The holiday rush is on: While many people are focused on decorations and presents at this time of year, the Irvine Ranch Conservancy is rushing to get seeds in the ground.
Winter is not the season usually known as the best time for planting, but if you are interested in planting native species, it’s the best time to plant seeds or seedlings. Native plants are adapted to our Mediterranean climate, with its cool, moist winters and warm, dry summers. Native plants are waking up from their summer slumber and need the winter rains to get growing through the winter.
Early planting also gives native plants an edge over invasive weeds. These non-native species are also adapted to the local climate (having originated from Mediterranean Europe, which shares our climate), and the earlier the native seeds or seedlings are planted, the lesser the competition for resources such as rain water. This is critical for native species found throughout the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks, where irrigation is usually not an option. Some habitat restoration sites have limited irrigation, but most rely on rainwater to help foster new growth.
In restoration sites managed by the Irvine Ranch Conservancy, ‘tis the season to seed. Native seeds and seedlings from the Native Seed Farm are ready to be planted in areas such as Bee Flat and West Loma Ridge, and the more hands to help, the better. To make the most of this critical season, the Conservancy and its landowner partners such as the City of Irvine and OC Parks have organized public seeding activities. These volunteer events allow members of the public to participate in restoration while learning about growing native plants.
More volunteer planting events will be added in January, and some are on the calendar now. Planting and seeding is in full swing on the Native Seed Farm, a volunteer opportunity that is perfect for large groups or families. All activities are free and require pre-registration. For more information on the events listed below, visit www.LetsGoOutside.org/activities.