Expanding your Gardening Awareness: Poison Oak & the North State Garden

April 18th, 2015

PHOTO: An expansive native oak in a natural oak woodland setting, just up from the banks of Chico Creek. Look closely, its trunk is encircled with a stand of poison oak, just leafing out. Some of the poison oak twines its way up the trunk of the tree. Both plants provide a lot of food and shelter for woodland creatures.

Sometimes it’s the difficult things, the things that challenge us, that help us to stretch and grow the most.

This axiom – or cliché - is as true in the garden as it is in any other area of our lives. The aspects of the garden and gardening we find challenging are what require us to really look at what we’re made of – at what intentions and hopes drive us. It is the spiders, snakes and gophers, the disease, drought and death that pose such questions for us.

PHOTO: Poison oak in flower. Some people say the flowers are magnets for pollinators and smell lightly of clove.

I am currently reading Secrets of the Oak Woodlands by California naturalist Kate Marianchild. The book’s section on poison oak as a keystone plant of our oak woodlands reminds me that at this time of year in particular, it’s poison oak - finishing up its flowering, setting seed, leafing out in all of its glossy green summer glory, and sending up tiny seedlings in my garden, that asks me directly and personally WHO AM I AS A GARDENER?


PHOTO: Poison oak’s immature fleshy seeds.

Poison oak’s botanical name is Toxicodendrun diversilobum. Although it used to be considered a member of the Rhus genus, Toxicodendron is now its own genus and consists of woody trees, shrubs and vines in the Anacardiaceae or Sumac Family, all members of the genus produce the skin-irritating oil urushiol. While some people are less susceptible, most people will develop the rash if they come in direct contact with the oil. Some say that you can develop immunity, others say that you can lose resistance or immunity with repeated exposure. The native people of the North State are thought to have eaten the berries of the plant in order to build immunity. I am highly prone to this skin irritation (as are up to 90% of people, but very few other animals) and in my first three springs gardening in the North State, I contracted poison oak so badly on my face and arms I was forced to go to the emergency room for a steroid shot in order to open my left eye.

Three springs in a row.

PHOTO: Poison oak’s immature fleshy seeds.

Take away its rash inducing nature and poison oak is in fact everything a gardener wants in a good shrub – it’s adapted to our climate, thrives in most soils, its flowers are lightly scented - some say like cloves. Its foliage is attractive in its burnt-red spring growth, in its deep summer greenery and in its fabulous range of fall color. It bears eye catching fruit which persists through winter, and is attractive in all seasons to birds and pollinators.

But IT DOES have this rash inducing nature.

PHOTO: Poison oak’s seeds as they mature and the fleshy out layer dries and becomes papery.

So while we may not want to encourage it IN our gardens, poison oak IS integral to the foothill and valley woodland and riparian ecosystems of the North State. According to research presented by Marianchild, more than 50 of our most enjoyed resident and migratory song birds, as well as pollinators, beetles and lizards depend on the poison oak – its leaves and seeds – for both food and shelter. Further, other plants of these ecosystems rely on poison oak’s ability to re-sprout after fire or clearing in order to protect (nurse plant) them as they regrow more slowly.

Once upon a time I thought seriously about attempting to eradicate a large swath of poison growing on a bank on the other side of my own garden fence where my garden interfaced with a wildland corridor.

PHOTO: Poison oak’s dried and persistent seeds.The dark red veining of the very hard seed coat is the oily resin.

“It’s a hazard to me and my family and walkers on the trail,” I thought. “I could hire a crew to remove it and then spray the young shoots with Round-Up.” (Right now you should hear emphatic BOO-ing from the listening audience). Ultimately, and thankfully, I did neither of these things.

Instead, I finally realized in what way I continued to come into contact with the oil. (Ok, I can be a slow learner.) I finally realized that I was mistaking the tiniest of poison oak seedlings for the multitude of Pistache seedlings in the natural areas beneath blue oaks in my garden. So I stopped pulling it by hand without gloves. Now there’s expanded awareness for you – seedling ID 101.

Poison oak taught me to identify the many native and invasive seedlings in my garden after they’d opened their first true sets of leaves. And those that were positively identified as poison oak, I dug with my trowel and placed directly into a bag using gloved hands. Attention to detail was all it took to keep me from succumbing to the challenge of poison oak and the rash it gave me.

PHOTO: The sap of both poison oak and poison ivy is very dark brown/black (similar to the resin markings on the seeds) and native cultures have used the sap as well as ashes as pigment for baskets and tattoos.

I hate poison oak rash. But I love the sounds of birds in the morning and the sounds of chorus frogs in the evening. Had I removed the poison oak, I would have devastated both food and shelter for the birds I so enjoy, and had I sprayed Round-Up, now known to have serious negative effects on amphibians of all kinds, I would have devastated the population of chorus frogs in my nearby creek.

Am I a decorator - attempting to make things look good on just the seen surface? Or am I a steward? Am I operating in isolation and defiance of the environment in which I live? Or am I striving to be an artistic steward working as one part of a large integrated whole that IS the environment in which I make my home among many other lives?

PHOTO: A spittle bug makes a happy home in the branches of a flowering poison oak.

Among other seasonal challenges, poison oak reminds me of something I acknowledged years ago: Gardening is a full contact sport - not for the faint of heart. Bugs, snakes, sun, cold, damp, allergenic pollen and rash inducing foliage might sometimes seem to be obstacles in the way of our passion (obsession), but they are in fact always opportunities for growth. Little in the natural world does not have its own beauty and purpose.

It’s up to me to expand my awareness, and then act and appreciate accordingly.

Follow Jewellgarden.com/In a North State Garden on Facebook

To submit plant/gardening related events/classes to the Jewellgarden.com on-line Calendar of Regional Gardening Events, send the pertinent information to me at: Jennifer@jewellgarden.com

In a North State Garden is a bi-weekly North State Public Radio and web-based program celebrating the art, craft and science of home gardening in Northern California and made possible in part by the Gateway Science Museum - Exploring the Natural History of the North State and on the campus of CSU, Chico. In a North State Garden is conceived, written, photographed and hosted by Jennifer Jewell - all rights reserved jewellgarden.com. In a North State Garden airs on Northstate Public Radio Saturday morning at 7:34 AM Pacific time and Sunday morning at 8:34 AM Pacific time, two times a month.

April in the North State Garden & Monthly Calendar of Gardening Events

March 28th, 2015

Our very mild winter and early warm temperatures, with little precipitation, have brought us to what feels like an early burst of life and color in the garden this year some of my garden plants - roses and salvias for example seem close to a full month early. With the urban world in bloom and the wildlands already beginning to dry for summer – there is much related motion. Grasshoppers, birds and butterflies are on the move to cooler temperatures and more food in their summer territories.

PHOTO: A tiny egg casing after the new caterpillar has hatched. According to Monarchwatch.org “Monarch butterfly eggs are somewhat difficult to find in the wild. Since it only takes 3-5 days for eggs to hatch, timing is crucial. The best sign is to watch for adult Monarchs stopping at milkweed plants. A female will usually lay only one egg per milkweed plant to ensure enough food for each larva.” Read the rest of this entry »

Happy (and Hungry) are the Hummingbirds

March 14th, 2015

PHOTO: A hummingbird sitting on her tiny nest. Her body literally fills the lichen, spider web, twig and fluff-constructed nest to the edges, sealing in the eggs from weather and temperature fluctuations.

Spring is here and more than a few creatures have spring fever. Daily I strip long lines of pale green aphids from the tender shoots of my young roses.

PHOTO: An Anna’s hummingbird nectaring at spring-blooming, California native Salvia spathacea - commonly known as Hummingbird Sage. Photo by J. Jewell.

While the rapid reproduction of the aphids might be less than appealing, other sights of spring are amazing and endearing to even the most non-gardening among us. Read the rest of this entry »

March in the Garden & North State Calendar of Gardening Events

February 28th, 2015

As spring rises, so do my gardening urges – dreams and plans. Thankfully, the older I get – and it’s a nice round number for me this year – the more deeply I care about some things, and the far less I care about others. This is true in all facets of my life. I care far less about how much of a given thing and far more about the quality of that thing. I care far less about who else said what or thinks what about any given thing, and far more about what I believe that given thing adds to the world as whole.

As a much younger gardener I will admit to having been downright greedy and acquisitive – I wanted this exotic flower grown there by this famous gardener and photographed so beautifully in that glossy magazine and I wanted that selection of pots handmade over there and shipped all the way here to add a sense of (admittedly someone else’s) “style” to my garden.

The constraints of age and money and time itself have all brought a little more understanding, a little more appreciation for what is right here and right now each year. My dreams and plans are more mindfully crafted.

As with my children and my food, I WANT to know where the plants and other items in my garden have been and how they got here - home to me. I want my garden to be far greater than the sum of its part and its looks – I want it to play well with the world around it and even more importantly I want it to bring real value to the world around it. I want to enjoy my flowers and my food and pots knowing that how they were grown or made, how they were transported to me and how they were treated until they got to me did as little harm to other people and other places as possible. I approach my garden more and more as I approach my children, believing that it needs less stuff and more time and presence.

The older I get the more clear I am that each choice I make, each dollar and hour I spend is a value I place that affects myriad others, and the more I feel a deep and abiding sense of responsibility to those others. It’s both a sobering and joyous sense of life’s interconnectedness – starting right here, in my home garden.

THINGS TO DO IN THE GARDEN THIS MONTH:

The “luminous insistence of growing things” – as described by Ansel Adams - navigates and is oriented by the particular quality of light at any one moment in a day, in a season, in a life. You, me, our gardens, photographers, poets, plants people and pansies - are calibrated to a certain amount of light - and of dark - in order to thrive. We need sufficient amounts of both. We rise and rest with the shifting of the light as with any other essential nutrient. By the moment of the Vernal Equinox, we will be receiving close to 2 hours and 40 minutes more daylight than we received on the Winter Solstice in December – and the whole world will energetically reflect this added luminosity and the benefits gained from the healing of winter’s rest.

Although the first official day of Spring is March 20th - average last frost dates are still a ways away for most of us – mid-April for the earliest of us - so don’t get too excited too quickly. In the North State Garden, March is a great time for continuing to sow cold hardy vegetable seeds or planting out cold hardy perennials and shrubs to begin establishing before true spring. It’s also time for a balanced fertilizer for your trees, shrubs and lawns that are starting to show signs of growth. March 1st is a traditional date on which to feed citrus trees. And just to mess with light and time even more - don’t forget that March 8th, our clocks will spring forward.

Good vegetables to direct seed outside this month include beets, carrots, chard, corn, leeks, lettuce, potatoes, radishes and turnips. Summer blooming bulbs and seed potatoes are also ready put in. When preparing my beds for planting, I dig in well-aged compost that includes the composted manure from my chickens. When preparing to plant, make sure that your soil is neither too wet nor too dry – people often describe the perfect soil texture for seeding as being that of moist chocolate cake. Once seeds are sown, they must be kept consistently damp until they germinate.

March in the North State calendar of gardening events is bookended by some powerful gardening events that speak to both joy and interconnectedness - and the optimistic act gardening can and should be. The On-line Calendar of Regional Gardening Events at jewellgarden.com adds events throughout the month. I do my very best to keep the calendar up to date and accurate, please confirm all events with the event host. If you have an event you would like listed or if you are aware of a mistake on the calendar, please send all pertinent information to: Jennifer@jewellgarden.com! Thanks!

Feb 28 - Redding: Shasta Chapter CNPS FIELD TRIP: Mule Ridge Trail. This will be a five-mile, out-and-back hike with a very gradual climb of about 1000 ft in the BLM Mule Ridge Trails area. This winding trail starts at the Oak Knoll Trailhead on Muletown Road and winds its way up to the top of a ridge. With the ample rains, we should see a number of early blooming wildflowers and shrubs along the way. There is a considerable amount of open grasslands and switchbacks into canyons along the trail. Meet at the Mt. Shasta Mall near Chase Bank at 9 AM to carpool to the trailhead. Well-behaved dogs on leashes okay on this fieldtrip. For more information, call David Ledger at 355-8542. For more info: http://www.shastacnps.org

Feb 28 – Redding: McConnell Arboretum & Botanical Gardens at Turtle Bay: Walk with Horticultural Manager Lisa Endicott 10:30 am. Bring your notebooks and camera! We’ll make our way through the Gardens with frequent stops for discussions about (what else?) plants! Free with Park or Garden admission. Meet at West Garden Entrance. Take N. Market Street, turn on Arboretum Drive. Take the right fork. Parking lot and entrance are on the left.

Feb 28 - Davis: UC Davis Arboretum All thing Acacia 2 p.m., Putah Creek Lodge. The late winter display of yellow blossoms in the Eric E. Conn Acacia Grove is spectacular! It’s a must-see event featuring over 50 different acacias from around the world. The event is free; parking is free on weekends in Putah Creek Lodge Visitor Parking Lot off Garrod Drive. For more information and directions, please call (530) 752-4880 or visit http://arboretum.ucdavis.edu/calendar.aspx.

Feb 27 & 28 – Chico: 2nd ANNUAL LOCAL NURSERY CRAWL: February 27 and 28, Friday and Saturday. Time 9am to 4pm (both days) What’s the Local Nursery Crawl all about: The purpose of this event is to get the public to visit and familiarize themselves with the many independent nurseries in the area and inspire loyalty and community support for local business. How the event works: Community crawlers will have a map that includes all the participating local nurseries. To encourage crawlers to visit multiple nurseries, each location will be able to place a sticker on a designated spot of the map and crawlers who visit 6 nurseries will receive a free Chico Bag with the Local Nursery Crawl logo on it. (while supplies last) Most nurseries will be holding raffles, special deals and offering refreshments. Also, some will be offering Classes or workshops during the Local Nursery Crawl event hours. For more info: http://www.localnurserycrawl.com/about/

MARCH 2015

March 1 – Chico: Sixth Annual Spring Seed Swap 2 pm - 6 pm, THE 6TH ANNUAL SPRING SEED SWAP ~ carpooling or riding bikes is encouraged~ WHAT IS PROVIDED >Seed Swap ‘Potluck’ Style >Speaker Presentations >Educational Displays >Seeds & Plants for Sale >Community Non-Profits >Food & Drinks for sale by Chico Natural Foods Cooperative >Lots of activities for all ages WHAT TO BRING >Seeds, bulbs, plants, cuttings or more to exchange >Used envelopes/containers and pens/pencils >Please label your items ~ you do not need seeds to attend ~ PRESENTATION SCHEDULE TBA TO VOLUNTEER Sign up online: http://volunteercpg.ivolunteer.com/6thspringseedswap FOR MORE INFORMATION >Sherri Scott (GRUB Education Program) 342-3376 sherri@grubchico.org >Stephanie Ladwig-Cooper (Chico Permaculture Guild) 828-6390 modcpg@gmail.com. HOSTED BY GRUB Education Program Chico Permaculture Guild SPONSORED BY Chico Grange Hall Chico Seed Lending Library (CSLL) Chico Natural Foods Cooperative ALWAYS A FREE COMMUNITY EVENT!

March 4 - Chico: Mt. Lassen Chapter of the California Native Plant Society Monthly meeting Ellen Dean, Curator of the UC Davis Center for Plant Diversity Herbarium. Natural Attributes of Proposed Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument. At: Chico Branch County Library, 1st & Sherman Ave. Chico. For more info:http://mountlassen.cnps.org

March 5 - FULL MOON

March 7 – Redding: McConnell Arboretum & Botanical Gardens at Turtle Bay: Charlie Rabbit and His Friends 10:30 am. Join us the first Saturday of every month for an interactive program in the Gardens (or Greenhouse when it rains) for children, their siblings, parents and Grandparents. Join Charlie, our adorable jack rabbit puppet, in various gardening activities. Wear your favorite gardening clothes! Presented by Dennis and Sherrill Bambauer. Free with park admission! Meet at the Arboretum & Botanical Gardens Office (1135 Arboretum Drive next to Nursery Greenhouse)

March 7 – Redding: Wyntour Gardens: Victory Gardening 101: THE BASICS (1st class in a 3 class series) 10 am and 1 pm. Learn the basics for a productive and healthy garden. Climate zone, location set-up, Soil prep and seed starting. Classes fill up fast, so please call or email to reserve your seat! 8026 Airport Road - Redding, CA. 96002 - 530-365-2256 - Email Us: inform@wyntourgarden.com. Hours of Operation: Monday thru Saturday 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Sundays: 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.

March 7 - Davis: UC Davis Arboretum MEMBER APPRECIATON PLANT SALE to Support the Friends of the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden 9 a.m. - 1 p.m., UC Davis Arboretum Teaching Nursery (Garrod Drive near La Rue Road, across from Vet Med), UC Davis campus We know that many homeowners out there are in the process of developing their “New Front Yard” by replacing high-water use plants with low-water alternatives. That’s why you are going to find just what you need and get the best selection at our first plant sale of the spring season. We are going to have thearea’s largest selection of attractive, drought-tolerant, easy-care, region-appropriate plantsincluding loads of grasses, California natives and Arboretum All-Stars. For more information and directions, please call (530) 752-4880 or visit http://arboretum.ucdavis.edu/calendar.aspx.

March 8 - Daylight Savings - Clocks Spring Forward 1 hour

March 8 - Chico: Mt. Lassen Chapter of the California Native Plant Society Field Trip: Maidu Plants Walk Upper Park 9:00 AM. Maidu Plants Walk in Upper Bidwell Park - Chico. Meet at the Horseshoe Lake parking lot “E” in Upper Bidwell Park. Leader: Wes Dempsey, phone: 530-342-2293 For more info:http://mountlassen.cnps.org

March 11 - Davis: UC Davis Arboretum Walk With Warren Noon, Arboretum Gazebo Join our Superintendent Emeritus Warren Roberts–famous storyteller and punster–for an always engaging noontime exploration of the UC Davis Arboretum’s West-end gardens. For more information and directions, please call (530) 752-4880 or visit http://arboretum.ucdavis.edu/calendar.aspx.

March 14 – Redding: Wyntour Gardens: Victory Gardening 101: PLANTING (2nd class in a 3 class series) 10 am and 1 pm. Layout of plants, choosing vegetables, planting dates, techniques, transplanting starts, pollination spacing and crop rotation. Classes fill up fast, so please call or email to reserve your seat! 8026 Airport Road - Redding, CA. 96002 - 530-365-2256 - Email Us: inform@wyntourgarden.com. Hours of Operation: Monday thru Saturday 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Sundays: 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.

March 14 - Davis: UC Davis Arboretum Delights Down Under 11 a.m., Arboretum GATEway Garden behind Davis Commons Shopping Center (meet at the Shovel Gateway Sculpture) Plants from “down under” show off their flowers during the rainy season. Tour the Australian and New Zealand collections and have a blooming good time learning about plants from far-away lands. The event is free;free parking is available in the Davis Commons Shopping Center. The event is free;free parking is available in nearby Visitor Parking Lot 5. For more information and directions, please call (530) 752-4880 or visit http://arboretum.ucdavis.edu/calendar.aspx.

March 14 - Fair Oaks: Fair Oaks Horticultural Center OPEN HOUSE 9 - 12 noon, Open Garden - Ask us questions and watch what we are doing at this time of year. Master Gardeners will provide tips on how to select water efficient plants and grow warm-season vegetables. Learn how to manage pests in the orchard and vineyard. http://ucanr.edu/sites/sacmg/Fair_Oaks_Horticulture_Center/Workshop_Schedule/

March 15 - Chico: Mt. Lassen Chapter of the California Native Plant Society Field Trip: Yahi Trail Upper Park 9:00 AM. Yahi Trail in Upper Bidwell Park - Chico. Meet at the Diversion Dam Parking Lot “L” in Upper Bidwell Park. Leaders: Wes Dempsey, 530-342-2293: Gerry Ingco, 530-893-5123. For more info:http://mountlassen.cnps.org

March 16 - Chico: Chico Horticultural Society Regular Monthly Meeting 9:30 am meet/coffee, 10 am program. Butte County Library - 1st Avenue, Chico. For more info: President, Susi G. at gillums@yahoo.com

March 19 - Redding: Shasta Chapter CNPS Chapter Meeting. Meet at 7 PM at the Shasta College Health Science & University Programs building in downtown Redding, 1400 Market Street, Community Room 8220 (clock tower building at the north end of the Market Street Promenade; enter on south side of building). A Board meeting will be held before the regular meeting, at 5:30 PM at Angelo’s Pizza Parlour in the Foundry Square, 1774 California Street, Redding. For more info: http://www.shastacnps.org

March 20 - Vernal Equinox - first day of Spring!

March 21 – Redding: Wyntour Gardens: Victory Gardening 101: FERTILIZING, COMPOST & PESTS (3rd class in a 3 class series) 10 am and 1 pm. Basic watering set ups for home gardens, fertilizing options, compost techniques and insects (good and bad). Classes fill up fast, so please call or email to reserve your seat! 8026 Airport Road - Redding, CA. 96002 - 530-365-2256 - Email Us: inform@wyntourgarden.com. Hours of Operation: Monday thru Saturday 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Sundays: 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.

March 21 – Redding: McConnell Arboretum & Botanical Gardens at Turtle Bay: Botanical Gardens Drought and Heat-Adapted Plants Mediterranean Basin Garden Plants 9 - 11 am. If you have wanted to know specific, local information about tough, beautiful plants that are happy to grow in our own Mediterranean climate zone, join Turtle Bay’s Horticulture staff for this botanical gardens plant class focusing on plants in the Mediterranean Basin Garden. These plants have not only a large variety of ornamental textures and colors, they are also easy to cultivate and maintain!

March 22 - Chico: Mt. Lassen Chapter of the California Native Plant Society Field Trip: Spotted Fawn Lily and McNab Cypress 9:00 AM. Spotted Fawn Lilies & McNab Cypress - Lassen National Forest. Meet at Chico Park & Ride west lot (Hwys 32/99). Call leaders for a secondary meeting place: Gerry Ingco 530-893-5123 and Wes Dempsey 530-342-2293. For more info:http://mountlassen.cnps.org

March 28 - Davis: UC Davis Arboretum Spring Surprises in the Storer Garden 11 a.m.,UC Davis Arboretum Gazebo, UC Davis Campus Our valley-wise demonstration garden, the Ruth Risdon Storer Garden, is beautiful year round, but especially in spring. Just in time for our first public plant sale of the spring season on April 11, you can come get great ideas for your own water-thrifty garden. The event is free;free parking is available in the Davis Commons Shopping Center. The event is free;free parking is available in nearby Visitor Parking Lot 5. For more information and directions, please call (530) 752-4880 or visit http://arboretum.ucdavis.edu/calendar.aspx.

March 28 – Redding: McConnell Arboretum & Botanical Gardens at Turtle Bay: Walk with Horticultural Manager Lisa Endicott 10:30 am. Bring your notebooks and camera! We’ll make our way through the Gardens with frequent stops for discussions about (what else?) plants! Free with Park or Garden admission. Meet at West Garden Entrance. Take N. Market Street, turn on Arboretum Drive. Take the right fork. Parking lot and entrance are on the left.

March 28 - Chico: Mt. Lassen Chapter of the California Native Plant Society Field Trip: Divide Ranch Walk and Bear Valley 9:00 AM. Divide Ranch Walk, Glen Co. & Bear Valley Drive, Colusa Co. Meet at Chico Park & Ride west lot (Hwys 32/99). Leader: Woody Elliott, 530-588-2555, email: woodyelliott@gmail.com. For more info:http://mountlassen.cnps.org

Follow Jewellgarden.com/In a North State Garden on Facebook

To submit plant/gardening related events/classes to the Jewellgarden.com on-line Calendar of Regional Gardening Events, send the pertinent information to me at: Jennifer@jewellgarden.com

In a North State Garden is a bi-weekly North State Public Radio and web-based program celebrating the art, craft and science of home gardening in Northern California and made possible in part by the Gateway Science Museum - Exploring the Natural History of the North State and on the campus of CSU, Chico. In a North State Garden is conceived, written, photographed and hosted by Jennifer Jewell - all rights reserved jewellgarden.com. In a North State Garden airs on Northstate Public Radio Saturday morning at 7:34 AM Pacific time and Sunday morning at 8:34 AM Pacific time, two times a month.

Shrove Tuesday in the garden and coop

February 14th, 2015

My hens are laying up a storm now that storms have arrived in our part of the world. I welcome both! Shrove Tuesday is February 17th this year, so the Lenten Season is here.

Every year Shrove Tuesday arrives - the day before Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent, the Catholic/Anglican/Episcopal 40-day season of thoughtful repentance and fasting before Easter - and I think to myself: “it’s pancakes for dinner tonight.” Photo: Two of my hens on pest control duty in the garden. Read the rest of this entry »

February in the Garden & North State Calendar of Gardening Events

January 31st, 2015


Photo : The dried seed head of a native twining brodiaea - late January.

This time of year always reminds me how amazing plants are – how resourceful and resilient. Even in this spare time of year they are working and growing. Each part of the whole working to progress the cycle of life – each part with a purpose – integrated: the roots, the stems, the leaves, the flowers, the seeds, the relationships with others: some, like the mycorrhizal relationships, are underground and out of our view. Others, like pollinator relations, are aboveground in plain sight. Many bees are already out in the warmth of the day – flowers are opening on the early bloomers, providing these bees food. Buds are forming and swelling on other plants, and young seedlings are slowly beginning to unfurl at ground level.

But under the ground, under the bark, and within buds – so much activity ensues – even when it looks dormant to the naked eye. There’s always more than meets the eye.

The same is perhaps true for us as gardeners: the chilly mornings, and the still early dark evenings might keep us from our full gardening activity level, but even we are never fully dormant – things are happening. Intentions and plans and dreams hover just below the visible surface. Seeds of all kinds are sown within and without. As the season moves along – our own resourcefulness and resilience will appear as needed.

Resourcefulness and resilience are hallmarks of the gardening activities on offer all around the North State in the coming month and beyond. Groups are preparing to help us gardeners prepare for the seasons (and even years) ahead. The annual return of these groups’ intentions, enthusiasm and generosity in encouraging a world built on resourcefulness, resilience and deep appreciation – always humbles me. And gets me back out into the garden – my own garden – and the greater North State Garden that is all of ours to enjoy - and to protect.


Photo : A stand of grey pine back lit by winter’s afternoon light.

WHAT TO DO IN YOUR GARDEN THIS MONTH:

February in the garden is an interesting in-between month. Keep pruning dormant trees and vines, and roses in the warmer sections of the North State. Bare root plants are widely available at our local nurseries and ready to be planted during breaks from bad weather if your soil is not too frozen or too wet. With continued dry weather, remember to irrigate new plantings as necessary. Keep in mind that while the dry weather might prompt you to irrigate your established plants - annual edibles and your perennials plants and trees - keep in mind that less is more. Daylight hours are still short and nighttime temperatures are still cool, so established plants might appreciate a deep watering once a week or once every other week, these plants are not yet in their real growing stage and do not require a lot. Overwatering now will only increase your fungal issues in the soil and on foliage.

Now is a great time to consider what plants (and lawn areas) require a lot of water to stay looking good and to consider how important these are to you. Perhaps this is the year to replace your unused lawn areas?

If you are going to start tender vegetable or annual seeds indoors, bad weather February days and early February evenings are good times to do this; some cold happy vegetable starts or seeds including lettuce beets broccoli carrots and chard can be sown outside already.


Photo: A frosty little oak leaf pinch-pot sculpture in the morning garden path.

Here is a MID-WINTER CHECKLIST from Wyntour Gardens in Redding:

FOR WATER GARDENS & FISH PONDS ˆ Check water-flow from pumps, check
intakes, leaf traps, skimmer nets, clean out all debris, and clear debris from filters. Check the health of
your fish, check water levels in your pond and overall pond area. It‚s time to add Barley Extract, or
Barley Straw, also beneficial bacteria. It‚s time to divide Lotus and Water Lilies. If you have any
questions, please give Sherrie, our Pond and Water Garden expert a call.

COOL SEASON VEGGIE STARTS Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage,
Cauliflower, Chard, Collards, Arugula, Red Sails, Mesclun mix, Joi Choi, Onions, Spinach, Kale and onion
starts of California Red, Italian Red Torpedo, Walla Walla and Yellow Sweet Spanish.

Now is a good time to plant SPRING PLANTED SUMMER BLOOMING BULBS: Gladiolas, Japanese Iris, Dahlias, Clematis, Tuberose, Begonias, Cannes, Oxallis, Peonies & Tree Peonies, and Oriental, Tiger & Asiatic Lilies.

While weather remains warm, dry and not windy, consider applying another dormant spray on your fruit trees and to give them a fresh coat of white latex paint to protect them from sunburn.


Photo : As the light lengthens a little each day, the hens begin to pick up in their laying.

The On-line Calendar of Regional Gardening Events at jewellgarden.com adds events throughout the month. I do my very best to keep the calendar up to date and accurate, please confirm all events with the event host. If you have an event you would like listed or if you are aware of a mistake on the calendar, please send all pertinent information to: Jennifer@jewellgarden.com! Thanks!

FEBRUARY 2015


Photo : A small Pacific chorus frog, waiting.

Feb 1 – Redding: Wyntour Gardens: Successful Seed Starting with Ferne 11 am, Presented by Ferne, who will teach you how to grow your own plant starts from seed. Classes fill up fast, so please call or email to reserve your seat! 8026 Airport Road - Redding, CA. 96002 - 530-365-2256 - Email Us: inform@wyntourgarden.com. Hours of Operation: Monday thru Saturday 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Sundays: 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Feb 2 – Chico: Cultivating Community North Valley Presentation: Sauerkraut making workshop + Cottage Industry & Value Added products from your garden 6:30pm – 8:00pm. Pre-registration required. Where: Chico Grange, 2775 Nord Avenue, Chico, CA 95973, United States. Description: Join us for discussion of Cottage Industry & Value Added Products in addition to hands on sauerkraut workshop led by Claire Hutkins Seda For more info: http://cultivatingcommunitynv.org/events-2/

Feb 3 - FULL MOON

Feb 4 - Chico: Mt. Lassen Chapter of the California Native Plant Society Monthly meeting 7:30 PM. Josephine Guardino, Botanical Consultant. Effects of Rim Fire on Plants in Stanislaus National Forest. At: Chico Branch County Library, 1st & Sherman Ave. Chico. For more info:http://mountlassen.cnps.org

Feb 7 - Redding: Shasta Chapter CNPS FIELD TRIP: The Guardian Rock Trail, Whiskeytown National Recreation Area This is a two-mile hike, fairly easy, but a few steep sections require agility and balance. The trail follows Clear Creek below Whiskeytown Dam near extensive gold rush era mining sites. Expect to see Pacific sedum and little Oregon grape (Berberis nervosa) under a mixed canopy of gray pine and canyon live oak. We will also walk along a section of Clear Creek where extensive sections of gravel have been placed to help spawning beds for migrating salmon. No dogs, please. Meet at the Mt. Shasta Mall near Chase Bank at 9 AM. For more information, call David Ledger at 355-8542. For more info: http://www.shastacnps.org

Feb 7 – Redding: McConnell Arboretum & Botanical Gardens at Turtle Bay: Charlie Rabbit and His Friends 10:30 am. Join us the first Saturday of every month for an interactive program in the Gardens (or Greenhouse when it rains) for children, their siblings, parents and Grandparents. Join Charlie, our adorable jack rabbit puppet, in various gardening activities. Wear your favorite gardening clothes! Presented by Dennis and Sherrill Bambauer. Free with park admission! Meet at the Arboretum & Botanical Gardens Office (1135 Arboretum Drive next to Nursery Greenhouse)

Feb 7 – Oroville: Cultivating Community North Valley Workshop: Planning Your Spring Crops 10am – 2pm. Pre-registration required. Where: Fresh Start Youth Farm, 42 County Center Dr. Oroville. Description: Learn about when to start certain vegetables in the greenhouse and when to transplant outside. Learn techniques for successful germination and care during the seedling stage. Learn to calculate how many plants you’ll want for a particular garden space. For more info: http://cultivatingcommunitynv.org/events-2/

Feb 7 – Redding: Wyntour Gardens: Backyard Grape Pruning and Care 11 am, Learn when and how to prune your backyard grapes for healthier plants and better fruit production. Classes fill up fast, so please call or email to reserve your seat! 8026 Airport Road - Redding, CA. 96002 - 530-365-2256 - Email Us: inform@wyntourgarden.com. Hours of Operation: Monday thru Saturday 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Sundays: 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Feb 8 – Redding: Wyntour Gardens: Successful Seed Starting with Ferne 11 am, Presented by Ferne, who will teach you how to grow your own plant starts from seed. Classes fill up fast, so please call or email to reserve your seat! 8026 Airport Road - Redding, CA. 96002 - 530-365-2256 - Email Us: inform@wyntourgarden.com. Hours of Operation: Monday thru Saturday 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Sundays: 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Feb 10 - Chico: Chico Seed Lending Library - Lettuce Get Together 5:30 - 7:30 at the Butte County Library conference room in Chico. We’ve moved our work parties to the meeting room for more space and optional potlucks! For more Info: https://www.facebook.com/ChicoSLL

Feb 11 - Davis: UC Davis Arboretum Walk With Warren Noon, Arboretum Gazebo Join our Superintendent Emeritus Warren Roberts–famous storyteller and punster–for an always engaging noontime exploration of the UC Davis Arboretum’s West-end gardens. For more information and directions, please call (530) 752-4880 or visit http://arboretum.ucdavis.edu/calendar.aspx.

Feb 11 – Chico: Cultivating Community North Valley Presentation: Growing More from Scarce Water: Enhancing Water Efficiency for Fruit and Vegetable Crop Production 3:30 - 5:00. Pre-registration required. Where: OVP @ CSUC University Farm, Nicholas C Shouten Lane, Chico, CA, United States. Description: This is a presentation about water management for growing fruit and vegetables, Israeli style. By increasing the soil’s capacity for water infiltration, absorption, and retention, irrigation requirements are reduced and more efficient. Shahar will describe practical techniques for enhancing water efficiency and show pictures of his project in Oregon House, CA. The workshop will include a walk around the Chico State Organic Vegetable Project to discuss the irrigation and opportunities for improvements. Shahar Caspi has a bachelor’s degree in agriculture from Hebrew University. He was born and raised in a small village in central Israel. Since age 16, he has been farming in different parts of the world. In 2008, he moved to Oregon House where he is directing a community agriculture project. Direct questions to contact@cultivatingcommunity.org. For more info: http://cultivatingcommunitynv.org/events-2/

Feb 14 – Redding: Wyntour Gardens: Cane Berries Care and Pruning 11 am. Presented by Johanna Trennery, Trennery Berry Farm (Happy Valley Farm Trail) Learn when and how to prune your cane berries (blackberries, boysenberries and raspberries) for healthier plants and better fruit production. Classes fill up fast, so please call or email to reserve your seat! 8026 Airport Road - Redding, CA. 96002 - 530-365-2256 - Email Us: inform@wyntourgarden.com. Hours of Operation: Monday thru Saturday 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Sundays: 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Feb 14 – Chico: Cultivating Community North Valley Presentation: Soil Boosting–Compost and Natural Amendments (open) 1 - 4 pm. Pre-registration required. Where: Sky Creek Dharma Center, Chico, CA, United States. Description: We have great soil in most parts of the valley. Though after a growing season or more your soil will start becoming depleted of nutrients and there are quite a few ways you can help feed your soils, in turn feeding your plants that feed you. Learn techniques for composting and how to use some natural amendments that are on the market. All levels & abilities welcome For more info: http://cultivatingcommunitynv.org/events-2/

Feb 15 - Chico: Mt. Lassen Chapter of the California Native Plant Society Field Trip CSU CHICO Greenhouse Tour 10 am
Meet at the CSU Health Center parking lot at the corner of Warner St and College Ave. From there we will walk the short distance to the campus greenhouses. Tim Devine, the curator, has collected hundreds of unusual plants from all over the world and is eager to show them to you and relate their stories. In the tropical room he will show you vanilla bean orchid, coffee tree, and banana. In the aquatic room you will see many ferns, water lettuce, and blue-flowered water hyacinths. In the desert room there are usually a few cacti in bloom. Invite your favorite valentine’s Day partner to enjoy the show. Ends at noon. Leader: Tim Devine 530 345-8444

Feb 16 - Chico: Chico Horticultural Society Regular Monthly Meeting 9:30 am meet/coffee, 10 am program. Butte County Library - 1st Avenue, Chico. For more info: President, Susi G. at gillums@yahoo.com

Feb 19 - Redding: Shasta Chapter CNPS Chapter Meeting. Linnea Hanson was hired as a botanist for the Plumas National Forest in 1979 and retired in 2011. In 2008, she received the first Agency Person of the Year Award from the California Native Plant Society. Linnea recently compiled information about fens in California National Forests for the US Forest Service Celebrating Wildflowers website. In her presentation, Fens in California; An Overview of Fens in California National Forests, she will talk about the difference between a fen, a bog, a swamp, and a marsh; types of fens, where they are known in California National Forests; and some of the mosses and flowering plants found in fens. Meet at 7 PM at the Shasta College Health Science & University Programs building in downtown Redding, 1400 Market Street, Community Room 8220 (clock tower building at the north end of the Market Street Promenade; enter on south side of building). A Board meeting will be held before the regular meeting, at 5:30 PM at Angelo’s Pizza Parlour in the Foundry Square, 1774 California Street, Redding. For more info: http://www.shastacnps.org

Feb 21 – Redding: Wyntour Gardens: Backyard Grape Pruning and Care 11 am, Learn when and how to prune your backyard grapes for healthier plants and better fruit production. Classes fill up fast, so please call or email to reserve your seat! 8026 Airport Road - Redding, CA. 96002 - 530-365-2256 - Email Us: inform@wyntourgarden.com. Hours of Operation: Monday thru Saturday 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Sundays: 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Feb 22 - Davis: UC Davis Arboretum Native Californian Elderberry Flute-making Workshop 1-3 p.m., 146 Environmental Horticulture. People of all ages will learn how to make and play a Native Californian elderberry flute. East Bay Regional Parks docent Antonio Flores will talk about the culture of flute making and also about the endangered elderberry beetle. All materials will be supplied. Please bring a sharpened pocket knife if you have one. Adults will need to supervise their young children. All ages welcome. Sponsored by the Arboretum Ambassadors. The event is free;free parking is available in nearby Visitor Parking Lot 5. For more information and directions, please call (530) 752-4880 or visit http://arboretum.ucdavis.edu/calendar.aspx.

Feb 22 - Chico: Chico Permaculture Guild Monthly Meeting 1 – 4 at the Butte County Library in Chico. CPG EDUCATION: (Always free and open to the public) **We will be continuing our cycle of educational topics. I’ve posted the whole topic schedule for 2015 as a File for you to download/review [https://www.facebook.com/groups/chicopermacultureguild/10152453374217017/]** >>>DESIGN PROCESS #1: MAPPING <<< ** Please bring along a base map of your property that you created at some point last month. You will refer to this as we explore the topics of this month. ** Explore different observation techniques ** Find out how to analyze your property for available resources, water flows, soil conditions, plants, animals, solar access and much, much more. ** Learn how to organize your site information and ideas using mind maps. For more info contact Stephanie Ladwig-Cooper at modcpg@gmail.com or 530-828-6390. WHAT TO BRING: **Please bring a small dish to share as well as your own dishes, utensils and cup for the POTLUCK at 3:15. There are limited dishes available in the library so please remember to bring your own if you can. **If you have anything in SURPLUS (vegetables, home preserved food, eggs, fruit, seed, plant starts etc.) please bring it along and we’ll ‘Share the Surplus’ after the Potluck.

Feb 22 - Chico: Perma-Fun-K Spring Hands on Workshop: Organic Fertilizers & composting 10 – 4 305 West Lindo Ave ( Community Garden ) Chico. Get ready for the growing season. This is a great workshop to learn how to utilize materials around you and make amazing organic fertilizers that you can apply to your vegetable, herb & flower garden, perennials and trees. All the activities will directly implement a real PERMACULTURE DESIGN for this property. We have hand outs for this class with compost recipes and ratios that you can take home. Previous registration required to get this hand outs. For more info: http://www.perma-fun-k.com/hands-on-workshops-2015.html.

Feb 22 - Redding: Shasta Chapter CNPS Plant Propagation Session. Join us for our regular two-hour work session starting at 10 AM at the Shasta College greenhouses. The greenhouses are located toward the back of Shasta College, near the livestock barns. We will be potting up newly rooted materials from our December cuttings and seed trays. Bring clippers and any other tools you might need. Please call Jay & Terri Thesken at 221-0906 for further information. For more info: http://www.shastacnps.org

Feb 24 - Chico: Butte Rose Society Monthly meetingButte Rose Society (BRS) Monthly meeting and Educational Rose Program 7 pm. Chico Veternas Memorial Hall 554 Rio Lindo Ave., For more information about BRS, visit: www.butte-rosesociety.org

Feb 28 - Redding: Shasta Chapter CNPS FIELD TRIP: Mule Ridge Trail. This will be a five-mile, out-and-back hike with a very gradual climb of about 1000 ft in the BLM Mule Ridge Trails area. This winding trail starts at the Oak Knoll Trailhead on Muletown Road and winds its way up to the top of a ridge. With the ample rains, we should see a number of early blooming wildflowers and shrubs along the way. There is a considerable amount of open grasslands and switchbacks into canyons along the trail. Meet at the Mt. Shasta Mall near Chase Bank at 9 AM to carpool to the trailhead. Well-behaved dogs on leashes okay on this fieldtrip. For more information, call David Ledger at 355-8542. For more info: http://www.shastacnps.org

Feb 28 – Redding: McConnell Arboretum & Botanical Gardens at Turtle Bay: Walk with Horticultural Manager Lisa Endicott 10:30 am. Bring your notebooks and camera! We’ll make our way through the Gardens with frequent stops for discussions about (what else?) plants! Free with Park or Garden admission. Meet at West Garden Entrance. Take N. Market Street, turn on Arboretum Drive. Take the right fork. Parking lot and entrance are on the left.

Feb 28 - Davis: UC Davis Arboretum All thing Acacia 2 p.m., Putah Creek Lodge. The late winter display of yellow blossoms in the Eric E. Conn Acacia Grove is spectacular! It’s a must-see event featuring over 50 different acacias from around the world. The event is free; parking is free on weekends in Putah Creek Lodge Visitor Parking Lot off Garrod Drive. For more information and directions, please call (530) 752-4880 or visit http://arboretum.ucdavis.edu/calendar.aspx.

MARCH 2015

March 1 – Chico: Sixth Annual Spring Seed Swap 2 pm - 6 pm, THE 6TH ANNUAL SPRING SEED SWAP ~ carpooling or riding bikes is encouraged~ WHAT IS PROVIDED >Seed Swap ‘Potluck’ Style >Speaker Presentations >Educational Displays >Seeds & Plants for Sale >Community Non-Profits >Food & Drinks for sale by Chico Natural Foods Cooperative >Lots of activities for all ages WHAT TO BRING >Seeds, bulbs, plants, cuttings or more to exchange >Used envelopes/containers and pens/pencils >Please label your items ~ you do not need seeds to attend ~ PRESENTATION SCHEDULE TBA TO VOLUNTEER Sign up online: http://volunteercpg.ivolunteer.com/6thspringseedswap FOR MORE INFORMATION >Sherri Scott (GRUB Education Program) 342-3376 sherri@grubchico.org >Stephanie Ladwig-Cooper (Chico Permaculture Guild) 828-6390 modcpg@gmail.com. HOSTED BY GRUB Education Program Chico Permaculture Guild SPONSORED BY Chico Grange Hall Chico Seed Lending Library (CSLL) Chico Natural Foods Cooperative ALWAYS A FREE COMMUNITY EVENT!

Jewellgarden.com/In a North State Garden is on Facebook

To submit plant/gardening related events/classes to the Jewellgarden.com on-line Calendar of Regional Gardening Events, send the pertinent information to me at: Jennifer@jewellgarden.com

In a North State Garden is a twice-monthly Northstate Public Radio and web-based program celebrating the art, craft and science of home gardening in Northern California. It is made possible in part by the Gateway Science Museum - Exploring the Natural History of the North State and on the campus of CSU, Chico. In a North State Garden is conceived, written, photographed and hosted by Jennifer Jewell - all rights reserved jewellgarden.com. In a North State Garden airs two weekends a month on North State Public Radio Saturday mornings at 7:34 AM Pacific time and Sunday morning at 8:34 AM Pacific time.

Dyeing with Mushrooms: Art, Craft & Science

January 18th, 2015

Mushrooms are sometimes delicious and sometimes dangerous but they are always beautiful and mysterious. Did you know that they also can produce some beautiful dyes? A rainbow of colors in fact. PHOTO: Jack-O-Lantern mushrooms are some of Sherri Scott’s favorite fungi to use for dye. They can produce vibrant purples and lavenders with the right dye-bath techniques and mordants.

During the Dyeing with Mushrooms workshop this coming Saturday January 24, 2015 led by local plantswoman Sherri Scott and hosted by the Friends of the Chico State Herbarium, attendees will have the opportunity to experiment in a lab setting with some of the mushrooms (and a lichen) Butte County has to offer along with safe mordants and a variety of fibers to discover our local fungal rainbow. During the cooking processes we will have plenty of time to go over the beginnerʼs basics of mushroom ID and foraging, dye and mordant processes, and dyeing techniques. Participants will be able to take home some samples and even bring something of their own to dye. Read the rest of this entry »

January 2015 in the Garden & North State Calendar of Gardening Events

January 3rd, 2015

It’s a new year. And in the first days of this New Year, I’m planting a new garden. In many ways, this garden – like this year – is a blank slate. The new garden is on an oddly shaped lot, with not even one tree and currently this unlikely-opportunity for a garden is clothed in nearly nothing but a thick layer of decomposed granite – a material most commonly used for creating pathways, rather than mulching whole gardens.

Based on simply its shape, exposure and lack of any existing plant structure, this garden (like this coming year could be) will be very different from previous gardens I have planned and planted. And yet – as we all know – wherever I go, there I am – and so no doubt this new garden – again, just like this new year - will bear the distinctive marks of me - no matter how diligently I may try to transcend and grow beyond some patterns and preferences. Perhaps what’s different this time around – in both the garden and the year – is how deeply aware I am that I have choices and so what parts of my past I bring along, I have chosen to keep with me. What hopes for my future are cultivated and made manifest, I have consciously (for the most part) chosen to cultivate. From the past, I am sure to include spring bulbs, roses, peonies, things planted too closely together, plants with differing water needs combined. With and eye towards the future, its community and sustainability, I am planning a small grove of mountain mahogany, the seeds of which will delight the birds and sparkle in the falling afternoon sunlight, a front courtyard and seating area from which I can chat with passing neighbors, and very very little if any traditional lawn. Read the rest of this entry »

Poinsettias: Purity and Flower of the Noche Buena

December 20th, 2014

PHOTO: The “poinsettia house” at the Plant Barn in Chico, where (including the many years under the umbrella of Chico Propagators) poinsettias have been cultivated for a dozen winters or more. Most good nurseries and garden centers will have greenhouse sections dedicated to the plants - to visit the warm, moist greenhouse filled with seasonal color this year is strong therapy for the weary or skeptical.

The winter holidays are upon us ready or not. A week or so ago, late in the day in some dreadful place, I found myself waiting in a line to purchase something I must have needed – and staring at a somewhat out of place poinsettia. I recall thinking: that’s sort of an odd place for a poinsettia, poinsettias ARE a little odd - What is a poinsettia even? Read the rest of this entry »

Persimmons - Gifts of the Season & December in the North State Garden

November 28th, 2014

as I eat a persimmon

the bell starts ringing

at Horyuji Temple

Masaoka Shiki (1867-1902)

PHOTOS above: firm rounded persimmon ripening at the Genetic Resource and Conservation Center, also known as the Tree Farm, in Chico.

Persimmon have long represented both the divine and the worldly delights in many cultures. These colorful, tasty and seasonal fruits rank high among the marvels of the North State Garden in early winter. And not just the persimmon, as if there were just one – but the whole range of them available to us from late fall and into the New Year: the fuyugaki (generally shortened to fuyu), which is apple shaped and can be eaten when still firm without fear of bitterness; the hachiya, which is the more heart shaped and full-bodied one, eaten only when very very ripe (generally after cold nighttime temperatures have sweetened them) and almost jelly-like inside; and the so-called chocolate persimmon or maru, which is prized for its cinnamon colored flesh, to mention just three. Read the rest of this entry »