What time of year should I plant?

This is a good question, and the answer is usually "It depends on what you're planting."  But there are some pretty good general rules of (green) thumb to follow:

In general, early fall is considered a good planting time for most (but not all) plants since the soil is still fairly warm (to promote root growth), the air temperature is cooling down, the days are shorter, and the angle of the sun is lower in the sky.  Plants have a chance to develop stronger roots and to get established without having to transpire much.  Planting in fall also reduces the amount of supplemental irrigation a plant needs (due to the lower air temperatures, shorter days, and angle of the sun) so this is good for water conservation. 

Plants that are frost sensitive (citrus, avocados, bougainvillea, fuchsias and succulents) might do better if planted in the spring after the last frost date has passed.  

Most California natives and Mediterranean plants will do just fine if planted in the summer, but it means that they will need to be watered more frequently.  Even if natives are planted in the fall, they will still probably need some supplemental irrigation through their first or second summer.  

Happy Gardening!!

 

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Get Pests to Stop Bugging You

Here at South Bay Green Gardens, we are fans of all creatures great and small.  But some critters overstay their welcome in our gardens, to put it kindly.  Where do we turn to when we want to welcome the beneficial insects and discourage others?  

Our Water, Our World is a wonderful resource for finding less-toxic products to use in our homes and gardens.  On this website, you can find a wealth of material on finding pesticide alternatives, where to buy products, beneficial insects and much more.  Check out their handy pocket guide to less toxic products for managing common pest.

So here's to you you, ladybug and dragonfly!  Happy Gardening!

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July is Smart Irrigation Month

Today’s irrigation systems include sophisticated controllers that allow you to easily adjust watering schedules to fit different needs.

Get in the zone. Schedule each individual zone in your irrigation system to account for type of sprinkler, sun or shade exposure, and soil in that section. Different zones will almost always need different watering schedules.

Consider soil type. Type of soil determines how quickly water can be absorbed without runoff. Watering more than soil can absorb causes runoff and waste.

Don’t send water down the drain. Set sprinklers to water plants, not your driveway, sidewalk, patio or buildings.

Water only when needed. Saturate root zones and let the soil dry. Watering too much and too frequently results in shallow roots, weed growth, disease and fungus.

Water at the best time. Watering during the heat of the day may cause losses of up to 30 percent due to evaporation. Prevent water loss by watering when the sun is low or down, winds are calm and temperatures are cool — typically between the evening and early morning.

Water more often for shorter periods. For example, setting your system to run for three, 5-minute intervals lets soil absorb more water than watering for 15 minutes at one time, reducing runoff.

Adapt watering to the season. Familiarize yourself with the settings on your irrigation controller and adjust the watering schedule regularly based on seasonal weather conditions. Or invest in a smart controller so your system can make these changes automatically.

Thank you to the Irrigation Association for these great tips!  To find out more about how to water wisely - or for a free irrigation efficiency evaluation - click here.

 

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Water-Wise Yards - Your Link to Rebates and Designs

Interested in replacing your lawn with something that's pretty and uses less water?  We have you covered!!

Rebates are available and you may qualify!  The Santa Clara Valley Water District now has rebates to take out your lawn and replace it with qualifying water-wise landscape.  Be sure to contact them before you start your project.

We have beautiful, ready-made landscape designs here!  Choose from a variety of designs, such as a Small, Sunny Yard, or a Children's Garden, or a Large Slightly Shady Yard.  There are so many choose from - pick one that's right for you!  Happy Gardening!

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What's the buzz around pollinators?

What is so great about pollinators?  Well, to start, pollinators are the worker bees (pun intended) of our gardens, farms and orchards.  According to the National Wildlife Federation, bees "pollinate both our crops and plants, providing us with one-third of the food we eat.

If you have a pollinator-friendly garden, you can celebrate Pollinator Month!  According to the National Wildlife Federation:

"Certify your habitat during Pollinator Month and BEE COUNTED towards the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge!

Anyone can create a welcoming haven for local wildlife. Turning your yard, balcony container garden, schoolyard, work landscape, or roadside greenspace into a Certified Wildlife Habitat® is fun, easy, and can make a lasting difference for wildlife."

Click here to learn more.  Happy Gardening!!

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Micro-irrigation - New, Free Guide Available

Are you interested in installing an irrigation system that uses water super efficiently?  According to the EPA WaterSense website, "Micro-irrigation systems use 20 to 50 percent less water than conventional sprinkler systems."  Micro-irrigation systems slowly and precisely deliver water exactly where it's needed.  

The WaterSense site has a new, free guide to micro-irrigation, available here, which will help you figure out if it's right for you, and then walk you through the details.  

Happy Water-Wise Gardening!

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Happy Learn About Composting Day on May 29th!

Did you know that May 29th is Learn About Composting Day? Composting your food scraps and organic waste is great because it helps to reduce waste in landfills and creates valuable fertilizer.

Interested in taking a class on how to compost?  The County of Santa Clara Composting Education Program offers more free composting classes than you can shake a (compostable) stick at.  Click here for more information about these free classes.

Our page on Soils, Mulch and Composting has lots of local information for you too.

Happy Composting!!

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Endangered Species Day is May 18th

On Friday, May 18th, don't forget to take a moment to recognize Endangered Species Day, started in 2006 by the United States Congress and marked by celebrations of our nation’s wildlife and wild places. This important call to action is an opportunity for people of all ages to learn about the importance of protecting endangered species and the everyday actions that can be taken to help protect them.

Our local endangered species include the California Clapper Rail (pictured below), the Salt Marsh Harvest Mouse, the California Tiger Salamander, the Bay Checkerspot Butterfly, and the San Joaquin Kit Fox.  

Looking for ideas to support your celebrations? Check out the Eco-Schools USA Take Action page to find just the right fit for your school.

Looking to deepen your understanding on the status of America’s wildlife, read National Wildlife Federation’s recently released report, Reversing America’s Wildlife Crisis: Securing the Future of our Fish and Wildlife

(Thanks to the National Wildlife Federation)

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May is Garden For Wildlife Month

According to the National Wildlife Federation, May is Garden for Wildlife Month. Garden for Wildlife helps people restore habitat and wildlife populations to our cities, towns and neighborhoods. Since 1973, the program has been educating and empowering people to turn their own small piece of Earth—their yards and gardens—into thriving habitat for birds, butterflies and other wildlife. The National Wildlife Federation has recognized over 200,000 spaces representing 1.5 million acres as Certified Wildlife Habitats in yards, schools, campuses, corporate properties, farms, parks and more.

(Thanks to the National Wildlife Federation)

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Graywater Workshop in San Jose THIS SATURDAY!

Come out this Saturday, April 28th, from 11:00 am to noon at Our City Forest at 1000 Spring St, San Jose, for a FREE workshop on GRAYWATER.

Learn how to safely reuse water from washing machines to irrigate your landscape! This free class will discuss residential graywater reuse, common types of graywater systems, garden-friendly soaps and detergents, and how to construct a laundry to landscape graywater system. Attending the workshop will help participants qualify for the Santa Clara Valley Water District's Graywater Rebate: $200 ($400 in certain areas).

Our City Forest will be hosting a plant sale between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.; the workshop will be from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m..

To receive specific assistance during the workshop, bring a few photos of your laundry area and landscape to be irrigated with graywater.

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