- Author: Jenni Dodini
I don't know if the number of aphids on this stem can be adequately appreciated by this picture, but trust me, it seemed like thousands. What was baffling to me was why it was only this one bush when there are several there for the bug feast. So I was going to write about the aphids as a little refresher (for me mostly) and out I went to take a few pictures to see if there would be one good one to attach. Well, my grandson Tyler was out there on lizard patrol and noticed that I was there with the iPad trying to take a picture. The iPad is a very strong attractor of 3 year olds. He could not figure out what was going on and why I was talking to the bush.
AHA!!!! A TEACHABLE MOMENT!!!! YEA!!!
Luckily, there was also a lady bug there, feasting. No ants yet though. We talked about what the aphids were doing there and also why the lady bugs are friends of ours and the roses. (Thank goodness he did not ask why they were not on the rose bush right next to this one.) He was fascinated by the whole thing. I may have a potential gardener or entomologist on my hands.
Anyway, the very next day, he came in and said, "Gramma, we need to go check the roses."
- Author: Cheryl A Potts
Two and a half years ago I wrote a blog regarding Mark's Growing Center, a program which is designed to provide individuals with developmental disabilities community access, the learning of life skills and employment. One of the aspects of that program is the preparation, planting , maintaining, harvesting, and selling of vegetables and herbs, grown without pesticides, to local restaurants. The large garden providing these delectable eatables is found on Leisure Town Road (the part found behind Camping World) in front of a home called Hope House. Also. participating in the Mark's Growing Center project are individuals that live in a home in more urban Vacaville called Mustard Seed. A group of volunteers assist individuals work the garden and take the veggies to town to be bought by some of Vacaville's finest eateries.
The program is still in existence, but has grown little.
We have two volunteers (each of whom are Master Gardeners) who assist individuals plant, weed, water, pick, weigh, box, and sell. We would love to have more participation. I personally only spend about one hour per week at the garden, added to the time it takes me to make strawberry jam one time per year from the berries grown in the garden, then which is later sold. Anyone having some time to give would be so welcome to come out and give us a hand.
We have two young men with special needs who are on our regular crew. We would love to have more. If you know of someone who would like to work outside and experience the satisfaction of seeing his or her hard work turn into beautiful vegetables, please let us know.
We use a lot of good compost donated from the City of Vacaville. We use plants donated by Color Spot. The water is donated. If you have any extra seeds, plants, money, and/or time, please contact me and I will help you get involved in a very wonderful, worthwhile, and rewarding program.
Funds raised through this project are used for activities and trips for the homes' residents.
Just a quick note of interest. Those vegetables that are not quite up to restaurant quality are shared by the garden's participants as well as The Father's Storehouse (free food distribution program), and Opportunity House (Vacaville's homeless shelter).
- Author: Mike Gunther
Nature dictates it
maintaining with reduction
- Author: Betty Homer
For those of you who have been following this blog for awhile, you know each year I blog on the Urban Farm Tours hosted by Institute of Urban Homesteading (the “Institute”) located in Oakland, California (here are links to some of my prior blog posts-- http://ucanr.edu/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=15090; http://ucanr.edu/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=15441; http://www.ucanr.org/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=14800;
http://ucanr.edu/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=10709). The Urban Farm Tours is a benefit for the Institute whose primary mission is to educate and teach the public, homesteading and otherwise lost but once treasured skills, by offering over 75 classes and events each year to the public, on a sliding-scale basis without the assistance of outside funding or grants.
The dates for the 2015 tour dates have been announced, and the locations are scattered throughout the Bay Area, mostly concentrated in the East Bay.
Tour Dates (Saturdays)
*June 6 (9 am - 3pm) in Walnut Creek and Concord
*June 13 (10 am - 4 pm) in East and West Oakland
*September 19 in Hayward (probably about the same time as above). More details to follow; please check back periodically at http://iuhoakland.com for updates.
General Overview of East Bay Tours
June 6, 9 am – 3 pm in Walnut Creek and Concord
The anticipated sites will feature examples of what you can do with a smaller suburban plot (which are always interesting to me, as working with a small space requires great ingenuity) to a sprawling permaculture paradise. All sites will feature pollinator habitat, water-wise gardening, greywater and rainwater catchment, and food production in the form of edible landscaping, bees and chickens, intergenerational gardening, and more.
You can choose to purchase tickets on-line either in advance with various goodies attached (see http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/1475038), or you can pay $5.00 per person as you go, upon arrival at your chosen site(s). You should make plans to provide for your own transportation, although there may be limited carpooling available (once again, please contact the Institute directly). For more specific information, please see http://www.iuhoakland.com/uft2015wc.pdf
June 13, 10 am-4 pm in East & West Oakland
At these sites, from extra small to large, expect to see and get ideas on how people are incorporating into their urban plots, fruit and vegetable gardens, pollinator habitat, miniature orchards, chickens, bees, goats, vertical gardening (for greater productivity), greywater and rainwater catchment, and water-wise irrigation systems.
You can choose to purchase tickets either in advance with various goodies attached (see http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/1475063), or you can pay $5.00 per person as you go, upon arrival at your chosen site(s). You should make plans to provide for your own transportation, although there may be limited carpooling available (once again, please contact the Institute directly). For more specific information, please see For more specific information, please see http://www.iuhoakland.com/uft2015oak.pdf
The Institute feels strongly that no one be turned away for a lack of funds. Also, there are work-trade arrangements to off-set the price of the tickets. For more information, please see http://iuhoakland.com.
- Author: Betsy Buxton
Well, the vines and such have been trimmed off the fence that was supposed to be replaced 2 weeks ago and the cut vines look ragged and dejected unlike their full beauty earlier. The Clematis that was on the fence is lying in a sad pile since I refused to cut that down – I waited too long for it to take flight up the fence trellis and give me blooms in the later winter/early spring! Nuts to that!
I should be out removing the scarlet pimpernel that thrives in the rocky area in the front yard but my knees are suggesting a later time. No irrigation to power the growth, but the wind does send water there from the lawn. An idea: maybe if I decide to grow the pimpernel there it will die! Everything else dies in that corner; perhaps I should try cultivating it.
The clematis awaiting planting when the fence is replaced are blooming extremely well: 1 plant has 14 flowers bursting out in full glory and is only 1-foot high. Others are content to send out 3 and 4 flowers at once – less energy consumption in the long run and a longer bloom season for me.
Out near the gazebo, the snowball bush, Viburnum opulus, is adorned with so many “snowballs” that half the gazebo is missing behind the small clouds of white. When I look at it in bloom I remember the plant my mother had at her home in Santa Rosa. She planted it and a strawberry guava, Psidium cattleianum or P.littorale longipes, along her fence when I was a teen-ager. She had high hopes for those 2 plants and envisioned large shrubs with lots of interest in that area. Years went by – lots of years – and no color on those big shrubs! She finally mentioned to her neighbor that she was taking them out and why; “Oh no” was his reply. It seems that the mulberry tree in the middle of the yard was shading HER side of the bushes and HIS side had wonderful, huge snowballs and wonderful colorful blooms on the guava. Mom has been gone now for 5 years and hadn't lived in that house for the past 30 but the memories linger on.
I think I'll bundle up and go outside and just let the memories surround me. You see, my mother was my main influence in going back to school and getting my degree in ornamental horticulture; she also was the driving force for me entering the Master Gardener Program and sticking with it. I can still hear her: “Your cousin is a Master Gardener in Minnesota, you should do it here!” Competition between sister-in-laws can lead to good things.