Fire Mountain Garden Exchange

May Rant by Editor
May 16, 2010, 3:52 am
Filed under: Cactus, Flowers, Fruits, Natives, Perinnials, Succulents, Vegetables

The wonderful late rains really made the garden a different place this year, the blooms came earlier and more frequently on just about everything.  We have only one Puya Raymondii this year and it just makes me so mad at the State Ag and whoever forced Eternal Hills to bulldoze

one of the most spectacular plant collections in North County in the name of returning the area to its native condition, I am sorry but I would much rather see 50 puyas in full bloom than rabbit ear cactus.  I can take solace in the magnificent epiphyllum bloom this year, the rain and the conditions produced several plants with over 30 buds and they are breaking loose now.

This is a great time to plant your tomatoes, basil, green onions, summer lettuce; they have been doing really well in my garden this year. As usual I recommend Green Thumb in San Marcos for Heirloom tomatoes; they have a pretty good selection. I personally have never been to tomato mania at Quail gardens as I think they do it too early here to successfully plant, but I know they have good stuff. I am on my second round of tomatoes, having lucked out in my planting just before the last cold snap. I have my first set too!

The beets have been outstanding this year, a great crop to grow and put up. As most of my good friends know, I have had a very successful turnip crop too. It was a mistake planting, so of course they grew perfectly. They are wonderful young (like radishes) but kinda hard to give away as adults. Don’t shy away from summer lettuce; it can work, with the addition of some frames with 50% shade cloth and lots of water.

Once again this year I am letting sections of the lawn (so beautiful in the rainy months) go dry and spending my water on veggies.

Don’t forget to thin your stone fruits; peaches, plums, nectarines and apricots should all be picked down to a couple of fruits per spur to ensure the branches don’t break and the fruits are sizable

Get out there weed, thin, mulch (very important this time of year) and plant.


March Rant by Editor
March 4, 2010, 4:20 am
Filed under: Cactus, Flowers, Fruits, Natives, Perinnials, Succulents, Vegetables

Love that rain! We haven’t watered for two months except for vegetable starters. I am sure since the residents of Oceanside are using less water this year, the City Water Department will have to raise our rates.  Never the less Fire Mountain looks great, everything is green and I do mean everything.  As soon as it dries out a little I will be filling all three of my green waste recycling containers with weeds.

This is somewhat of an in between month for planting, too soon for the killer tomatoes and a little late on the winter lettuce type crops.
We seek wisdom and guidance once again from the departed seed man of Carlsbad, Charles Ledgerwood, for our recommended March planting.

A little wisdom I’ll repeat from last year for the newcomers: Our area is most excellent for growing beans and this is a great time to start. We grow pole beans on bamboo that we cut in our yard.  I make a little mound of soil, hollow out a bowl in the center, stick four poles tilting away from each other in the ground and plant a sprouted bean near the bottom of each pole.  The dirt basin makes for easy watering and feeding. Having the poles angled makes the beans easy to find. You can tie the poles together with twine if one starts to lean too far out, from the weight of the crop. Potatoes grow particularly well here too and they are so easy. Let a couple of store bought potatoes grow ‘eyes’ in a dark drawer, quarter them and put directly in the ground or in a pot (we use 5 or 15 gallon nursery pots); when the foliage withers, carefully dig up the little spuds. We have tried to plant tomatoes in March and the results have been spotty. Unless the month is uniformly warm (this one obviously isn’t) the plants seem to stagnate and when it warms up the growth is unimpressive. We now hold out until mid April.

I am replanting all season lettuce; trying for one more crop of peas and watching the beets grow like Topsy. I have prepped one bed for late march Tomatoes. Be sure to check out Green Thimb in San Marcos for heirloom tomatoes and don’t forget TomatoMania at Quail Gardens March 20-21.

April Plantings by Editor
April 9, 2009, 6:26 pm
Filed under: Cactus, Flowers, Fruits, Natives, Perinnials, Succulents, Vegetables

Late again, so much to do in the spring and I am getting ready to turn in my Canine Companion puppy in training, Dayle, so I have been very busy working with him.

As I walk my dog around Fire Mountain I am noticing more and more of our neighbors a getting into xeriscape gardening. Lots of rock and lots of low water use plantings. Portofino and the area around the intersection with FMD have some interesting examples. Since it doesn’t look like we have any more rain in the picture this year, it is probably the wave of the future for us.

However, water spent on vegetable garden is water well spent. As most of you know, this column relies on local knowledge provided by the late Charles Legderwood, a gardener, seed man and local treasure in North County. We have the following recommendations for vegetables from the 1994 edition of ‘Reliable Seeds’: (Capital indicate best plantings)


I went to Green Thumb, on San Marcos Blvd. last Sunday, where they had a reasonable selection of heirloom tomatoes. If you have a special place to buy starters, please share with your neighbors.

Flower planting recommendations are substantially the same as last month’s, so check out the March plantings section.

Cactus and Succulents Soon to be Plowed! by Editor
February 8, 2009, 11:44 pm
Filed under: Cactus, Succulents


As many of us know, Eternal Hills has had their plan for expansion approved by the City of Oceanside and a number of State and Federal agencies. If you have driven by the area lately you cannot have but noticed the orange fencing which outlines the expansion area and corrals the native habit to remain. It is our understanding that grubbing and stripping of the Phase 1 expansion will start within the next week or so. This will be the last chance for you to cut or dig up many species of cactus and succulents that will be plowed under. There is access at the end of Dunstan and Eldean as well as a hole in the fence at the gate near the Fire Mountain reservoir. It is private property, so proceed at your own risk.

January 2009 Plantings – Happy New Year! by thewhistlingcat
January 1, 2009, 4:26 am
Filed under: Cactus, Flowers, Fruits, Natives, Perinnials, Succulents, Vegetables

This is the time to start cleaning up your gardens and maybe to start to consider how you might change your plantings and water usage to cope with the possibility of less water. We have been removing about 10% of our lawns each year for the past two years, replacing the lawn with succulents and cacti. We mulch with the wood chips available almost for free at El Corazon.

Let’s not forget we have to eat, so think about planting the following (as ever the recommendations come from Charles Ledgerwood’s “Reliable Seeds”):
Caps denote best plants for this month

My snow peas, lettuce, beets and radishes really liked the rain last month. I finally gave up on the “winter” tomatoes, they set but never ripened. I am sure the hot spells followed by cold snaps didn’t help.

For flower planting, Mr. Ledgerwood recommended acroclinum, alyssum, aquilegia, calendula, candytuft, centaurea, clarkia, cobaea, calliopsis, delphinium, dianthus, dusty miller, escholtzia, fountain grass, godetia, larkspur, linaria,,lupin, nemesia, nemophila, poppies, schizanthus, sweet peas, snapdragons, sweet sultan, Sweet William and wildflowers.

Check Sunset Western gardens for descriptions and planting information.
Get to Work!