Fall Planting Tips for the South Bay
It’s the perfect time for fall planting here in the South Bay. To get a good start we interviewed Lara Hughey, a San Pedro based master gardener. Lara’s grandparents had a ranch with a huge garden and she remembers running around outside and stopping to snack on the veggies growing there. When she moved to Brooklyn she tried to replicate her “childhood experience” by growing tomatoes on her small patio. Frustration with the unsuccessful project led her to seek out answers and her passion for gardening grew.
She took master gardening courses at University Cooperative Extension whose mission is, “to teach people with limited resources how to be more self-sustaining.” Lara Hughey was kind enough to let us in on a few tricks for getting a bounty of treats out of this year’s autumn harvest.
Before you can garden you should test your soil. Lara recommended sending a soil sample to Massachusetts University for testing. For about $20 you can get a picture of what is in your dirt. If your dirt is too alkaline or acidic, Lara says, “Amending with organic compost will solve any problems.”
What to Plant
When I think fall, I think squash, so I was planning on planting a variety of vines. Luckily, Lara let me know that fall is the time for planting cool season plants like ones from the Brassica family. Cabbage, Kale, Broccoli Lettuces and leafy greens grow better during this time of year. One of Lara’s helpful tips is that “Radishes are user friendly. They harvest quickly and you can plant them with carrots. When you harvest the radishes the soil will loosen up for carrots to grow.” San Pedro has many microclimates so gardeners should use experimentation to find out what works best in their yard.
Avoid planting evasive plants, like ice plant, anise and fountain grass, which reproduce prolifically and will eliminate many native plant species.
Integrated Pest Management
Lara had a wealth of ways for combating pests without using chemicals. She proposes netting for larger animals. Mulch, toilet paper roles (collars) and crushed egg shells can help manage snails. Vaseline around the trunk of a plant acts as a barrier for ants and aphids. Lara also gave us her secret weapon against blight and fungal diseases such as powdery mildew. She recommends, “A gallon of water, 1tsp baking soda, 1tsp cooking oil, and 1tsp mild dish soap mixed well. Spray the solution on plants once a week in the early morning. It changes the ph on leaf surfaces which hinders fungi and aphids.”
If you want more fall plant tips, then you’re in luck! Lara believes that, “Gardening is a great educational tool,” which is part of the reason she has teamed up with the San Pedro Co-op Nursery School to provide gardening workshops for adults and children. “Kids learn about science, nutrition and about the wonderments of nature. My daughter knows the lifecycle of a butterfly and what ladybugs eat. She’s four and can tell the difference between a radish and a carrot before they are even out of the ground.” Workshops are only $5 for adults and $3 for kids. It includes a craft for the kids and the funds go directly to the school.
Got some fall planting tips of your own? Let’s hear them below!