Monday, March 31. 2008
Janet returned from her walk this evening with a grocery bag full of nasturtium greens and flowers. We had read that they are edible, so she wanted to try them. I made a salad from them. Here's how:
First make a tomato/cucumber salad by chopping equal parts tomato and cucumber, about 1/4 part onion (red is best), and mixing them in a bowl with some red wine vinegar, olive oil, salt, pepper, and chopped or dried parsley. Let it sit, stirring occasionally to get the flavors out.
Wash the nasturtium greens and chop them to salad size. Toss with broccoli, alfalfa, and fenugreek sprouts. Put on plates. Sprinkle on black pepper and some chopped or dried parsley.
Spoon the tomato/cucumber mix along with some of its juice over the greens. This is all the dressing you'll need. (Leave that coagulated crap at the grocery store where it belongs.) Bury the salad in nasturtium flowers and serve it up.
I'm sure there are lots of other weeds you could add, but nasturtium is what Janet brought back from her walk so nasturtium is what we're eating.
I would urge anyone who is inclined to eat their weeds to be sure what it is you are eating first. Make sure it is non-native, non-poisonous, and hasn't been sprayed. Then let's see what you can cook up. We've eaten mustard, dandelion, fennel, and nettles from our yard. I think the nettles are native, but they're growing near a hose bib and we just trim the tops once in a while. If you like cooked greens, by all means, try nettles. They are delicious! Fennel grows all over the San Diego area and the greens go very well on salads in addition to the usual dishes made from their stalks or seasoned with their seeds.
Friday, March 28. 2008
I photographed these tiny little umbrellas on March 3rd, but I'm just getting around to posting them. They are about 1/4" in diameter and maybe an inch to an inch and a half high. If you know what they are, I'd really like to hear about it. I think this one may be challenging.
OK, not so challenging. Cindy B. and Rick H. have both correctly ID'd them as the fruiting bodies (sporophytes) of liverworts. Phillip R. tells me they are Asterella. I looked them up and it appears they are Asterella californica. So now I guess we have at least two different liverworts growing in our yard. (See here.)
Here's a closer view:
Friday, March 28. 2008
wildbird in Plant Inventory
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Here are some baby blue eyes (Nemophila menziesii). They were growing in the same area as the five spot that I posted last night.
There are more, too:
You can also see some wild cucumber growing amongst them. And sadly there is a lot of filaree, too. We're working on that, but hate to trample the natives to reach it and pull it up.
Friday, March 28. 2008
Here is a mystery flower that we cannot ID. If anyone can ID it for us, I'd love to hear from you.
We now have an ID on this one. It is Five Spot, or Nemophila maculata. It is apparently a California native, but out of range. About three years ago we planted a wildflower mix from Las Pilitas above our house, but the birds ate all of the seeds and we didn't see any wildflowers from the mix. And we no longer know what was in the mix. These flowers are growing below the house. It's hard to figure how those seeds could have got here, if they were even part of the mix. But it's hard to figure how else they could have got here, either, so I assume they were in the mix. Another oddity is that there are a few of these plants growing together and they are growing together with some baby blue eyes, which photos I was planning to post today if I get around to it.
Thursday, March 27. 2008
Red Maids are blooming below our house. If you can call it blooming when they sneak open for a few hours a day then close back down again. This one was the last open flower of the day and it wasn't even 4PM yet. I don't know how they manage to get pollinated, but they must succeed because there are a lot of them.
BTW, this flower is about 1/2 inch across. They are very tiny.
Monday, March 24. 2008
Power lines have started many wildfires in southern California, including some really big killers. But the power companies just can't seem to face up to their responsibility.
So I guess they'll just keep burning our houses down until we all wake up and put a stop to it.
Thursday, March 20. 2008
We have been studying wildfires and how they cause house fires since 2003 when we had the rude awakening of the Cedar fire, which burned thousands of homes and killed many people. We have read, listened to, and directly consulted with many experts. Much of what we have learned has been counter-intuitive, meaning that people who don't study will probably get it wrong. Here another expert explains why you don't need extensive clearings around your home and why you do need to pay attention to the construction of the house itself:
Friday, March 14. 2008
If you read my previous posting, you know that the plants we purchased in 2006 from the California Native Plant Society plant sale were abused (by us) before they finally got planted. This bush poppy was just a stub sticking out of a pot with a label next to it when we planted it. We thought it very unlikely to be alive. We watered it occasionally, when we remembered, and amazingly it decided to grow and bloom this spring! These native plants sure are amazing.
Sorry about the odd angle of the photos. I had to shoot around and through other plants.
Now that its roots are down, I think this plant will probably grow and thrive without any help from us. I wonder if these will self-pollenate or if we need to get another in order to have live seeds?
Friday, March 14. 2008
We received an abatement notice in the spring of 2006 and it ordered us to remove all non-natives from within 100 feet of any dwelling. It turns out that was out-of-line and the rules really do allow and even encourage some natives within even the first 50 feet. It angered us that a bogus fire inspector (a contractor from Fire Protection Services - a brush/weed clearing company) could make such an order and that people would follow it like sheep. So we set out to convert our front yard to native vegetation. We did not just rip it out and re-do it. The landscaping that was there when we moved in was quite old and nice, though non-native, so we are doing a more gradual transition. When our oaks grow a bit larger we will cut down the ecualyptus in the middle of the yard. We've ripped out some geraniums and replaced them with low-growing native lilacs. We've ripped out some oleanders and jade plant and are replacing them with a hedge of toyon.
Here is one of them.
We bought 16 of these toyons at a California Native Plant Society plant sale, but could not get them planted before we had to leave on a three week trip, so we stuck them in the garage, hoping they wouldn't die. One did, but the rest survived even though our three week trip turned into seven. Then we planted them in July, 2006 and buried a soaker hose along the line of toyons and watered them regularly. They struggled along until this winter when they erupted.
Look at the size of this one. It is almost 3' tall now.
It will still be a few years before they grow together into a hedge, but they will get there.
Monday, March 3. 2008
I know the wildflower displays are really marvelous right now, but here's a surprising scene. I photographed this burned-over hillside across the canyon from the Lake Hodges Dam viewing turnout along the Del Dios Hwy. (Click the picture to see a larger version.)
What's interesting about it is all those splotchy-looking green areas. They are wild cucumber, Marah macrocarpus, also called manroot. Their root can be very old and gigantic, weighing hundreds of pounds. In the spring they put out crawling, climbing vines which become covered with flowers and which provide the starches to help the root grow. The fruit is covered in spines. After the fruit ripens, the vine dies and the root waits deep down in the ground for next spring to roll around again. The vines in the photo are such a pale green because they are really covered with white flowers. Here's a photo of one that was just starting to bloom in our yard a couple of weeks ago:
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