What to do in the park this week – Orange County Register
Pansies. (Getty Images)
5 things you can do in the park this week:
1 Germinate pansies seeds now. It takes about three weeks for the seeds to germinate and another 40 days for the seedlings to be strong enough to transplant into the garden come fall. Pansy seeds germinate faster in the dark, so, to make sure the soil stays moist, they can be kept in the garage until germination. You can eliminate the worry about wetting the soil by using a capillary mat. This is a mat made of felt to which water is applied. Through capillary action, the water then moves into the dry soil to pack cells in which the seeds are planted; As long as the mat is wet, the water in it will move into the cell bundles the moment their soil dries. The water in the mat rises to a height of four inches, the highest height for the cells. You can find capillary mats through online sellers for about $20. Search “propagation cell packs” online for your propagation cell packs.
2 If you’re looking to grow a spring vegetable garden in a hardwood plot, plant winter rye (Secale cerale) seeds in that area anytime between now and September. The deep roots of winter rye break up hard soil, and winter rye itself—which grows to a height of five feet—adds a great deal of organic matter to the soil when cut and dug into the ground. Amy Goldman, considered by some to be America’s foremost vegetable gardener—as evidenced by her scholarly and award-winning books on growing tomatoes, squash, and watermelon—plants winter rye each fall to replenish her soil before spring planting. Throughout the growing season, they do not need to fertilize their crops due to the soil enrichment provided by rotted rye. An advantage of rye is its allelopathic quality. Allelopathy refers to the ability of some plants, due to chemicals secreted by their roots, to prevent other plants from growing in their vicinity. Therefore, you don’t have to worry about weeds growing in your winter rye stand.
3 We all know that bees are essential for pollinating the flowers of our vegetable plants and fruit trees in order to produce a crop. While classic honeybees – imported from Europe – can do the job, there are 1,600 species of bees native to California that can achieve the same result, but more efficiently. The advantage of native bees is that they do not live in beehives, and therefore almost all the pollen they capture is deposited on the flowers, unlike honeybees which bring most of the pollen they harvest to their colony. To invite and keep native bees — which are typically smaller than honeybees — in the garden, introduce plants that flower over a long period of time such as lavender, rosemary, oregano, buckwheat (Eriogonum species) and sunflowers. This long-blooming species will encourage local bees to nest in your home. You can make their stay easier by building a bee hotel or nesting block. This is nothing more than a two-foot-long 4×4 piece of lumber into which holes have been drilled 1/8 to 3/8 inch in diameter, taking care so that the holes do not pass through the wood. Make sure to protect it from afternoon sun and rain by mounting it to a garage wall, for example, under a cornice. All holes in Greg Alder’s nesting blocks are of this description (gregalder.com) and was soon occupied by local bees.
4 When it comes to crushing perennial weeds — those with roots or wiry roots — there’s no better control measure than a thick mulch of wood chips from a tree trimming truck. (Find a logger who works in your area, and chances are he will gladly, at no charge, dump a pile of wood chips on your driveway.) Any plant starved for sunlight will eventually die since all its energy will be spent on trying to stem the stems. Access to light while the roots stop growing. For those who are serious about weed control but lack a source of mulch, the “weeder” has claws that get under the weed, turning it over and twisting it, so that as the drill penetrates the ground in the middle of the weed, extracting a core of weed. Soil along with the root. This device is available through online sellers and costs around $11 to $35, depending on the length of the handle, with the easiest to handle (and from a standing position) being over three feet long.
5 National Horticultural Society website (Garden.org) provides a huge amount of information for free and without registration. Among the offers you will find five basic courses in horticulture. I highly recommend planting vegetables because now is a great time to plant seeds for your fall vegetable garden. You’ll also find a weed guide, a pest control guide, and thousands of frequently asked gardening questions, plus plenty of profiles on recently introduced gorgeous flowering perennials of every description.
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