November Gardening Tips



Hello fellow gardening enthusiasts!

Finally, it feels like something other than summer here in Poway, CA. Crisp mornings, a chance of rain and the end of Daylight Saving Time are a few of the indicators. The Sunshine Care deciduous fruit tree’s leaves are changing colors and starting to drop. Cucumbers, bell peppers, squash and tomatoes have given us plenty of organic produce for our residents and are on their last leg.  Luckily, we have started harvesting plenty of lettuce and broccoli in October, and cauliflower is right around the corner. This is normal for us during the Fall/ Winter months and we will continue planting these items along with kale, bok choy, and cabbages into March of next year. By then, we will be running with the early plantings of our Spring/Summer crops such as tomatoes, cucumbers, squash and peppers again.

Here at Sunshine Care, A Community of Assisted Living Homes, we will produce roughly 20, 000 lbs of produce a year, for our residents and families in need in the Poway and Rancho Bernardo areas. We have five organic gardens along with two fruit tree orchards. Our gardens are comprised of about 35- fifty ft rows which we will plant around three times a year.

I can’t stress enough the importance of Soil Preparation for maximum production in your gardens at home. This is especially critical for the cool season crops.  Items such as cauliflower, bok choy and cabbage, give you only a one time harvest and size along with quality are the goals. Anything such as pests, lack of water and fertilizer will inhibit the plant growth and result in smaller weird-shaped heads. NOT GOOD! Without the heat units for easy steady growth, fertility is the key and that starts with what goes into the soil prior to planting.

Let me suggest the following ingredients that we till into the ground prior to planting, to get things off to a healthy start.

COMPOST-   We make our own compost here at Sunshine Care, in our compost bins with scraps from the houses and the kitchens. But sometimes we need to source out for our compost needs. I highly recommend Gardner and Bloome Soil Building Compost. It is organic and an excellent fortified natural soil amendment. It helps break up clay soils, improves drainage and promotes healthy root growth while adding valuable micro-nutrients to the soil. We apply about 15 gallons (3 Homer buckets) per fifty foot row.

EZ GREEN- This is composted chicken manure that will add extra fertility to your soil. It is a 1-4-2 fertilizer based compost with 10%  calcium. It is very inexpensive and we lay out a half a bag (25 lbs) per fifty foot row.

WORM CASTINGS- We have our own vermiculture program that supplies us enough castings to make worm tea for our plants, but not enough for the weekly on-going bed preparations. We purchase Worm Gold Plus, superior worm castings which will super charge your soil with new life and give the plants a mega dose of beneficial biology.  Don’t scrimp on the worm castings!! We toss out one bag (20 dry quarts) per fifty foot row.

PRE-PLANT FERTILIZER- We use a couple types of pre-plant  fertilizer. Dr. Earth All Purpose 4-4-4 Organic Fertilizer contains nutrients that are quickly released yet continue to feed for months. It contains many beneficial microbes and mycorrhizae for increased plant performance. This product is readily available for the home gardener. We use 9 cups per fifty foot row.

Of course somewhere down the line you will have to add extra fertilizer for your plants but these products will kick start your garden to give you healthy, delicious produce.

Pre-plant soil preparation is critical for success and all these products can be obtained from any of the Grangettos Farm and Garden Supply Centers located in Escondido, Valley Center, Encinitas and Fallbrook CA.

Tell them you want the stuff Farmer Roy uses!

Contact me anytime if you have further questions or want to tour the gardens.

Roy Wilburn, Horticulture Manager for Sunshine Care in Poway

858-472-6059 or

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