- Author: Toni Greer
During a recent weekend in San Francisco with my husband, Pat, we went exploring at The Exploratium on Pier 15. I was delighted to see and experience the various galleries. However, my favorite was the East Gallery-LIVING SYSTEMS with its Microscope Imaging Station.
Behind the note on the window in the picture were various plants at different growth stages, microscopes and necessary research tools. The botanicals were being used for propagation and cell structure research during various conditions and soil types.
Once I pulled myself from the window I was met with a “slice of a Douglas Fir” which is several hundred years old. As I saw its enormous lacy root structure and rings it made me appreciate this “once-living organism” (as it is called). I just saw beauty. Have I told you of my love affair with trees?
The curator's hope is that it creates an appreciation of the living world and the many ways that it can be explored.
For me, it created awe and wonder of what is growing around us. I truly enjoyed this East Gallery the most but found the Central Gallery a close second. The Exploratium should be visited by everyone, no matter your age or interests!
- Author: Riva Flexer
So I went to the Pacific Orchid Exposition. And I did NOT purchase ANY orchids. Believe me, it took considerable willpower. Oh, I've tried to keep my lovely plants from Raley's alive after they have finished flowering, but my success has been spotty, and who can resist those gorgeous sprays of exotic blooms by the checkout cashier? When my friend invited all and sundry to come along, I was the only person who took her up on the offer. I had a blast.
Orchid aficionados were everywhere, oohing and ahhing over the club displays and photographing blooms in the first part of the Fort Mason Hall. For a neophyte such as myself, it was positively overwhelming. And that is where I did the smartest thing I could have done – I decided to purchase no plants this time around. Instead, I wandered through the sales portion of the big hall, reading the labels and picking my friend's brain. I did purchase, however posters, gift notecards, and, perhaps most importantly, a book for beginners about orchids.
The overwhelming aspect about Orchidaceae is the sheer number of varieties, over 24000 ... Ideally, one starts off with a variety that will thrive in one's environment without having to make too many changes. Orchids belong to specific families (genera) , all of which require specific environments and culture (humidity, water, light, food of varying amounts). I've been warned to keep those labels! It's the easiest way to remember what you have.
My current flowering indoor orchid is a phalaneopsis, broad, fleshy oval leaves and a single flower spike that has been providing beauty since September 2013. It's currently in a location with considerable indirect light and humidity from the kitchen sink. My cymbidiums are outside, and two actually flowered this winter. But I know I can do better. The key will be to help them flower again, and that will require research. Hence the book…
My goal is to learn about those families, determine which ones will grow in my house with relative ease, and then find them at next year's show. It's a challenging project, and I'm going to enjoy it!
- Author: Jennifer Baumbach
A bit of color for such a grey day in Solano County. I found a few flowers in bloom at my house-inside and out. Sorry, a few photos are fuzzy as they were taken on my iPhone with an unsteady hand.
- Author: Patricia Brantley
I've always wanted one of these. Even before I became a Master Gardener my eyes would become green with envy towards anyone who was lucky to own one. I just think they're intriguing. Platycerium is the genus and is only one of the 18 species in the Polypod family, Polypodiaceae (pronunciation can be found here http://goo.gl/heo3pd ). A quick look on EBay will show you that these go for high bucks. Some folks have taken to selling the spores since ferns reproduce by spore, for as little as half a sawbuck (pun intended) or as much as $2500 for fully grown and mounted large ferns. Even in the big box construction stores I've seen them ranging from $45 and up, but $45 is usually what I find. So the other day when I was making a grocery run I was shocked to spy one in a 6” pot outside the store. At first I couldn't believe it, and since it was one of the pricier grocery stores I figured I might be able to get it for 19.99 but I was even more shocked that it was only $6.99! So, I left behind the imported goat cheese and bought my long desired fern.
After getting it home and doing my bit of research I've found that it is improperly planted. Apparently these plants are actually epiphytes. You know like those little air plants you see hanging on driftwood here. They are non-parasitic plants that grow on trees or other plants and get their moisture from the air. I will need to “transplant” my new Staghorn Netherlands to at the minimum a much looser draining soil and hopefully one day be able to display it on the wall. Also, it's listed on the UCANR website list of “safe” plants found here, http://goo.gl/bBsoKc , so I don't have to worry so much about my 4-pawed menagerie. Please note the warning on “safe” plants still; we don't want anyone thinking they can have staghorn salad.
- Author: Esther E Blanco
Don't have room for a compost bin in your backyard? Don't fret – You can still have your green waste and food waste turned into compost! Most cities now offer the three-bin system: Green for Yard Waste and Food Waste, Blue for Recycling, and Gray for everything that ends up in the landfill. Once something is buried in a landfill, it stays there forever. We lose precious resources that could have been reused. In addition, all organic waste (or green /yard waste) breaks down in the landfill to create methane gas. Methane gas better known as Green House Gas (GHG) is 21 times more toxic to the environment than Carbon Monoxide. To help reduce the amount of methane gas going into the environment, we need to help eliminate green waste from going into the landfills. That's why composting is so important, it helps reduce the amount of GHG in the atmosphere, which help reduce the effects of climate change (or Global Warming).
The Green Bin is typically call Yard Waste” by most folks but did you know that in Fairfield, you can put all food waste in your Green Bin? Items you can put in your Green Bin include but are not limited to: cooked and uncooked fruits and vegetables scraps, egg shells, coffee grounds, tea bags, baked goods like crackers and bread, dairy items such as moldy cheese, meat, fish, bones, and that greasy pizza box! Please NO plastic or plastic bags in the Green Bin. In order to keep your Green Bin clean, wrap up any food waste in newsprint (think sales ads or junk mail), or put the food waste inside an empty carton or box. As long as all the items placed in the Green Bin are organic and bio-degrade, they can be processed into compost. Please note, you would never put dairy, meat or bones in a backyard compost bin. The process used at landfills to create compost is different from a backyard compost pile.
I keep my kitchen food scrap in a Recycling Bucket, that I keep under my kitchen sink. I rinse it out when I empty it, and I wash it with hot soapy water every few weeks. You can sprinkle baking soda to help keep it fresh, too. I also rinse out the Green Bin every few weeks to keep it clean. Another trick my friend shared with me, is that she freezes meat scraps and other items during the week, and then place them in the cart the night before their trash and recycling is picked up.
Not every city allows all food waste, but most do allow fruits and vegetable scraps to be places in the Green Cart. If you are not sure what you can put in your Green Bin, contact your local recycling coordinator. The City of Fairfield has a Recycling Hotline at 428-7489 for questions regarding food scrap recycling. For other great resources for recycling go to the City of Fairfield's Website at www.fairfield.ca.gov – Keyword – Recycling. http://www.fairfield.ca.gov/gov/depts/pw/utility/recycling/info_resources.asp.