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Archive for January 4, 2014

Winter Cover Crops

I love your questions and, nothing makes me happier then helping you solve your gardening conundrums. I think my latest question could help a lot of us, myself included, who were completely overwhelmed this holiday season.

“I haven’t had time with the holidays to plant a fall/winter garden but I don’t want to just leave my soil bare over the winter. This last spring I planted heavy feeders so I know my soil is lacking nitrogen. What can you recommend that is fast and easy?”


This sounds like the perfect situation for a cover crop! You plant the seeds, add water and then watch it grow. You’re protecting your soil from erosion, weeds, giving it nutrients and in some cases helping to break up heavy soils. Now the question is which one do you choose? It needs to be able to overwinter which in our mild climate is not saying much, as well as fix nitrogen in the soil and be ready to turn under when it’s time for spring planting. Here are my favorites:

1. Fenugreek* – This first one is a legume, so it’s definitely going to fix nitrogen and, it has no problem germinating in cool soils (even surviving frost), plus it’s non-invasive and it grows fast giving you enough time to turn it under before spring planting.

2. Berseem Clover* – Another great nitrogen fixer this one also germinates in cooler soils. Make sure you plan out your calendar though as you turn it under after 30 – 60 days and then leave your soil to rest for about 4 weeks. As an added bonus the flowers are a great food source for honeybees.

3. Fava Beans* – This cover crop not only feeds your soil but you as well. While fixing nitrogen it produces 7″ – 8″ pods as well as beautiful black and white flowers that provide some much needed winter food for beneficial insects. It should be ready to turn under in about 30 – 40 days with time set aside for it to break down.

4. Austrian Field Pea* – With this beauty you will get a little less nitrogen than the clover will provide your soil, but as a trade off you get much faster growth and it will break down faster.

* Most of these nitrogen fixers will need to be inoculated and this video provides a great introduction, however with your seeds a bucket will do just fine. You can also find many seeds that are pre-inoculated.


January in the Garden Calendar

Andrea Brueck ‘City Flower Wall’


What a year it has been. Seeds in the City have seen many changes and the one we are most excited about is more room! Our flock has expanded as well as our growing space. 2013 was a year of work and rebuilding but we are happy to say we are back and better then ever! With that, we launch our first post of the year with the ever-popular gardening calendar. Just because most of the country is covered in rain, snow and ice doesn’t mean we have to run for cover as well. This month there is plenty to do in and around town.

Happy New Year!


Wednesday, January 8th – Learn how to Attract Butterflies and Hummingbirds to Your Garden with Marcia Van Loy who will be speaking to the Point Loma Garden Club at 10:00 a.m. in the Portuguese Hall.

Thursday, January 9th – CCSE hosts Solar for Homeowners – Getting Started at 11:30 a.m. at their San Diego headquarters. Free

Saturday, January 11th – Connie Beck teaches you the best practices for Hillside Gardening starting at 10:00 a.m., at the Water Conservation Garden. Free

Saturday, January 11th – Take the Introduction to Beekeeping course offered by the SDSLI at the Tecolote Nature Center from 10:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. $35

Monday, January 13th – Kathy Musial gives a lecture for the San Diego Horticultural Society on the Native Plants of Chile from 6:00 – 8:30 p.m. at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. Non-members $15

Friday, January 17th – Attend the Village Aquaponics Workshop at Ecolife from 10:00 – 12:30 p.m. $40

Saturday, January 18th – Head over to the San Diego Botanic Garden for a free Composting Workshop from 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Wednesday, January 22nd – The California Rare Fruit Growers host their annual Scion Wood Exchange at 7:00 p.m. at the Casa Del Prado in Room 101. Free

Friday, January 24th – The San Diego Mycological Society host Britt Bunyard PhD. who is lecturing on Mycorrhizotopia: Fungi are the Puppet Masters of the World at 6:30 p.m. in Casa Del Prado, Room 104. Free

Sunday, January 26th – Attend a Fruit Pruning Workshop given by the Solana Center, held at the San Diego Botanic Garden from 10:00 a.m. – 12:00p.m.  $25


There is plenty of variety for everyone this month. Now back to planning out all the new varieties we will be offering this spring.