- Author: Jenni Dodini
The current project that is ongoing in gazebo area is a seating area that is completely shaded no matter the time of day all summer long. Steve has undertaken all the hard work, and my task so far has been research. MANNNNN..... What a task!
I have looked online at my favorite sites: GardeningKnowHow, MissouriBotanicalGarden, and Sunset. I have also poured through The Sunset Western Garden Book trying to make an informed decision on what will go into this area that will provide a colorful and inviting atmosphere.
First, I made a list from looking at all the pretty pictures. Then I began looking up each plant. The list grew shorter and longer as some plants were added and others deleted. The easy part was in eliminating plants that will simply die if it gets too hot, are to thirsty, and ones that are not in our growing area. The hard part was containing myself when I saw another pretty plant on the page. (It was kind of like the dog in the movie "Up":-)
So far, I have looked up a couple plants more than once, so that must mean I need to really strongly consider incorporating them into the landscaping. Some I can just move over there from another shady place in the yard. I did come home with a couple plants from the plant exchange, but there now needs to be companion plants for them. And some flowering plants. And plants that the creatures won't enjoy tasting. And plants that will make you want to go over and touch. And plants that are a little unique. And then a bit of garden art. And then....
And now you have a clear definition of a "Gardening Conundrum".
- Author: Kathy Low
You've probably heard of the Mediterranean fruit fly (Ceratitis capitata) quarantine in a large section of Solano County. The quarantine applies not only to commercial growers, but to home gardeners as well. To find out if you live in the quarantine zone, check the map at https://admin.solanocounty.com:4433/depts/agriculture/quarantine.asp.
The Mediterranean fruit fly, or Medfly is a very destructive pest because its larvae tunnels into, feeds upon and develops in the pulp of many fruits and vegetables. The Medfly multiplies rapidly and tolerates cooler weather better than other fruit flies. This makes the Medfly the top economically disastrous fruit fly.
According to a report on the Agriculture Commissioner's website, “including farm production and locally sourced, value-added food processing, agriculture's combined economic contribution to the Solano County economy was $617.6 million.” So it's important for home gardeners to comply with the quarantine to help protect Solano's economy.
Originating in sub-Suharan Africa, Medfly infestations are costly to area agriculture and are expensive to eradicate. The Medfly may have been transported on fruit illegal sent to an individual in the county. So it's imperative that homeowners do not transport fresh fruit or vegetables outside the quarantine zone to help stop the spread of this invasive pest. More details about the Medfly can be found at http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/fruit/mediterranean_fruit_fly.htm.
If you live in the quarantine zone, it's important not to transport any fresh fruits or vegetables from your garden off your property, since they may potentially have been infested. The California Department of Food and Agriculture states the fruits and vegetables should be eaten on-site, or processed (juiced, frozen, dehydrated, cooked, made into jam) on site. Any unconsumed or unprocessed fruits and vegetables should not be discarded in your green waste bin. Instead, they should be double bagged in plastic bags, sealed, and discarded in your trash bin.
Right now persimmons are ripening and nearing harvest in Solano County. Again, if you live in the quarantine zone, it's important not to transport them off your property. If you have too many to eat fresh, you can process them at home. The two most common methods of preserving them are by dehydration, and by freezing them. Instructions on how to dry and/or freeze them can be found on the National Center for Home Food Preservation website at http://nchfp.uga.edu/index.html. You can also make jam out of them. But beware that many jam recipes on the Web are not “safe” recipes. According to Diane Metz, Nutrition Advisor Emeritus, pectin company jam recipes are considered safe. So below are links to the MCP and Pomona's pectin persimmon jam recipes. http://www.pomonapectin.com/recipes/persimmon-jam/http://www.kraftrecipes.com/recipes/mcp-persimmon-freezer-jam-63386.aspx
Questions about safe home food preservation can be sent to Diane Metz at
DLMetz@ucdavis.edu. If you don't have email, call Katie Churchill at (530) 666-8143 and ask that the message be sent to Diane Metz.
- Author: Martha White
The California Master Gardener program is under the guidance of the University of California's Agriculture and Natural Resources division (www.ucanr.edu). Throughout the training, emphasis is placed on teaching current best practices. We learn about Integrated Pest Management (www.ipm.ucanr.edu), and which are the beneficials- “good bugs,” and which are the pests- “bad bugs”. Most especially, we are taught to always consider the impact of any synthetic pesticides we may be considering to use on the space of earth we are responsible for, whether it is flower pots on a patio or an orchard containing several hundred fruit trees. Rachel Carson introduced many of these ecological concepts to the general population in her best selling book, Silent Spring, published in 1962. I'd like to tell you more about this amazing woman.
Rachel grew up on a large farm in Pennsylvania. Her nature-loving mom taught Rachel to recognize the various bird songs, and names of trees, insects, and wildflowers. Rachel often roamed their 65 acres of woods, fields, and orchards with her dog, Candy. One day when exploring, she found a small fossilized seashell. She wondered how something from the far-off ocean could have ended up in Pennsylvania. Her mother explained about how the earth had changed over the ages, and that Pennsylvania used to be covered by ocean waters. This began Rachel's fascination with the ocean.
Rachel loved to write stories, and frequently read her stories to her dog when they were playing outdoors. She was only 10 years old when her first published story appeared in St. Nicholas Magazine. She soon realized that she had a talent for telling stories that others were interested in hearing. During her junior year in college, Rachel took her first Biology course, and loved it! She said that she had finally found something that she could write about! She decided to major in Biology. When she graduated, the Depression made it difficult for everyone to find work, especially a young woman in a field that had very few women. Rachel got a job writing radio scripts on sea life. Her first book, Under the Sea was published at the same time that Pearl Harbor was bombed.
Rachel Carson worked as a biologist for 15 years, and was able to go places that very few women were allowed, performing jobs that very few women did. During this time, she wrote two more books about the web of life, the Sea Around Us and The Edge of the Sea.
Synthetic pesticides were developed during World War II to be sprayed on soldiers and their campsites in order to kill insects that carried and spread diseases. After the war, these pesticides were routinely being used in city parks, schools, beaches, and farms. In particular, DDT was great for getting rid of mosquitoes and flies, and other insects that damaged farmers' crops. The multimillion-dollar industrial chemical industry assured the government and the public that this process was absolutely safe. Rachel Carson spent four years, carefully researching and documenting her findings, about declining bird, fish, and insect populations where DDT was routinely being sprayed. She asked,”But what about people? What about the harm it is doing to people?” No one had ever tried to take a stand against these big businesses, or the federal agencies that approved the use of these chemicals. Silent Spring first appeared in The New Yorker as advance excerpts, before being published in 1962 by Houghton-Mifflin. Rachel said she came up with the title as she imagined all the birdsongs of spring would be silenced if DDT remained in use.
The chemical industry spent a quarter of a million dollars to discredit Rachel's research and to malign her character, saying she was just a “bird and bunny lover”, a spinster who was “overwrought about genetics.”
Silent Spring's message caught the attention of President John F. Kennedy, who launched federal and state investigations into Rachel's claims. But Rachel had carefully done her research and documentation. References and footnotes at the end of Silent Spring take up 54 pages! She testified before several federal committees, and before the U.S. Congress, asking for new policies to protect the environment. She spoke clearly, and in language that was understood by the general public. Her speech helped to convince Congress to ban the use of DDT in our nation.
Rachel Carson's book, Silent Spring, helped to spark the environmental movement that eventually led to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency. Sadly, Rachel died from breast cancer just a year and a half after the publication of her book. In 1980, she was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. If Rachel Carson were alive today, I like to think that she would be surprised at the impact from her book. Many credit Rachel with beginning the ecology movement. I hope you and I can continue to reflect Rachel Carson's practice of considering carefully the interconnectedness of our actions, both in our gardens and in our world.
- Author: Sheila Clyatt
- Author: Karen Metz
My husband and I recently returned from a trip to the Galapagos Islands. The adventure was remarkable and fast paced. We are still mentally sorting out our experiences and memories. We treasure the opportunity we had to see so many different animals in their natural habitat. The most astounding thing to me was the fact that the animals were not afraid of us. Because of a lack of mammalian predators on the islands, we were able to wander among nursing sea lions and nesting booby and frigate birds without causing the animals any distress. The National Park rules do require we keep six feet away from the animals.
The naturalists took us by Zodiac, in groups of 12 to 16 to isolated beaches and islands. For the most part the islands we saw were arid. We were in the dry season and were usually visiting the leeward sides of the islands.
The main tree on many of the islands was Palo Santo, Bursera graveolen, also known as the Holy Tree. The branches have a wonderful scent when rubbed. The wood is burned as incense or turned into an essential oil. These trees are also found in Mexico, Central America, and South America. The trees were beautiful even in their leafless state, the white bark would catch the light at sunset and the whole tree would seem to glow. The leaves will return in the rainy season. The size of the tree varied from island to island and on some islands they were coated in a lichen or moss that the guides said acted as a sun protection.
We found Prickly Pear Cactus, Optunia on many islands. It has evolved into six endemic species in the Galapagos: Optunia echios, O. galapageia, O. helleri, O. insularis, O. axicola, and O. megasperma. It looks like the cactus we are familiar with, but stuck on top of a tree trunk. The tree trunk portion of the plant is taller on the islands that have giant Galapagos tortoises. The tortoises use them as a food source as do land iguanas, cactus finches, and mockingbirds.
Another plant we saw on several islands was the Poison Apple tree, Hippomane moncinella. Apparently all parts of the tree are poisonous to humans; the sap can cause skin irritation and ingestion of the apple like fruit can lead to death. The apples are a favorite food of the giant tortoises. This tree is native but not endemic.
The Lava Cactus, Brachycereus nesioticus, grows on lava flows and was one of the few plants we saw on Fernandina Island, the newest of the Galapagos Islands. Fernandina had its last eruption two weeks before we got there. The plant's colors really stand out against the forbidding, black, jumbled rocks. This plant is found only in the Galapagos and has extremely shallow roots.
On Isabela Island at Urbina Bay, we hiked inland on a plateau that had been uplifted from the sea bottom in 1953. There we encountered Galapagos Cotton, Gossypium darwinii. It is a relative of the Hibiscus and is the largest flower of any of the Galapagos endemic plants. The shrub can grow to three meters tall. Its seed splits open revealing fluffy cotton. Birds use this to line their nests.
On our last day in the islands we went to Punto Pitt on San Cristobal Island. We saw red footed boobies as well as a vivid red ground cover called Galapagos common carpet weed, Sesuvium portulocastrum. It is native but not endemic. It did remind me of a Persian carpet covering the windy bluff.
While our naturalists were encyclopedic regarding animal information, I found I had to ask about plant information. Although we were provided with check off mammal, invertebrate, reptile, and bird lists with common and scientific names, there were no plant lists. Once home I have used the Charles Darwin Foundation and the Galapagos Conservation Foundation websites to try and find scientific names and plant information.
Perhaps in another blog I can tell you about The Charles Darwin Research Station we visited. They are doing very interesting work and I found some interesting parallels to what we do. In the meantime, if you ever get a chance to go to the Galapagos, jump at it. You won't regret it.