The Plant Man: the joys of spring gardening

By Steve Kawaratani

“I love spring anywhere, but if I could choose I would always greet it in a garden.” –Ruth Stout

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Photos courtesy of Steve Kawaratani

Steve Kawaratani

As winter gave way this week, I welcomed the earlier beginning of the spring date precipitated by the Leap Year. It’s the time when our gardens burst with vibrant colors and nearly as important, the Dodgers opening day began with a win in South Korea! Let’s explore the joys and possibilities of spring gardening in Laguna and beyond.

Spring brings the spirit of renewal into our lives and our gardens, as the days lengthen, and daytime temperatures warm; additionally, our rainy season gives way to beautiful blossoms and fresh foliage. It’s time to prep garden beds, by enriching the soil with a quality planter’s mix and pruning away winter’s remnants of damaged branches and fallen leaves.

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Tuberous begonia, hydrangea and fuchsia create a colorful spring garden palette

Embrace the burst of color brought by vibrant annuals and blooming perennials in our gardens, and native wildflowers that dot our hiking trails. As nature resets herself, let your garden be an extension of the coastal beauty that defines our village.

Spring brings an abundance of edible delights; plant a kitchen garden brimming with culinary herbs like basil, rosemary and thyme. Experience the tanginess of homegrown tomatoes and the crunch of snap peas. For those with limited space, container gardening offers a convenient way to cultivate vegetables and herbs. From garden to your table, there is nothing quite as satisfying as harvesting your own produce and savoring spring’s bounty.

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Vegetables and herbs thrive in large containers

Laguna Beach’s unique coastal wilderness provides an exceptional habitat for native plants that thrive in our coastal hillside microclimate. Admire the vibrant hue of Indian Paintbrush, the sturdy lemonade berry, or the delicate beauty of coastal sagebrush on your next hike. By planting native species in your garden, you also contribute to the preservation of our locale’s natural biodiversity.

While embracing the joy of spring gardening, consider the importance of sustainable practices. Implement composting, water conservation and organic fertilizers to nurture your garden and minimize biological impact. Capture rainwater to irrigate your plants, choose drought-tolerant varieties and mulch to conserve soil moisture. Invite beneficial insects and pollinators to your garden by planting native flowers that complement the Coastal Sage Scrub that grace our adjacent open spaces.

Spring gardening is a celebration of the renewal of garden beauty. With increased daylight hours, due to Daylight Savings Time, plan the garden of your dreams that defines your creativity. Get back to the garden, feel the good earth between your fingers and enjoy the magic of spring. See you next time.

Steve Kawaratani, a regular columnist with Stu News Laguna, 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 plantman2@mac.com or 949.494.5141.


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