Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Erysiphe cichoracearum and the California Water Restrictions

Erysiphe cichoracearum, otherwise know as powdery mildew, a fungus species restricted to curcurbits, makes the plants look ugly, but they are still productive.

White, powdery spots develop on both leaf surfaces and expand as the infection grows. 

The fruiting part of vegetables usually isn’t affected

Powdery mildew is common in warm, dry conditions. Unlike many diseases, powdery mildew doesn’t require moist conditions to grow. Moderate temperatures (60º to 80ºF) and shade encourage the disease. Powdery mildew spores are carried by wind to new hosts. 


Today's weather report: Mostly sunny, with a high near 70. South southwest wind 5 to 10 mph.  


A perfect fit weather-wise to spread the fungus: a little wind, a little shade (overcast), moderate temperature, no rain


The good news

A non-chemical approach to control is to sprinkle infected plants with water. To prevent other disease problems, do this midmorning, so moisture dries rapidly. Adding soap can increase control.

Why is this good news?

Because while I have no qualms about using gray water from rinsing the dishes or the laundry, I had reservations about using the wash water especially on vegetables. No more. I couldn't put the soapy water to better use than controlling powdery mildew.

Oh, happy day!

Powdery Mildew on Vegetables Management Guidelines University of California Integrated Pest Management (UC IPM)

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Could Someone Please Make These with a West Coast Slant?

"What Is A Garden-Gram?
It's simple -- a greeting card that grows! It’s a plantable seed embedded card that is super easy to plant and grow. Garden-Grams are an innovative form of expression, beautifully designed and letterpress printed. The perfect little card for anyone that likes to get their hands dirty!"

I'll be your first customer!

(Not mixes, though; but that would improve the germination rate, wouldn't it?)

(Stuff like California poppies, Linanthus grandiflorus, Canterbury bells, arugula, native milkweed and other pollinator plants)

(No, this isn't a paid promotion. I was reading Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and saw this article. I thought it was a very clever idea.)

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

High Notes

Winter storm warnings in the middle of May!

Don't you love it? I do! But probably not the summer vegetables like tomatoes and eggplants. They will sulk.

'Celebrity' tomato with paparazzi (bird and rat) netting

'Millionaire' Japanese eggplant leaves not looking healthy, red spider mite might win this round

(A split jet stream) ... is expected to bring the Central Sierra above normal precipitation over the next week to ten days along with below normal temps. This is a weather pattern which dribbles southward. This is from Mammoth Weather.

All models indicate a decent rainfall event for the middle of May...with rainfall totals between one third and two thirds of an inch in many areas. There could be local totals over 1 inch in the mountains and foothills...especially across eastern Los Angeles County. Several inches of snow could fall above 6000 feet. Winter weather advisories or winter storm watches/warnings may ultimately be needed. This is from NWS LOX.

However, I do recall that Memorial Day snowstorms are not all that unusual here.

Productive persimmon

Lovely lemon tree with pink yucca flowers ... that stalk is 6 feet tall!

Pretty pelargonium with cordovan cordyline stalk

Newport Beach will need to cut down its water use by 28 percent.
On top of the city’s permanent water restrictions, proposed water restrictions include:

Customers are restricted to 75 percent of their average water use for the past three years for the same billing period. Murdoch said certain homeowners, like extreme water conservers, can apply to the city for relief from this rule.

This sounds pretty reasonable to me. I hope my city's restrictions are as well. When will we know?

Tip meets tendril

Fuzzy-wuzzies flower!

If you have a rain barrel, you can use it to store captured water from other uses.

This great idea comes from TreePeople Don’t Let LA’s Trees Become Casualties of the Drought

"Prioritize your water uses. Not only can we conserve even more than we already are doing, we can re-use water when we can. Even if you can’t use grey water, you might be able to keep a bucket in your shower and capture the warm-up water to use on your trees. If you have a rain barrel, you can use it to store captured water from other uses."
A side note: Most of the time I disagree with Lipkis. He gets too emotional and is not science-based. He makes statements like this: "But even more is at stake: this loss of trees could threaten our very lives." But using a rain barrel to collect gray water is a good idea because it removes the need to spread it out immediately. Still I haven't figured out how to get it in without a pump!

Happy honeysuckle, smells so good!

Homeowners are looking to replace their grass lawns with water-efficient landscaping or synthetic turf. However, a sting operation conducted by the Contractors State License Board (CSLB) this week in Compton confirmed how unlicensed contractors are looking to cash in on the trend toward less-thirsty yards. Eight citations for illegal contracting were issued during the April 29, 2015 operation, including one man who gave Fraud Team investigators a $10,000 estimate to install synthetic grass to replace the lawn. That bid far exceeded the $500 limit for combined labor and material costs set by California law before a CSLB-issued contractor’s license is required. “We expect much more of this activity. Homeowners really need to watch out for illegal operators.”

For the ten thousand dollars, one can pay a lot of fines for over usage, and unhappily, I'm hearing that people are willing to do just that rather than make changes. However, I also read that the water agencies can turn off your water supply and that the fines are tiered.

I'm happy to see this kind of enforcement and cooperation between government agencies.

Likeable lantanas doing well, but difficult to photograph
Today I removed natives. Why? Because they looked downright ugly ... scraggly, small-leaved, flowerless this year. Not gonna waste any precious water on them.

Prefer the bushy, thick look of the pittosporums and the colorful, butterfly-attracting lantanas, neither of which need any irrigation. See photo at the top of the page.

 Photos from a mid-day stroll  ...

This is expected to bring the Central Sierra above normal precipitation over the next week to ten days along with below normal temps. - See more at:

Friday, May 8, 2015

Results of Rain

Even 0.14 inch of rain and 51F temperature make a difference: droopy blossoms and different colors. This is 'Ambassador'. The petals are usually pale coral on the front, apricot on the reverse.

Darker, redder color from the cooler temperature; this is 'Peace' with much more red than usual.

Droopy, down-facing heads from the weight of the raindrops; this is 'Double Delight' almost all red, showing white only on the underside. It has a broken stem, too.

More broken off blossoms. 'Scentimental' not much change, heads usually drooping and color much the same.

All are delightful, yes?

Monday, May 4, 2015

Some Things New

Today I returned to The Farm Store at Kellogg Ranch because yesterday I ate the first 'Balmoral' patty pan squash. It was so good I wanted more. Could find no seeds or plants on the 'net. Apparently it is a 2015 introduction.

'Balmoral' patty pan patio squash after three weeks

What it looks like when you bring it home; the squashes grow like little Brusssels sprouts along the stem

I also bought:

Pápalo/Summer Cilantro Porophyllum spp.
It does NOT taste or smell like cilantro and I would never use it as substitute. It is quite strong and aromatic. Pleasantly so.

"In Bolivia, Mexico, and other areas of Central America papalo is so popular it is often kept fresh in vases on restaurant and kitchen tables. Diners pluck the leaves and shred bits of the pungent herb onto their food before eating it." Recipes

Photo source:

Datura metel 'Purple Ballerina'
I was looking for eggplant and saw this. Looks like eggplant doesn't it? When I read that it was highly fragrant at night I had to have it. Pretty, don't you think?

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Sedum Angelina and S. spathulifolium

Sedum angelina

Saw this on the LA Arboretum website and thought it jaw-dropping gorgeous. "Low growing and bright yellow, this sedum requires little or no additional water after it's established." For sale there, it looks perfect for a ground cover in a small area, if the slugs don't get it first.

I wish I could grow sedums here, but have had no success.  

Sedum spathulifolium is native to our mountains, albeit quite rare. It grows around 4,000 feet on shaded north-facing slopes on rock faces where water remains in the fissures. There they then shrink to almost nothing in the dry summers.

These images of Sedum spathulifolium were taken by Graham Bothwell for the California Native Plant Society - San Gabriel Mountains website gallery about Glendora Ridge Road

Sedums as a general rule do not do well in the lowland areas. Does anyone have experience with this one, Sedum angelina?

Yes, I did see this and have read the remarks collected under Sedum rupestre
Earth Day Every Day: Beautiful Gardens that Skipped the Lawn

And, yes, I do lust after the sedum ground coverings.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

9 Tiers (Tears?)

At last some real data, NUMBERS, released by California State Water Resources Control Board

Urban Water Suppliers and Regulatory Framework Tiers to Achieve 25% Use Reduction

“R-GPCD” means residential gallons per capita per day.  It looks the whole tier system is based on this number, is that what you see, too?