Urban Seed

| April 6, 2015 | 0 Comments

If you were in Old Town until before the end of March, you might have looked across Juan Street just up from La Piñata. You would have seen several shops and a sign that said The Urban Seed. This was the site of the January Garden Club meeting. Here you found an eclectic mixture of gift items, unusual plants, and a plethora of seeds of which 86 percent are heirloom, open-pollinated seeds, first selected by grower Charles Lodgewood of Carlsbad. These seeds are far more reliable than those you buy in the market because they are bought for the season, winter versus spring varieties.

Maurice Taitano, the owner, has been in the business 17 years. She first spoke to Mission Hills Garden Club years ago when her store was on Adams Avenue (1999 through 2009). Her Old Town shop consisted of several spaces off a courtyard. Here she had vertical gardens and hydroponic tower gardens; both are a great way to get more plants in a small area. One could find many items to render your gardens more personal; Taitano was always happy to help you, and she has a great artist’s eye.

At the meeting, Taitano talked about water-wise plants and how to keep your garden looking good year-round. Grey-blue foliage, often a bit scary looking, is a characteristic of many low water plants. Less foliage surface area means less evaporation enabling them to conserve their moisture. From fall to spring, these plants flourish; this is their peak season. In summer when it is hot and dry, they become dormant so they need minimal watering. However, by planting summer-flowering plants next to them you can hide these sleepers and provide color and interest to your garden. Hot weather is also a good time to refrain from watering too much. Dormant plants’ roots are more likely to rot with excess water; with inactivity they need less water.

Taitano also spoke about providing a good habitat for birds and bees. Native plants will, of course, encourage our native fauna to thrive. These creatures also need a source of water. She sells packets of wild flowers which re-seed year after year. The first year some will bloom; the second year other plants may join the offspring of the previous crop.

Taitano likes sustainability in all areas. This means choosing plants that will naturalize (spread so each year more appear). Watsonia, daffodils, and calla lilies all naturalize to a point where they require thinning.

Composting is another way of creating sustainability. A small container next to the sink can hold parings and peels from vegetables and fruit. When you empty the trash, add these to a compact composter or feed them to your worm farm. Very soon you will have your own fertilizer with almost no smell and no hard work.

Taitano also spoke of theme gardens as well. The cottage garden is not practical in times of drought; however, many succulents and other drought tolerant plants and trees may be arranged to create a theme. A small garden with judicious planting can appear much larger. Japan abounds with these tiny gardens that give the illusion of space. Another themed garden could be based on color only. Some succulent gardens resemble under-water-scapes. Taitano gave us many ideas.

Sadly, Taitano decided to close her shop as of the end of March, but you can still buy her seeds and her design services. If you need inspiration, call her at (619) 584-7768 or email her at theurbanseed@yahoo.com. You will be happy you did.

The April 22 meeting will take place from 6 to 8 p.m. at the church located at 4070 Jackdaw Street. This will be a hands-on activity connected to the Garden Walk.

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About the Author ()

Barbara Strona is a native Californian who grew up in the Mid-West and Los Angeles. She and her architect husband, Carl, came to San Diego in 1968 and have lived in Mission Hills since early 1971. Barbara received a Bachelor of Arts from Scripps College with a major in English, and a minor in Art. She attended UCLA graduate school and received a General Secondary Credential. She taught English in Los Angeles, Pennsylvania, and at Point Loma High School. She has been a Realtor specializing in residential sales since 1984. Her passions include her job, reading, writing, foreign languages and foreign countries, animals (feathered or furry), theatre, and her family: husband, two adult children and two grandsons.