Weed barrier – don’t use!

Weed barrier – don’t use!

It’s great that many people are replacing grass with low-water landscaping, especially in the Southwest where lawns don’t make sense. One concern (along with trees not getting adequate water) that I’ve noticed is the widespread use of weed barrier cloth. Our Redlands CA fire stations have even used it in their waterwise demonstration projects.

While it might help with weeds initially, weed barrier cloth not necessary and is even harmful. [Read more…]

A Potpourri Post: Lizard Update, Beetles and Frustrating Grasses

A Potpourri Post: Lizard Update, Beetles and Frustrating Grasses

With summer in full force in our yard, there’s a variety of subjects on my mind, including missing lizards, mating beetles and even something for plant lovers – so I thought I would provide an update on previous subjects I’ve written about. [Read more…]

More examples of drought tolerant landscapes

More examples of drought tolerant landscapes

These photos supplement an article I wrote – just published in the Redlands Daily Facts on drought tolerant landscaping here in Southern California (click here for article). In a previous post I provided four examples, including our own, and Molly Bogh’s home in Highland CA. Bogh has published an excellent book about her process, Life After Lawns: 8 steps from Grass to a Waterwise Garden, available at amazon.com.  Here are additional examples of local (inland So. CA yards)

[Read more…]

Pollinator killing plants: questions to ask nurseries

Pollinator killing plants: questions to ask nurseries

I’ve been besieged with a lot of email petitions recently about  a pesticide called neonicotinoids (neonics for short), found in some plants sold by nurseries, which has been shown to kill bees, butterflies and other pollinators – so the word is definitely out. When pollinators visit the flowers or caterpillars eat the leaves of the pre-treated plant, they die. There’s a concern to humans too, as herbs also are being sprayed (see example below).  So what can we do? I received info from the Northwest Center for Alternatives to Pesticides (NCAP) in Seattle WA, regarding questions people should ask their nurseries.

[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…]