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With All This Rain, Can We Go Back To Gardening The Way We Used To?

Rainwater floods a backyard in San Diego, Dec. 22, 2016.
KPBS
Rainwater floods a backyard in San Diego, Dec. 22, 2016.

With All This Rain, Can We Go Back To Gardening The Way We Used To?
With All This Rain, Can We Go Back To Gardening The Way We Used To? GUEST:Nan Sterman, host and co-producer, "A Growing Passion"

This is KPBS Midday Edition I am Maureen Cavanaugh in recent years San Diego gardeners have learned some new tricks. Namely how to keep the plants driving with very little water. Now with storm after storm hitting San Diego there are puddles in the backyard and soaked soil all around. What is a water -wise gardeners to do when they are suddenly water water everywhere. Joining me is Nan Sterman host and coproducer of the KPBS series a growing passion. She has written two but about gardening in California. Welcome back it's good to see you. It is a neck what kind of questions about the rain have you been getting from San Diego gardeners. The first one is that is over yeah. Not quite. We can get back into drop cash into a drought very easily. The thing is we were living beyond our watering capacity anyway so what we have learned in the last five or six or seven years is really a different way of living and growing and it's the way we should be doing it regardless. What happens to water plants you may get more water than they are used to. They smile at you and say thank you. Amasses were to happen year after year and the soil changed and the whole climate change those plants adapt to periodic what cycles just as they are adapted to. The waters it's there for day after day and does not move. Then you will have some rock problems. If you plants are planted correctly -- either some better sensitive to rot if they are not printed correctly or find themselves in a puddle. They are not planted correctly they will be success -- susceptible to all kinds of issues and brought is one of them. Now is a time where the fruit trees are coming out of dormancy and it can be a problem for them if they stay true. A lost tree this year to a fungus. I realize the truth is declining and when I started looking more closely there was a big is at the base where the soil meets the trunk. It was an old tree but that should not have been the case. This will not be popular among some people but when bills are fine. They Philip now and it's going to be a long time until we are ready to use them and then you will not use them again through the summer it's a nice thing to do. The thing we should be doing look at all this water and it is in the soil. Making sure the water stays in the property and brushes often conceived slowly into the soil that really should be our goal to go those are still lessons that must people have to learn. What you are saying is sort of a wake-up call to gardeners to think about periods where we are going to have heavy rain and how to actually keep their -- make the gardens able to use it most effectively. Even if we have light rain it does not matter how much rain there is. It's keeping the water on site. Robin right now is weeds. Are there other options besides pulling them by hand or using a chemical we and -- weedkiller. This is one seeds germinate we've included. What you want to do for most we is is because you want to feed them. There are some people rooted weeds that you really have to pull out by the roots. For the most part when you see the grass terminating on those common weeds you can get a little handheld kind of life or how a new chop their heads off and they are gone. I will take one issue with you on one thing. This is actually not spring up. Do we need to worry about what is going to happen spring considering all the water that we have had. Clearly the fact that the leaves are coming up it's time to germinate. This is when we get our big germination and I think it is a little bit early to the soil is so wet it is barely dry in between the rainstorms that we are having. How is that affecting what is in the ground. You are talking about seeing your own tree with this fungus on it. Is there anything besides having a complete revamping of one's guarded that you can do to be sure you don't get those bottles or those areas of brought. Of sea puddle that hits for more than a day get out there and look at it and figure out what is happening. If nothing is going no big deal. If something is growing that anyone worried about it maybe the leaves are starting to yellow or it is starting to look like it is suffering. Get your shovel out there and figure out how to create an opening so the water can drain away. That will really help. Beyond that you have to look at the contours of the soil but don't do it when it's wet. You don't want to be taking on wet soil. You have to wait a couple of days after the rain and because when you walk on wet soil and taken what soil you actually end up compacting it and that's the opposite of what we want. Overall what I'm hearing from you is this is a good thing and nobody should hear about it too much all this rain for making -- discourage people from doing things like replacing Monson may be replacing the kinds of irrigation systems they have. I think there will be people who kind of feel like the pressure is off and when I told those people is no. It is not. One thing you have to be careful about is erosion and is has been going on all season so it should not be anything new. Hopefully people already have waddles -- big straw field mesh things across where water is streaming down. Hopefully they already got course mulch over the soil captured and held in place. Those are the issues I'm more concerned about. I know you will be having seed starting workshops coming up. This is the time of year when we start our vegetable gardens looking forward to spring and summer. If you have wanted to try from seed this is how we started. How do we find out about that? On the KPBS calendar. I've been speaking with KPBS coproducer on a series of growing passion. Thank you. Thank you. Be sure to watch KPBS evening edition at 5:00 and 6:30 tonight on KPBS television. Join us again tomorrow for KPBS midday edition at noon. If you ever miss a show you can check out the midday edition podcast. I am Maureen Cavanaugh thank you for listening.

The rainfall totals for San Diego County through Feb. 20 range from 9.2 inches at Lindbergh Field to 17.6 inches in Alpine and 27.5 inches in Julian with two months to go in the current water year.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration the region is still in moderate drought conditions. But tell that to any backyard gardener whose plants have been getting doused for the last few months.

What does all this rain mean for the health of plant life in the region? What should San Diego gardeners do to make the most of the abundance of rain?

Nan Sterman, host and co-producer of the KPBS series "A Growing Passion," has written two books about gardening in California. Sterman joined Midday Edition on Monday with tips for water-wise gardeners.