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Your gardening questions answered

 February 13, 2024 at 1:03 PM PST

S1: It's time for Midday Edition on Kpbs. Today we're talking about gardening and how to grow your own food here in San Diego. I'm Jade Hindman. Here's to conversations that keep you informed , inspired , and make you think. One of San Diego's gardening gurus , Nancy Sterman , joins us with advice on when to plant fruits and vegetables.

S2: To grow vegetables in spring and summer. Vegetables outside temperatures have to be consistently 50 degrees or warmer overnight.

S1: Plus , a man will answer your gardening questions and we'll talk about how recent flooding may impact what you can harvest. That's ahead on Midday Edition. I. Planting season is in full swing. Are you concerned about how these recent storms will affect your landscape ? Are you trying something new in your garden this year ? Well , whether you have an acre to play with or a few pots on a porch , Nancy Sterman can help you get the most out of your garden. She's been writing , speaking , and teaching about gardening for decades , and she is the host of Kpbs TV show A Growing Passion , and frequently appears on Kpbs Midday Edition as our garden guru. Nan. So great to have you back on midday.

S2: Well , thank you , Jayde , for having me. I'm so pleased to be here in your beautiful new studios.

S1: Oh , yes. Thank you very much. We are so enjoying the new studios and the new building , all of it. So , Nan , with all of the recent storms and more expected next week , the region is seeing a lot of rainfall , often in small periods of time.

S2: Those people who have hillside slopes. Of course , that's the most dangerous situation because you run the risk of erosion , and that can be really problematic when you have mud coming down a hillside. So a lot of people , when they want to plant a hillside , a slope , they think like ice plant , which is we don't want them to use because it's invasive. But they always think one plant , we need a ground cover. Well , yes , you need plants that cover the ground , but that's not really what holds your hillside. In what holds the hillside in are woody trees and shrubs , things with really deep roots. So , you know , if you look at our native hillsides , what does Mother Nature do ? Plants aren't all one size. It's a mosaic. It's a tapestry of plants with different shapes and heights and widths. And we need to emulate that with our slopes. So instead of starting with that little ice plant or whatever you're going to plant , when what you need to do is to plan for trees and shrubs and then plant smaller plants underneath as the support , as the jewels , as the , um , you know , the the embellishments. Those plants are still important because what the what they do is they have lots of leaves , and those leaves intercept the raindrops from hitting the soil and causing that runoff , so it slows them down. So you want plants with deep roots to hold things in place , and then you want wide plants that are going to intercept the raindrops and slow down that erosion. As I said , ice plant is not ideal because it's an invasive plant , but there's lots and lots of plants you can use. Our native plants are perfect for that. Perfect. It's a really good place to start.


S2: We have ivy , but we don't have kazoo.

S1: Thank you. That is a very invasive plant.

S2: The plants themselves don't get damaged by too much water too fast. But if you have pots , for example , and those pots don't have good drainage , the plants can drown it. The roots drown. It's because they're holding water for too long and roots need air as much as they need water. So like any pot , if there's too much water for too long , literally the roots rot and they die. But in terms of too much water damaging a plant , like too much rainfall , damaging a plant that's pretty rare. Hail. Yes , hail will cause all kinds of pockmarks and things like that , but the drops themselves not really. Okay.

S1: Okay.

S2: Especially if you have like heavy clay soil. I don't expect we're going to see that happen because the water does drain away , you know , except those areas I mean , you didn't have to be underwater for days at a time for that to start happening. So I don't think that's going to happen now.

S1: You know , a lot of people saw flooding in their homes and everything.

S2: The concern would be if there is sewage , sewage in the water that has passed over those plants. So if you're growing leafy greens , for example , and you had sewage water that washed over leafy greens , you're not going to eat that. Don't eat that. If that sewage water passed through a citrus grove or a fruit past fruit trees and didn't touch the fruit itself , that's not a problem , because there's not an issue of of that kind of bacteria. And those kinds of , you know , might benefit pathogenic microbes entering the tree. They don't do that. But if if your vegetables were washed over the parts you eat or washed. Over by sewage water. Don't definitely don't eat that.


S2: You could probably go either way. New leaves that come out won't be affected by the sewage. It's only the it's the physical. You know , the water has to has to touch those leaves , the ones that you're going to eat. So you could potentially trim off the leaves that were affected and see if new ones sprout. And if they don't , then replace it. But the new leaves , you don't have to worry about you. In theory , you shouldn't have to worry about. Yeah.

S1: Yeah. All right. Um , these.

S2: Are really good questions. Wise.

S1: Wise. Curious. Yeah.

S2: And people don't think about this.

S1: Yeah , right. No , no , it's not always first , you know , the first thing that comes to mind , but , you know , you've got a lot of community gardens out there.

S2: And um , so this relates back to greywater and people using greywater , which is capturing water that comes out of the washing machine , you know , their clothes washer and sinks and things like that. This is exactly why you don't want to use that water to irrigate your vegetable garden. It's fine on fruit trees , but not for your vegetable garden. Same thing , because that water carries salmonella and all kinds of bacteria off your body from your inside your body. You know , all that kind of stuff. And you don't want that touching the part of the plant that you're going to eat.

S1: And so it's one thing to touch the plant , but if the plant is growing in that.

S2: Um , it doesn't work that way. So I don't think that's something to worry about. Those , those microbes won't persist. As far as I know. Those microbes won't persist in the soil. It's making sure that you're not eating something that came in contact with contaminated water. Understood.

S1: Understood. Those are my questions. But , um , so good. Questions.

S2: Questions.

S1: Our audience also had a lot of questions. Um , so we asked them what they were most curious about. The first person to respond was our interim senior producer , Brooke Ruth , who says , I usually buy starters for my spring garden , but this year I'm starting from seeds.

S2: So every year I teach a series of seed starting workshops and an online course that addresses exactly what we're talking about. If you go to my website , go to the Garden School tab and look for seed starter , and I do an online virtual course with live coaching every other week. And then I also do three special in-person workshops. So what's important to know is that most people start too early in our area. The so to grow vegetables , spring and summer vegetables outside temperatures have to be consistently 50 degrees or warmer overnight. That doesn't happen in most of San Diego County until April , at least the beginning of April , if not the middle of April. So most people and you want to count. You want to calculate back when you start your seed 6 to 8 weeks , because it takes 6 to 8 weeks for those seeds to become seedlings that are big enough to plant outside. So the best time to start seeds is the beginning of March. And and anything that started before that. Once the seedlings reach transplant size , then you're in trouble because you don't have anywhere to put them where it's warm enough outside , but they still want to grow. So a lot of people just go ahead and plant and the seedlings just sit there. They kind of go into suspended animation. That's when they're vulnerable to being eaten by rodents. We were just talking about this. Or they can rot or they just get dwarfed. And so it doesn't make sense to start early because it's it's detrimental to your seedlings. The best thing to do is to wait till the beginning of March , start your seedlings getting them in the ground in in April and May and June is absolutely fine. In fact , it's good because that extends your season. Starting too early is not good.

S1: All right.

S2: And we can talk about that if you want. Um , it depends on the plant itself. Once you're an experienced gardener , an experienced seed starter , then you can transplant smaller and smaller seedlings. A seedling must have at least two sets of what we call the true leaves. When a seed sprouts , the first set of of leaves that comes out looks very different than the mature leaves. We call them the seed leaves. Those don't count. You need to wait for two more sets of leaves to come out. Now , often , even when you have those little seedlings that have two sets of what we call true leaves , they're still pretty little. So I look at the diameter of the stem. So we're talking about peppers and eggplants and tomatoes and basil and squash and all that. I look at the diameter of the stem. I like it to be somewhere between. A chop right around a chopstick thickness. Can you can you picture that ? It's not quite as thick as a pencil. But it's not as narrow as a skewer. I'm trying to come up with a good analogy here. Kind of. A chopstick thickness is usually a good thickness by the time the stem is about that thick. The plant is more than ready to be transplanted. And this is something that after you do it several times , you kind of get a sense of how big it should be. And I have videos that show exactly what they should look like when they're ready to be transplanted.

S1: Is thick. Is a toothpick.

S2: Thicker than a toothpick ? Thicker.

S1: Okay. Yeah , yeah.

S2: But like like a chopstick. Almost like a chopstick. Yes. Okay. But again , you know , this is why it's great. I do this on video and it's great. It walks you step by step through the process and you can see exactly what size is transplant size. Wow.

S1: All right. Super helpful I know um , the next question comes from Sue Floyd. And she says , how can I keep pests ? That's what I'd like to know to out of my yard. I have feral cats digging into my pots. I have raccoons digging up my yard , plus skunks , and I've lost a lot of bulbs and plants.

S2: They are part of the environment. Feral cats ? No , but raccoons and skunks. You know what they're doing ? The skunks. The skunks are digging because they're looking for grubs. Those big , thick white. They look like curled up worms. That's what they're going for. They don't care about your plants. They're going for the grubs. So that's why they're they're digging. And grubs are not bad. You know , people look at grubs and go , oh , those are ugly. Yes they are , but unless they're in their lawn , your lawn , the ones that that you find in lawn , they eat the roots of lawn. But the ones you find in a garden better and compost. Those are really good. They're like giant earthworms. They they eat the dead organic matter. And as they decompose that organic matter , they burrow through the earth. And so they help aerate the soil. So they're actually really good. But that's what the skunks are looking for. The raccoons ? Well , they're going for whatever they can get. How to keep them out ? If you can figure that out , you're going to make $1 million. Yeah. The feral cats. The interesting thing , I have some friends who have had issues with feral cats , and what they did was they got a bunch of of plastic forks and put the plastic forks upright in the ground , because with the feral cats are doing is they're they're digging so they can poop. Right. Mhm. You want to keep them from feeling like it's a hospitable place. So they literally took a bunch of upright forks with a tines sticking up , and just put a whole bunch of them into the area where the cats were digging. They don't dig anymore.

S1: They don't dig there anymore ? No.


S1: Not the ideal place to handle business at that point , I'm sure. Exactly right. You know when. When we have so much rain like we've had , does that tend to wash out the grub worms ? Hmm.


S2: Well , that is a good question. Would they suffocate because earthworms will come to the surface when you have really saturated soil , and they're coming to the surface because they they're drowning and they want to come for oxygen. I've never seen grubs do that.

S1: This next question comes from an audience member who wants to know about enclosed garden beds.

S4: Hi , Nan , this is Shona Shumate from Vista , California. Due to an array of wild critters and pests , we have completely enclosed our garden beds with hardware cloth. My question is , do I sacrifice the accessibility of the good pollinators and will I have lower yield of vegetables ? Thanks.


S2: So when you use hardware cloth , you want to make sure that you're using a mesh that has an opening of a half inch most hardware cloth that's sold in the store is a quarter inch opening. So hardware cloth is a welded wire mesh , and you can get it by the roll and you can use it to build frames. Or in my case , I've covered an entire hoop house over my entire garden. It's like a walk in room , but lots of people use it to build frames and domes and things like that to cover their garden beds or their vegetable gardens in order to keep pests out. The downside is that mesh keeps out bumblebees and butterflies and other larger pollinators. So when I researched this years ago , what it turned out is that if you can get the mesh that's half inch openings , which is twice what of course , a quarter inch opening would be , you still get plenty of pollinators and time has proven that that works really well. I have no problem with my garden getting pollinated because I have that half inch hardware mesh.

S1: Coming up , the perfect temperature to grow fruits and vegetables.

S2: If your garden stays at , you know , 32 or above , you have no problem growing almost every kind of avocado that's popular around here.

S1: You're listening to Kpbs Midday Edition. This is Kpbs Midday Edition. I'm speaking to Kpbs gardening expert , the host of A Growing Passion. Nan Sterman and Nan. If there's one food I'd love to grow , it would be avocados. But I have heard avocados can be tricky to grow in certain climates. Can you talk about some of the factors I should look at ? If my yard may be a good place to grow avocados ? And that question is from our producer , Andrew Bracken.

S2: Oh , Andrew , I love avocados and I can't grow them. Now , here's the reason why. Avocados are very cold sensitive and I happen to have a garden. Even though I'm three miles inland from the coast , they get below freezing in winter. If your garden stays at , you know , 32 or above , you have no problem growing almost every kind of avocado that's popular around here. There are some cold tolerant varieties , but mostly people grow hot and they grow fertilize my fruit. My favorite is Reed. Oh , big , round , buttery avocado. Oh , I lust after that. So you want to make sure you have a warm enough space. Avocado trees are big. Like big trees. Like they're going to be 12ft across and maybe 20ft tall. There's a couple of dwarf varieties. One's called Holladay and one is called Gwenn. Those are dwarfs. But even the dwarfs are big trees. They're just smaller than standard. And avocados need a lot of water. They are very thirsty plants , thirstier than probably anything else in your garden. So if you're going to grow an avocado , you have to dedicate an irrigation zone , assuming you have automatic irrigation and hopefully you do to that avocado tree and anything else that would be that thirsty , like maybe bananas , you know , those are really thirsty. What's also important to know is that you want to buy an avocado tree. That's a variety that's known. Don't start it from seed because they don't come true to seed. You don't know what you're going to get , and it'll take 7 or 8 years before it even produces. So why waste that seven , eight years on something that you don't know what what it's going to do ? Avocados don't have different sexes. They have different what's called races. Don't ask me , there's A and B , and it has to do with the way their flowers open , because each flower opens once as female and once as male. So once it releases pollen and once it's receptive to pollen , and you have to have complementary trees within some distance , like if your neighbor has an avocado tree , find out what they have and get one that's complementary to that. And you can find charts online that that list all the varieties in which , whether they're type A or type B. So you have to have room , you have to have the water , you have to have the right minimum temperature , and then you have to have a pollen izing avocado close enough that otherwise you need to plant two trees , two different trees , one of each one A type and one B type.

S1: You mentioned avocados needing a lot of water. So now I'm curious about other trees.

S2: They're close , but more water than citrus. Citrus can actually be grown with pretty minimal water. What's really important for citrus and for most trees , is that you water all the way , all under the entire canopy , and long enough that the water goes deep. So citrus , like avocado , has a wide network of surface roots that absorb water , but they also have deep roots. So , for example , in my garden in the heat of summer. My citrus gets watered for four hours once every 2 to 3 weeks. So the and it's on the other thing it's really important is mulch. So avocado trees drop a lot of leaves and people want to wake them up. Don't do that. Avocado trees need their mulch. They also need to have what we call low skirts , which means you don't prune up the lower branches. You want to make sure that you have lots of low branches , and that shades the trunk and protects the tree. Citrus also needs to be mulched. Doesn't matter whether you leave the leaves there or not. Um , but you want to mulch the soil really thickly. Mulch is really critical because in this case , you want to keep the water in the soil. It insulates the water that's in the soil and keeps the soil moist for a long time.

S1: And this next question is from an audience member and she wants to know about edible flowers. Take a listen. Hello , this is Chioma ehem.

S5: I am from Valley Center , California. I love flowers so much I could just eat them. So my question is this how can I grow edible flowers indoors ? What do you suggest ? I love to hear from you piece.

S1: All right.

S2: Yeah. Jimmy , I'm sorry to tell you that growing edible flowers indoors. Is pretty much a unicorn. You can grow edible flowers outdoors. No problem indoors. That's going to be really tough. You know , the reality is plants are outdoors. They want to be outdoors. Even the plants that we grow indoors , they came from outdoors somewhere. So if you really want to grow edible flowers , find a place to do it outdoors.



S1: Well , yeah.

S2: Oh , for sure. You have to find a reference. You know what ? My my dear friend Katie Morse , who lives up in Vista and is an expert in Moroccan cooking. She just recently updated her edible flower book. And you can find that online. Kitty Morse , um , look up her website and but she has a wonderful , you know , in fact , she and I have given talks together on edible flowers. I talk about how to grow the plants , and she talks about how to use the flowers.

S1: What do you recommend when it comes to weeds ? I mean , what are the best ways to handle them organically ? Pullum.

S2: Yes.

S1: Yes.

S2: That's the best thing to do.

S1: You got to make sure you get the roots , right ? Yes.

S2: So there are two different categories. If you think of it this way , of weeds , there are those that have whose roots are just like really narrow , tiny thread , fine thread like roots. And there are those that have really thick , fleshy roots , the ones that have the fine thread like roots. If you just remove the top , the leaves , the roots are going to die. But the fleshy roots that fleshy part stores energy. So if you take the leaves off , it's going to sprout. Those are the ones you absolutely have to dig out. So it'd be like dandelions if you consider dandelion a weed. Some people don't. Some people do. Um , those are the ones that will continue to sprout if you don't dig them out. That's the ideal way to get rid of weeds. Are there other ways ? Sure. You can spray horticultural strength vinegar , which is like our household vinegar , is about 4 or 5% vinegar. It's a really weak acetic acid solution. But horticultural vinegar is like 20 , 30 , 40%. That's very strong acid. You have to wear protection , etc. but you can spray that and that'll kill those leaves. And again , if you've got the fine thread like roots , the plant will be dead. Um , you can get a hoe , a hula hoe , um , you can use all kinds of tools to help you. Kill the weeds. But that's the best way to deal with weeds.

S1: All right , San Diegans are now composting , and we have those green buckets to collect that.

S2: You can incorporate compost into your beds. You never want to. Till soil you used to roto. Till soil. We we know better now. Roto tilling destroys soil structure. It destroys the little microbes that are so important that live in the soil. So we don't want to do that. When you have compost , you want to layer it on. Maybe you want to turn it under just , you know , 2 or 3in. But that's all in my vegetable garden when I'm planting plants , when I dig the hole for the plant , I will incorporate some compost into that hole. That's only for vegetables. I don't do that for ornamental plants. They don't need it. It's only for my vegetables , and I make sure to water it before I put the vegetable seedling into the hole. Okay.

S6: Okay.


S2: This is all evolving. So what kind of the long term vision is that ? We will be growing more plants that are like those that are in Baja. And fewer plants that are those that come from temperate climate regions or tropical climate regions , because we're going to get we're going to be drier. So this is a really interesting thing this year actually proves what we're seeing , proves what the modelers have been telling us in San Diego. I don't know about the rest of Southern California , but in San Diego , the model is the prediction is that our rainfall amount overall isn't going to change , but it's going to come. It's already coming in very intense intervals with longer dry periods in between. That's what we need to adjust to and also more humid summers. The last couple of summers have been much more humid. In fact , we had rain last summer. I'm born and raised in Southern California. I have never seen a full on rainstorm in summer that's just not heard of , so it's going to be a learning process. We need to look towards plants that will grow drier , will tolerate more kind of plastic environmental conditions. But. We are looking towards the plant pallet that is just south of the border as being more of the plants we're going to be using in our landscapes and and using more natives to of our current natives to.

S1: Yeah , it's all about being more resilient to our changing environment. Absolutely.

S2: Absolutely. Yeah.

S1: Yeah. You know , man , I feel like between , um , the pandemic that we had , uh , global insecurities , economic insecurities that there are a lot more people interested in gardening and learning how to grow their own food.

S2: Um , and garden garden educators , garden communicators. We were really concerned that gardening was disappearing. And then we had the pandemic , and suddenly everybody wanted to grow a garden. And it was shocking and it was thrilling. And it has completely rejuvenated the profession and the practice and the hobbyists. So that's really exciting. There are more and more people who want to learn to grow their own. There are also a lot of people who tried it and said , hey , you know , this isn't for me. And that's fine. But more and more people are inspired to give it a try. And there's more and more gardeners out there. And I see it in in my everyday work , the people who sign up for my classes , who join our Facebook group , who reach out to me for help individually. Um , I think it's a wonderful time to be doing the kind of work that I do.

S1: Coming up , a look at how last year's weather could be impacting your garden right now.

S2: Last year was a really weird year. We had a long , cool spring and then it never really got hot. We had like one month of heat and then we were into winter. So all kinds of weird things happened. And I think we're seeing the repercussions from that.

S1: You're listening to Kpbs Midday Edition. You're listening to Kpbs Midday Edition. On today's show , we are talking about gardening with our expert , Nan Sterman. Our next question comes from Dianna Bergner.

S2: It's a very interesting question. And she's right. Soil temperature does play a huge role in optimal root development for plants. But it's going to be different for every plant. So for our summer vegetables you really you know , you want the air to be 50 degrees and eventually the soil will be similar , you know , temperature , but there's no one temperature. Think about where that plant is native to think about what season it's actively growing in. Think about the climate in its native habitat and I'm sure you could find , you know , research articles for each plant that would say that somewhere. I've never seen a summary.

S1: And there are a lot of research articles out there. But , you know , lately I find myself using apps on my phone and you're giving me the look like , come on now.

S2: No no no no no no , that's not the look.

S1: I've tried them. I don't know how great they are. Well.

S2: So the reality is most of those plant apps. Some of them are better than others. And you're talking about the apps for identifying plants. Sure. Yeah.

S1: Yeah. And diagnosing them. Yeah.

S3: Yeah.

S2: There's a the the best app is called iNaturalist. But that's really more for I don't know. For me I use it when I'm hiking. Most of the plant apps are not designed for our climate. You know , here in in San Diego , in Southern California , we have a mediterranean climate. We grow completely different plants than is grown almost anywhere else in the world. Any temperate climate , those apps are basically designed for temperate climates. So it just it doesn't work here. You know , I see people. I have a Facebook group , a huge Facebook group called San Diego Gardener. Um , I think we have we're coming up on 20,000 members and people post all the time and say , this is what this is the picture of what I saw. This is what the plant app said. Is this right ? Ah , no.

S1: I'm going to join the Facebook group. Please do. Yeah. Okay. So our next audience question comes from someone wanting to know about planting depth.

S7: Hi Nan , my name is Tiffany and I live in Scripps Ranch. I would like to start a vegetable garden. In addition to taking into account how high I need to bend to tend to the plants , how do I decide whether to place the garden in the ground with a 12 inch , 18 inch , or 24 inch high border , or in a raised bed on legs that is approximately hip level , but only has about 12in of planting depth , which is what I see most of the commercially available boxes providing. Do most vegetables really only need about 12in of soil to thrive , or would more be better ? Do you have any other advice for a novice embarking on her first vegetable garden attempt ? Thank you.

S2: She's asked a really important question. Those shallow vegetable beds that are on legs are best for shallow rooted vegetables , which is primarily lettuces and greens. If you want to grow tomatoes. Eggplants , peppers. Even really , you know , broccoli and things like that. There needs to be more depth of soil. So I would absolutely grow those plants in a raised bed. And the thing about a raised bed is it doesn't have a bottom. So the roots can go deep into the soil. You know , you fill a raised bed with a top soil mix with an enriched topsoil mix. So it's generally 40% compost and 60% , you know , quote unquote , dirt. That's kind of an ideal soil mix for vegetables. When the roots get to the bottom of that mix , they still keep going. Unless you've got concrete under there , which you shouldn't. Um , but they'll still keep going. But those shallow beds , the ones on legs , really are not designed for that kind of plant. There is one that I've been using that's on legs , and it's called Veggie Pod. And it has , oh , I don't know , maybe an 18 inch depth. And I was really surprised that plants did that , that tomatoes and things did well in there. But the ones that I chose to put in there are the container varieties. So they're bred to be smaller plants. If you're going to use a shallow bed , you want a plant that's going to be a smaller plant. The smaller plant is going to have a smaller root as well , because the root and the plant are related and their their size. Mm. Does that does that. Yeah.

S1: Yeah. Yeah. Well and I and so okay it because I know you've got you are full of resources. So where can one go to find out if they've got a plant that um is a shallow root plant or a plant that needs more depth.

S2: I would say go to San Diego Gardener Facebook group and ask that question , and I'll answer it. Here we go. You know , this is the thing. There's so many questions that people have that. Are easy to answer if you know where to go to ask it. It's just a one off question. And so that's really why I started that group , was because people ask me the same questions all the time. And I thought , okay , if I can start a group where we're talking about that and people can come and find the answer , you know , if you ask it , there's 20 people or 200 people at the same question. So I started that in 2014. It's going to be ten years old this year. Wow.

S1: Yeah , great resource there. All right. Next question is from Cindy Petrenko. And she says I have a peach tree. And last year I pruned it in the fall I didn't get any fruit. What's the proper way to prune it.

S2: It's exhausted. Let me think of it that way. It's exhausted , so it might skip a year. You want to make sure you're watering the tree adequately. You want to make sure you're fertilizing the tree adequately , and you want to make sure that there's no obvious pests that could. Those things can also limit production. However , if you don't know how to prune the tree , you could have pruned off the part that would have made the fruit. That is really common , especially when people are starting out. When you're pruning a fruit tree. You want to do it in winter. Well , there's two times you do it. We do it in summer just to limit the size. But in winter is when we shape the fruit trees. We're talking about deciduous fruit trees only. So stone fruits like peaches , plums , nectarines , apples , pears , persimmons , pomegranate , figs. Right. Those are the ones that you want to prune in winter. And when it comes to pruning those trees , you have to look at the reference material and it will tell you where the fruit develops. If the fruit develops at the tips of the new branches , like the ones that grew that spring , which is what pomegranates do , and you shorten all the branches , you just cut off all the fruiting wood. Apples have these little tiny spurs , little tiny branch slits that develop along the branch. And if you don't recognize what those are and you think , oh , we don't need those branches and you cut those off , you ain't going to get no fruit. Um , with peaches and nectarines , etc.. You I believe they fruit on the second year would. I don't have that right in my memory banks at the moment , but you can look that up and make sure that you're not cutting off the wood that is going to make the fruit. Hmm.

S3: Hmm.

S1: That would be a not so good mistake to make.

S2: But it's so common.


S2: If there. If the tree doesn't make any flowers , it won't make any fruits. Because the fruits become the I mean , sorry , the flowers become the fruit. So you'll know if it doesn't flower. You definitely botched it.

S1: You messed up for a year. Yeah.

S2: Yeah. It's just a. Year.

S1: Year. It's just a year.

S2: Plants are so forgiving. Yeah.

S3: Yeah.

S1: I don't know.

S2: Your collard greens may not come back. They're not going to come get their nut.

S1: I'm going to have to find some new ones. I the the I think the for those who don't know , my collard greens were nice and beautiful and leafy one day. And then the next day I go outside and they're gone. They're down to the little stems. Uh , and Nan says it was more than likely rodents. Rodents.

S2: Unless you're at ground floor , that could be rabbits. But if you're not on the ground floor , it's probably rodents , because I've never seen a rabbit climb to a second floor.

S1: So all I can say is rats. Yeah.

S3: Yeah.

S1: Uh , the last question here comes from Ken Wallace. And , uh , Ken would like to know if I use mulch from the Miramar landfill in my vegetable garden.

S2: The first is , that's not the kind of mulch you use in a vegetable garden. That kind of mulch is great for ornamental beds , but in a vegetable garden , the best mulch is straw. That kind of mulch is too heavy. Straw has the right magical combination of being able to keep weeds down , insulate the soil from losing moisture , but being lightweight enough that seeds can grow through your vegetable seeds and your seedlings , etc.. So you want to use straw in your vegetable garden. By the way , at the end of the season , if the straw gets yucky looking , it doesn't matter. You just turn it over. It just adds organic matter to the vegetables in your garden beds. That mulch that comes from Miramar is I believe it's partially it's composted. There's different qualities. Depends on what you get. But I believe it's composted. So it's heated. And by heating it up those toxins are broken down minimally. It's aged. And a lot of that stuff breaks down anyway. And generally you don't have to worry about that. I mean , those greenways processors are held to very high standards that are held to ISO standards , which are industry wide standards. So any pathogens , toxins , etc. have to be broken down before that material can be sold.

S1: All right. Um , like I've got my aloe plant. Last year , it , um , it sprouted a beautiful flower. Uh , and so now that that flower , the stem of it is just dormant. Yes. Am I supposed to cut that off ? Yes. Okay.

S3: Okay. It won't.

S2: Re bloom. So. Yes. When the when the aloe flower stalk is done blooming , just cut it off at the base. It's close to the bottom as you can. Okay.

S3: Okay.

S1: All right. Is that pretty much with most , um , succulent plants ? No. Okay.

S2: No , it depends on the plant. All right. Succulent is a characteristic of many , many , many , many different kinds of plants. So there's not one universal other than they store water in their roots or their stems or their leaves. Okay.

S1: Okay. And the the my aloe plant is also not looking as green as it once did.



S2: So they respond to a couple of different things temperature , water availability etc. and the leaf color changes. So probably they're just cold. And once the weather warms up , as long as they're getting enough light , once the weather warms up , they'll green up again.

S3: All right.

S1: My jade plants are.

S2: This isn't jade gardening session.

S3: Gardening session.

S1: This part here , I'll get to the other questions in a second. The jade plants. Last year they bloomed wonderful pink and white flowers. This year I have one singular little flower on there.



S1: Um.

S2: Last year was a really weird year. Okay , we had a long , cool spring. It was spring until middle of summer and then it never really got hot. We had like one month of heat and then we were into winter. So all kinds of weird things happened , and I think we're seeing the repercussions from that.

S3: All right.

S1: I've also managed to grow a pineapple.

S3: Really ? Yeah.

S1: I bought a pineapple at the store. We ate it , but we cut the kept the stalk and put it in a jar of water , and it's sprouted roots , and now it's in a pot.


S2: In a pot. I would , I would keep it in a pot. You might put it into a bigger pot. One thing that people do chronically. With container gardens is they underestimate the size of the pot they need. You know , you look at a seedling and you go , oh , I only need a little pot. Well , that seedling has the potential to grow into a huge plant , and it won't grow into a huge plant unless you put it into a bigger pot. So whenever I'm dealing with clients or friends or whoever who are asking me questions about pots and what size they should get , whatever size you think , one size bigger.

S1: Nan Sterman is host of Kpbs TV series A Growing Passion and Midday Edition's Garden Guru. She's actually got a free live webinar and Q&A coming up. It's called Intro to Seed starting that is Thursday , February 15th at 7 p.m. you can find it at Water Wise and Nan. Thank you so much for joining us today.

S2: It is my pleasure. Jade. Thank you so much for having me.

Ways To Subscribe
Come along with Host Nan Sterman (pictured) on an armchair tour of Southern California's amazing wildflower "super bloom" of winter 2018/2019.
Courtesy of AGP Productions, LLC
Come along with Host Nan Sterman (pictured) on an armchair tour of Southern California's amazing wildflower "super bloom" of winter 2018/2019.

San Diego’s recent gloomy and wet weather has us dreaming about spring flowers.

On Midday Edition Tuesday, KPBS gardening expert Nan Sterman addresses what to do if your garden was inundated by recent flooding. She also answers questions sent by audience members and helps save host Jade Hindmon's namesake succulent.

Sterman, host of the KPBS show "A Growing Passion," has been writing, speaking, and teaching about gardening for decades.

She is also hosting a free live webinar and Q&A: Intro to Seed Starting on Thursday, February 15 at 7 p.m.


Nan Sterman, host, "A Growing Passion."