- Author: Carmen Kappos
Gardens are many things to people: sources of food, entertainment, places of peace, solace, beauty and purpose. To many of the people forced to live at Manzanar Internment camp during WW2, gardens there were all those things. The Japanese Americans and Japanese-born people who were made to spend many years there created rock gardens, victory gardens, gardens in front of barracks, a rose garden, a three acre community park and more. There was even a research project growing guayule plants as an alternative source of rubber needed during the war.
Usually each April, an annual pilgrimage is held at Manzanar National Historic Site. Sadly, this spring it cannot be held due to the threat from the Covid-19 pandemic. In this time of necessary physical distancing and stress due to the virus we can look to history and the gardens that helped many people to persevere under extreme duress. Online, the park service has a rich resource of information about that time in our history.
When possible, I urge you to visit the park. Some of the gardens have been excavated of the silt and sand covering the area over the years. Now, you can see the outlines and rock placement of some of these exceptional gardens. Many people, including relatives of people who were interred there, have donated their time to work on stabilizing the beauty of the gardens. You can walk around the community park with its' strolling areas, 2 small lakes, bridges, symbolic turtle and crane rocks, and a pavilion. Imagine the sound of the waterfall and the many plants; iris, roses, and reeds.
In other locations in the park there are rock gardens built for viewing, as people stood in line 3 times a day for meals. Many gardens had ponds and there was a small stream, the stream bed especially created for the sound the flowing water would make. These gardens are a voice from the past about how important garden spaces can be. There were many beautiful gardens that perhaps helped to cheer the soul and support resilience, or maybe make laughter a little easier.
Get inspired by the gardens that once helped many people survive a very trying time in their lives. Research has shown that gardening can reduce stress. Rocks placed in beautiful ways, and plants nurtured to create a place apart, or become part of a meal; the work of gardening itself can help in stressful times. Gardens can help us rebound, whether it's a veggie patch, a favorite house plant or your own rock garden.
Manzanar National Historic Site : www.nps.gov/manz
Manzanar Visitor Center and Block 14 Exhibits Closed Until Further Notice
Following the guidance from the White House and the CDC, Manzanar National Historic Site Visitor Center and Block 14 exhibits are temporarily closed in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. The grounds and parking lots remain open sunrise to sunset. Maintain social distancing./h3>
- Author: Dustin Blakey
Sure our area is hot and dry for much of the year, but the silver lining is that we have very few fungal diseases to deal with in the garden. I swear in Arkansas you cold hear fungi growing on tomatoes from the heat and humidity. (And on roses, too, but that's a different topic.)
While fungi aren't a big deal here, we do have some serious issues with three viral diseases on tomatoes:
- Tobacco Mosiac Virus
- Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus
- Beet Curly Top Virus
Since planting season is here, I thought this would be a great time to cover these diseases. I recorded a lecture on the topic. It's a slide show, but it has useful information for you tomato lovers.
Although these diseases happen throughout California, this is aimed at gardeners in Inyo and Mono counties and reflects what we see in our area. The symptoms and prominence of each may be different elsewhere.
Hopefully you find it useful. (It's posted on our Facebook page as well.)
For more information on tomato diseases, check out this page at UC IPM
- Author: Sheri Pueblo
New Zealand is known to be a gorgeous destination to experience uncrowded beautiful coastlines and rugged mountains which bring various climate zones and all 4 seasonal changes. Hamilton is 1½ hours south of Auckland, in a temperate area of warm summers, cool wet winters and occasional frosts, Zone 9 hardiness -4°C (30°F) - 29°C (85°F). The mighty Waikato River flows next to Hamilton Gardens with walking and bike paths that meander along the area. These beautiful, free public gardens are definitely worth a stop-over for at least a couple hours to explore. It includes many separate themed garden areas, a visitor center, café, performance areas and clean restrooms. The optional self-guided tour pamphlet costs $2 NZ which goes to support the gardens that are funded by the community and thousands of volunteer hours.
Historically the gardens were a city dump back in the 1960's, a sand quarry, go-cart track and long before European settlement, this was the home to a Maori chief Haanui and the indigenous people of the region. The site has been beautifully shaped into award-winning gardens and into the most popular attraction of the North Island's Waikato district, seeing over a million visitors per year. “Our collection of gardens don't just address the context, meaning and history of gardens, they also reflect the evolution of civilization”.
The Paradise Garden collection represents structured enclosed garden design traditions such as a Chinese Scholars' Garden, Japanese Garden of Contemplation, Modernist Garden, and my favorites were the English Flower, Indian Char Bagh, and Italian Renaissance Gardens.
The Productive Garden Collection highlights relationships of people and plants. It honors local Maori culture with Te Parapara Garden that features plantings of their staple food Kumara (sweet potato) and traditional elevated food and tool storage houses (Pataka). Kumara rot in wet soils so the mounds improve drainage, the riverbank sandy soil is ideal. I've grown sweet potatoes in Hammil Valley, placing starts in shallow trenches and drip irrigation. My challenges are critters eating the end of the vines and getting plants shipped to California. The Maori stored tubers in underground pits for the next year's planting.
I loved the large Herb garden, featuring Medicinal, Pot Pourri, and Culinary sections full of different plants. I felt inspired by all the useful means nature and herbs have to offer and couldn't keep myself from rubbing and smelling various plant leaves and flowers.
The Fantasy Garden Collection represents “different genres of garden fantasy each with a direct relationship to one of the arts”. A recently opened Surrealist garden featured moving parts of topiary pieces and distortions of scale. The (Katherine) Mansfield Garden honors this N.Z.'s writer who is credited with inventing modern New Zealand literature and has features from her book “The Garden Party”.
There are also outer Tropical, Rose, and Victorian Gardens and new theme gardens in development.
My recent visit was the end of summer for the Southern Hemisphere during an unusually hot and dry summer drought for the North Island, but the Gardens were still beautiful and worthwhile. I certainly plan to return in a Spring season to experience the different blooms and plant vigor.
- Author: Susan Flaherty
Teepee Rolls are a new movement to make growing and cooking with mushrooms a fun experience!
I brought one home from Wisconsin's PBS Garden Expo this winter just to see if it really worked. I thought it might be a great project to do with kids in the future. (At the time toilet paper was easily accessible.)
Teepee rolls are made by soaking a roll of fresh, undyed, scent-free toilet paper in water and stuffing the center of the roll with mushroom spawn. The inoculated roll is then placed in a plastic bag and allowed to grow, thus beginning the conversion of paper to energy. Fresh air, combined with humidity is all that is needed to produce a tasty crop.
The roll is placed in an area that receives natural or artificial light, and maintained at temperature of 60-80°F. After a bit of experimenting I found that keeping the bag half closed and misting the inside twice a day to maintain humidity, worked best. The climate in the Owens Valley is dry and not known for growing mushrooms!
The mushroom babies (or pins) start as a cluster of what really does look like sewing pins, hence the name. As they grow, watch they don't get too dry. You will know if they take on a leathery and pale appearance or fail to develop fully.
Harvest the mushrooms at their base when the caps are the size of a 50 cent piece. Generally the stems of oyster mushrooms are not included in food preparation. I added my mushrooms to a marinara sauce and they were delicious.
After harvest, it is possible to initiate another flush or two, from the same teepee roll. This was a fun experiment and generated a lot of conversation.
You may order your supplies and/or the mushroom spawn from fieldforest.net or call (800)792-6220.* Unfortunately, you must provide the toilet paper.
*No endorsement implied. Link provided as a courtesy.
- Author: Jan Rhoades
It seems that everyone loves bees and thinks of them first thing when the topic is pollination and beneficial insects. Then, when the topic turns to wasps (and Yellowjackets) everyone changes their tune. To most people, wasps are mean, stinging attackers that can terrorize summer picnics. All of this is true, to a certain extent. That said, there is much more to know about wonderful wasps!
To start with, Aculeate wasps (those with stingers) came first. Bees are a branch of wasps that evolved to feed on pollen and nectar rather than caterpillars or flies. This transition was probably fairly smooth since many wasps visit flowers for nectar and prey items.
You are probably familiar with the paper wasps you find nesting under the eaves of your home. In addition, there are many other kinds of wasps. Some are specialists in the types of insect pests that they target, such as caterpillars or beetles. So if you want balance in your garden ecosystem and natural pest control, don't forget that wasps play a part. Here are some identifying factors and interesting facts:
Yellowjackets are 1⁄2 to 1 inch long with jagged bright yellow and black stripes. Their “waists” are barely visible. Unlike other common wasps, yellowjackets scavenge on human food. They nest in holes in the ground, inside wall cavities, or in hanging nests totally enclosed in gray paper with a single entrance. The western yellowjacket usually nests in the ground using an abandoned burrow, but occasionally nests in crawlspaces. Underground, the nest is a papery structure that provides a home and breeding area for the queen and contains cells where young are raised. Yellowjackets forage for a broad range of foods, but they often come into conflict with humans when they are attracted to meat, carbonated beverages, juices, desserts, deceased animals, and other food items.
Paper wasps have long slender waists, build paper nests with many open cells and are rarely aggressive. Paper wasps have long hind legs and a distinct constriction of the body between the thorax and abdomen. They are common in urban and suburban areas where they can build their papery nests under eaves of structures or in other protected locations. The benefits of wasps usually outweigh potential for harm unless a nest is in a high traffic area.
Mud daubers are dark-colored and thread-waisted. They build small, hard mud nests and rarely sting.
Paper wasps and yellowjackets are beneficial insects. They feed on caterpillars and other insects that could damage crops or ornamental plants in your garden. They also feed on house fly larvae.
Paper wasps aren't usually considered important pollinators, as they don't have pollen baskets or body hair that helps transport much pollen from plant to plant. For plants that require cross-pollination, like squash or melons, wasps aren't helpful. But for the many garden crops that largely self-pollinate, such as beans and tomatoes, wasps are a big help. The flowers of these plants still require “tripping,” a process that occurs when the stigma and anthers of a self-fertile flower make contact with each other due to a physical force from vibration (like wind) or, more efficiently, when an insect visits the flower. The tripping of bean flowers by visiting insects like wasps can increase bean yields .
As carnivores, wasps are not dependent on nectar like honeybees, but they do appear to enjoy a sweet drink. In fact, sophisticated “extrafloral nectaries” have evolved in some plants that encourage wasp visitation. These nectaries, commonly located on leaf petioles or near where they attach to plant stems, produce nectar that attracts wasps to protect the plant from pests. Considering that wasps are one of the most efficient predators of caterpillars in the garden, it is understandable that some plants have evolved to keep them around.
You might want to plant fava beans and cowpeas in your garden as they produce these extrafloral nectaries. Both of these plants attract not only wasps, but other beneficials as well, such as lady beetles and honeybees. Studies have shown that intercropping cowpeas with other crops reduces insect damage and is an effective integrated pest management (IPM) strategy.
This is the time of the year that wasps are re-emerging from winter hibernation and scouting for new nest sites. Unlike honeybees which produce stores of honey that see the entire colony through winter, it's only fertilized paper-wasp queens that live until the next year. These queens seek winter shelter in protected sites (such as your home), and then emerge in spring to find nest sites. If you find a wasp crawling inside your home this time of year, it is most likely a confused queen trying to find a way out. Rather than squashing her, help her find her way out, as they rarely sting without a nest to defend.
This is also the time of year that you can help wasps choose appropriate nesting sites. Their favorite nest sites will be under the eaves of your home, so consider leaving them there if not in a high traffic area. Paper wasps usually only sting to guard their nest or if they feel threatened by a human that is swatting madly at them, so give them room to feel safe. If you do not like the location that a wasp queen has chosen to begin building her nest, simply knock it down while the nest is small and new, without any defenders to protect it… she'll likely find another building site.
Most people don't want to have wasps living alongside them, but wasps are so beneficial for their pest control capabilities that, if you can possibly leave the nest alone, it is advisable to do so. If you discover a nest that needs to be removed, UC IPM has information about thier control. See this webpage for more information. http://ipm.ucanr.edu/PMG/PESTNOTES/pn7450.html
Wasps spend their summers seeking out aphids, flies, caterpillars and other bugs - many of them pests - to feed to their larvae. Hundreds, or even thousands, of larvae can be produced each year in a paper wasp hive, so they get through a lot of bugs!
The best way to avoid being stung is to treat wasps with respect. Move calmly and deliberately, give them space to go about their business, and they will generally ignore you. If you are stung and have an extreme reaction get to the ER fast.