Deep Roots Garden Center            Newsletter                 September 2011

Labor Day Sale!


25% OFF



Saturday, Sunday & Monday  Sept 3,4 & 5.

 (we will close at PM on Monday)



Fox Farms Light Warrior Seed Starter


Many of you are great fans of Fox Farms' Ocean Forest, the "ultimate potting soil". Now meet Fox Farms "Light Warrior Seed Starter" , a powerful medium for sowing seeds. Seeds that we have started in this soil have developed more and stronger roots in a shorter time than other soils. We recommend it.




What to do in your garden in September 


September in Southern California is considered a transitional month in the garden because it marks the beginning of the fall planting season -- a busy time of year for lucky warm-climate gardeners.  The soil and air are warm but not overly hot and the nights become cooler. It is also, however, the time of year that the Santa Ana winds blow, meaning that there may be periods of hot, dry weather that scorches plants and people alike.

   September's mildness makes just about any gardening task pleasant and in general September is a good time to clean out the summer garden and prepare the soil for winter plants. Many winter-blooming flowers and some vegetables can be put into the ground in September for color and food during the cooler winter season.• Seeds and transplants of cool-weather hardy crops can be planted now for harvests from fall through early spring. Seeds sown now for spring blooms and crops--especially edible peas and flowering sweet peas (left)  particularly the early flowering variety --will encourage strong root and foliar development that will survive most cold snaps, bear sooner in the spring, and last longer. Soil amendments can be dug in now to break down over the winter, enriching the soil for next year's gardens. Protect your soil from drying out by adding some new mulch to your soil.

Vegetables and Fruits 

In September, fresh summer produce is still delicious, but production is slowing down.• Many green vegetables, including broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, lettuce and peas thrive in Southern California's dry, cooler fall season and can be started now. Broccoli, which requires full sun and regular water, will be ready to harvest in early winter and should be planted after the last of the Santa Ana winds. Like broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower are members of the Brassicaceae family, which grow well during cool seasons and require regular water.

• Sow arugula,  beets, bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, chard, chervil, chives, collards, endive, fava beans, garlic, kale, kohlrabi, leeks, lettuce (in our hot climate, this is the best time for sowing and transplanting butterhead and romaine types), green onions, short-day bulb onions, parsley (the flat-leaf type is more winter-hardy than the curly one), peas, radishes, spinach, turnips and white potatoes.  We have seeds for most of these vegetables. We are also sowing a lot of these in 4" pots and growing them until ready to put on sale.

• Sow or transplant two or three times the amount you would for spring harvest, as these overwintering crops will grow slowly, and your harvest will be reduced. When green leafy plants are three or four inches in size, they are mature enough to be harvested throughout the fall, winter, and early spring. These will bolt at the first real warmth of early spring, though, so they can't be counted on to provide a crop after that. But, by then, you'll have made the first spring plantings, so the gap between harvests won't be too long. Plants that have developed deep root systems and mature leaves are more tolerant of winter chills and swings in temperature..

• Quite a few herbs make attractive edible house-plants, including both dark green and dark opal basil, chervil, chives, mint, oregano, parsley (the flat-leaf type is hardier and more flavorful), rosemary, sweet marjoram, and thyme. Sow the seeds thickly to guarantee good germination, as plants will grow slowly over the winter, and consequently less foliage will be available for recipes. Indoor herbs need very bright light and warmth to grow.

• Problems with seed germination may be due to old seed, soil that is too warm, too cold or that has been allowed to dry out, or seeds that were sown either too deeply or not deeply enough. We have seed starting mats and trays in stock as well as bio-degradable seed pots.

• Keep seedbeds moist and shaded from hot afternoon sun until the seedlings develop two to four true leaves. After transplanting them, mulch the soil lightly, adding more in October and November. Keep the mulch an inch away from the plant stems, however, for good air circulation and less potential for disease problems.

• Pinch out new blossoms and growing tips of established melons, winter squashes, and tomatoes to force growth into the fruits that have already set. If you haven’t already done so now is your last chance to plant some cool weather tomatoes such as Stupice, Glacier , Siberian and San Francisco Fog.

• Plant new trees and shrubs while the soil is still warm to encourage the roots to get established before going dormant for the winter. Trim off deadwood and water sprouts (quickly-growing upright shoots), but leave major pruning for January, when the trees are dormant. 

• Feed citrus for the last time this year, and water trees less as the weather cools and the rains (hopefully) take over. Cupped, wilted, or falling leaves signal moisture stress from hot winds, which can occur even when the soil is damp. • Provide lath, shade cloth, or other semi-open material for protection. Pale green new citrus leaves may need a dose of liquid chelated iron or a solution of fish emulsion and kelp. • Remove and destroy fruit mummies on the ground or still on the tree to reduce the chance of brown rot next year.

• Strawberries with whitish or yellowish leaves need to be fertilized one last time with a high-nitrogen food. After that, fertilize them with a low-nitrogen, high-phosphorus, and high-potassium fertilizer to help them harden off for the winter.

• Sun-dry the last prune plums, grapes, figs, apples, and pears. Be sure to keep the moist pieces separate so the surfaces can form a seal against spoilage. 


Ornamentals - Annuals

• Southern California is colorful most times of the year, and after pulling out summer flowering plants, late September is a good time to put in pansies, snapdragons, primroses, Iceland poppies, cinerarias, hollyhock, calendula, foxgloves, stock, and sweet alyssum. These flowers may be planted from seed or bought as plants. They require at least a half-day of sun, preferably full day.The annuals you put into the ground must be cool-season plants. The sooner you get things into the ground and the more regularly you feed them the more likely you will be to have blooms prior to the holidays. If you manage that they will bloom all winter into spring, with April being the height of bloom. • For very fragrant sweet peas, rely on some old-fashioned varieties such as Antique Fantasy and Painted Lady, or new cultivars that have the distinctive fragrance bred back in, like Leamington, Rosy Frills, Royal Wedding, and Snoopea. • Plant cyclamen and primroses where they're shaded from the still-intense afternoon sun for color through next spring.

Our fall color is already starting to arrive here at Deep Roots.


Ornamentals - Perennials

• Transplant perennials, ground covers, shrubs, and vines while the soil and air temperatures are still warm, to give them a full season's root development over those planted in the spring. Set them out in the cooler late afternoons or evenings, and water them in with a mild solution of a balanced fertilizer to promote new root growth and reduce transplant shock. Mulch and shade them lightly for the first week. Add more mulch in October and November for additional protection.

• Fertilize azaleas, camellias, gardenias, hydrangeas and rhododendrons with a fertilizer that acidifies the soil, to encourage formation of next spring's blossom buds. Increase the spring bloom size of azaleas, camellias, dahlias, and rhododendrons by removing half of the new flower buds. For extra-large camellia blooms, remove all but one bud per branch; leave some further down on the bush for later bloom. • Prolong blooming on tuberous begonias, dahlias, and fuchsias by pinching off faded flowers. Water them frequently while the weather is still hot, and then feed them with a low-nitrogen, high-phosphorus fertilizer before they begin to go dormant.

• Divide and replant crowded perennials such as agapanthus, coral bells, Shasta daisies, daylilies, phloxes, and yarrow.  • Stake tall-growing mums before they get too top-heavy and fall over, unless you prefer a cascading or curly-stemmed display. Feed mums until the buds show color and begin to open. 

• Cut back established alyssum, coreopsis, marguerite and Shasta daisies, delphiniums, dianthus, felicias, gaillardias, geraniums, ivies, lantanas, lobelias, petunias, and santolinas to one-third or one-half of their present size. However, don't cut them back beyond the green foliage to the older woody growth, as this may kill the plant.

This is the last month to prune roses and feed them for their last bloom cycle before going dormant. Hold off on severe pruning until plants are fully dormant in January. Feed plants lightly, and water. Continue to water them only in the mornings to lessen mildew and other wet-foliage-at-sunset-with-warm-evenings disease problems. Clean up rose beds. Pick up old leaves and check for pests and diseases.

• Bring in houseplants from their summer breather outdoors after grooming them and thoroughly checking them for pests. This is a good time to repot them in fresh potting mix. Toss the "old" mix out into the garden or onto the compost pile. Keep them in a bright area indoors for three weeks to let them gradually get used to the darker, warmer, and drier indoor conditions. Then move them to their winter homes--but away from drafts and heaters.  

• Dry flowers for arrangements that you've grown yourself. The easiest to dry are baby's breath, bachelor's button, bells of Ireland, hydrangea, lavender, scabiosa, statice, strawflower, and yarrow. All but the bells of Ireland are best air-dried: tie a few stems into a loose bunch, and hang it up, flower heads down, in a cool, dark, dry place for several weeks. The exception is Bells of Ireland--stand these upright in a container with a half-inch of water; flowers will dry as the water evaporates. This can be done with hydrangeas also.

• Save the stalks of tall sunflowers, stripped of their branches and leaves, to use next year as trellises for peas and beans.



• Start or reseed lawns. Keep the soil surface moist so seeds germinate and seedling roots get a good start. Feed and water established lawns; continue mowing at two inches in height. This is the perfect time to overseed your lawn for winter with creeping red fescue grass seed. We sell this seed by the scoop for $3.00. Top dress with Kellog's Topper.


Trees and Shrubs


• Shiny red and orange berries are a sure sign of fall, and provide essential food for birds during the winter. Shrubs with colorful berries to plant now for fall and winter accents include abelia, barberry, bottlebrush, holly, oleander, pyracantha (above), quince, and virburnum. Pyracanthas are relatively fast growing, can be trained against a wall or grown as a tree and provide interest all year round with cascades of white flowers in spring, green berries in summer and red or orange berries all fall and winter long. • Continue to give your trees and shrubs infrequent deep watering while it’s still hot out. Every few weeks is good and deep watering with a hose or bubblers to your trees will pay off with healthy trees and deep roots. Don't forget to water mainly AT THE DRIP LINE, not at the trunk. Add mulch at the base of the tree but be careful to keep mulch away from the tree trunk.

• This is the perfect time of year to plant a tree to beautify your yard--the roots will get well established before they go dormant, ready for the spring surge of both foliage and root growth.

• Decide what you want from a tree--where it will be planted and for what purpose. If you want summer shade for the house, a deciduous tree planted on the south side would be appropriate. If you prefer a pleasant window view, a grouping of silver birches might be nice.

• Let us help you choose the right tree. If we do not have it in stock we can order it in for you at no extra cost.

• Fall colors come alive with many trees, including beech, birch, coral tree, gingko, liquidambar, magnolia, maidenhair, Japanese and other maples, crape myrtles, persimmon, Chinese pistache (away from the coast), and sour gum.

• Once you've made a preliminary choice, consider the mature size of the tree - does the area allow the tree sufficient space when it's mature? Pay attention to this detail as removing a mature tree that has outgrown its space is no easy job. Have you planned for the different needs of the shaded and moist soil underneath its widespread limbs? What about the roots? Will they grow into your underground pipes and destroy your plumbing?  When all these considerations seem to fit, purchase it and plant it. 

• If your garden is a windy corridor avoid planting trees that are prone to wind damage. These include acacia, ash, cypress, elm, eucalyptus, liquidamber, California pepper, and pine.


General Jobs:

• Continue replenishing your compost pile with plant trimmings. Spent annuals and vegetables add a lot of bulk now, along with grass and other garden clippings, and non-greasy trimmings from the kitchen. But leave out plant material that is obviously infected with diseases - destroy or dispose of this instead. Chop up bulky items to help them decompose faster. Layer greenery with a bit of soil and dry matter. Keep the pile moist but not waterlogged, and turn it or loosen it up every other week or so to let in air. 

• Dig in organic amendments to your soil to break down over the winter, enriching the soil for next year's garden.

• Hose off plant foliage--both top and underneath leaf surfaces-- to lessen insect populations. This is especially helpful to get rid of aphids, caterpillars, mealybugs, spider mites, and whiteflies on beans, collards, kale, tomatoes, and roses. Be sure to do this early enough in the day (preferably early morning) so that the foliage can dry completely before it gets too hot.

• Check all your hanging baskets and potted plants. Clean them up (a little judicious pruning) and fertilize them now and they will last well into the cooler months.

• Once your summer blooming shrubs and vines have finished blooming, give them a good pruning.


The Buzz....


 What's Been

On Your Mind





The Rhythm of Southern California Gardening.


At least once a week a customer says to me, "but here in southern California we can grow everything all year round". It is true that in Southern California we garden year-round, but here at the beach we do not grow everything all year round. Because of such variables as heat, cold and daylight hours some plants do better in summer and some do better in winter. We plant cool-season (or “winter”) crops and flowers in fall, and we plant warm-season (or “summer”) crops and flowers in spring. Right now, for example, in September we are in our fall planting season. Fall is the time when we should be looking ahead and planting for spring or, alternatively, we should be planting permanent climbers, trees, and shrubs for the future life of our garden. Much of our best seasonal color comes from permanent woody plants. Among fall blooming trees are Chinese flame tree (Koelreuteria elegans; K. henryii), floss silk tree (Chorisia speciosa), and Metrosideros "New Zealand Christmas Tree" (left) .Among climbers are Hardenbergia ‘Happy Wanderer’ (photo below) and flame vine (Pyrostegia venusta), and among colorful shrubs are Copper canyon daisy (Tagetes lemonii), firethorn (Pyracantha), Leucadendron "Summer Red" (see photo below left). mallows, and hibiscus. Fall blooming perennials include salvias and Japanese Anenomes. 

Except for tropical plants, this is the best time of the year to put in many woody plants.

One of the most common things that can happen to a new gardener in Southern California is to go and look at other people’s glorious flower gardens in April and say “Wow! what are the names of these flowers? I want to dash to the nursery right now and buy them so I can have a garden like this one!” Unfortunately it doesn’t usually work that way. Most of the flowers people gasp over at the height of bloom in April have usually been in the ground for months. If you plant these in April they will cost a huge amount of money and die one month later. The glorious flower garden you are looking at in April might have come from a few packets of seeds that cost under ten dollars and were planted in September or October, which is now. My message to you is start now, in fall, to plant for your April garden. The colorful plants you put in now from plants and seeds will begin blooming in winter and continue blooming into June, in some cases all summer. So plant now for winter and spring.


Tried and True, plants that work...

Iceberg Rose:

This is surely the most well known and ubiquitous type of rose in our city. It is a pure white floribunda rose with shapely blooms that are long lasting, both as a cut flower and as a bush.It is considered one of the best roses of all time and is a Gold Medal floribunda rose winner. For me its most outstanding feature is its repeat blooming capabilities. I have several Iceberg roses, both the bush type and the climbing type, and each time a flush of rose blooms dies I prune them back, feed them with some rose fertilizer and within four to five weeks they come right back. It's amazing! It is the only rose that I know of that flowers repeatedly time after time in the same year. And you don't have to be careful when you prune it. Just cut it back to the next set of leaves. Sometimes if I have very little time I just hack away at it and it always comes back with even more blooms. I love this rose as it blooms at Thanksgiving and gives me a whole bouquet of white loveliness in time for my Holiday table.


From Deep Roots'

Summer in the Garden Cook Book:

Sautéed Apples




We have had a bumper harvest of apples off our espaliered Beverly Hills apple tree in the sun section this year. They are delicious, crispy apples with a true "apple" flavor. What to do with all those apples?


Here is a very quick and easy recipe for apples sautéed in butter that tastes absolutely delicious (what isn't delicious when fried in butter?).


Peal, core and slice apples into 1/2" thick slices. Heat butter in a wide pan until just bubbling. Throw in the apples and cook on a relatively high heat for a minute or two. Add sugar to taste and sauté the apples until golden brown on both sides and juice starts to caramelize. Just before serving you can sprinkle on lemon juice and some alcohol.. sweet Sherry or sweet Madeira works well and so does Triple Sec.


Served with lots of whipped cream...! 


Deep Roots has....


Hairy Balls....


Asclepias physocarpa (also known as Gomphocarpus physocarpus, commonly called balloon plant or hairy balls) is a species of milkweed. The plant is native to southeast Africa, but it has been widely naturalized. It is often used as an ornamental plant. The name "hairy balls" is an allusion to the swelling bladder-like pods which are full of seeds.


Asclepias physocarpa is a shrubby perennial herb that can grow to over six feet. The plant blooms in warm months and prefers moderate moisture, as well as sandy and well-drained soil and full sun.


These sorts of unusual plants are just downright fun to grow in the garden. The flowers are small and elegant with white hoods and are about ½” across. (see photo below). The seed capsules that develop in late summer are pale green  turning to rust inflated spheres, three inches in diameter and covered with rough hairs (photo above and bottom).


The plant is a food source for the caterpillars of Danaus butterflies, and is a specific Monarch butterfly food and habitat plant. All of the milkweeds are named for a milky sap in the plant's stem and leaves. After the Monarch caterpillar has metamorphosed into a butterfly, the alkaloids from the sap they ingested from the plant are retained in the butterfly, making it unpalatable to predators.

The apple green fur balls make an excellent addition to flower arrangements. Wouldn’t they be pretty in an autumn wedding?


Now in stock at $21.99. Quantities are limited... get these balls while they are "hot". (Seriously we are going to have fun with this while stocks last...)




Deep Roots

Garden Center &

Floral Design Studio 


9AM - 6PM daily


Find us on Facebook

201-207 N. Sepulveda Blvd.

Manhattan Beach,

CA 90266


Garden Center: 310-376-0567

Flower Shop: 310-379-3634



Easy Reader's 

Best Garden Center

  in the South Bay   





Eco-Friendly Moment

Deep Roots Floral Design Studio is eco-friendly...we use washable rags; recycle cardboard, paper and plastic; and compost old flowers. 


Call us at 310-379-3634 to order your unique custom designed arrangement or bouquet.

You can also order flowers online through our Teleflora website 


Gardening 101 - Soil

Soil is by far the most important aspect of gardening to get to grips with. The equation is simple: if your soil is poor your plants will be poor too. Understanding soil is the first step to being a successful gardener.


But what is soil exactly? Soil, dirt, earth, topsoil, subsoil, potting soil, planting mix, cactus mix, peat moss, mulch, amendments, manure, fertilizers….. so many names for so many products. What is the difference between all of them? What do all the different names mean?


First what is the difference between soil and dirt? Dirt is what you find under your fingernails. Soil is what you find under your feet. Soil is the dark brown or black “dirt” you pay for at a nursery, but dirt is what you find with rocks, glass and trash in it. Soil is the general term for the stuff plants set their roots in. It anchors them and provides a medium in which to grow roots and find water and nutrients. Good growing soil does not go down very deep. Think of soil as a thin living skin that covers the land. Even the most fertile topsoil is only a foot or so deep. Soil is more than rock particles. It includes living things such as worms, bugs and microbes and the materials they make or change. 


What is soil made of?


Soil in the ground consists of several different layers.Starting from the top: 


Humus or Leaf Litter Layer: This is the very top layer of undisturbed soil. It is very dark in color and made up of decomposed leaves and plant debris. It is highly nutritious for plants and seedlings. The layer can be very shallow in a garden that is often dug over, but in undisturbed woodlands for example it can be extremely deep. Weed seeds accumulate and germinate in this surface layer of soil. Decomposers such as worms, ants, and sow bugs recycle dead plants and animals into humus.


Topsoil: This is the layer below the humus layer. It may be only an inch or so deep on thin hilltop land, or several or many feet deep in river valleys and coastal plains. It is made up of humus that has been brought down by the action of earthworms and other soil dwelling creatures, mixed with subsoil. It is usually slightly less dark than the humus layer but darker than the deeper subsoil because of its higher organic content. Because of this relative organic richness, it is generally easier to handle than subsoil. It cultivates better, is less sticky or likely to cake. Plants spread their roots, and creatures live in this top layer of soil. Topsoils vary in composition from very sandy to adobe clay and in order to improve its consistency we add organic matter.


Subsoil: The layer under top soil. Subsoil is usually lighter in color, stickier, less fertile and more difficult to handle.  Because such soil comes from a greater depth, it usually contains no weed seeds. Subsoil is high in minerals but low in organic matter compared to the topsoil. Deep plant roots grow here if there is enough water.


Bedrock: Under the subsoil we finally find solid rock. The bedrock formed before the soil above it. It will wait here until erosion or an earthquake exposes it to the surface. Then some of it will be weathered to become the next batch of soil material.


Garden Soil: This is the soil found in the top two layers of earth in your garden as outlined above. Garden soil can be sandy, heavy, light, sandy loam, rich or clay, and garden soils are rarely as consistent as the bagged soils that you find at the garden center. Garden soil should be amended and fertilized almost every time you plant something new, the exception being  certain native plants that resent overly fertile soil. Do not use garden soil to pot houseplants or container gardens.


Potting Soil: Potting soils are usually mixed and sold commercially and are designed for containers to give plants good drainage, moisture retention and aeration. Because it is much lighter than earth, potting soil lends itself well to potted plant root growth, allowing the roots to travel freely and effortlessly throughout the potting mix. Generally speaking, you'll want potting soil that is fairly lightweight; porous - so it readily absorbs water and there's breathing room for roots to thrive; uniform in particle size - it shouldn't have clods, rocks, or chunks of wood - and nearly all of it should sift through quarter-inch mesh screen or thereabouts. If it sifts through window screen, it's too powdery. Potting soils should drain easily. Water should penetrate quickly with lots absorbed on the way down. If it takes a while before the excess starts to leak out, it means the soil particles are too small and the pot is becoming waterlogged. Potting soil should not be easily compacted - if damp soil can be squeezed and stay compressed, think twice. Otherwise gravity and water will do its own packing over time, and your plants will have a miserable existence.

   Potting soil is a mixture of several ingredients, the most common being peat moss, composted plant material, sand, fertilizer, ground limestone, and perlite for drainage. With potting soil you get what you pay for. Generally cheaper potting soils are not as good as expensive potting soils which may contain leaf mold, earthworm casting, bat guano, seaweed extract and other highly nutritious components. Potting soil is used, as the name implies, only for potted plants, and not for gardens.


The Differences between

Bagged Potting Soil & Garden Soil

Potting soil is often much less dense than a typical garden soil. In fact, many potting soils commercially available are even "soil-less" mixes consisting of sand, moss, mulch and vermiculite all mixed together. In any potting soil, the mixture has been screened and aerated and is looser and lighter than a garden soil, with plenty of amendments mixed in to provide good aeration and drainage.

   In general, potting mixes are more sterile than garden soil and shouldn't carry weed seeds, fungi or other diseases or pests. However, do not rely on this quality unless the soil was labeled as sterile on its original packaging, as it still sometimes carries weed seeds or mold strains. Garden soil can have all kinds of active biological agents and has the benefit of providing good biological additions to the soil, like earthworms and beneficial bacteria.

 One of the biggest differences in composition between potting soil and garden soil is drainage ability. A plant in a pot can't extend its roots out to catch water or nutrients from far away, so it must be able to retain and reach more water nearby. Moisture-retaining amendments to the soil like vermiculite, peat moss and mulch help with this problem and are present in higher amounts in potting soil than garden soil.

  A major disadvantage for plants in potting soil is the lack of nutrients and natural fertility that is found in garden soils, so you must nearly always use fertilizers. In gardens, the natural cycle of decay and growth keeps soils richer, and the interaction of many plants, insects and soil microbes balances the soil. In a pot, the plant has only what you give it, so a balanced fertilizer, often liquid, is necessary.

  How do you determine which potting soil to choose for your potted plants? The answer to that question is determined by the type of plants you want to grow. For instance, African violets grow best in potting mix that contains peat moss, whereas cacti and succulents thrive best in potting mix that contains the greater portion of sand – a product called cactus mix.


Peat moss: This comes from the peat bogs of the northern United States and Canada. There are some peat bogs in the southern US, but they generally are considered to be slightly lower quality. Peat moss provides great moisture retaining quality with good air space for healthy growing roots. For acid loving plants, like azaleas or hydrangeas, the addition of peat moss to the potting soil is a good idea, however, for most flowering annuals peat moss by itself is too acidic. You can use straight peat moss as your potting soil but be careful not to overwater. Peat moss all by itself can stay wet for a long time after watering.

NOTE: Peat moss can be very difficult to re-wet if allowed to dry out. If you buy a bag of straight peat moss and it is very dry, you may find that it repels water. If you run into this problem, the best thing you can do is soak the peat moss either in the bag you bought it in or in a wheelbarrow or bucket. Usually soaking it overnight will get things well saturated and then it can be easier to use. Once it has been saturated, it will usually go back to retaining water with no further issues.


Sphagnum Peat vs. Mountain Peat

Mountain peat is mined from high-altitude wetlands that will take hundreds of years to rejuvenate, if ever. This mining is extremely disruptive to hydrologic cycles and mountain ecosystems. Sphagnum peat is harvested from bogs in Canada and the northern United States. The bogs can be re-vegetated after harvest and grow back relatively quickly in this moist environment. Sphagnum peat is an excellent soil amendment, especially for sandy soils, which will retain more water after sphagnum peat application. Sphagnum peat is generally acid (i.e., low pH) and can help gardeners grow plants that require a more acidic soil.

Planting mixes are soil blends that are intended to amend or supplement in-ground planting situations or for use in raised beds, conditions that are quite distinct from container culture. Planting mixes have many different names –Amend, Topper, Nitro-humus, organic compost, leaf mold, planter mix , garden soil, Gromulch, acid compost , etc. All are designed to improve the structure and fertility of garden soil by adding composted material. Some, usually those called “garden soil” can be used straight from the bag. Some contain bio-solids and others are totally organic containing only decomposed plant material.


Composts are available that are made primarily from composted leaf or wood products.



Soil amendments: A soil amendment is any material mixed in with the soil to improve its physical properties, such as water retention, permeability, water infiltration, drainage, aeration and structure. The goal is to provide a better environment for roots. Amendments are mixed into the soil. The best soil amendments increase water- and nutrient-holding capacity and improve aeration and water infiltration. Amending a soil is not the same thing as mulching, although many mulches also are used as amendments.


Organic vs. Inorganic Amendments There are two broad categories of soil amendments: organic and inorganic. Organic amendments come from something that is or was alive. Inorganic amendments, on the other hand, are either mined or man-made. Organic amendments include sphagnum peat, wood chips, grass clippings, straw, compost, manure, sawdust and wood ash. Inorganic amendments may include vermiculite, perlite, pea gravel and sand.

Wood ash, an organic amendment, is high in both pH and salt. It can magnify common local soil problems and should not be used as a soil amendment. Don't add sand to clay soil -- this creates a soil structure similar to concrete.



Organic amendments increase soil organic matter content and offer many benefits. Organic matter improves soil aeration, water infiltration, and both water- and nutrient-holding capacity. Many organic amendments contain plant nutrients and act as organic fertilizers. Organic matter also is an important energy source for bacteria, fungi and earthworms that live in the soil.

Mulch: is left on the soil surface. Its purpose is to reduce evaporation and runoff, inhibit weed growth, and create an attractive appearance. Mulches also moderate soil temperature, helping to warm soils in the spring and cool them in the summer. Mulches may be incorporated into the soil as amendments after they have decomposed to the point that they no longer serve their purpose.


Wood Products. Wood products can tie up nitrogen in the soil and cause nitrogen deficiency in plants. Microorganisms in the soil use nitrogen to break down the wood. Within a few months, the nitrogen is released and again becomes available to plants. This hazard is greatest with sawdust, because it has a greater surface area than wood chips. If you plan to apply wood chips or sawdust, you may need to apply nitrogen fertilizer at the same time to avoid nitrogen deficiency.

CSA Organic Veggie Boxes

We are an established drop off point for the South Central Farmers Cooperative Community Supported Agriculture vegetable boxes.


The large boxes of seasonal, organic vegetables and fruit are delivered to Deep Roots Garden Center every Wednesday at approximately 2.00 pm and we store them in our large flower cooler until closing time the following day.


Customers may order a box every week, every two weeks, once a month or simply when you feel like one. The boxes contain enough seasonal organic vegetables to feed a family of four for a week or a single/couple for two weeks.


Payment is in advance – please place your order before noon on Mondays. Why not come in and order a box? Or you can phone 310-376-0567.


At $21 a box it is great value.

To find out what is in the box visit:





Proud to announce...

Acknowledging Deep Roots' resident photographer/nursery associate...  !!


Barbara got the cover of Lonely Planet's 2011 Western Europe Guide with a still life of sunflowers. You can see more examples of her work on our web site Flower Shop Gallery page:


Genetically Modified foods

We at Deep Roots try to garden as organically and ethically as possible.

We are joining the fight against the imposition of genetically modified food and seeds by the mega company Monsanto, the US-based multinational agricultural biotechnology corporation.  

DID YOU KNOW that as much as 80% of food sold in American grocery stores contains genetically engineered ingredients? Are these products labeled? No they are not, and won't be unless we, the consumers demand of our Congress that this type of food is clearly labeled.

DID YOU ALSO KNOW that Consumer pressure and scientific concerns have largely kept GM foods and crops out of Europe?

DO YOU KNOW what genetically modified foods are, or what are the implications of allowing this type of food into our food chain?


Find out more at 


If you care about the food you and your children eat join the fight against genetically modified food here:


To get a farmer's perspective watch this:


We offer 10% discounts to members of:


Hermosa Gardening Club, the Manhattan Beach Botanical Gardens, The South Coast Botanic Gardens, The Surfrider Foundation, Heal the Bay, and all senior citizens on Senior Day (Tuesdays). 


We have added members of the Military, Coastguards, Police, and Firefighters to this list. Bring along your badge or wear your uniform to get a 10% discount on everything! We thank you for your service.


Talking of unusual plants..


"The Collection"




extraordinary, rare and unique plants


You may have seen this label on some of our plants and asked yourself "what does this mean?"


We place this label on plants that we consider to be rare, difficult to obtain or unique. They may also be finicky and difficult to grow, although this is not always the case.


These plants are for the plant collectors among us...They may take a bit more knowledge to get going but most are very hardy and easy to grow - part of the criteria for The Collection label. Plants in our collection now include:


Dyckin "Silver Superstar"



Solandra maxima,



Aloe Hercules:



Furcraea foetida mediopicta:



and Agave celsii "Nova":




















Deep Roots Garden Center • 207 N. Sepulveda Blvd. • Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
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