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A Great Time to Garden

gardenMany of our grandparents had a victory garden where they grew food during World War I and World War II. These gardens helped to ease the burdens of producing and transporting food, increased the supply of food when shortages occurred, and provided physical and mental health benefits by encouraging outdoor activities. The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically changed our society with social distancing and placing limits on many of our regular activities.

Now is the perfect time to take on a landscape project or plant a garden. Don’t forget  $2.00 per SF turf elimination rebate!. Gardening or re-landscaping your home allows you to get outside, exercise, and improve your home, while maintaining social distancing. Gardening is great for all age groups. My three-year-old granddaughter and 91-year-old mother-in-law both enjoy working in the garden. There are not too many other activities that span all generations.

 Below are resources for California native gardens, pollinator- and wildlife-friendly gardens, as well as food gardens. There are even options for people who don’t have space for a home garden. You can combine elements from each garden to fit your own needs. For example, we planted fruit trees and established raised beds for vegetables, and then added pollinator-friendly and drought-tolerant California natives to support the local wildlife, minimize our water usage and of course, to pollinate our fruit trees.

Consider establishing a bird-friendly garden or adding elements to your landscaping to help support native birds. The Conejo Valley Audubon Society has a “Lawn to Habitat” program that provides design help and $200 of native plants. Click here to request access to a virtual tour of local bird-friendly gardens, plant lists, and resource sheets, which were jointly developed by the Audubon group and the Western Foundation of Vertebrate Zoology (located in Camarillo and housing one of the largest collections of eggs in the world). The Xerces.org website is another great resource, and don’t forget our own recent blog on Bee-friendly resources.

For a virtual tour of local drought-tolerant gardens, selecting the right plant or looking for solutions for a problem area like a slope, check out Water Wise Gardening of Ventura County. The site is sponsored by the City and other water agencies in the County. You can zoom in on featured plants and find out their needs, size at maturity, and many other details. You can also select the plants you like and build a list to take shopping.

Ready to pick up some California active plants? A great place to visit locally is the Matilija Nursery in Moorpark.

Stop by one of our local nurseries and pick up vegetable seeds or starter plants and grow some food at the same time. Many nurseries in the unincorporated areas offer a lot of room for social distancing while you browse as well as a more extensive selection of varieties. Call before you go to check ensure they are open and any changes in days or hours open. Some of them also have online ordering for delivery or pickup.

For Free Training/Expert Assistance (meetings and trainings may be on hold or online currently):

Organic Garden Club of Ventura County – meets monthly at the Newbury Park Library and hosts informative speakers, tours, and online resources.

Master Gardeners of Ventura County -  The Master Gardener program is sponsored by the US Department of Agriculture and overseen by University of California scientists. Their mission is to share science-based gardening information, best practices, and provide training for home gardeners.

Las Flores Community Garden – The Community Gardens provides space for residents to have a garden area and learn about organic gardening and share in a small community orchard with 36 fruit trees.

For Products:

Bulk compost and soil – Agromin (buy organic compost made from your green waste) and Peach Hills Soil.

Blue Sky Biochar  - Provides “Healthy Living Soils” related products and biochar to make your plants healthier and more resistant to insect infestations and diseases.

Rincon-Vitova Insectaries – Offers products and technical expertise for the ecological management of pest insects, mites, and rodents.

So grab your shovel and get started on a fun, outdoor project for the whole family!