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COMPOST 'EM IF YOU GOT 'EM.

Byline: Joshua Siskin

George Patton, no relation to the general, is part of an army of a few select individuals who do combat on behalf of organic gardening throughout Los Angeles.

A resident of Sherman Oaks, Patton's specialty is providing expertise and hands-on assistance in the arts of composting and biodynamic gardening. As people have less and less time to do what it takes to make a garden thrive, a service such as Patton's has become invaluable, especially since he's one of few (if not the only) composters-for-hire in the area.

Patton has devised a simple planting technique for making flowers and vegetables grow to full size - and beyond - in a very short time. Remove the tomato or petunia of your choice from its container, lightly disentangle its web of roots, and then dunk the root ball in a water-and-kelp solution. Plant in a well-composted soil, and you will witness your tomato or petunia grow to an enormous size within a month to six weeks.

According to Patton, kelp or seaweed extract is a powerful growth stimulator that makes its way, sooner or later, into the hands of every passionate gardener. Seaweed extract contains more of what a plant needs than any other product you could find on the shelf of your favorite nursery or garden center.

One type of seaweed extract, packaged by Grow More and favored by Patton, enhances the growth of virtually every type of plant - from fruit trees to lawns to vegetables to roses to strawberries to alfalfa hay. This particular type of seaweed extract, derived from Norwegian kelp (Ascophyllum Nodosum), contains all the micronutrients - such as manganese, zinc and iron - that plants require. In addition, amino acids and naturally occurring growth hormones - cytokinins, giberellins, and auxins - are present in the seaweed extract. Auxins, in particular, promote root growth and are especially important in getting a newly planted flower or vegetable crop off to a fast start.

One of Patton's favorite uses of seaweed extract is as a foliar spray on citrus trees. Citrus trees are heavy feeders on account of their massive production of flowers and fruit. Chlorosis, or yellowing of mature leaves, is common on malnourished citrus and may be alleviated by spraying citrus foliage consistently with liquid kelp.

It was from a disciple of Rudolf Steiner that Patton learned about what it takes to make plants thrive. Steiner was an Austrian mystical thinker who became a figure of international renown during the 1920s. Steiner had original ideas in the fields of religion, medicine and agriculture and was the founder of biodynamic farming. According to Patton, the biodynamic method involves ``learning how to utilize the forces of nature in the garden.'' Planting by the cycles of the moon is part of the biodynamic system. Although lunar planting may sound like a New Age concept, it really is thousands of years old, dating back to the earliest agricultural practices that history records.

Patton is currently on a mission to spread the word about clematis (KLEM-uh-tis), a remarkable vining plant that deserves wider use in Valley gardens. Many people are burdened with the notion that clematis is only for cold climates, yet there are many glamorous clematis varieties in the nursery trade that grow well in our area. Some of Patton's favorite clematis varieties include: Henryi, a large white; Belle of Woking, a pale lavender/lilac; and texensis Princess Diana, a bright pink with white edges. Patton is especially enthusiastic about the viticella varieties of clematis. Although viticella flowers are smaller than is typical for clematis, they are produced in dazzling profusion.

Patton recommends planting them side by side with climbing roses such as Altissimo, Eden, and Madame Alfred Carriere. Patton may be reached at (818) 617-0854.

Tip of the week

In one week, Descanso Gardens in La Canada Flintridge will mark Clematis Day. Guided tours of the Descanso clematis collection will be conducted on May 26 at the gardens, 1418 Descanso Drive. For more information, call (818) 952-4401 or visit www.descanso.com.

Clematis enthusiasts can take heart knowing that the American Clematis Society is headquartered in Tustin. It is the goal of Edith Malek, founder and president of the society, ``to make clematis as recognizable as the rose.'' You can contact the society at (949) 653-0907 or access the Web site at www.clematis.org.

- Joshua Siskin

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Clematis florida sieboldii

Associated Press

Box: Tip of the Week (see text)
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Copyright 2001, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

 
Article Details
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Title Annotation:L.A. Life
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:May 19, 2001
Words:740
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