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SHARING SECRETS: Lessons Learned in the Summer Garden

As gardeners, we are always learning from our gardens. What did your garden teach you this summer?

Linda Chisari's volunteer melons fared well in the summer's heat.

Linda Chisari: The unusually hot summer taught me that tomato and melon varieties, which frequently struggle to fully ripen and develop full sugar content in coastal Del Mar, do extremely well with enough heat...better than I did! I had an abundance of tomatoes and melons (volunteers) that emerged and then fully matured from the composted soil that I use in my raised beds.

Susan Krzywicki: My garden told me: “Stay out of the high humidity, high heat during the noon hours, silly."

Dayle Cheever: I think my garden reinforced the message that when plants are happy, they will show you and you should be content. I have a nonsensical collection of plants in my front yard that should not coexist. Cacti, succulents, a black pine, a small olive tree, lantana, geraniums, bromeliads, and a staghorn fern all share a small plot of about ten square feet. Now that I've listed them, it sounds even more ridiculous, but they are all thriving and I will leave well enough alone.

Debra Lee Baldwin: It’s not so much what my garden taught me, but what the weather did. I had sun scorch on plants that never had a problem with heat and sun before. A garden is dependent on weather conditions, which go along with distance from the ocean, elevation, sun orientation, irrigation, and soil quality. So many things factor in, it’s a wonder any of us can create a cultivated Eden—but we do, and as the seasons turn into years, we learn that the unexpected is normal.

Steven Zolezzi: This year, summer school was/is another crash course on survival. With the earlier (than what was normal) heat and an influx of hungry critters, what moisture the muggy heat had evaporated and the critters were sucking up plant juices. So mulching, watering, and trying to control the bugs is not new, but it works. What I did learn though is how much ANTS have a big part in garden problems. Ants are working above and below ground to use bugs and bacteria to supply them with food that can not only make our plants sickly, but kill them. I will be looking at ant control as my number one priority from now on.

Susi Torre-Bueno: This summer, I lost a number of California natives, despite regular watering. I'm going to replace them with succulents and bougainvillea and hope those can withstand our climate change challenges.

Gabrielle Ivany: I learned not to ignore my garden during the summer's hot days—not the trees, and not the drought-tolerant plants. They all need occasional deep watering!!

Al Field: My best and most unexpected surprise of the summer has been the three one-gallon tropical milkweed plants (Asclepias curassavica) I brought home after helping to dismantle SDHS's native plant garden at the San Diego County Fair. I expected them to be half devoured by the larvae in a few weeks and soon ready for removal. But soon, each one more than doubled in size, and they are still in full (yellow) bloom. Lots of insect visitors, including a daily monarch or two.

Lisa Bellora: Aussie plants laugh in the face of 112 degree heat!

Catherine Tykla: With the heat and lack of water, my garden taught me to leave things alone sometimes. I didn't replant when something died, but put in rocks or mulch and made sections of openness. You can really see many of the other plants now.

Susan Starr: I learned that a little water can go a long way. I briefly sprayed my succulents that were in the sun once a week and they are looking better than the ones in the shade that just got drip irrigation.

Shar Pauley: I learned that the aphids can take out a mandevilla practically overnight!

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