By LILY TINOCO | Reporter
As Pacific Palisades remains Safer at Home, families and individuals have found themselves with more time to improve their homes and living spaces—and a top trend includes gardening this spring.
Tracey Price from Palisades-based American Growers Company said that vegetable gardens and orchards are very popular right now and can even save you a trip to the market.
“A basic three-by-eight raised bed can yield enough veggies and herbs to feed a family of four,” Price said to the Palisadian-Post. “We always search for ways to shrink our footprint on the environment and cultivating a few staples to have on hand accomplishes that very well.”
Price listed the options of growing tomatoes, basil, parsley, cilantro, dill and strawberries but choices can be tailored to preference.
“Many clients have converted water-thirsty ornamental slopes into working orchards, complete with avocados, oranges and makrut limes,” Price added. “Even just having a lemon, lime and orange tree on-property provides fresh flavor in a flash.”
Palisadian Marie Steckmest, longtime community volunteer and esteemed gardener at Marquez Charter Elementary School, shared her own tips to growing a veggie bed.
Steckmest said that she likes to create theme gardens, a concept that ties well into companion planting: rooting plants that grow well together.
“A theme garden would be, for instance, a three sisters garden where you have corn, beans and squash following the Native American practice of planting those three things together,” Steckmest said. “You can make a pizza garden … you can have tomatoes, onions, basil, peppers … things that you like that can go on your pizza.”
Steckmest also said she has created a salsa garden with Marquez students, complete with tomatoes, peppers, onions and cilantro.
Steckmest explained that geraniums, zinnias and cosmos are easy flowers to grow, just be sure to have good soil—which she noted is the most important thing for anybody who wishes to start a garden right now.
“Everyone can be successful, no one has a brown thumb, you just have to start with something easy,” she said to the Post.
In her own garden, she has an assortment of flowers that encourage butterflies and hummingbirds, including pineapple sage, salvia and penstemon.
In regards to landscape and upkeep, Susan Harris, secretary of the Malibu Garden Club, said that she had to make some recent changes to her garden and landscape since the Woolsey fire and two subsequent floods through her neighborhood.
“I removed my scraggly beach lawn and sprinkler system and planted … Kurapia, along with an underground drip system,” Harris said.
Kurapia is a low-maintenance grass alternative with extreme drought tolerance. Harris recommended Kurapia to beginners, as it only needs to be watered once per week before it becomes a thick green blanket that doesn’t require mowing or trimming.
Harris also suggested succulents to beginners.
“Succulents are my favorite plant type, easy to grow, lots of varieties and very tolerant of beginner mistakes—over and under watering, wrong soil, wrong lighting conditions,” Harris said. “ A big plus is that you can propagate succulents very easily by just taking a piece and sticking it in the ground.”
Whether your plants provide fresh produce or attract a few flying visitors, gardening is beneficial in more ways than one.
“When I have a problem to solve or I’m in a funk, an hour of digging in the soil or creating a miniature succulent fairy garden is a miracle drug,” Harris shared. “It doesn’t prevent or cure COVID-19, but a positive attitude goes a long way to keeping you healthy.”
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