Plants Are Like People…They Can Get Sunburnt Too!

When planning a garden, timing is crucial. It is important to plant in early spring or fall so that the plants can establish themselves before dealing with any extremes in heat or cold. The past couple of months, I haven’t done too much blogging since I have been so busy trying to make sure all of our new plants are comfortable in their new environment. With the exception of just a few plants, I selected only things that are very drought tolerant since we are in Los Angeles (we are currently in the middle of a really bad drought here in Southern California).

This week has had extreme temperatures here in L.A., definitely way out of the normal range for spring. Hot even compared to our normal summer temperatures. Like 105 degrees in the shade, just a few miles from the ocean kind of heat. Some of my plants were definitely not ready for this kind of heat. Yesterday was the worst heat all week, and when I went outside in the evening, a lot of my new plants were wilting and looking quite miserable. The nasturtiums in specific surprised me the most…some of them literally got burnt to a crisp! I was surprised since nasturtiums grow wild here along most of the horse trails nearby. However, we don’t normally get that kind of extreme desert heat here!

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Some of my sun-loving succulents also got a bit crispy as well. 😦

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This one surprised me the most…I moved most of my houseplants out of the living room so I could keep the dark drapes closed and keep as much heat out of the house as possible. I relocated all of my houseplants to our two patios so they would still be able to get some sun. These jade plants were placed in the south facing, covered patio and got pretty burnt. I guess the change was too much for them since they had been indoors previously. My outdoor jade plants are all doing okay.

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Last night, after seeing how droopy everything had gotten, I gave everything a good deep watering, and I mixed up a super-revive solution for all of our new plants. I made a diluted mixture of compost tea, seaweed emulsion, fish emulsion, and expired breastmilk that had to be cleaned out from the freezer anyway. I know it sounds crazy, but expired breastmilk does wonders for wilting and depressed plants! It is packed full of nutrients, and whenever I have some to spare, I feed it to whichever plants are most in need of a pick-me-up! This morning, everything looked much better (minus the crispy bits). 🙂

And just for fun, here’s our little cutie, trying to stay cool inside the house. 🙂
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How To: Eliminate the Green Waste Bin

When we first moved into this house, the yard was very neglected.  I spent weeks filling up the two green waste bins and it felt like I would never catch up with getting rid of all the piles I had around the yard.  I started researching other ways that I could start reusing some of the waste from our yard instead of sending it to the city.  I have now found a use for everything I was throwing away in the green bins previously!

1.  This is something I have always done anyway, but grass clippings go into the compost bin.

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2.  I have always heard that pine needles do not make good mulch for vegetable beds because they are acidic.  I spent so much time filling up those bins with pine needles.  I then read a recent study at a university testing the actual impact pine needles have on the pH of soil.  The study found that pine needles that have been sitting out for at least 3 weeks have no impact on the soil pH.  Now, instead of throwing all the pine needles out, I gather them into a pile and let them age into good mulch for my vegetable beds.  While I am waiting for them to be ready to use in the vegetable beds, I use them as mulch under the pine tree in our backyard.  Now I have enough to keep all of my vegetable beds nicely mulched!

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3.  Instead of throwing out branches, twigs, and some dried ivy leaves from the trees and vines I have pruned, we decided to pile it up for making more mulch.  I let it all dry out, and then I chipped it up to make more mulch.

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4.  Instead of tossing out the weeds from the garden beds and grass, I am using the weeds to make a type of compost tea (original post here). Everything has really been flourishing since I started feeding them with this as an added supplement!

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How To: Make Compost Tea from Garden Weeds

Weeds are a nuisance to every gardener.  They take over areas if left untended, and deplete the soil of nutrients.  They should not be put straight into the compost bin because they tend to spread easily throughout the rest of the garden.

I like to find a use for everything, and was determined to find a use for the weeds that I remove from my garden on a weekly basis.  I started thinking about how the weeds pull nutrients from the soil, and have read that weeds can be added into a compost pile if they have been heated at a high enough temperature to kill the weed seeds.  I decided to try an experiment of boiling the weeds to make a tea, similar to the concept of making compost tea.

I gathered all of the weeds I pulled from the garden, and put them in a large pot (I used my canning pot) with ample water.  I brought the water to a boil, and then let the weeds brew in boiling water for about 15-20 minutes.  After that I let the water cool, and removed the weeds from the water.  I felt they would be safe now to put in the compost bin.

I used the weed compost tea in a dilution of water in a 10-1 ratio to fertilize everything in my garden, flowers and edibles.  Within just a few days, I started noticing a huge increase in growth!  I harvested some amazingly huge squash and cucumbers just a few days later.  This is definitely going to be added to my regular gardening routine!

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