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8 Ways to Get Rid of Snails and Slugs in Your Garden

Posted May 20th, 2012
Brown Garden Snail

Brown Garden Snail

Do you have legions of snails marching into your garden?

White snail

White Snail (common in San Diego)

Snails prey on garden plants mostly at night, especially during cloudy or foggy weather.  Consuming leaves mainly, but sometimes new bark, fruit and flowers as well, snails and slugs are an unwelcome nuisance and “nerve-crunching surprise”, causing unsightly damage to plants no matter what kind of gardener you are.  Even if you don’t see them during the day, their slime trails and irregular holes cut with smooth edges give their presence away.  Assuming you’re not fond of eating “escargot” and you can’t keep up with the refilling chore of the “beer trap” — here are the 8 best ways to launch a successful counter attack on the snails and slugs in your garden:

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Blooming Now! In San Diego

Posted December 10th, 2011

All things Mexican are blooming brilliantly in our San Diego garden.

Mexican Marigold

Mexican Marigold

Citrus-scented Mexican Marigold, furry purple blossomed stalks of Mexican Bush Sage, and dangling clusters of bright purple-magenta, papery bracts of Bougainvillea form a kind audience on my morning walks.

It feels as if our garden is enjoying a second spring…heading into December!

Foxtail Agave

Foxtail Agave

Without invitation, several blue-green Foxtail Agaves have sent up towering flower stalks — feigning treehood.

Christmas Cactus

Christmas Cactus

On our porch, the pendant red blossoms that exploded a couple weeks ago on our Christmas Cactus still mimic a mini fireworks display.

Paperwhites

Paperwhites

Slender, proud blue-green stalks and leaves of fragrant Paperwhites rise triumphant from containers grouped in threes.

Candelabra Aloe

Candelabra Aloe

At the top of our driveway, a dozen or more coral orange spikes on our Candelabra Aloe keep celebrating something, as they greet newcomers just ahead of our dogs.

Nary a plant here receives supplemental watering, unless it’s edible, or new.  No fertilizer.  No mulch.  In fact, these beauties have reached a size to where they self-mulch, or shade weeds out.  Mostly, there’s just not enough water and nutrients for the weeds to grow.  Low maintenance California gardening at its best.  And blooming!  Who needs a partridge or a pear tree?

Crown of Thorns and Chalk Dudleya

Crown of Thorns, Chalk Dudleya

Finger Limes – California’s New Caviar

Posted October 10th, 2011

By DeeAnn Schuttish – Designer and Owner, Green Life Studios

Finger Lime and Oyster

Finger Lime and Oyster

Hopefully not the next açai berry, but sure to be the next fun foodie fad, are Finger Limes.  Discovered in the back yard of a neighbor’s house is this miniature citrus, wearing miniature leaves, and limes the size of long olives.  Squeeze the middle and out pop the crystal-like, crunchy beads that are the lime’s pulp, ready to sprinkle on salads and oysters, substitute for caviar on canapés, zest a salsa, top sushi or perhaps “spike” a punch bowl.

Native to the Australian rainforest, this curious fruit was introduced to Californians by UC Riverside, coming to the university as a gift many years ago, and released to the nursery trade only 8 years ago.  The very small fruit comes in a variety of pulp colors. While the one I tasted sported clear lime green beads, others can be pink, or even red.

Finger Limes Come in Many Colors

Finger Limes Come in Many Colors

Some folks describe the pulp’s texture as “pop rocks”.

The Finger Lime I tasted was found here in San Diego in early October, however,  November to January is peak season for Finger Limes.  Look for these curious fruits at the Santa Monica Farmers Market and Whole Foods at stores in Southern California.

~ DeeAnn Schuttish, Owner, Green Life Studios

Veggie Gardening in the Fall? – San Diego’s Unique Growing Season

Posted October 2nd, 2011

By Marianne Hart, Author, Green Life Studios

Summer veggies out, fall veggies in!

Bowl of Fall Vegetables

Cool Season Veggies.

Autumn is time to think about planting cool season veggies. San Diego is a unique area in that it has a vegetable growing season all year long! Yes, scrumptious garden veggies can still happily adorn your plates and fill your soup bowls into early December!

The warm fall days and crisp evenings lend themselves perfectly to growing an abundance of veggies such as beets, carrots, turnips, spinach, broccoli, shallots, potatoes, radishes, cauliflower, mustard greens, leeks, lettuce, kohlrabi, parsnips, endive, celery, cabbage, kale, parsley, peas, Brussels sprouts, chard, garlic and rutabagas.

Some of the above mentioned plants are available as transplants at most local nurseries such as Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, and onions. Using transplants saves about six weeks of growing time. The remainder of the veggies would need to be started from seeds.

Locate your garden in an area with at least seven hours of full sun exposure. Often, vegetables thrive  when a garden plot is located on the south side of a building which receives full sun. The structure can also serve to block the northerly winds. Avoid areas near tree root systems which can rob vegetables of nutrients and moisture.

French Breakfast Radishes

French Breakfast Radishes

Work organic materials into your soil (yes, it’s work but it will pay off!) such as peat moss and compost. Fish and seaweed emulsions also work great  to provide nutrients – they come in liquid form and are mixed with water. Spade and work your soil well. Water the whole area well and let settle a couple of days. While the soil is still moist, sow your seed.

Take care to not transplant your vegetables in the heat of the day but towards the cool of the evening. This will make the transplanting experience less of a shock to your plants.  Water them right away.

Plant more seeds than you need and thin your plants later if you have to. Irrigate weekly until the rainy season arrives – usually in late November.

Keep your weeds under control – there won’t be as many this time of year.

Raised Kitchen Garden

Lettuce Garden

Mark your calendar and spray every ten days with a spray that contains Bacillus thuringiensus (Bt). Bt is a biological spray that won’t harm helpful insects. Cabbage worms on all the cole crops and many other vegetables are a major threat, however insects will be fewer. Be faithful about this and you will never have a worm problem!

During the hot, dry Santa Ana winds, sprinkle your garden with water twice a day.

The harvest period for many of these cool-season veggies will begin in mid-November. Some, like radishes and leaf lettuce, will be ready earlier and others, like Brussels sprouts, will be later.

Fall Vegetable Soup

Fall Vegetable Soup

Gauge the time you think you will be willing to devote to tending your garden and plan your garden plot size accordingly. Try not to overwhelm yourself.  If this is your first garden experience, you want to enjoy it!

Take care not to plant cool season veggies during the warm summer weather growing season or the other way around. Your plants will not do well.

Love your plants and sing to them! They will love you back!

Happy fall gardening in sunny San Diego!!

This cabbage, these carrots, these potatoes, these onions … will soon become me. Such a tasty fact!

- Mark Garafalo