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Archive for June 21, 2012

Native Pollinators


Syrphid Fly

Friend or Foe?

This issue is not nearly as black and white as we would like. Like all things, your garden must also have a dark and a light, literally and figuratively. Just outside your door there is a constant whirlwind of insect activity. Day and night ‘bugs’ are at work pollinating your flowers, decomposing organic waste and of course some are also damaging your plants. But many of the bugs you can spot on any given day are doing you and the nations food supply a great service.

Even though it may not seem like it, many of the insects in your garden right now are providing the service of pollination. Many people are surprised to hear the staggering numbers associated with these pollinators.

  • 90% of all plant species require animals to help start seed and fruit production in flowers, ensuring full bodied fruit and seed set
  • To date more then 199,000 invertebrate pollinators including bees, butterflies and moths have been discovered around the world
  • 75% of food, fiber, condiment, spice and medicine crops are pollinated by animals, 1 out of every 3-4 bites or sips of a beverage was brought to you by a pollinator!
  • This includes Asparagus, Broccoli, Cacao, Coffee, Lettuce, Olives, Black Pepper, Tea, Mustard, Cotton and many more!
  • This equates to a $40 billion agricultural industry in the U.S. alone

When I think of pollinators the first thing that comes to mind is honeybees but they are actually non-native and can out compete some of our 4,000 native north american bees for resources.

Sweat Bee

Bumble Bee


What can you do? 

  • Don’t make assumptions. Just because you don’t immediately recognize a bug as ‘beneficial’ doesn’t mean that it is a danger to you or your garden.
  • Do provide the basics of food, water and shelter.
  • In order to keep and feed all of the beneficial insects you hope to attract you will also need a population of ‘bad bugs’.
  • Also because a product claims it is safe to beneficial insects doesn’t mean that it is. Research a product and the ingredients in detail before choosing to buy.
  • Do use your best judgment with products that claim to be safe as long as they are not sprayed on the flowers or the pollinators, assume that all plants absorb what is sprayed on them, distributing it throughout their systems (even to pollen and then your food!).
  • Better yet eliminate sprays, soaps and chemicals altogether if you cannot be sure that they will not negatively affect the workers ensuring your healthy crop.

Swallowtail Butterfly


Your garden will thank you!


Blossom End Rot

Hopefully none of you have noticed the signs of blossom end rot which is easily identifiable by the brown, sunken patches on the blossom end of tomatoes. If you have, don’t fear this is one tomato disease that is easily cured and first and foremost easily prevented.

Most commonly blossom end rot is caused by a calcium deficiency in your soil, here in San Diego though we tend to have adequate calcium in our existing soil.  So who is to blame? Unfortunately, we are. In San Diego blossom end rot could be prevented and cured if we pay attention to how much and how often we water our plants. If our soil is not evenly moist then the roots have a very hard time pulling in their required nutrients. Therefore, our culprits are dry as a bone and soaking wet soils, two conditions that make it difficult for roots to get what they need.

What to do? You know your soil best and are the only one that can physically feel how moist it is. When you are watering tomatoes remember that they like more water, less often then your other plants. In the heat of the summer I give my plants a deep watering once a week. For those of you in containers or raised beds beware of soggy soils and check your drainage. Often times setting up a drip line at the base of your tomato will be giving the area directly below the plant way too much water on an almost daily basis, ignoring the surrounding soil where the roots have spread.

At home in my raised beds I keep the drip on water hungry squash, watermelon and eggplant, using the hose for infrequent watering.

If you have already noticed the disease pick off the afflicted fruits so that no more energy is spent trying to grow what you cannot eat. Employ new watering tactics as soon as possible and mulch around the tomato plant if your soil is more dry then wet to help hold moisture in.

Let me know how it grows!


June in the Garden

Sunflowers – Susan Entwistle

I hope you’re ready to grow! June is jam packed with everything you need to know to grow and enjoy a great garden.

Wednesday, June 6th – The San Diego Herb Club will be meeting from 7-9pm in the Casa Del Prado building, rm. 101, to discuss Herb Gardening Demystified“.

Saturday, June 9th – Low Water Plants will be the focus of a walk & talk hosted by South Bay Botanic Garden from 4:30 – 5:30pm.

Saturday, June 9th – Visit Seeds in the City at our Little Italy Mercato booth, just west of India Street from 8:00 – 2:00pm

Saturday, June 9th – Wild Willow Farms host a Summer Fermentation Workshop from 12 – 1:30pm where you will learn everything you need to know to properly pickle!

Thursday, June 14th – Enjoy specialty parings at Sea Rocket Bistro that will benefit the wonderful program at Seeds at City from 5 – 10pm.

Saturday, June 16th – Visit Seeds in the City at our Little Italy Mercato booth, just west of India Street from 8:00 – 2:00pm

Saturday, June 16th – The third annual Farm Tour Day will be held from 9:00 – 3:00 pm and feature a choice of two tours that cover four San Diego farms each.

Saturday, June 23rd – Build your own ‘top bar’ beehive at Wild Willow Farms with instructor Paul Maschka. The $50 class fee will buy you the materials you need to get started.

Saturday, June 23rd – No farmers market for us this Saturday, see you with all new additions on 6/30!

Saturday, June 23rd – The Solana Center hosts a free composting workshop within the Otto Center at the San Diego Zoo from 8:00 -10:00am

Thursday, June 28th – Learn how to grow great veggies while saving water with the Incredible! Edible, Waterwise, and Beautiful workshop at CSSE from 6:00 – 7:30pm.

Saturday, June 30th – Attracting Birds, Hummingbirds & Butterflies will be covered at the San Diego Botanic Garden from 10:00 – 12:00pm. The class is $20 for non-members.

Saturday, June 30th – Visit Seeds in the City at our Little Italy Mercato booth, just west of India Street from 8:00 – 2:00pm.