Califonia Bountiful

Gardening Q&A

March/April 2020 California Bountiful magazine

As a California Bountiful reader, you have the opportunity to get your seasonal gardening questions answered by gardening expert Pat Rubin. Here are a few questions from our readers.

I added compost last year to my vegetable garden beds. Do I need to do it again?

Yes. My rule is every time I take a crop out of the garden, I add compost. It only lasts a few months and the benefits far outweigh any inconveniences. My favorite is composted chicken or turkey manure. Sometimes it has a bit of an odor, but if you mix it with your garden soil, you'll get rid of any odors.

I planted basil last year in March, and the plants sort of dried up at the base and fell over and died. What happened?

It's a disease commonly called "damping off." It is most common early in the gardening season. It's a sure sign you're planting too early. Contributing factors are high humidity and poor air circulation. The most commonly affected seedlings in my garden have been tomatoes and basil. I find if I wait until the temperatures begin to warm before planting, and the ground is a little warmer, I don't have any problems with damping off.

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