Banquet Piece, Pieter Claez

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Which Milkweeds grow here?

Showy milkweed, narrow leaf milkweek, and California milkweed are the three milkweeds that occur in our local hills ("What Grows Here" from Calflora). Apparently showy milkweed (Asclepias speciosa) is less common than California milkweed (Asclepias californica) in our area, according to a note on a Rare and Unusual Plants list for Garin/Driy Creek Regional Parks. But showy milkweed has been reported in Garin or Dry Creek park.

This year is a really good year for California milkweed in Dry Creek Park. I've never seen so many as this year (at least since I started paying attention in the last couple of years). Last year was really sad for so many plants, but this year we've seen many wildflowers, even though we are still in a drought.

Classic 1959 science movie is still good today

This is a classic 1959 science movie, "Water Movement in the Soil"!  Sorry, it's not science fiction, but a science fact, movie.

Two of my instructors at Merritt, different classes, mentioned this movie when talking about soil and water. You will find out why clay soils are good for dry regions and how dryland farming works on clay soils. And why we are now told to plant in native soil rather than amended native soils. This is not generally accepted yet. If you buy a rose plant or fruit tree you will still be sold soil amendments along with your plant. But it's better to put the soil amendments on top and let the worms work it down and let the humic acid do its magic.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Who pollinates the tomatoes and in what key?

Bumblebee on coyote mint at Garin Park 
"I like the joke on the bumblebee;
His wings are too small to hold him.
He really can’t fly, professors agree
But nobody ever told him."    ~~Anonymous
"Tiny Insect, Big Impact" is at the Oakland Museum until July 24.

I wrote a blog on tomato flower pollinators a couple of years ago and this exhibit rounds out the information very well. 

Bumblebees buzz in Middle C and are very good at shaking loose the pollen for tomatoes, peppers, blueberries, and manzanitas.