- Author: Erich Warkentine
Every Saturday, volunteers from the Los Angeles Master Gardener program are available at The Huntington Ranch Garden in San Marino, California, to talk about sustainable gardening, to share gardening tips and to sample produce. On December 21, 2019, we had the privilege of meeting some dedicated volunteers who gave us a personal tour and some seed samples to take home!
The Huntington Ranch Project describes itself as:
...an urban agricultural garden project that explores and interprets optimal approaches to gardening in our regional ecosystems and climate – the semi-arid landscapes of Southern California. Part classroom and part research lab, the Ranch Garden draws inspiration from Huntington's and the region's agricultural heritage, while making connections with gardeners, native plant enthusiasts, landscape professionals, educators, and researchers throughout Southern California… The Ranch Garden is envisioned as a community resource to help bolster L.A.'s capacity to establish a sustainable and equitable food system.
The Ranch Garden includes a mixture of edible landscapes, including fruit trees, herbs, and vegetables. Master Gardeners, working with The Huntington staff, have designed special raised beds, including some fully enclosed beds, designed to protect against squirrels, rabbits and other hungry critters. The Ranch Garden also features a hydroponics demonstration.
Although any trip to The Huntington is well worth the time, the Ranch Garden is a feature that should not be missed by gardeners who raise edible crops.
It is only open on Saturdays from 10-1.
- Author: Erich Warkentine
On our recent trip to The Huntington, we divided our time between the Ranch House garden, the Chinese and Japanese gardens, the bonsai collection, and the desert garden.
The Chinese garden (the Garden of Flowing Fragrance) features a lake, tea house, stone bridges and waterfalls, against a background of mature oaks and pines.
The Japanese Garden includes a traditional moon bridge and tea house, and a zen garden.
Outside of the Garden, local bonsai associations have dramatic bonsai on display.
The desert garden contains over 2,000 species in 60 landscaped beds, and its website states it is one of the largest outdoor collections of cacti and succulents in the world. We were surprised to see many cacti flowering at this early time of the year. Stunning cholla, barrels, aloes and agaves are just some of the cacti and succulents that are thrilling to see. Yuccas dominate the landscape and tower above the walkways.
It would be easy to spend a full day or more enjoying all of the gardens The Huntington has to offer – but try to visit on a Saturday so you can enjoy the special treat of a visit to the Ranch House garden.
For more information, see https://www.huntington.org/gardens
- Author: Jan Hambleton
Jardin Majorelle is located in Marrakech, Morocco. It was originally created by Jacque Majorelle (1886-1962), a French Orientalist painter and son of the famous Art Nouveau furniture designer Louis Majorelle. He was invited to Morocco in 1917 by a friend. In 1923 Majorelle moved there, purchasing a large palm grove from which he created the Jardin Majorelle.
- Address: Rue Yves Saint Laurent, Gueliz, 400090, Marrakech, Morocco
- Website: https://jardinmajorelle.com/ang/
- Open Daily, hours posted on website
- Author: Dustin Blakey
I've noticed as I get older my Christmas wish list gets less interesting and more practical. I have to work harder now to think of fun stuff. Instead I end up with great ideas like silverware. I know I'm not alone.
So what do you get that special someone who insists on a practical gift?
As I was looking for ideas for my wife—a poster child for gifts practical and boring—I discovered that many people give pillows as Christmas gifts. At first I thought that was weird, but then I remembered that last year she gave me a fancy, hypoallergenic, contouring pillow. It's very comfy. Maybe I should return the favor?
This ultimately led me down the Google Search Rabbit Hole where I soon encountered dire warnings about dust mites.
As a county agent in Arkansas, I encountered dust mite complaints a few times a year. Most of the time it was a case of delusory parasitosis, but sometimes it appeared to be a legitimate complaint, especially in wet years when conditions for their growth were favorable.
House dust mites are microscopic mites that feed on dead skin. They may be allergenic or asthma-inducers to some individuals. There is a large amount of scary information about them, but the truth is most people will have little to worry about from house dust mites.
House dust mites thrive in warm, high-humidity environments. Judging from the condition of my skin right now, I'd say that I am located in the polar opposite of a high-humidity environment. Locations that experience seasonal dry spells with low humidity (think: Eastern California) have a hard time maintaining large populations of house dust mites. These mites prefer climates like the Southeast US where the air feels more liquid than gaseous. In California, they are most commonly found along the coast.
In most of the western US, you probably have little to worry about. You would do better focusing on earthquake preparedness instead of these microscopic detritivores. (Google that instead of dust mites if you're bored. It's much more helpful.)
If you are still concerned about house dust mites—because who isn't after reading about them?—there are a few easy measures that will control or avoid the problem with things you already have. Reducing inside humidity below 50% will help. Heaters and air conditioners* both lower relative humidity. Pick whichever seems appropriate.
Frequent vacuuming of suspect furniture, rugs, and fabrics will reduce mite populations by reducing food sources. This is especially helpful for pet owners. Mattresses and pillows can be encased in protective covers if you are one to err on the safe side and have extra money to spend; however, many pillows (or their cases) can be washed. Mattresses can be vacuumed, too. Mites or not, this is just a good way to keep things clean.
You do not need to use any fancy, hi-tech control gimmicks or pesticides you may find on the internet.
All this to say: if you want to get your spouse a new pillow this holiday season, get one based on comfort and be wary of diving too deeply into pointless online searches like I did.
Or you could just play it safe and get some new silverware. Just don't forget to wash it before using.
* Not swamp/evaporative coolers, but you wouldn't be using those in a humid environment anyway.
For more information on house dust mites, consider clicking on these exciting links:
- Author: Dustin Blakey
Recently brown marmorated stink bugs (Haylomorpha halys) were found in Inyo and Mono counties. This invasive pest from Asia is relatively new to our area. Its first sighting was in Bishop last year.
We have plenty of species of stink bugs on the east side, but this one is especially annoying because it tends to aggregate in large numbers and will attempt to get inside homes and structure to avoid cold weather. As our temperatures return to more normal ranges, I would expect more issues with home ingress.
We have had reports from Swall Meadows down to Big Pine, and possibly an isolated case in Olancha. My hunch is they arrived from northern California, not down south, but there is no way to tell for sure.
As of now, most stink bugs you will encounter are not BMSB. You can identify this pest by a couple notable features: like many stink bugs it is brown, but it has white bands on its antennae and has alternating white and dark coloration on its abdomen. It also has rounded shoulders; similar species in our area have pointed shoulders.
Spraying adult stink bugs doesn't do much good. The best course of action is to ensure your homes are sealed up well so they can't get in.
If these bugs do come inside, they can be trapped easily. (Squishing them is just messy and smelly. Trapping is a better choice.) Here is a video from Virginia Tech showing a good way to trap them.
They can also be vacuumed up. Here is what UC IPM suggests you do:
An efficient way to collect stink bugs indoors is by sucking them up with a dry or wet vacuum. The bugs will cause the collection canister or bag and other parts of the vacuum to give off an unpleasant stink bug odor, so some people dedicate a vacuum cleaner to stink bug capture only. Alternatively, a nylon stocking can be stuffed inside the tube and securing the end over the outside of the vacuum tube with a rubber band; this way, bugs are collected in the stocking and not the vacuum cleaner bag. Individual stink bugs can be brushed off into a cut-off plastic bottle containing an inch of soapy water, where they will drown in a short period of time. If needed, the container can be fastened to a pole or broom handle to reach high locations. Stink bugs caught live also can be placed inside a plastic sealable bag and then into a freezer for 2 days to kill them. To conserve water, avoid flushing them down the toilet and avoid placing live stink bugs in the garbage so they do not become established around landfills.
Hopefully this will just be a minor nuisance for us, and nothing more.