Combating Smoke damage in Bay Area gardens

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Dear Bay Area gardeners,

The devastating fires in the North Bay have caused destruction in so many communities. The smoke is also starting to show damage in gardens downwind from the fires. This is a problem not just because of the potential loss of beloved plants (which pales in comparison to the losses in fire zones), but established plantings throughout the Bay Area are a key component to recovery. Healthy plants take in excess carbon dioxide and release oxygen. They also cleanse particulates and chemicals from the air, which helps to stabilize and repair our environment more quickly.

What can you do?

    • Ensure your plants are well but not over-watered so their leaves do not dry out. They should have enough moisture to expel pollutants through their pores.
    • Once each week in the morning and until the smoke is gone, clean particulates off leaves with jets of water, both top, and underside.
    • Ensure your plants have a layer of mulch and/or cover crops to create a barrier from drifting chemical particulates.
    • Boost your plant’s immune systems with 0-10-10 organic fertilizers like Ultra Bloom and Tappin’ Roots.
    • Seed bare areas with cover crops, lawn alternatives or wildflowers. This will help with erosion control and decrease chemical runoff. A quick layer of cleansing vegetation will provide food for stressed beneficial insects, once cool weather and rains begin.
    • For especially sensitive plants, protect them with a frost barrier to prevent particulates from clogging pores
    • Provide a water source for wildlife in your garden; they’re also experiencing smoke stress.
    • Wash garden picked vegetables and fruit with a weak vinegar and water solution before consuming. If you still smell smoke after washing, do not eat them, compost them!

Smoke can also drift indoors and affect our indoor plants. You can follow most of the steps above for house and office plants. Download this free handout for the best air-cleaning indoor plants to improve your home’s air quality.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to all of the families and businesses affected by the horrific fires.

Thanks for choosing to garden with us.

Dave Stoner, President

Sloat Garden Center

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