It can be like that in the garden now as our seasons change. Summer annual plants have to be removed and be replaced by winter annuals. Perennials need a lot less looking after, yet they do need some attention; those plants we prune back in the winter months soon will demand we attend to that, but make sure you wait until after the Winter Solstice when the ever-longer days will begin to affect how soon they’ll burst back into leaf and bloom.
At The Learning Garden, we water like crazy when the Santa Ana winds blow through. If you are having to put on extra moisturizing lotion, or lip balm, you can extrapolate that your plants are feeling it too. Dry winds, whether warm or cold, suck moisture out of plant leaves as fast as skin and this can leave otherwise healthy plants keeled over one fine sunny afternoon.
While a slight wilt may not kill them, it’s no better for them than for a person getting heat stroke, so try to anticipate the problem by keeping abreast of incoming weather. It’s no joke that farmers greet one another with, "Sure is hot…" or some other weather related comment. Grow a few plants with any kind of commitment and you get obsessive about the weather too! If you hear that Santa Ana winds are on the horizon, get a little extra water in the ground before your plants suffer. It’s a lot easier to keep them from getting dehydrated than it is getting them to come back after those blasts of hot air have had their way with tender leaves. Sometimes a stick in the ground propping a flat from the nursery can provide just enough shade to prevent wilting. The flat should be placed to the south of the plant where it will interdict more of the sun’s direct rays, resting on the stick stuck in to the north of the plant. It won’t win awards for ‘cute,’ but it works and, at zero cents invested, the price is right.
Most importantly, I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, mulch your plants. There should never be any bare soil in the garden at any time – but especially when it rains and when the dry winds come blowing through our basin. When it rains, the mulch cushions the falling rain drops allowing them to melt into the soil and when it’s hot and dry, mulch stops ground water from being sucked out.
So the band learned an hour’s worth of additional music – we each offered our one song to learn – or did we each bring seven? It was so stressful, I don’t really recall. But we learned enough to get through the gig. Then we broke up. Half the band is doing Beatles covers. The other half (guess which one I’m in?) has more originals in their focus, just letting some creative rain soak in; watering our souls. And staying ready for everything that comes our way.
Grandson of a Great Plains farmer, David King is the Garden Master at the Learning Garden, on the campus of Venice High School. He shares his love of the land and music through teaching, writing and playing in a folk/country band. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org