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Please welcome new members here and if you have not introduced yourself yet, take a minute to let people know a little bit about yourself.

Starting a new garden in San Diego

Postby mmorozov » Sat Sep 27, 2014 10:43 pm

mmorozov
 
Posts: 37
Joined: Mon Sep 22, 2014 8:53 pm
Climate Zone: Sunset 21, USDA 10a
Hi, all!

First of all, many thanks to everyone for the wealth of information on this forum. I've been reading it extensively and finally decided to join.

My story is probably not unique. I've been sitting on some undeveloped land for some time and the gardening bug bit me. I cleared close to 3 acres of my slopes from California native semi-dead bushes, yanked out a lot of sumac roots, did a little grading and terracing here and there and planted well over 100 trees this spring.

As it stands right now, I have:

40+ citrus trees of different kinds (mandarins, oranges, grapefruits, pummelos and hybrids)
50+ stone fruits (apricot, nectarine, peach, plum, cherry, pluot and other hybrids )
18 apples and pears
9 pomegranates
10 tropicals (cherimoya, atemoya, white sapote, guava, loquat, fig)
10+ berries (raspberry, blackberry, gooseberry)

All different varieties with (hopefully) sequential harvesting.

I lost a couple of trees over the summer and some are showing little action, but I would say over 90% of what I planted is in good shape. I even enjoyed some fruit this summer.

As usually, there are good things, bad things and ugly things.

What I have going for me is a nice location - a southern slope with 900 ft. elevation, fresh "organic" soil (Poway conglomerate) with good drainage, enough summer heat for citrus (presumably) and at the same time decent winter chill hours for decidious fruits (I should be getting at least 400-500). In fact just a mile towards the ocean and the winter chill drops to 150 and a mile in another direction gets 800-900 chill hours with frosts. Gotta love local topography. I probably have different micro-climates on the bottom of the hill, where the stone fruits are and on the upper slope where the citrus is. I am thinking about getting a data logging weather station to really figure out the climate in different parts of my garden.

The bad part is my lack of experience. I am learning on my own mistakes. Unknowingly I bought some really bad-looking trees, some lopsided multi-grafts that are probably years away from giving any fruit. My cherimoyas are not grafted, so I don't expect any fruit for a while. I got a pretty good handle on pruning, but still trying to get the watering and fertilization right. If I was to do it all over again, I would buy much better trees. I still can replace some, but what a waste of money!

Now the ugly part is pests and critters. I am surrounded by an open land and it is a freaking zoo out here. I have mice, rats, rabbits, ground squirrels, gophers, coyotes, racoons and snakes (not just rattlesnakes, but different kinds). I see a dozen of varieties of birds, who peck into anything that blushes red. And finally, the whole mountain slope is one big colony of ants. I have them under almost every tree. I already lost one tree to their aphid-farming activities and I cannot replace the sticky tape often enough. From what I can tell it is an uphill battle (pun intended) and I can only hope to salvage some fruit after everyone animal out there gets their (un)fair share.

I am looking forward to communicating with other fruit growing enthusiasts, getting advice and maybe finding some rare varieties to "complete" (who am I kidding?) my collection.

Best regards,
Michael

Re: Starting a new garden in San Diego

Postby Richard_Primbs » Tue Sep 30, 2014 9:53 pm

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Richard_Primbs
 
Posts: 41
Joined: Sun Sep 28, 2014 6:26 am
Location: Escondido, California
Climate Zone: 10
I am north of you in Escondido, on a hill north of the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. I think that we've got the right climate to grow just about everything. I am impressed by the number of fruit trees you have planted.

The Argentine ants, and the gophers, and deer are the biggest problems here. Plus you have to get the watering right. And that is a little bit of a trick. I don't worry much about the snakes other than the rattlesnakes. We've got the little "speckled" rattlesnakes here and I kill any that get close to the house. I sure don't want my son getting too close to those! But the gopher snakes, while intimidating, are great!

I am growing some crazy things. I've got a mangosteen tree in a pot, and 2 durians. Hopefully my parents are watering those adequately -- I am in Vietnam right now visiting my wife's family.

Richard

Re: Starting a new garden in San Diego

Postby mmorozov » Tue Sep 30, 2014 10:59 pm

mmorozov
 
Posts: 37
Joined: Mon Sep 22, 2014 8:53 pm
Climate Zone: Sunset 21, USDA 10a
How old is your mangosteen? Did you grow it from seed? Supposedly it takes 7-10 years before giving any fruit.

Are you just keeping it in the house? Maybe I will try growing one when I have a greenhouse of sorts. Provided that I can find one. Even Ong nursery stopped trying to grow them.

I am not afraid of other snakes, I just let them be. They are usually not sharing the territory with rattlesnakes, so in that sense I feel safer seeing other snakes around. I killed a mid-size rattler on my porch this year and I saw a couple of big ones in the surrounding bushes away from the house. They promptly got away. I mostly worry about the children, but working in the garden also has some degree of suspense for me. I almost stepped on a rattler twice - they are blending in really well. Only motion gave them away.

I guess it's expected. I cleared a big parcel of land and disturbed many animal habitats for sure. Now if I could only finish off that endless colony of ants. I already spent a small fortune on the ant bait.

Re: Starting a new garden in San Diego

Postby Richard_Primbs » Tue Sep 30, 2014 11:34 pm

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Richard_Primbs
 
Posts: 41
Joined: Sun Sep 28, 2014 6:26 am
Location: Escondido, California
Climate Zone: 10
Michael,

I don't know how old it is, but it is a little over a yard tall -- about a meter. I bought it from Ong. I am growing it in a pot and I moved it indoors for a little bit last winter, but not much. I moved it back outside to get a little rain -- and it actually spent most of the winter outside.

Yes the speckled rattlesnakes blend in really well, and don't rattle much. I confess that I was bitten -- in Encinitas of all places. It was just a "dry" bite (little poison) but my ankle swelled up like a balloon and turned bright red. And I did spend 2 days in the hospital -- on antibiotics to get rid of the infection. I really watch out for them now.


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