The quickest way to improve the health of your soil is to stop blowing your garden as if you were vacuuming your living room carpet.  Blowers are stripping the soil of nutrients and blowing the topsoil away.  Leaves should remain under plants, or be composted and returned to the beds later.  A thick layer of compost or mulch around plants will prevent evaporation and, as it rots down, will replenish the organic matter in the soil.  In the Los Angeles area, free mulch is available from several sites, see  Sometimes this free mulch will have small pieces of plastic or glass in it so be careful if you have children or pets.  Mulching will tidy up and unify the appearance of the garden at the same time as it provides insulating shelter for roots, worms, and necessary bugs. Mulch should not be piled up around the root crowns of trees because it can encourage destructive fungi to thrive.


Cloramines are now the purifier of choice for most of our water agencies because it has no aroma.  Unlike clorine, cloramines do not break down and evaporate quickly.  Instead the clorine evaporates out of the molecule leaving ammonia residue in the soil.  Ammonia is harmful to all life which is why we cannot top up our fish ponds with tapwater without using a modifier to get rid of the ammonia.  Likewise, ammonia may harm soil bacteria and that is another good reason to irrigate your garden as little as possible.

It's March!

The birds are rambunctiously gathering up materials for their nests. This is the time to enjoy the garden. Lets leave the pruning for later when the birds are done breeding for the year. In fire zones brush should be cut by the end of May, but there is no reason to do it earlier when the shrubs are leafing out and blooming. Oh, be sure and check the mulch.  Now is the time to get a good layer of mulch around your plants to protect their roots from the blazing sun which is coming soon.