Natives, great. Edibles, eh.

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It is officially autumn. Yes, it reached the upper 80s here in beautiful Southern California, but I know that it is autumn because most of my tomato plants are brown skeletons that could have (should have) been removed weeks ago. A few are still producing cherry tomatoes but the basil has all bolted and withered. Wish I had harvested more of the leaves for pesto before our week-long, triple digit heatwave. Regardless of the temperature, summer is definitely over.

Usually at the end of a vegetable season I am a bit disappointed that my veggies weren’t bigger, more plentiful, tastier. I feel distinctly inadequate. My native plants were great; my veggies, eh. As the days pass I start to look forward to the upcoming season with new resolve to be a better gardener.
This week I emptied some large pots that had held herbs and other plants that didn’t make it through the hot spell.


Emptied pots
Emptied pots, old soil piled nearby, bolted basil in back.

I dug up some nice loamy soil, added a wheelbarrow of oak leaf mold (taken from just beneath the leaf mulch under our 70 year old oak), and another bit of compost from the bottom of the compost bin, and some worm castings from the worm bin. I mixed them up and sprayed them repeatedly with water until the pile was evenly damp.

Worm castings in black bin in front, large pots, leaf mold in wheelbarrow. Here we go again!
Today I filled a large pot and sowed seeds of black seeded Simpson lettuce. I am determined to move the pot to a place in the yard with the perfect amount of sun, meaning full sun as the weather cools, part shade during hot spells. Will keep you posted on my results. And if any of you wizard gardeners out there have suggestions, please, please, please share them!
Lettuce, cilantro, Italian parsley, Swiss chard, snow peas, sugar snaps
First pot completed with lettuce seeds sown.

6 thoughts on “Natives, great. Edibles, eh.

  1. I think you'd get better results using proper potting soil instead of a native soil mix. Commercial growers don't use native soil. When native nurseries do, they are trading weaker performance in the container for a potentially smoother transition to native soil when the plant is put in the ground, and of course it's cheaper. If you're growing something only in the container, you&

  2. Hi, Barbara — Veggies need much more nutrition than natives. While you incorporated oak compost, more nitrogen is needed. For container depth for various veggies, see our container gardening guides on our website — — under menu item of &quot;Gardening Articles&quot;.<br />

  3. Anonymous

    Hmmm your post is interesting, Barbara and especially its title. Seems like you are using your native plant knowledge and grow methodology to grow edibles that are geared for today&#39;s growing methodology, as Ryan pointed out. I&#39;m just observing, both grows escape me! Perhaps a test pot Ryan&#39;s style might be worthy. Hope your edibles are abundant!<br /><br />

  4. Hello Barbara. i think that ryan is right. you should never use real soil in containers – for any plants except for those which live in swamps and year-round wetlands. you should use potting soil or soil-less soil [same thing, really]. the reason is that any soil will quickly clog up the drainage holes and you&#39;ll end up w/ a mucky mess and most plants cannot handle those conditions.<br />

  5. So many interesting and helpful comments! Thank you all! <br /><br />I have been growing container plants outdoors for years and always use a mix of my loamy garden soil, compost and sometimes perlite and/or coarse sand. For the most part these plants, natives and herbs, do very well until their roots fill the pot and grow through the drainage hole. If I leave the plants in place, they usually do

  6. Yvonne, thank you for the link. I see that I planted the lettuce in too deep a pot – not sure that will matter. Now that I am blasting my garden heresy into cyberspace, I will try to be fair and post the results – good or bad!

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