Converting Lawns to Waterwise Landscapes: So CA examples

Converting Lawns to Waterwise Landscapes: So CA examples

With the drought in the west and the growing appreciation for natives and other drought-tolerant landscapes, I’m writing some articles for our local paper – here is the link to the first one that explains why, here’s the second on the planning process, and here’s the last one on plant selection.  I wanted to post more photos of converted landscape projects in Southern California, including our own. [Read more...]

What I’ve learned about GMOs

What I’ve learned about GMOs

I did a presentation on GMOs  for our local AAUW discussion group and thought ‘why waste all that reading’ – so here’s a quick overview of what I learned. I read the following books: Mendel in the Kitchen by geneticist Nina Federoff, which was ranked more anti-GMO in this helpful article by Nathanael Johnson on grist.org,  and Food Inc. (2003) by journalist Peter Pringle, which was more pro-GMO. I also read [Read more...]

Supporting Local Organic Farmers

Supporting Local Organic Farmers

Another great talk — by Abby Harned from Three Sisters Farm in Redlands CA —  at our Redlands horticulture meeting last night. (One advantage of being program chair is you get to invite wonderful speakers.) We learned first-hand how an organic farm is set up, and how they attract natural predators –insect and mammals that include coyotes and weasels —  to take care of pests. They also plant rows of native plants and pollinator-attracting plants that provide habitat for beneficial insects. It was obvious that Abby and her husband, Jason, really love what they do. [Read more...]

Death Valley Photos: Wild and Wonderful

Death Valley Photos: Wild and Wonderful

Returned from 3 days in Death Valley National Park  and 1 day in Nevada’s Valley of Fire State Park.

Some photos to illustrate this wild and wonderful place (despite only getting 2 inches or less rain anually): [Read more...]

Wildlife and Predator Friendly Products

Wildlife and Predator Friendly Products

In writing an article for the Organic Trade Association I came across an interesting program that certifies livestock producers (ranches, farms) for having wildlife-friendly and even predator-friendly practices. They allow carnivores such as coyotes and foxes to co-exist with their agricultural practice. What a great concept. [Read more...]

Butterflies: Plants to attract them, and concerns

Butterflies: Plants to attract them, and concerns

It’s nearing October and I’m still seeing some butterflies around – a few Western Tiger Swallowtails although they’re much fewer, some Cabbage Whites and a variety of those little orange ones that I’ve given up identifying. I checked in with a couple butterfly aficionados on what plants were ushering in the butterflies during the late summer months. [Read more...]

Go Organic — and plant milkweed — to Save Monarchs

Go Organic — and plant milkweed — to Save Monarchs

An article on page three of today’s Los Angeles Times talked about declining monarch butterfly numbers in Mexico where it winters. But here is an important takeaway that was buried a bit in the article: the use of  genetically modified crops (GMOs)  in the midwest where the monarch breeds contains Roundup (glyphosphate) that is killing the monarch’s vial food source — the milkweed plant . [Read more...]