Gardening Resources for
San Diego County
Master Gardeners of San Diego County A group of volunteers to answer the most commonly asked questions about home horticulture.
Integrated Pest Management IPM is an ecosystem-based strategy that focuses on the long-term prevention of pests or their damage through a combination of techniques such as biological control, habitat manipulation, modification of cultural practices, and the use of resistant varieties. Pesticides are used only after monitoring indicates they are needed according to established guidelines, and treatments are made with the goal of removing only the target organism. Pest control materials are selected and applied in a manner that minimizes risks to human health, beneficial and nontarget organisms, and the environment.
City Farmers Nursery City Farmers specializes in those hard-to-find items that big box and chain stores just aren’t interested in. They organically maintain every plant, bush, and tree as Mother Nature intended at their beautiful urban nursery that feels like a farm. At City Farmers, you can get everything from seeds and plants to canning and beekeeping supplies.
See the table on the right for local (San Diego County) sources of topsoil, compost, mulch, and other soil ingredients.
Seeds, Garden Supplies, and Resources
San Diego Seed Company has a huge selection of vegetable and pollinator seeds that have been selected for growing in Southern California. SDSC has a large selection of organically grown seeds, selling only quality hybrid or heirloom varieties, never GMO. All have been trialed and tested at one of two SDSC’s local organic farms.
Peaceful Valley Farm & Garden Supply is the largest independent U.S. retailer focused on organic farm & gardening supplies. They offer everything from organic, non-GMO vegetable seeds to fertilizer, weed & pest control, tools, growing supplies, irrigation & more.
Territorial Seeds Founded in 1979 by pioneering organic grower Steve Soloman, Territorial Seeds offers a large variety of organic seeds, all of which have been trialed and evaluated at their organic farm. Only top performers will receive their stamp of approval and be available for sale the following year.
Johnny’s Seeds Since 1972, Johnny’s has set the standard for high seed quality, meeting or exceeding federal minimum requirements for germination rates, pathogen testing, and traceability, with many organic seed varieties for sale. Johnny’s carries a large selection of gardening and farming tools, from trowels to seed planters, row cover, shade cloth, soil inoculants and organic fertilizers.
Solana Center for Environmental Innovation Their program areas are broad in scope, addressing both regional and national issues, and include environmental education, pollution prevention, forest preservation, sustainable living, renewable technologies, and recycled product procurement. Home compost bins are available Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9am to 4pm.
California Rare Fruit Growers, North County Chapter shares information about the propagation and growing of common and rare varieties of fruit.
Soil, Plant, and Water Testing
The key to any soil test is collecting a good representative sample and having a company that will provide interpretation of the test results. And of course, soil testing will only help detect fertility or salinity/toxicity problems. It does not help with problems caused by soil disease, nematodes, poor drainage, etc. For annual plantings like vegetables and flowers, we suggest a good organic pre-planting fertilizer when the soil is worked along with some compost and a little bit of organic nitrogen fertilizer periodically. If soil drainage is poor, grow in raised beds or large containers.
San Diego Agricultural Laboratory provides soil, leaf tissue, and water testing services as well as crop consulting, site planning, and farm management planning services to growers and gardeners in San Diego, Riverside, and Orange Counties.
Their team of certified crop advisors and pest control advisors has the knowledge and hands-on experience to help you succeed in your agricultural operation, whether you have one tree or one thousand trees.
Wallace Labs has many years of experience in assisting farmers, professional landscaping companies, and homeowners to produce better gardens and improve landscapes by analyzing soils, plant tissues, and water.
Wallace Laboratories’ agronomic soil analysis not only includes pH, salinity, the concentration of soluble salts, and sodium, but also all 14 essential nutrients and over a dozen toxic metals including arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury at no extra cost.
Recommendations and interpretations are also provided in the report. Plant Tissues are analyzed to optimize the growing conditions and to fine-tune your landscaping site.
Homegrown Vegetable and Land Exchange
Backyard Produce Project One of the biggest barriers to growing food in the city is access to land – despite the fact that many yards, lawns, and backyards have plenty of room to spare. The Backyard Produce Project links people with unused yard space with those looking for a place to grow food.
SharedEarth’s mission is to build a broad and trusting community of landowners and gardeners that yields the efficient use of land and a greener planet. The program was born out of the organizer’s own experience finding a gardener online. As they searched around, they found others who were connecting in the same way. They built SharedEarth to facilitate this process and create a national land and gardener match-making service.
Composting Resources in San Diego County
for a monthly subscription, members have access to composting resources and materials.
137 N. El Camino Real, Encinitas, CA 92024
(760) 436-7986 ex. 700
Buckets & tools
5180 Convoy @ Hwy. 52, San Diego, 92111
Free for City of SD Residents
3110 Euclid Ave., San Diego 92105
3210 Oceanside Blvd., Oceanside, 92056
302 Hollister Street, San Diego, California 92154
12275 Hwy 67, Lakeside, 92040
16111 Old Milky Way, Escondido, CA 92027
HOT TIPS for FREE MULCH
The best way to get free, fresh, natural wood chips is by flagging down a local tree-trimmer when they’re working in your neighborhood. Just ask them to drop them in your driveway at the end of the day. Most are happy to do this because it saves them the time and fuel to drive to the landfill and the cost of dumping. You get double carbon points!
The second best way is to use the free app ChipDrop. They work with many arborists to get you what you need!
FAQ: Veggie Gardening in San Diego
When should I get started on my garden?
The best time to start a garden is ten years ago. The next best time is today!
Living in Southern California affords us the ability to grow food year-round, though most crops are seasonal (cool season or warm season) and what grows best at any given time of year changes with the seasons. What is initially planted will be appropriate for the season, though crop selection will change throughout the year.
The key to gardening success is the development of rich, living soil — not something that can be bought, but more of a reward for persistence. The more and longer you actively garden, the better your soil becomes. As your soil activates with life, your plants become healthier and more resilient to pests and disease, with deeper roots that help the plant withstand environmental conditions such as heat and drought.
Does a veggie garden use more water than a lawn?
The “crop” with the largest area under cultivation in the U.S. is lawns. Maybe we could use some of that to grow food?
Vegetables do not need more water than grass. Grass takes between 30 and 50 inches of water per year, depending on the type. Vegetables can use about the same amount.
However, if you install timed drip irrigation, irrigate strategically, and work to develop rich, living soil (we recommend all three), you will greatly reduce your water usage while growing food to feed your family.
Where can I put a garden?
Almost anywhere …containers, raised beds, large plots… wherever you have space!
The two most important things your garden needs are ample direct sunlight — 10 to 12 hours in the summer and 6 to 8 hours in the winter — and access to water.
Apartment dwellers can start with container gardening on a patio or deck. Many homeowners can find additional sunny space for growing their own food. If you need help siting your garden, check out our Informational Links.
Why should I grow my own food?
There is nothing better than the taste of fresh, flavorful food grown locally, and nothing is more local than your yard.
- Gardening is a fun, shared activity for your family, friends, and community.
- There’s no better way to get kids to eat veggies than to have them help grow veggies.
- Gardening provides ample opportunity to enjoy and learn about nature, healthy food, and how good fresh produce tastes.
- Creating your own garden is a great low-cost outdoor activity that helps you reduce your carbon footprint!