Your Questions Answered
Each month we select gardening questions that you send to us at email@example.com about gardening in the Central Coast. In 3 to 7 working days a response to your question will be e-mailed to you. And if we feel as if it is a common question for many Central Coast gardeners we will also post the question here on the website.
Q: What materials can I use that are low in phosphorous and nitrogen for compost for amended soil in a rain garden? I read dry leaves are lower in phosphorus and nitrogen than fresh leaves. Thank You
Jesse, Salinas Ca
A: GREETINGS JESSE !!! You are in luck. You are communicating with a “soil scientist.” While rain gardens are not very popular out west, they work well for your part of the country. The ideal mixture for a rain garden is going to be as follows: 50-60% sand, 20-30% topsoil, 20-30% compost. This will give you a nice “loam” soil that will aid in the success of the plant. “Leaf Litter” derived from your leaves will be an excellent source of compost. GOOD LUCK! –
Q: I live in North Salinas. I have been trying to find a proper scedule for fertilizing my lawn. I want to use the Weed and Feed type fertilizer, but I am not sure if it is OK to do it now. What do you think?
A: Hey Cathy. Thanks for the email. Our best recommendation is once a month. During the fall and winter, there are special fertilizers that contain less nitrogen and more potassium and phosphorus to aid in root development. You’ll also want to make sure you are applying an iron and sulfur amendment like our “FST.” I’d recommend quarterly for this. Feel free to come on in. We have handouts on lawn care and GREAT advice.
Q: Just moved to Marina, CA. What type of plants would you recommend to plant in this sandy area. Also what do you think about grass.
A: Marina will present you with some great options. Really, you’ve got to start with your “goals” for your yard. How much time would you like to spend in the yard. Do you have pets? Children? What sort of exposure do you have? Are you on a hill? Given your response to these types of questions, then we can begin to decide. Of course, you’ll want to amend your soil a bit by adding some organic matter. Many of our clients in Marina go for “drought tolerant” plants. Natives are popular too. Arbutus Marina, Ceanothus, Rosemary…. Manzanitas and some Rockroses. I am a huge fan of lavender. You mentioned grasses. Yes. Great idea. Come on in, bring a map of your property and we’ll get cracking !!! Congratulations on your new home. We are here to help!
Q: Steve…please tell me if I should be feeding my hydrangeas at this time of the year and what should I feed them. I have paniculatas and mopheads.
A: AHHHHHHH…. FEEDING. HERE IS MY “BEST” FEEDING ADVICE: You should be feeding REGULARLY. In the later winter, I tell my clients to begin applying their nitrogen rich fertilizers. We have a FORMULA 49 we recommend. Early spring (March 1)…. You can begin applying some Aluminum Sulfate to your hydrangeas to help them develop the color we all like to see pop every spring. Continue this through mid summer. By Middle of july, root and cellular development become more of a priority. I recommend a Phosphorus and Potassium rich fertilizer. We have a 0-10-10 “Master Bloom” that works like a “charm.” Continue this through mid fall (Nov. 1). Winter is “time out” for gardeners. I hope this helps. ENJOY.
Q: What do you treat your blackeye susans with when they have black spots all over them and it eventually kills off the whole plant?
A: Greetings !!! OHHHHH BLACKEYE SUSANS !!! Gotta love them. These “pioneer” plants grow in about any kind of soil. They are biennial, which means they only grow for two seasons and then die. The deers, rabbits and a host of other wild animals love to eat them too. As for your question, my guess is that it could be “black spot” fungus. Yup. The same black spot that can infect roses. This is probably due to too much water and / or moisture. My best advice to you would be to WAIT IT OUT. Should you want immediate results, try an all-purpose fungicide available at your local nursery. Good luck. Blackeye Susans are BEAUTIFUL flowers! Enjoy