Horridculture – Slurry

p90130This is likely the worst illustration that I have ever used. It is sort of what it looks like; a mud puddle. What I mean by ‘sort of’ is that this is no ordinary mud. It is a now solidified slurry that was rinsed from a concrete delivery truck. Yes, solidified, right there next to an embankment covered with carpet roses. The curb near the top of the picture is where the embankment starts. The small pile of debris to the upper left is some of what I was pruning from the roses. There was another solidified puddle of slurry just a few yards away. They were just dumped there as if no one would notice.

What makes this even more infuriating is that there is a sign on the main gate into the site, as well as a few others throughout the site, explaining to everyone coming and going that they must wash mud or other crud from their vehicles before leaving the site, so that they leave nothing on the roadway outside. This refers mainly to mud on the tires, but really includes anything that makes a mess. There are washing stations within the site for those who must wash their tires before leaving. There is also a site for slurry such as this, that can not be rinsed into culverts that drain into the adjacent creeks. The management of the project did everything necessary to prevent this sort of thing from happening. Yet, here it is.

A smaller but more destructive puddle of slurry was dumped into my downtown planter box by tile setters working in an adjacent shop. https://tonytomeo.com/2017/11/04/my-tiny-downtown-garden/ That mess needed to be broken apart and removed, but could not be separated from the perennials that is flowed around before solidifying. All of the canna foliage, some nasturtiums and some of the aloes were destroyed.

The insensitivity is ridiculous. I could not imagine leaving debris from pruning roses where the new concrete was installed, as if no one would notice. Yet, such disregard for landscaped areas is quite common. That is why trees that are to be salvaged on a construction site need to be fenced. Even with fencing, they are very often damaged or ruined by those operating machinery. Wouldn’t that be comparable to an arborist cutting a tree down in the most efficient manner, even if it fell onto an adjacent house?


p90112kThose of us who work in public landscapes find litter in the strangest of places. It gets everywhere. It is not necessarily put everywhere. It just has a sneaky way of getting everywhere. My nature, litter blows about and gets washed into creeks and rivers that flow out to the bays and oceans.
Of course, there is much more litter in public spaces with the most traffic, such as city parks, than there is out in remote places where fewer people go, such as hiking trails in state parks. People are not necessarily slobs, and most put their trash into the appropriate receptacles. There just happens to be more litter where people are because that is where most of the trash that becomes litter happens to originate. Most litter that accumulates on the sides of roadways was blown there from the open beds of pickups. Not much is discarded out there intentionally.
One of the projects where I work is designing trash receptacles that wildlife can not get into. Racoons, which some of us know as ‘trash pandas’, are notorious for distributing large volumes of trash into the forest. Squirrels tend to be a bit more selective in taking mostly biodegradable bits of discarded fruit, and by unwrapping their finds before taking them away. Crows are actually worse than squirrels because they will take larger bits of trash merely because they find it to be amusing. Once out of the receptacles designed to contain it, trash gets blown about by the wind. In fact, wind alone can blow trash out of some types of trash receptacles, such as those fancy cylindrical steel mesh receptacles that suspend trash bags within, like those that are so common downtown in many cities. Litter is naturally an unnatural consequence of modern civilized society.

Where There’s Smoke . . .


Do not work in the garden today if you happen to be in a region inundated by smoke from wildfires. The air is too toxic. The picture above was copied from the East Bay Times yesterday. It shows smoke obscuring much of the view of northern San Jose from the East Hills. It might be Milpitas. It is difficult to recognize.

The news says that this is the worst air quality recorded in the Santa Clara Valley, even worse than when we had smog back in the 1970s, and even worse than when there were serious fires much closer to home in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Even the smoke from the Lexington fire in 1985 was not so thick.

If you must work in the garden, do not use machinery that might ignite vegetation near wildlands. Something as simple as a weed eater striking a stone can make a spark that can ignite overgrown grass. Barbecuing out in the garden is something that should be postponed for better weather.

The breeze that might move some of the smoke out of the area also accelerates fires that continue to burn, and increases the fire danger. Any new fires that get out of control are very likely to spread very rapidly. All the rain last winter enhanced the proliferation of vegetation. Recent unseasonably warm and arid weather desiccated much of the vegetation. Now, there is an abundance of vegetative fuel everywhere.

Wildfire is part of life in California. Many of us know how fire is an important part of the ecosystem, and how many plants in the wild benefit from it. However, none of this is any consolation when so many homes have been burned.