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The Plant Man: Getting ready for a garden in the new year

By Steve Kawaratani

“To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.” –Unknown

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Photos courtesy of Steve Kawaratani

Steve Kawaratani

Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or contemplating gardening as an avocation in the new year, thoughtful planning will become the foundation for your horticultural aspirations. Laguna possesses a near perfect climate, with its mild, sometimes wet winters, and mainly temperate, dry summers. Consider planting a garden that thrives in our locale that is based on a water-wise landscaping blueprint.

Maximize the success of your garden by reviewing how and where it’s sited. Take note of sunlight patterns and shady areas; select plants with similar water and sunlight needs by studying neighboring landscapes or acquainting yourselves with plants at your local nursery. Plan on creating focal points using interesting blooming plants or trees with unique growth structure.

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Grow chives in your kitchen garden

Choose diverse plantings to add beauty and fragrance to your garden. Drought-tolerant species, such as bougainvillea, lavender and cistus, can thrive with minimal water once their roots have established. Incorporate edibles like rosemary and chives into a kitchen garden for tasty and visually appealing landscape additions.

Compile a planting notebook recording the specifics of your favorite plants. Some prefer the cooler months of fall and winter, while others appreciate the warmth of spring and summer. Plan staggered plantings to ensure a continuous display of blossoms throughout the seasons.

Always prepare the soil before planting; enrich your planting beds with a quality planter’s mix and mulch to improve soil fertility and permeability. Performing a horticultural field test will assist in understanding soil texture and fertility, allowing you to make informed decisions about amendments and fertilizer usage.

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The finest kind of planting mix and mulch

Given the periodic drought conditions in Laguna, implement water-efficient irrigation systems. Drip irrigation or soaker hoses deliver water to plant roots, minimizing moisture loss. Additionally, installing a rain sensor will optimize water usage by irrigating only when required.

Always set aside time for garden maintenance. Prune plants regularly to encourage healthy growth, relish the time spent for removal of weeds and be vigilant for the appearance of evildoers like pests and diseases. Mulching also helps to conserve soil moisture and suppresses weeds, contributing to a thriving and attractive garden bed.

By planning and preparing, your practice of gardening will transform an underutilized outdoor plot into your own personal Eden. Embrace our special clime, select the plants you really like and maintain a regular maintenance routine to ensure a year-round source of color, fragrance and food.

Happy New Year and begin celebrating tomorrow’s garden next week! See you next year.

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Wishing you a very happy New Year!

Steve Kawaratani has been a local guy for seven decades and likes to garden and drive the Baja Peninsula with Catharine and Loki. He can be reached at or 949.494.5141.