A Gardener’s Notebook

Watering by flashlight not an option

Special to The CambrianNovember 22, 2013 

Take cuttings from succulents and create a succulent bowl. It will root over the winter and can be put outside in the spring.

LEE OLIPHANT

It’s 10 a.m. on my “designated landscape watering day” and I’ve shut down the hoses for the week. We’ve been hand-watering (to conserve water) the landscaped portion of our property since the CCSD Board of Directors adopted Resolution 42-2013 revising the “enhanced” water conservation measure.

The resolution allows us 16 hours to water but only three hours of these are daylight hours. There isn’t enough time from 7 to 10 a.m. to hand-water adequately. I’ll have to go back to sprinklers and drip emitters since watering by flashlight is not an option.

I should be grateful to be allowed to water my garden at all. The first restrictions specified that we were no longer allowed to use any water on our landscapes. The ordinance and its repercussions obviously had not been thought through.

Hundreds of thousands of dollars have been invested in the landscaping of residential and business properties in Cambria — along with tons of emotional and physical sweat.

Many businesses and laborers depend on landscapes for their livelihood. Gardening is a business, an occupation, a recreation and, for some, important for mental and physical health. My suspicions are that our esteemed directors are not gardeners and have lost their focus of providing the water necessary to maintain at least a modest quality of life. Landscape water is a part of the bargain.

I don’t know about you, but I have “planting withdrawals.” Seeds of vegetables like carrots and beets are best planted this time of year, but I can’t keep them damp enough with the present watering schedule. If you are really missing planting, start an indoor herb garden or succulent bowl in a sunny window.

You can dig up or take cuttings from outdoors, easy-to-grow herbs like mint and thyme. Take a cutting of oregano or buy a small plant and it will grow into a beautiful spreading plant with purple flowers. Start cuttings of rosemary and tarragon. You can put them on a sunny porch in the spring or plant directly in the ground.

Start parsley indoors this year. There is an old saying, “the roots of parsley must grow to China and back” before yielding its fragrant leaves. The saying most likely came about because the seeds are notoriously slow germinators. If planted in a sunny warm window now, plants will be ready to set out in the garden in late winter. You’ll have sprigs of parsley to use in the kitchen for up to two years.

We’re going to have to get creative this winter if the rains do a no show. I’ve already decided to thin out some of my least favorite plants and go on a planting hiatus. Let’s hope Mother Nature sends us some much needed moisture.

Tip of the month

If you’ve never grown an orchid, buy yourself one now. Their blooms will last for months. Most orchids require a warm environment (60°-70°F), and high humidity. Their roots thrive in organic matter like bark, so use a potting mix designed especially for orchids that allows for quick drainage and air circulation. It is a good idea to feed an orchid at least once a month. Enjoy the challenge of getting your orchid to bloom again. With the right conditions and care, you will be handsomely rewarded.

Lee Oliphant’s column is special to The Cambrian. Email her at cambriagardener@charter.net; read her blog at centralcoastgardening.com.

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