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Specializing in colorful, water-conserving gardens

Specializing in colorful, water-conserving gardens

Lawn Alternative + Eradicating Ivy


Joan, I’ve so enjoyed reading your blog. Any chance of getting an update on how Agrostis pallens performs as a lawn alternative? Also, do you have any suggestions for ways to eradicate invasive ivy? ≈ Joan says: Hi Caroline, Thanks for your note. Regarding Agrostis pallens — I first saw it last year at a landscape show put on by All Around Landscape Supply here in Santa Barbara. I’ve suggested it to a few clients. But generally my clients are removing lawns, not putting in new ones, and […]

Bagrada Bugs: How to Combat the Destructive Pests


Should home gardeners still plant broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and other brassicas this winter? The answer is “yes,” provided you’re willing to take on a series of steps to help prevent the destructive Bagrada bugs from showing up, or to beat them back if they do. Surendra Dara, strawberry and vegetable crops advisor and affiliated IPM advisor for UC Cooperative Extension for Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties, and entomologist Brian Cabrera, Santa Barbara County Agricultural Commissioner’s Office, offer the following advice. Start by buying pest-free transplants or […]

Asian Citrus Psyllid Found: Quarantine Imminent?


A tiny bug that can carry a deadly citrus disease has been found for the first time in Santa Barbara County — in Santa Maria — and a quarantine may be declared within the next few days. An Asian Citrus Psyllid was caught last month in a yellow sticky trap hanging from an orange tree in a residential neighborhood three blocks north of the Santa Maria Town Center Mall. State agricultural officials confirmed the find this week. Why the Psyllids are Dangerous While the psyllids on their own […]

Attack of the Bagrada Bugs


A destructive new insect, seemingly out of nowhere, is wreaking havoc on local organic growers and home gardeners. Over the last six weeks or so, literally hundreds of thousands of Bagrada hilaris bugs have descended on a host of edibles growing in fields across Santa Barbara County and begun methodically sucking the life out of them. “We lost all the plants in our early plantings of broccoli, cauliflower, anything in the brassica family, Brussels sprouts, all the kale,” said Mark Tollefson, Executive Director of the Center for Urban […]

Sow Winter Cover Crops to Reinvigorate Your Soil


If you’re planning to grow only a few vegetables this winter — or even none at all — don’t leave your garden beds bare. Instead, consider sowing a cover crop to rejuvenate your soil. Sometimes called compost crops or green manure, cover crops have been used for centuries to replenish nutrients, loosen up compacted soil, control erosion, inhibit weeds and provide habitat for beneficial insects. The technique faded away in the 1950s when the use of fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides became widespread. But with recent interest in organic […]

Beneficial Insects: The Good Fight


Stand in the middle of your garden, close your eyes and listen. Mentally screen out any urban noise — planes overhead, barking dogs, traffic, children — and focus on the natural world. You might hear the hum of honeybees, chirping of birds, wind rustling through leaves or tall grass, or rhythmic drips of moving water. Those familiar sounds bring a feeling of peace, right? But take out a magnifying glass and you’ll find that that sense of calm masks a silent war of sorts. On a microscopic level, […]

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