Plants that deserve a second chance, 10-01-15

Basil thrives outdoors and sometimes will survive the winter in pots. Heather Hacking — Enterprise-Record

A few months ago I read a press release from the state about “conservation fatigue.” Apparently, after months and months of saving water, people get tired of saving water.


Are we tired of having a bucket in the shower, a plastic tub in the sink and a yellow ring around the toilet bowl?

Or is the real issue that we are mad at our neighbors? We are tired of always being the one who follows rules?

We look over the fence and notice that the grass really is greener.

Good (little) water savers have a brown lawn, dead roses and greasy hair.

Our neighbors are watering the sidewalks, jaywalking and double dipping in the chip bowl.


I let half the lawn die this year.

What were we going to do on all that grass? If a band of traveling troubadours wants to set up a tent in my back yard, they can drive the stakes into parched earth.

The weather has also cooled over the past few weeks and I realize everything will grow back with time.

The grass near the back porch was dead, dead. I raked the tall stalks and went about my business.

Meanwhile, I keep a green plastic tub in the kitchen sink. When the tub is full, I venture out a few steps from the back porch and toss the tub of water in the general direction of the lawn.

Wouldn’t you know it. That patch of grass is making a comeback. Because it gets a just a splash of water on a consistent, haphazard basis, grass seed left in that area is now sprouting.

I’m guessing that once we get any significant amount of rain, the seeds from the long-forgotten lawn might even begin to sprout with new growth.

This is why the state of California and local water companies are not content that we simply let the lawn die. They’ll only provide funds for lawn conversions if something actually replaces the lawn.

Otherwise, regular watering and some seed will simply return the yard to its former green expanse.


One of my favorite plants this summer was a metal tub filled with Vinca rosea. In the past, this same plant turned to a blackened goo once the cold weather arrived.

Last year I pushed the bucket up against the side of the house. When spring arrived I was surprised to see new growth, and later the plant provided flowers all summer.

Basil and pepper plants are two plants that are perennials treated like annuals. Ideally, these plants would go into a green house for the winter.

Folks who don’t have a green house can bring a few potted plants indoors and place in a window that receives sunlight from the south.

You can also try your luck at keeping them in the ground or in pots outdoors. If its very cold, cover them up.

Just like other plants, trim them back to almost nothing if there is frost damage.

The website cautions that you don’t want to bring bugs into the house. The garden adviser suggested spraying outdoor plants with a stiff stream of water. Move to a different locations, wait a few hours, and spray again.

You’ll also want to check the underside of leaves and snip off any sections that might be infested.

If this sounds like too much trouble, you can always push the plants against the side of the house outdoors and hope for the best.

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