Cool fall weather is fast approaching, and here in Southern California, that means planting time! Our mild, wet winters are great for establishing fall planted shrubs and trees (especially natives).
Choosing the right tree can be overwhelming - thousands of cultivars exist, but your local nurseries will carry but a fraction, with only the most popular varieties in stock.
Call ahead to where you are planning to purchase. What fruit trees do they carry, and what cultivars or varieties do they have in stock? From this list - do your homework. Your back yard's micro-climate, chilling time required, size, and any particular pest problems will need to be considered and researched if you want the highest yield for your garden.
Winter chilling is vital for many nut and fruit trees. This required time and low temperature are needed by the tree to set it's cycle of growth and dormancy period. The buds on the bare branches of a winter tree are small and tightly covered by bud scales as protection against freezing. These buds need a cold period to induce growth.
Click here for a guide on fruit tree chilling requirements.
Best bare root fruiting trees for the Southern California (low chill requirements):
Elements of a Kitchen Garden
The basic elements of these gardens is simplicity, practicality, and productivity. A kitchen garden is the ultimate cooks' garden as well as a relaxing and beautiful space for all to enjoy.
By combining beauty and functionality, the kitchen garden is a great addition to any outdoor space.
Proximity to your residence is the first consideration when planning a kitchen garden. Whether it is formal or informal, the space needs an open route, like the conceptual plan above designed by The Aldrich Company for a residence in sunny Carpinteria.
The actual layout is usually a symetrical design, in order to improve accessability and productivity.
This particular layout makes the most of a rectangular space, with neat rows and a designated sitting and relaxing area to view the bounty.
The kitchen garden in this design by The Aldrich Company makes use of a gradual slope of an estate in Santa Barbara. A central pathway leads past rows of herbs, roses, and vegetables. The top tiers are planted with fruit trees, and the pathway ends under a Honeysuckle covered pergola.
Pathway material varies in kitchen gardens, depending on taste, availability, and funcionality. For instance, a garden in a zone with little rainfall should opt for materials other than lawn. Paths are for creating a network between beds as well as weed suppression. Below are four examples of common pathways: lawn, hardscape such as stone, mulch, and pea gravel.
A raised bed for your vegetables, herbs and fruits provides optimum soil health, as well as a weed and gopher barrier. It is easy to add certain amendments to a particular bed and improve overall soil drainage.
Excavate to a depth of 8" or more to allow more room for root growth. If gophers are a problem in your area, it is crucial to install gopher wire to deter them.
Materials for a raised bed vary, but perhaps the easiest is pressure treated wood like redwood. Other materials include stone and woven willow. Often the beds are lined with boxwood to add formality.
Prefabricated raised beds are a sensible solution to those living in small spaces. You can have a kitchen garden with tubs such as these or other plant containers.
Fences, trellises, arbors, pergolas, benches, obelisks, and support cages are basic structures in the kitchen garden.
Trellises support a variety of climbers and provide shade for heat intolerant vegetables.
Garden obelisks, or tuteurs, draw the eye upward and offer support to twining plants such as pole beans, sweet peas and cucumbers. These structures can also be built of metal or constructed of branches.
A good fence with a gate provides protection from deer, rabbits, raccoons, dogs, and other hungry creatures.
Pergolas, arbors, benches, and dining areas add to the appeal and beauty of a kitchen garden.
Care should be taken when deciding on what to plant. Plant vegetables, herbs, and fruits that you enjoy, and perhaps a few you haven't tried before. Depending on your zone, the best times for planting are when danger of frosts have passed.
Harvest and Enjoy!
The Aldrich Company offers design services and consultation to residents in Goleta, Santa Barbara, Montecito, Summerland, Carpinteria, and the Santa Ynez Valley. To contact, click on the link below.