Everything You Need To Know About Starting A Garden This Year

Summer is almost over, but out here in California that means it’s the best time to start a garden. Today I interviewed a professional gardener who works for Harvest To Home. I asked him all sorts of questions on how to start a garden and maintain it, especially questions for beginners, so those of you who have never even dug a hole in soil before will know what to do. Continue reading to find out everything about gardening!


Q: Name, Date, Time, and Location?

A: Kirk Temple, date is August 21st, 2020. The time is around 10am here in Coto De Caza.

Q: So Kirk, Tell Me A Little More About Yourself?

  • How long have you been gardening? All my life. As a kid I hated gardening, but as an adult I appreciate it and so I’ve been doing edibles — vegetables and fruit trees — for the last 10 years. 
  • Tell me more about the business you work for (Harvest to Home). I’ve been with Harvest to Home for around 8 years now, it was founded by a man named Mike Saraylian. He founded it around 11 years ago. They started with garden boxes and then moved on to garden beds, then to just vegetables and now fruit trees. We also do succulent walls and moss walls. 
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  • Tell me what else you do for fun, and why you love gardening so much? Do you have a garden of your own? For fun? I surf, I’m a surfer. I live in Huntington Beach, so any chance I get I surf. I grew up in Hawaii so the water is in me. I do, my garden is more of a research and development for Harvest to Home. So I started planting ginger and turmeric last year and it was really successful, now we are implementing those into people’s gardens. I also have a couple of mango trees and they’re fruiting! These are definitely some specialties we don’t see too often in California, and I like to do those types of things with my garden.
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  • When is the busiest time of year for you out here in California?Typically our spring season which starts roughly at the end of February, so February, March, and April are usually really busy by far.
  • When is the least busiest time of year? You know, typically right now, summer because it’s just too hot to do anything. So we typically are busy in the months of August and September, we really want to just harvest. Not really putting anything in the ground because things tend to struggle, and when plants struggle, that’s when all the insects come and attack. So we really don’t want to start anything new to get those insects coming after us, we definitely want to keep them away. 
  • What is the best part about gardening and how long have you been in the business? About 8 years. For me personally, I get to meet a bunch of people. It’s like the best job in the world because I get to zen out and just go be one with the plants. Most people when they work, they try to find peace. I find peace maybe 6-7 times a day out in these gardens. 


 Q: What Are The Easiest Plants To Grow In California Compared To Other States?

A: You know, typically radishes. They are super easy, they have a very high rate of germination. At elementary schools, where you get the kids involved, they start off with the egg crates and usually grow radishes. Also snap peas, they germinate easily and can grow up to 4 feet. 


Q: What Plants Do You Not Recommend Attempting To Grow In California Compared To Other States?

A: You know, that’s a pretty broad spectrum answer. Typically vegetables we tend to stay away from, a big one is brussels sprouts because they attract a lot of aphids. It also takes a really long time for them to come out of the ground. We have had some success with that, but for the most part we don’t. Then there’s plants like asparagus, which we all love, but it takes around 3-4 years before you get the spears and no one wants to wait that long.

Inside look: What are some tips you have for our readers today?

The biggest one would be to start with your soil. People don’t really realize how important the soil is. If you have a good base, gardening becomes much easier. Where most people fail is they don’t care what kind of soil they use. The soils from Home Depot and Lowes have a lot of wood chips, and that combats with starter plants because they both need nitrogen. It’s stolen from the plants because it’s trying to break down the wood chips. So yeah, just be careful of the soil you choose and go from there.


Q: When Is The Best Time Of Year To Start A Garden?

A: Here in Southern California, the two months I wouldn’t start a garden are August and September. You can pretty much start any time of the year of the other 10 months. If you do choose to plant in August or September, your plants would require extra watering and care.

Q: Does It Matter What You Plant Depending On Where You Are In The United States?

A: There’s what we call zones, there’s 9 of them. Each zone has a particular time of planting. They’re predicated on weather patterns. Southern California alone has about 5 zones, so you have to really know where you live. Here in Coto, it’s more like a desert. It’s all about research and knowing the sun patterns, wind patterns, weather patterns in general. 


Q: What Type Of Fertilizer Do You Recommend?

A: The biggest thing I tell people is that there’s a thing called Omri. They are watchdogs for organics. They test fertilizers, insecticides, pesticides, herbicides, and they make sure there’s no synthetics in them. Synthetics is anything man made. You have to remember that even organic things are toxic. Omri is good about keeping their label on only organic things that are non-toxic. Fertilizers with their emblem are typically really safe. 

Visit the OMRI Website HERE

Q: How Would You Recommend Keeping Up The Garden?

A: It all depends on time. What kind of time you have. I personally love showing people what to do, and then they can do it regularly. I find that the  older generation typically has more time because they are retired and can tend to their gardens. For a busy, middle aged person, there is a lot of peace in a garden. It’s all about what you can do with your available time out there.


Q: How Do You Keep Pests And Other Animals Away From The Garden?

A: If there’s a bummer about my job, it’s fighting pests. First of all, anything that I do has to be natural. I don’t believe in using bait, or those types of things because I’m very aware of the food chain. When a pest takes bait, they fall sick and become easy prey. Whoever eats that guy will get sick, and so on. A natural repellent that I know about is peppermint. If you plant it in your garden, it’s easy and will keep unwanted pests out. You can also use windmills, little kites, the same concept of a scarecrow to ward off the pests.


Q: What Is The Best Advice You Have For New Gardeners?

A: Persevere. Most people fail. They don’t want to wait and or they don’t do enough research and just go for it. Since COVID started, a lot of our phone calls are people who started quarantine gardens and failed. Most of them got the wrong soil, what was readily available to them at Home Depot or Lowes, and they didn’t even know they failed. 
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Q: What Is The Worst Thing You Could Do To Your Garden?

A: Fooling around with the watering system. Over watering, under watering, being inconsistent with the water. The most successful thing I found is to have an automatic water system so the plants get the same amount of water every single day. It could be too much, or too little but it’s consistent and the plant will figure it out. Fluctuations in watering can really affect the gardens. 
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Q: Can You Describe The Best Tools And Materials You Have Used To Help With Your Gardening Work?

A: Tool wise, I always have my clippers. Spend a little money and get a really good clipper and tend to your garden. There’s nothing worse than going to cut something and it doesn’t cut and you yank out the whole plant. Taking care of your clippers and keeping them sharp is probably the most important thing. 


Q: What’s Some Important Health And Safety Information For Starting A Garden?

A: You need to know your own immune system. There are things in soils that could affect your health. I always recommend working with gloves, you won’t have to worry about getting any cuts or reactions on your hands. Always be aware of your food allergies if you are planting fruits and vegetables. The biggest safety thing is with peppers. I have a policy that if any of my customers have children, even teenagers, I don’t put anything hotter than a serrano pepper. Anything hotter than a habanero more than likely will send kids to the emergency room. I want people to have positive experiences. If you want me to plant a ghost pepper, i’m not going to do it if you have kids. Peppers can be super dangerous, even if you brush up against the leaves and it gets in your eyes, you’re going to the emergency room. That stuff is okay as long as you’re responsible. 

Book A Consultation From Harvest To Home HERE


Do you plan on starting a garden this year? Let us know in the comments below!

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