plants can support a large beneficial insect population.

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