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Get West Coast gardens in shape for blooming

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My healthy, worm and grass clipping rich Plumeria

On the West Coast, there is still time to get the garden in shape for blooming and even planting. The weather is cool and the ground is still moist.

Clean your garden bed of all loose leaves and debris. Pull out any weeds and unwanted plants. If you have pets, make sure any poop is removed from the bed. Also, leach out any animal urine by soaking the bed. This process may take one or two days.

The next time you mow your grass, dump grass clippings into the cleaned flower bed. Try to do this within the week of cleaning out the bed or else you may have to weed again. Using grass clippings does not cause more grass and/or weeds to grow in your bed.

Dump grass clippings into garden bed and spread out evenly. Add compost and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on top of clippings.

Purchase red worms or night crawlers and spread out on top of the clippings. I get my worms from a local bait house.

Water in the worms by wetting down the bed with a gentle sprinkle from a hose. Make sure the worms have all disappeared beneath the surface and the bed is wet before turning off the water. The clippings will smother out the weeds and the worms will begin turning the dirt underneath, loosening the soil. They will also add their "droppings", which are called "castings" and are the best thing that can happen to soil. Castings add nutrients to the soil like nothing else can.

The dying grass clippings deplete the nitrogen in the soil until it had completely decomposed and then it begins adding it. That is the purpose of using the fertilizer in the beginning.

Somewhere within a week or two, work the soil by mixing the clippings, compost and fertilizer into the dirt. The result should be a loose composition of all three. If you dig up a worm, simple help it back into the soil. Keep the soil moist until you are ready to plant.

Continue to add your grass clippings every time you mow. When you are ready to plant, rework the soil to mix everything up again.

The purpose of adding the clippings and all to the soil is to loosen it up and to add nutrients. California, especially in LA is composed mostly of heavy, compacted clay. Root vegetables like carrots, turnips and potatoes do so much better in loose, rich soil. Flower bulbs will be healthy and are able to form their babies.

Tips and warnings:

  • Your worms will multiply in great numbers within 90 days so you do not have to purchase too many.
  • This is the best recommendation for areas with clay soil.
  • Once you use this technique, you will have the loosest, richest soil that will last decades.
  • Cats do not like wet surfaces so keep your bed moist to deter them from pooping in your garden areas.
  • Do not hesitate to use the grass clippings. Just make sure no animal poop is in it.
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