Point Reyes Station…Truth In Advertising!

In these days of exaggerated and misleading claims for products and services–advertising, if you will–it is rare to find a company that is clear about its product and does not sugar coat it in any fashion.  This sign on the side of Toby’s Feed Barn in Point Reyes Station, CA sets a new standard for honesty and truth in advertising…

If the above is not clear enough, consider the product…

There is absolutely no doubt as to the nature of the product—and its purpose.

Perhaps this will set a trend for other businesses. 

Just think!

  • What if banks and loan companies were just as candid about their mortgage and consumer loans?
  • What if cell phone companies wrote their service contracts in no-nonsense language similar to that of Double Doody Cow/Horse Manure?

I know, I know.  Too much to hope for…http://images.Quebles.com/hotmail/emoticons/1511082.GIF

St James…Community Garden May Report

By way of a brief update, I can report that the St. James Community Garden in Petaluma continues to “bear fruit”–or, to be more accurate–potatoes!

In addition, volunteers have started work on the two remaining sections of the garden.  (Photos Below)

To view a photo album documenting the work to date, go to Community Garden At St. James

First Potato Harvest

Ground Preparation For The Last Two Sections

They’re Changing The Landscape…

…And Building Community At St. James and Petaluma’s Cavanagh Recreation Center…

…Two Stories For The Easter Weekend…

St. James Community Garden…

Starting literally from scratch a few months ago, the St. James Community Garden continues to grow…in production as well as in land under cultivation. Lois Pearson advises that this month they plan on building two additional sections and planting  twelve more fruit trees.

The project is driven by dedicated volunteers and fueled by donations of materials and volunteer hours. In addition, money has been raised by numerous fund-raising events.

One of the fund-raisers was a recent garden mosaic tile workshop where people could learn how to make stepping stones for their own garden or for the St. James Community Garden. At the end, 79 stones were created–15 of which were created for use in the garden.

According to the instructor, Mari Philo: “We had all age ranges in the classes. The youngest was 4, the oldest in their 80′s.  We had families, singles, partners and even a couple of walk-ins.  Every mosaic stepping stone turned out absolutely unique and beautiful–stones representing crosses, hearts, animals, butterflies, dragonflies, bees, flowers, abstract and more. Some people made one, some two, and some even four at a time.”

Photos from the St. James Mosaic Tile Class 

Individual photos may be enlarged by clicking on them.

 

Petaluma’s Cavanagh Recreation Center…

In May of last year, on some of the hottest days of the year, volunteers working with the City Of Petaluma transformed the landscape around the Cavanagh Recreation Center from lawn to low water landscaping.  (See Petaluma Gets Its Sheet (Mulch) Together…)

When I learned that Daily Acts had scheduled another volunteer workday for March 26, 2010, I decided it was a great opportunity to follow-up on the story. I was more than impressed with what I found.  The landscape was thriving and ready for the second stage of planting and completion of the rain garden.  Frankly, I was a little jealous that some of their plantings were not only larger than mine were—they were already in bloom. 

A little Garden Envy, I suppose…

Photos from the Cavanagh Recreation Center Workday 

Individual photos may be enlarged by clicking on them.

Ladybugs…(Look Closely)

City Hall–Gone to Seed? UPDATE!

In my earlier post on the new City Hall landscape (See City Hall–Gone to Seed?) I said: “It was not clear to me who was going to oversee the (ongoing) maintenance of the new landscape.  At the time I thought it might be a volunteer group, but I later learned that maintenance was to be the responsibility of the City of Petaluma.”

As an elaboration on this point, I received an e-mail from Jane Hamilton of Rebuilding Together Petaluma (RTP) which adds further detail. It is included here with Jane’s permission…

“Rebuilding Together Petaluma was to supply the volunteers and event management, Daily Acts was to supply the expertise, training and design input, and Petaluma Bounty was to provide expertise, design input and ongoing oversight and maintenance of the vegetable planter boxes and community garden portion,  while maintenance and completion of the grounds surrounding City Hall was to be the sole responsibility of the City of Petaluma, as is the maintenance of all of their properties. The non-profits involved did their part beautifully. Now that its spring, I am sure the City must have imminent plans to fulfill their part.”

With respect to the last sentence in Jane’s e-mail, I hope that is the case.

City Hall–Gone to Seed?

Last November, I wholeheartedly praised the community effort to convert the turf area around City Hall to a low water landscape. See New Landscape at City Hall–post mortem thoughts 

Without a doubt, it was a major capital improvement carried out by volunteer groups working closely with the City of Petaluma.

But I also cautioned:

…the euphoria and enthusiasm (which I share) generated by the event must be tempered with the realization that the work is not done.  We are starting our third year with a “transformed” sheet mulched (residential) landscape and have no regrets.  Nevertheless, it does require monitoring, weeding and some pruning. From time to time, plants die and have to be replaced.

Going forward, the new City Hall landscape will demand the same attention, albeit on a scale larger than a residential yard. While turf maintenance and turf water demands have been eliminated, there will be maintenance of a different kind requiring different knowledge– and yes, the new landscape will require some water.

It was not clear to me who was going to oversee the maintenance of the new landscape.  At the time I thought it might be a volunteer group, but I later learned that maintenance was to be the responsibility of the City of Petaluma.

To get to the point quickly–The project succeeded. The maintenance has not. In fact, to date, it has been nonexistent…

They may have eliminated the need and expense of lawn maintenance, but the new landscape, while it does not need lawn mowers and chemical sprayers, requires maintenance skill sets of a different kind. 

In short, it needs the regular supervision and maintenance by someone who knows how to care for a variety of plantings and who knows…

  • When to irrigate and in what amounts
  • When to prune
  • What to prune
  • When to harvest the vegetables
  • When to replenish the mulch layers
  • When to replace the dead plants

On March 17, 2010 I toured the new City Hall landscape with camera to document the current state of the landscape since its completion in October 2009. It was not a pretty sight. For a complete photo album, see City Hall Landscaping…A Neglected Project?

Normally I like to offer suggestions, but in this case I am not able to do so. I seriously doubt there are any funds in the City budget to secure this service.  That leaves volunteers as an alternative.  But I really think it is unfair, not to mention unrealistic, to expect volunteers with the required skills to take on the regular management of a landscape of this size.

In the meantime, the weeds continue to spread.

Mulch Madness…Turf Insanity?

Many residents in Petaluma have taken up the call to mulch their turf areas and to convert their landscapes to low water plantings. Mulch Madness has even reached many of our public areas and parks…including City Hall…

However, as fate would have it (Doesn’t it always?), a city in Southern California takes a dim view of turf removal and seeks to fine a homeowner. 

A case of insane bureaucrats out of touch with water reality? For details, see this report in CaliforniaCityNews…

A Green Orange is not so Green: Water Wars over Couple’s Lawn

That Pesky Bermuda Grass!

It has been an excellent rainy season for lawn conversions and sheet mulching. Susan Garbert (Petaluma’s Duchess of Mulch) recently alerted me to another residential project on the East Side she had just completed…

Sheet mulching is an effective and economical way to transform a turf landscape. I have written about this technique to a veritable fare thee well.  (See Journal Of A Lawn Junkie)

However, there is one situation where it is a somewhat problematic solution–lawns with a significant amount of Bermuda grass are not amenable to traditional sheet mulching. And so it was for the one remaining patch of turf in our back yard–the secret turf stash held back by this Lawn Junkie –half of which was Bermuda!

Nonetheless, there are some ways of dealing with the Bermuda problem and we took on the challenge last December.

The approach recommended by Susan was to remove as much of the Bermuda as possible before sheet mulching. 

In anticipation of the project, I made the traditional last cut…

Then, I placed the last remaining piece of lawn equipment in the driveway with the usual Petaluma Disposal Sign…

Within the hour, the neighborhood mail carrier claimed the lawn mower.

A few weeks later, Susan Garbert showed up with her crew to begin digging out the ubiquitous, persistent Bermuda grass… 

In short order, the ground was ready for cardboard and mulch… 

A few months later…February 2010 to be precise…a new landscape ready for Spring…

So far, there are no signs of any new Bermuda grass. However, we will keep an eye out for attempts by the Bermuda interloper to return.*

The next few months will be spent “planning & planting” the new landscape.

*NOTE: From time to time a question comes up about sheet mulching over sod lawns. Lawn sod has plastic netting in its base and a few people have asked me whether it has to be removed before sheet mulching. According to Susan Garbert: “You still just sheet mulch it. The plastic from the sod is there, and you have to tear through it when you plant. As the soil texture improves, it is not that much of an issue at all. Remember that all perennial plants are put in. It’s not like you need to have it clear for roto-tilling and planting rows of corn.”
________
For additional information on sheet mulching over Bermuda lawns…