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…

Peet’s Coffee–New Greeters, Ginger & Bronx

For those who follow this blog, you may recall past articles about Murphy & Max at Noah’s Bagels. I can report that they are doing well. However, this Sunday morning I spotted a new potential canine attraction at Peet’s Coffee a few yards away.

Just outside the door at Peet’s, I encountered Ginger & Bronx (aunt & nephew) on station as greeters. They served to brighten up a cloudy morning…

Hi! Welcome to Peet’s…

Check on the pastries…and…if you might…perhaps a dog biscuit for us?

You all come back!

New California DMV Driver’s Test!

NOTE FROM THE EDITOR: It is Saturday Nite (Sunday Morning on the WordPress Server) and the staff and officers of the Famous But Fictional Petaluma’s Internationale Instituto De Vino Wino have taken over this blog.


The Research Department at the Instituto De Vino Wine has developed a simplified  written examination for the California DMV!

In these days of the Great Recession and budget deficits,  we propose a single question essay test to reduce DMV administrative costs and help balance the state budget…


Q–Which of the following road signs should you ignore and which should you obey…and in what order?

CLUE–As with most things in California, there are no right or wrong answers…unless you give the wrong answer.

Good luck!

Respectfully submitted,

Petaluma’s Internationale Instituto De Vino Wino

  • Chief Wino &  Solo Vine Manager (We have only one vine)–Frank
  • First Secretary-Vinnie Parducci
  • Second Secretary- Guido Marcucci
  • Third Secretary-Gustav Von Da Vee
  • Treasurer-Minnie Da Moocher
  • Counsel–Horace Rumpole of Chateau Fleet Street Claret
  • Vat & Barrel Managers-Jay Gaulo
  • Restaurant Manager-Al Fresco
  • Food Director–Sushi Tira-Misu
  • Director, Financial Planning-Two Fingers (as in “a-one-a,” “a-two-a”) Sabastiani
  • Director of Protocol & Arbiter of Taste–Marthe Stuarda
  • Tour Director-Expresso Camino Freeway
  • Movie & Video Critic-Francois Fjord
  • Bouncer–Sumo Cum Laude “Big Fish” Sashimi
  • Chats du Vin Extraordinaire—Hannah Sue & Gracie Mae (The Claret Kitties)
  • Director of Cheap & Trashy Personal Counseling–Tristan E. Isolde
  • Director of Catering–Enchy Latta
  • Senior Citizen Wine Consultant–Jerry Attrick

Presidents’ Day–St. James Community Garden

DATELINE: St. James Catholic Church Community Garden, Petaluma, CA February 15, 2010

On this foggy morning, several volunteers showed up  to plant, perform maintenance, and conduct a first harvest of spinach and bok choy from the winter garden for the Petaluma Kitchen.

At present there is quite a variety of vegetables planted or planned for the garden–spinach, cabbage, turnips, peas, potatoes, lettuce, tomatoes, broccoli, herbs, etc. One side of the garden is already planted with fruit trees (apple, pear & apricot) and the plans include another row of  fruit trees on the opposite side.

A few photos from the day…

First Harvest…

Planting bulbs…

Veggies ready for the Petaluma Kitchen…


Additional photos are available on Petaluma 360 (Click Here)

Mary’s Pizza Shack supports the St. James Community Garden. See Mary’s Pizza Flyer St James

Huzzah, Hooray & Hallelujah

The City of Petaluma’s web page has a new feature I think you are going to like. They have added a new menu that will make it easier to…

  • Find answers to your questions
  • Report concerns
  • File complaints

FROM THE  CITY’S WEB PAGE: ” New ! – Check out the “I want to…” pulldown menu on the upper left. We want to make things easier to find. If you have a suggestion, contact Webmaster

Take a few moments to examine the various options on the new menu.

This new feature goes a long way towards addressing the suggestions raised in Petaluma’s State Of The Union–Part II

For all I know, it was there when I posted the suggestions in my blog. 

If so, my bad.

But what is important is that it is there and you should use it!

A big thanks to the staff for putting it together!

Petaluma’s State Of The Union–Part II


Petaluma’s State Of The Union–Part I invited a discussion about how we are dealing with the changes being forced on us due to the general state of economic affairs in our fair city:

…the (current) economic malaise is not unique to Petaluma. It is playing out across the nation and some areas of the country are more severely affected than here.

Overall, I suspect that we are, to borrow a phrase from Bill Gross of Pimco, seeking a “new normal” economically. This journey to the “new normal” will take many months, if not years.

So how do we cope locally?

This article reflects some of the discussions generated by Part I.


I do agree we are all on a journey to a “new normal,” although at this point it is far from clear at what level the economy will stabilize.  Everything that we as individuals, businesses and government at all levels have come to treat as business as usual needs to be reexamined in light of the new realities, including the uncertainty around things once thought to be more stable than they are. –A Reader

Neighborhoods & Public Spaces (Streets & Parks)

The current recession has adversely affected the City’s ability to stay even with deteriorating streets, park maintenance, broken streetlights and neighborhood blight.  In my experience, these are the most common daily “complaints” registered with me or expressed on the various forums on Petaluma 360.

Frankly, I don’t expect things to get better for quite some time.  We will be doing “good” if they don’t get any worse. 

Notwithstanding, even though operating with a severely limited budget, the City could do a better job of communicating as to what can be done and what can’t be done…or when it can be done.

Why is it so hard to find out what is going on? Why is everything a big secret?–A reader

The City Website is the perfect place to create a public advisory newsletter with a cross link from Petaluma 360 if they would agree to do so.

Such a newsletter could and should

  • Advise where and how to report concerns or complaints as well as provide telephone numbers, links to online complaint forms, and e-mail contacts.
  • Advise and assure the public that their code violation complaints are confidential under state law.
  • Educate people on what is or is not the City’s responsibility with respect to maintenance questions, neighborhood preservation questions, and code enforcement issues.

Granted, much of this information is available throughout the web site. However, it is widely scattered and difficult to find.  It needs to be brought to one place on the Home Page with few cross-links to other parts of the site. It has been my experience that if people are required to go more than two clicks to get to information, you are going to lose them.  


  • If the public is not encouraged to communicate and to report, there can be no response or action.
  • While there may not be money or staffing available at present to deal with a problem such as a broken street lamp, a pothole, or an alleged code violation, it is better to have it reported and recorded for attention at a later date. 
  • In many instances there will have to be an express understanding that a response or corrective action may be delayed. 

Sales Tax Revenue

Much ink and newsprint has been expended (not to mention the angst displayed in the local blogosphere) about Petaluma’s need for more retail.

I am not about to delve into the passionate debates/discussions about “retail leakage” or the elements of the big-box vs. local store argument. I do note that the driving force is the crazy California financial and tax structure causing sales tax revenue to be, as one reader put it,  “…disproportionately important for local government.”

One solution is to attempt to add a new local sales tax. From Cotati, a reader reports:   “We’ll put a 1/2 cent sales tax on the ballot in April. All revenue stays in Cotati!”

  • Granted this is one way to generate some revenue for your city.
  • However, it is going to be a tough sell in Cotati. A few days ago, I noticed a car parked on a street holding up a sign that almost eclipsed the car from view–(“STOP THE TAXES”) 

A sales tax proposal for Petaluma has no chance. It would be political suicide.

Another solution is retail development. The “debate” in Petaluma over the nature and extent of the Regency Project (Target) will eventually be resolved through the planning process and the City Council. 

Regardless of the outcome, I still have the feeling that the arguments on either side are not taking account of what I perceive to be a changing retail environment–More and more retail shopping is online. For another take on the future shape of retailing see Impassioned Petaluma City Council Votes Yes on Contentious Development by Frances Rivetti.

Yes, we need to find ways to generate more sales tax revenue in Petaluma and Regency may be a part of the answer.  Nevertheless, sales tax revenue alone is not going to be the solution to the City’s budget woes.

As one reader put it “…ultimately the focus has to be on attracting businesses to locate and grow here that provide head-of-household jobs.  Those are the kinds of jobs that allow people to live in this community and patronize our shops and restaurants.  In order to attract these kinds of businesses to come here, we need solid public services — good streets, parks, utilities, police, fire, schools — the entire range. And right now, with public services in a downward spiral, we don’t have a very compelling story.”

Quite a challenge if you think about it…

What Can We Do?


To borrow from Suzanne Maggio-Hucek 

Don’t just stand there

Making the transition to a “new normal” is never easy.  At the individual level, writing letters, volunteering, and staying informed are all activities that contribute to our social and community infrastructure.

In addition, a little personal reflection may help us to put some of the perceived wrongs and passions of the moment into perspective…

It’s funny what happens when we change our perspective. Step back. Switch it up a bit. Things change when we take the time to see something in a different way.

Take the time to change your view.

Change your view  Suzanne Maggio-Hucek 

Perhaps then we may be able to see the rainbow more clearly… and eventually blue skies…