Felton League is my other blog, about the distinguished Community of houseless and socially marginalized people in Felton. This article, from Felton League, is about GREEN, so might also be of interest here.

Felton League

GREEN, Greening Residential Environments Empowering Neighborhoods, will be planting at least fifty-two street trees in Los Angeles in less than three weeks, on January 18. Sadly, none of us will attend this year.

Only one of us attended the first tree planting project by GREEN twenty-two years ago. One may not seem like an impressive number, but it was half of the two who started what has become an annual tradition. Back then, we were committed only to plant thirty trees, and then planted about twice that many by the time the project was completed.

Now that GREEN has organized an impressive crew of local volunteers, it is not so important for any of us to go all the way to Los Angeles to help. Besides, we can be more helpful here, by growing some of the trees that GREEN will eventually plant.

After all, the first large…

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Merry Christmas!

After 1,001 posts, I am taking a break . . . sort of. Really, I have been up all night on Christmas Eve, finishing my gardening column for next week. Now that I have finished, there is not sufficient time to write something for the blog within the next few minutes before midnight, (when I schedule my articles to post). I know I could post something after midnight, but will instead reblog this post from two years ago. I know that it is Wednesday, when I write something within the ‘Horidculture’ meme, but that somehow seems inappropriate for Christmas. Since I established this blog on September 1 of 2017, and did not post anything for September 2, this is only the second day that I did not post something new.


Update: After sending the gardening column out late last night, I was informed that the King City Rustler has been distributing it to the Morgan Hill Times, the Gilroy Dispatch and the Hollister Free Lance, for monthly publication. (Editors select from weekly articles.) I wrote for these three newspapers until the column was discontinued from them a few years ago. I was not aware that they were again publishing it. Nor do I know how long they have been doing so. It was a pleasant surprise.

As much as I dislike the tradition of exchanging gifts for Christmas, this was a rather delightful gift.

I really should see if the articles are being distributed anywhere else that I am not aware of. It would be nice to find that they are being published in Ventura County, which is the only coastal county between San Jose and Los Angeles that I have not yet written for (that I am aware of). It is difficult to know what newspapers are doing nowadays.

Tony Tomeo

P71225Does anyone else think that it is odd that Baby Jesus got only some frankincense, myrrh and gold for His first Christmas? I mean, it was the first Christmas ever, and that was the best that anyone could do? Well, maybe those gifts were something important back then. Maybe it was a good heap of gold. It just seems to me that three ‘wise’ men could have procured better gifts. More than two thousand years later, some of us are disappointed if we do not get a new Lexus on Jesus’ birthday, after He got only frankincense, myrrh and gold. (Get your own birthday!)

Although I do not remember my first Christmas, I know that my parents and others got excellent Christmas gifts for us kids when we were young. Our stocking that hung over the fireplace were filled with a mix of nuts, mandarin oranges, cellophane wrapped hard candies…

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Six on Saturday: No Fleas


Fleas are supposedly repelled by society garlic. The ungracious name of fleabane implies that it is something they are none too keen on either. There are no fleas here with whom to inquire.

Society garlic could be propagated by division into smaller clumps or individual shoots. However, it is not popular enough for a position in an irrigated landscape. The aroma is quite strong.

Fleabane got shared into other landscapes just because it happens to work well here.

1. Society garlic, Tulbaghia violacea, was removed from one site before it could be installed into another. It got heeled in temporarily at the nursery, where it replaced old foliage with new.P91221-1

2. It got relocated to a permanent location now that the rainy season started. It looks shabby from the move, but will recover efficiently. Once established, it will survive without irrigation.P91221-2

3. Fleabane, Erigeron karvinskianus, that cascades so nicely over this low retaining wall gets cut back annually so that it does not get shabby from mild frost over winter, or overgrown later.P91221-3

4. The fleabane is appealing, but so is the granite behind it. The roots remain in the wall, to regenerate through next year. Only rooted stems at the base or on top of the wall get removed.P91221-4

5. Rooted bits got plugged above a low concrete wall nearby. It can not root into concrete, but can cascade over. Unrooted debris got buried in this shallow trench above another granite wall.P91221-5

6. There is not much to see after it got buried. It will grow like weeds and start to cascade by spring. Over a few years, it will root into the granite wall, just like the wall it was removed from.P91221-6

This is the link for Six on Saturday, for anyone else who would like to participate:

My plan to collect apples on time this year worked out no better than it did last year. The original article from last year was reblogged to another blog yesterday, along with a brief update to explain the current situation. Hey, I may as well reblog it back here too. These might be the only apples I write about this year. via My Private Heritage Tree

Horridculture – Pesticide

P90828Pesticides are a topic that I do not talk much about. There really is not much to say about them. Only a few are used at the farm, and only while certain destructive insects or perhaps mites are active. Even less pesticides are used in the landscape. It is not that I have serious issue with them. They are just not as useful for controlling pests as proper horticultural techniques are.

Plants that we would expect to require pesticides simply are not welcome in our landscapes. We know that snapdragons and hollyhocks are very likely to be detrimentally infested with rust. Therefore, we grow neither.

Roses live in some of the landscapes only because we do what we must to help them avoid infestation by the various pathogens that they are susceptible to. They get pruned aggressively in winter so that their new growth grows faster than aphid and mildew that try to infest them in spring. Their fallen foliar debris that fungal pathogens overwinter in gets raked away cleanly.

On rare occasion, we find weeds that we would like to kill with herbicide; but we can’t because they are too close to riparian environments. With two creeks and two streams flowing through here, many of the landscapes are too close to water. We must instead pull the weeds that we can, and hope that more aggressive cover crops overwhelm what remains before they recover.

One of the few insect problems that we sometimes notice is the thrip on the rhododendrons. They are sort of always there, but had been tolerable. Aggressive pruning to stimulate vigorous new growth, and also improve air circulation, should have inhibited the thrip. Instead, the damage has been worse than it has been in a very long time. It was necessary to spray insecticide.P90828+The pictures above and below show the worst of the damage caused by thrip. The picture below compares damaged foliage on the left to undamaged foliage on the right. Thrip rasp the foliar surfaces so that they can lap up the juices within. The process causes silvery discoloration, and ruins the foliage. Young damaged foliage is likely to get crispy around the edges, or get shed.P90828++For this sort of damage, I do not mind using insecticide. However, I have doubts about this particular insecticide, or whatever it is. It is supposed to be three in one; insecticide, fungicide and miticide. How is that even possible? Insects, mites and fungi are physiologically completely different. Anything that kills all three must be very nasty stuff! Yet, it is somehow safe for bees?!

There are several active ingredients, but I do not recognize many of them. I suppose that some could be insecticidal, some could be fungicidal, and some could be miticidal. The label does not explain the functions of the various components. None are hazardous enough to warrant a use permit like we need for agricultural pesticides. This product is available at the hardware store.

I do not doubt that this nonselective ‘pesticide’ is safe for bees, even though it is supposedly formulated to kill just about anything that might bother the rhododendrons. However, since it will not kill bees, and bees are insects, I do sort of doubt that this product will kill many other insects, including thrip.


Incidentally, I am sorry for the delay of posting my weekly ‘Horridculture’ rant, which should have posted yesterday. It normally posts on Wednesdays. The article that posted yesterday really should have posted today instead.

Memorial Tree Update

This is reblogged from ‘Felton League’, so some bits will be out of context. It is shared here because this is where all other updates about the Memorial Tree got posted.

Felton League

This is the best season so far! Because this is the first update on this blog, there is nothing here to compare the progress of this small Memorial Tree to; but links to older updates on another blog can be found at the older (reblogged) article, ‘May 2‘. Some of those updates link to even more updates. This little Memorial Tree has had quite a history in Felton Covered Bridge Park.

It is actually the fourth tree in this
particular spot. The original black oak was run over by a car many
years ago, leaving the site vacant for a long time. An Eastern red
cedar was planted on New Year’s Day in 2013, but later the following
summer, succumbed to what dogs do to small trees. A bigleaf maple was
planted the following winter, but also succumbed in its second year.

In the last few years since…

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Felton League is another blog that I sometimes share articles from here with. This is the first article from Felton League that got shared here. It is more about ‘Workday’ that was posted here earlier.

Felton League

Workday at Felton Presbyterian Church, from eight to noon on Saturday, July 27.

Yes, that was yesterday. I would have written about it earlier, and in time to plan for it; but I was just informed about it less than a day earlier, on Friday morning. Fortunately, plenty of parishioners attended and got quite a bit done. In the future, we will need to be more diligent about announcing the workdays at lunch on Tuesdays. Even though some of us who attended more regularly in the past are no longer here, there are newcomers.

The biggest project was the removal of those rotting benches on
the northern half of the patio out front. The sturdy posts that
supported them for all these years were surprisingly sound, and the
last few needed to be pulled out by a pickup with a tow chain. It was
a mess, but worth the…

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Now that blue elderberries are ripening. I need to gather mine while I can. This is reblogged from Felton League, because it describes why gathering blue elderberries is not as easy as it was only a few years ago.

Felton League

Fashion trendsetters we are not. Some of us wear clothing that was donated by others partly because it was no longer in style. We take what we can get.

Nor do we start trends of electronics technology. Most of us are
satisfied with the basics, or none at all.

Most of us are not at all interested in keeping up with the trends
that others indulge in.

Yet, somehow, we inadvertently started a culinary trend that we
probably should have kept as our secret.

Black elderberry had already become a culinary and medicinal fad.
It started with medicinal black elderberry products, such as herbal
extracts and tinctures, to stimulate the immune system. From there,
black elderberry tea, syrup, candy and (cooked) juice were
popularized as more culinarily appealing options for exploiting the
health benefits of this rediscovered fruit. Even old fashioned
products made from the flowers became trendy.

All the…

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Trona – This is an old brief article that I wrote about Trona back on March 21, 2018. Trona seems like a rather obscure place only because not many of us, even in California, have heard of it. We are certainly hearing about it now that it happens to be the closest town to the significant earthquakes in the Mojave Desert yesterday and on July 4.

Tony Tomeo


That is what this seemingly disorganized jumble of letters and numbers represents; the chemical formula for the mineral known as trona. It is what a certain small town in the very northwestern corner of San Bernardino County is named for. Trona is one of a few minerals mined and refined there. Apparently, not much else happens there.

Trona the town is about as out of the way as one can get in the contiguous United States of American. Death Valley to the northeast at least gets tourists. Not much flora survives in the hellish summer heat and caustically saline soil. The athletic field at Trona High School is famous for being grassless dirt. Even the now defunct golf course was dirt. Roofs are more important for providing shade than for keeping the four inches of annual rainfall out. A leaky house is more likely to petrify before it rots…

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Shasta Daisy

90612It just might be one of the most popular daisies nowadays, but Shasta daisy, Leucanthemum X superbum, is not a naturally occurring species. It was developed by Luther Burbank in 1890, as a complicated hybrid of four different species, one of which is of a different genus. Yet, it is somehow genetically stable enough to produce viable seed, although seed of cultivars is not true-to-type.

Shasta daisy is an herbaceous perennial that forms a substantial network of sturdy rhizomes that mostly stay close to the ground, with blooming stems that can get almost three feet tall. Primary bloom begins in late spring or early summer, and continues until autumn, either in minor subsequent phases or as sporadic bloom. Flowers are big classic white daisies with bright yellow centers.

Although it can survive neglect and lapses of watering, Shasta daisy prefers to be watered at least occasionally, and is much more appealing if flower stalks are pruned away as they finish. It likes full sun, but will tolerate a bit of shade through part of the day. Mature plants are easy to divide for propagation. If the odd aroma is not too objectionable, Shasta daisies are delightful cut flowers.