Sunday, December 6, 2015

Phytophthora Root and Crown Rot Update

Some species of soil-inhabiting pathogens in the genus Phytophthora, which means "plant destroyer", cause root and crown rot diseases of herbaceous and woody plants.  According to UC IPM, "Almost all fruit and nut trees, as well as most ornamental trees and shrubs (including many California natives), can develop Phytophthora rot.During the first half of 2015 thirty-three Phytophthora species were identified in container stock samples from twenty nurseries.  Seventy-five percent of the participating nurseries tested positive for at least one Phytophthora species.  Detection has also occurred in native habitat restoration areas with devastating effect.  Since inadvertent inoculation of native habitats by Phytophthora-infected nursery stock could severely impact wildlands, the native plant community is leading the battle.  A "Working Group for Phytophthoras in Native Plant Habitats" has formed to better understand Phytophthora and develop best management practices to minimize the spread of disease.  "In general, Phytophthora (now considered a water mold or oomycete) requires warm, moist  soils in order to cause disease.  The gardener will reduce the threat of Phytophthora by avoiding prolonged saturation of the soil.  Irrigate only as much and as often as necessary.  If using a drip system, place the emitters at least a foot away from the trunk.  Avoid planting susceptible species on poorly drained or shallow soils." - UC IPM

Monday, May 18, 2015

Landscape Survival During Drought

7 Tips for Landscape Survival During Drought:  "With water reserves at all-time lows, water rates reaching all-time highs, and severe water rationing on the horizon, representatives from the staff at the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden compiled some quick tips for homeowners whose goal is to save water as well as their landscapes."  Click on "7 Tips for Landscape Survival During Drought" in order to view the tips.

The California Garden Web, from the UC Master Gardener Program, have great links to "Drought:  Gardening Tips" and "Drought:  Irrigation Tips."

Insights: Water and Drought Online Seminar Series brings timely, relevant expertise on water and drought from around the UC system and beyond directly to interested communities. 

California Major Reservoir Current Conditions and California Snow Survey - California Department of Water Resources 

California Drought Monitor

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Home Landscaping For Fire

This is a link to a superb publication from the University of California, Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

Another good link is from Cal Fire.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Reducing Rattlesnake-Human Conflicts

"A decade of research provides important insights into rattlesnake behavior that can be used by national parks and communities to reduce rattlesnake-human conflicts... The initial research effort examined the effects and effectiveness of relocating, or capturing and moving, nuisance snakes to different and sometimes distant locations... Reducing rattlesnake-human conflicts in developed areas can potentially result from making these areas less attractive to the small mammals and birds that rattlesnakes feed on during the summer foraging season... If a snake does need to be removed for safety reasons, then the best solution is to move the snake a short distance, less than 50 m (164 ft), to the nearest cover. A relocated snake should always be moved away from heavily used roads into habitat that is similar to that from which it was moved."

Friday, May 15, 2015

Poison Oak Exudes Trouble

Laura Christman for the Record Searchlight explains the good and bad of the native poison oak. "Poison oak is part of nature. It's a California native, after all. Birds like its berries. Bees use its flowers to make honey. Deer eat it (why is that not surprising?) and small creatures take shelter in it... Poison oak (Toxicodendron diversilobum) is sly. It takes different forms. In open areas, the plant grows as a shrub. In shady forests, it's a vine. When the lobed leaves first emerge, they are reddish. Then they go into a soft, chartreuse phase. Later they become deeper green and glossy. In mid- to late summer, they turn red." Link to Laura's article and learn more about this fascinating plant.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Build a Barn Owl Box, Modeled after an Original Design by Steve Simmons

"Barn Owls have been the subjects of wonder, wisdom, magical accoutrements, and folklore for ages. Their presence adds beauty and enchantment to the environment, and their significant rodent control skills comprise a very practical need for their presence. Habitat reduction has reduced their numbers over the last century, and an active program of owl box construction will help offset this."

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Looking for Pollinators? Try Mason Bees

"The orchard mason bee, Osmia lignaria, is an effective early pollinator native to the Western US and Canada. It emerges in the spring, before honeybees. As a pollinator, it is far more efficient than the honeybee by transferring more pollen and visiting more types and numbers of flowers.The male mason bee does not sting. A female is considered non-aggressive, stings only when handled ‘roughly’, or when trapped under clothing. Mason bees are solitary. They do not produce honey; adults feed on nectar and collect pollen and nectar to feed their young. In contrast, wasps also feed on nectar but must hunt for meat to feed their carnivorous larvae.A mason bee looks like a small black fly, but flies only have one pair of wings and bees have two pairs. Mason bees are slightly smaller than honeybees. They fly only after air temperatures rise to about 55degrees F."  Oregon Master Gardener™ Association – Clackamas County ChapterIn Cooperation with Oregon State University Extension Service
"Many who raise mason bees turn to paper liners. These treated paper or cardboard tubes fit into holes in wood or other medium, or are sometimes used alone. The bees nest in the tubes (or “straws”), which can be removed when the bees are mature. Fresh liners in the holes provide clean nest spaces for the following season." Home made mason bee paper liners by Randy Person.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The Mystery of Masting in Trees

Acorn crops vary from year to year.  This fine article addresses: "Some trees reproduce synchronously over large areas, with widespread ecological effects, but how and why?"

Acorn Recipes
Acorn Information, Identification, Processing, and Recipes

Growing California Oaks

Collecting, storing and planting acorns

Monday, May 11, 2015

Purple needlegrass (Stipa pulchra, Nassella pulchra) was designated the official state grass of California in 2004.

This article (FREMONTIA A Journal of the California Native Plant Society, 1981) makes the argument that Stipa pulchra (Nassella pulchra) is the best candidate for the restoration of native grasslands. A widespread, native perennial bunchgrass that can live for 150 years, purple needlegrass ranges from the Oregon border into northern Baja California.

Friday, July 4, 2014

California State Rock is Serpentine and State Soil is San Joaquin Soil. And Check Out the Soil Survey Website for Soil Profiles!

"California has a greater number of minerals and a wider variety of rock types than does any other state. Serpentine, a shiny, green and blue rock found throughout California, was named the official State Rock in 1965. It contains the state's principal deposits of chromite, magnesite, and cinnabar. California was the first state to designate a State Rock."

"The San Joaquin Soil was designated as the official state soil in 1997. The designation commemorates the completion of the state's most comprehensive soil inventory and acknowledges the importance of soil." 

 SoilWeb: An Online Soil Survey Browser 
"Explore mapped soil survey areas using an interactive Google map and view detailed information about map units and their components. This app runs in your web browser and is compatible with desktop computers, tablets, and smartphones."  This is a great website for checking out soil profiles.... and more.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Hawk Moths or Sphinx Moths (Sphingidae) aka larvae known as the Green Hornworm

"Moths represent a biological storehouse of interesting, dramatic, and unusual behaviors, some with roles as pollinators, and others as food for other animals. All have interesting stories to tell if we will only take the time to stop, look, listen and smell the hidden world of moths and their flowers. Planting moonlight or a fragrance garden is a sure way to enjoy not only these wonderful blossoms, but also their nocturnal pollinators, especially the giant hawk moths."

"Hawk moths have the world’s longest tongues of any other moth or butterfly (some up to 14 inches long). Charles Darwin knew of the star orchids (Angraecum spp.) from Madagascar that had nectar spurs over a foot in length."

These magnificent animals have long narrow wings and thick bodies. They are fast flyers and often highly aerobatic. Many species can hover in place. Some can briefly fly backwards or dart away.  The caterpillars (larvae) of hawk moths feed on potato, tobacco, tomato, and other plants in the nightshade family (Solanaceae). 

Here are links to the hawk moths of Shasta County and Butte County.

Green Belt Movement

 "The Green Belt Movement (GBM) was founded by Professor Wangari Maathai in 1977 as an offshoot of the National Council of Women of Kenya (NCWK) to respond to the needs of rural Kenyan women who reported that their streams were drying up, their food supply was less secure, and they had to walk further and further to get firewood for fuel and fencing. GBM encouraged the women to work together to grow seedlings and plant trees to bind the soil, store rainwater, provide food and firewood, and receive a small monetary token for their work."

The Mission is " for better environmental management, community empowerment, and livelihood improvement using tree-planting as an entry point."

 From Wangari Maathai's Nobel Lecture after receiving the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize:
 "Using trees as a symbol of peace is in keeping with a widespread African tradition. For example, the elders of the Kikuyu carried a staff from the thigi tree that, when placed between two disputing sides, caused them to stop fighting and seek reconciliation. Many communities in Africa have these traditions...

As I conclude I reflect on my childhood experience when I would visit a stream next to our home to fetch water for my mother. I would drink water straight from the stream. Playing among the arrowroot leaves I tried in vain to pick up the strands of frogs’ eggs, believing they were beads.  But every time I put my little fingers under them they would break. Later, I saw thousands of tadpoles: black, energetic and wriggling through the clear water against the background of the brown earth. This is the world I inherited from my parents.

Today, over 50 years later, the stream has dried up, women walk long distances for water, which is not always clean, and children will never know what they have lost. The challenge is to restore the home of the tadpoles and give back to our children a world of beauty and wonder."  

Astronomy Picture of the Day