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Get Ready For Spring Gardening; Tips From Gardening Expert Nan Sterman

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Speaker 1: 00:00 One thing that we can count on despite all the uncertainty surrounding us is that spring will come. In fact, it's just around the corner and who better to help us welcome spring time than our gardening guru, host of the KPBS TV series, a growing passion. Nan Sturman Nana. So good to see you. It's great to be here. Thank you for having me. Seven seasons now have a growing passion. It's absolutely a certified hit. Why do you think it's gotten so popular? Well, we're actually shooting season eight and you know, I think it's the stories we tell. We know we tell stories about plants in every setting and I think people are so surprised to see all the ways plants influence our lives and all the really cool stuff happening around our area and we have a great crew. We produce beautiful footage and it just all comes together.

Speaker 1: 00:48 People are so gracious when we call them and say, Hey, we want to include you in the show. They say, okey-dokey, let's do it. And it's really, it's really fun now for our spring gardening in San Diego. We've gotten a good amount of rain lately. How does that determine it? How are planting preparations? Well, you don't want to Groton in the rain because first of all it's wet, but second of all when the soil is wet, you don't want to step on it cause it Gould compact. Even though it seems like the ideal time to get out there and pull weeds, don't do it. Wait a few days until the water kind of recedes and then get out there and pull your weeds. But wet soil, I mean is we get into spring planting. Having wet soil is a great thing because when you put those little plants in the ground, the first thing they need is to establish their roots and if the soil is moist, they have that much easier time doing it.

Speaker 1: 01:36 What do you tell people when they ask you the very general question, what should I plant in springtime in San Diego? Are you talking about edible or ornamental? Oh I, we can talk about both. Well, the rule of thumb for orange for edibles rather is what we're going to plant in spring now is going to carry us through summer. Those are our summer vegetables. So this is what I tell people. If you eat the fruit, the fruit is any part of the plant that has seeds. So that would be tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, melons, all that. Those generally we grow in summer. It's the last part of the life cycle of a plant and it takes the longest for those plants to ripen and they need the heat. So we grow all, we plant all of those in spring so we can eat them through summer. If we eat the stems, the roots or the leaves, we generally grow those in the cooler seasons.

Speaker 1: 02:27 Hobby, lettuce and carrot thing, do carrots pretty much anytime, but you know, broccoli, cauliflower, all those, those are the cool season crops and those we don't want to be planting now cause it's going to get warm too soon. Those you want to wait until the end of summer and prepare those for next fall and the ornamentals well this is a really interesting question. The drought tolerant Mediterranean climate, ornamental. So that would be our California natives and the plants that come from Australia, South Africa, the Mediterranean, um, and the West coast of Chile. Those we really want to be done planting depending on where you are in the County, you want to be done planting them by April more or less because they want to establish when it's cool. We want to start planting those when the weather cools and fall and plant them all the way through the cool wet weather.

Speaker 1: 03:16 Then they, they establish easily. You don't want to plant them in the heat cause they'll really struggle. So that would be like Rosemary and Bay and [inaudible] and the beautiful gravillias and that pincushions all of those. When the weather gets too warm, it's too hot. But if you're planting subtropical, so that would be like oranges and bananas and um, uh, angel trumpet and those kinds of plants. They're a little thirstier but those do better if you plant them now through kind of June. Well, you can plant them through summer, but they do better if they establish when it's warm, when you have them in the ground. What about fertilizers? When should you use them? For vegetables, you want vegetables are very, very hungry plants. They need a lot of fertilizer, so you want to get a really good organic and I like granular, granular vegetable fertilizer and read the label.

Speaker 1: 04:08 You want to fertilize when you plant and then periodically through the growing season, you know, most of those plants are just annual. So by the time we get to winter, they'll be gone. If you're planting all those Mediterranean climate plants, I don't fertilize those at all. I mulch them really well and they'd get a little bit of nutrients from the mulch, but they all come from regions of the world where the soil is as lacking in nutrients as, as lean as we call it, as ours may be even leaner, so they don't need fertilizer. In fact, if you fertilize them, sometimes they grow too fast and sometimes they become very susceptible to critters. You know Peston diseases, so you don't want to fertilize them. When you're talking about citrus for example, you start fertilizing those as the weather worms kind of February more or less depending again on how close you are to the ocean or how you know how fast your garden warms up.

Speaker 1: 04:58 Again, go for a really good quality organic citrus and avocado food and read the label. It'll tell you for that fertilizer, how much to use, how often to use it, and when to start and when to finish. In the growing season, you mentioned just a few minutes ago, drought tolerant plants and a drought tolerant garden a few years ago, the big question was how do I replace my lawn and build a drought tolerant garden? Is that still a major concern in San Diego? Yeah, absolutely. And with climate change, that's going to be even more of a concern because we're just going to get hotter and drier and even though I've been going to a lot of conferences lately, so this is something that's really on top of my mind. On the top of my mind, what the experts are telling us is that we may not change the overall amount of rain we get, but it's going to come in very short, fast.

Speaker 1: 05:49 Fear is spurt. So we're going to have longer dry periods in between. Have you yourself seen any effects of climate change on the growth of plants and San Diego? Oh, I sure have. I sure have. There's a lot of plants that are starting to bloom, especially like fruit trees, which bloom and spring, they're starting to bloom at different times and a little or radically our production last year in terms of fruit, which had been, you know, pollinator, uh, fruits that are, that are, um, pollinated by bees and things like that. And I didn't do so well last year. Tomato crops not so well either. What about invasive plants? Do you see how serious of a problem is that in our County? Um, it's a big problem. I don't know that it's a more of a problem than it's been in the past, but invasives are a huge problem because our, our, um, we have such a diverse, we have so many diverse microclimates that lots of plants can get hold and they thrive here and then they do better than thrive.

Speaker 1: 06:45 They escape into habitat and then they take over and a lot of people say, well, what's the big deal? What's the big deal is those habitats are like well oiled machines. They have different parts, the butterflies, the birds, the lizards, all that. If the plant chunk, combination changes, the animals can't adapt and so their habitat disappears and then we lose our native habitats and we lose the native butterflies and we lose the native bees, not the honeybees. Those are actually an invasive, um, you know, we just, it's just a domino effect in the seven now eight seasons of a growing passion. You touch on so many of these topics and so much more. How can people see your show? Well, they can tune in at eight 30 on Thursday nights and Sunday at 1130 in the morning. I think it's 1130, maybe 11 1130 and um, they can see shows. The shows that are airing now are shows that have aired previously as we prepare for the new season. They can also find our shows online on the KPBS website or on our website, a growing But there's 42 episodes that are online. You can watch them anytime you want. You don't have to have a television. You can go into the computer and find them. I've been speaking with garden expert Nan Sterman, host of a growing passion. Nan, thank you so much. Thank you, Maureen.

With all the craziness surrounding coronavirus, a lot of us are finding refuge in our gardens. Gardening expert and host of the KPBS program 'A Growing Passion' has some tips every gardener needs to know.

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Maureen Cavanaugh and Jade Hindmon host KPBS Midday Edition, a daily radio news magazine keeping San Diego in the know on everything from politics to the arts.