Jan 3

Jan 3
CACG Wattle Fest 2015

Sunday, January 4, 2015

CACG Wattle Fest 2015

Despite a frosty start the CACG Wattle Fest 2015 was a huge success!
Me removing brittle the 3 year old arch
Arch down. New materials arrive.
Ariana and Josh building a wattle panel

Core Protagonists

Gathering for lunch

Food spontaneously supplied by Irene and Tess. Thank you!

Rachel and Luis

Not quite finished this seemed like a good place to stop. Initially tied together with binder twine we will add a few more branches and finish the main joints with baler wire.
The plan is to grow beans, squash or cucumber over the structure next summer.

A warm and sincere THANK YOU to all who participated and supported us.

Meanwhile Jennifer was weeding the "Peace" raised bed.

Annual Scion Exchange  -  January 11th in Berkeley

Education, play and community come together in the annual Scion Exchange hosted by The Golden Gate Chapter of the California Rare Fruit Growers.
Please visit the link for details.

I have not forgotten about finishing "Runoff" from the last post and will continue next time :))

Living on Earth may be expensive but it does include an annual trip around the Sun.

Happy New Year !



Friday, December 19, 2014


December 12th 2014 and 3" of rainfall in 24 hours here on Center Ave. Martinez. This could be one sixth of our annual average in one day! Here is an interesting site for local rain gauges.
Custom Rain Gauge not available in stores

In this wet weather I have been thinking about the hundreds of linear feet of swale that I dug this year. Most of them in partnership with Christopher Shein of Wildheart Gardens

Some earthworks have been permanently planted and some will just be hosting a soil building cover crop for this rain season.

It has been said that here in the SF Bay Area we have 3 seasons: Rain - Growing - Dry.

Those swales are harvesting the rainwater now, but how much water are they actually holding on to?

This is a good question and one I found difficult to answer earlier this week when asked for a figure to support a grant application.

As mentioned in a previous post I have been working with a non profit group in Benicia to install backyard food forests with the help of grant funding to create demonstration plots.
Please go to the end of this post for the details as I don't want to become boring this early in the text :)

Home Made Potato Chips

Daughter Sam placing Sweet Potato slices in a dehydrator

Clipper: Miss December

Clipper, and her girlfriend Beaker, are former caged laying hens. Whole story unknown but I offered them a home when a friend ( who liberated them ) moved and could no longer care for them.  The name Clipper comes from the fact that one of her wings was severely cropped - presumably to prevent her from flying.
Seen here in the nest box Clipper is still laying eggs in December! As a general practice hens ovulate on an increasing day length and reduce laying to moult on the decreasing day length cycle.

November Crop Swap

Our last Crop Swap of the year took place on November 26th.
 The Crop Swap is a champion for building community. An Advocate for sharing surplus. Meeting like minded Permaculture Friendly neighbors and finding a treat that someone wants to give away, that you would really like to take home!

We were planning to light the fire and barbeque a few treats. It was however a "Spare the air" day so we changed direction and heated water for hot chocolate on a tabletop gas stove.
This popular monthly event will be restarted in the Spring. Possibly March 2015. It is always the 4th (not always the last) Wednesday of the month.
If you have found something amazing that you really wanted at one of our Crop Swaps please let me know at: davidmudgegardens@yahoo.com  If you are willing to have your experience shared on the blog please let me know :))

Thank you Jennifer and Mike

Many thanks to Jennifer and Mike for consistently sending out the invitation, setting up the tables etc. and clearing up afterward.

Beekeeping in Benicia

Here is a recent article relating to the status of Beekeeping in Benicia.

Wattle Fest 2015

Come and join us.

When:  10am on JANUARY 3rd 2015


Where:  CACG 333 Center Ave. Pacheco CA 94553

We have a fresh seasonal supply of  White Mulberry (Morus alba), sometimes called Non-Fruiting Mulberry, from local neighborhood trees. The invitation is to come by and spend some time creating functional stick art.
Hazel Wattle Fencing
Lets spend Saturday morning building together. You might well make a panel to take home.
We can rebuild the now 3 year old arch at the lower corner entrance.

Current version built December 2011

Eric building a panel in Dec. 2010

We are using what we have readily available which is Mulberry.
Willow might be the ideal local wattle material. A somewhat local resource for commercially foraged wattle panels is The Willow Farm on the coast at Pescadero.
The willow fence below is on Laguna Park Way in downtown Sebastopol.

 About the run off .....

There has been so much to share that I'm feeling a second follow up post concerning the Runoff will be necessary.

More soon.

Happy Holidays,


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

"Hey Pilgrim!"

Happy Thanksgiving!

Some fruit to be thankful for at this time in late November.
Pomegranates at Jennifer and Mike's home
Giant Pomegranate from the same tree

Kiwi fruits in Lafayette.


Kiwis need a male and female vine to be fruitful
Avocados on a tree in the Southampton Hills district of Benicia. We might think it too windy up there on the ridge adjacent to the Carquinez Straight but this mature tree is having an exceptionally good year.
Hachiya Persimmon in Lafayette
The Fuyu is the rounder variety.


Wednesday, November 26th
Center Ave Community Garden
333 Center Ave. Martinez / Pacheco
6:15 trading starts at 6:30
Bonfire and Chocolate at 7:00

Please join us for our last Crop Swap of the season. We will be trading Veggies, ideas, plants, fruit, nuts, honey, eggs, seeds, home canned goods, recipes among other items. We will also be having a Bonfire and hot chocolate to celebrate all the season has to offer. As always no money exchanges hands. 
Please bring a chair and a mug for the chocolate. 

We will be collecting gently used tee shirts of all sizes from infant to adult in every size for the Huaorani in the Amazon. Please Tee Shirts only, thank you. 
Jennifer Brennan 925-360-4762

DVC Spring Classes

Here is a tentative guide to some very valuable classes offered at DVC
It's good to support our local college.

H110 3644 2:30-5:20PM  INTRO  M/W  (Steve Andrews) 
H110 8117 6:30-9:20PM  INTRO  M/W  (Bethallyn Black) 

H120 3648 3:00-5:50PM SOIL SCIENCE  T  (B.BLACK/S.ANDREWS) 
H120L 3650 3:00-5:50 SOIL SCIENCE LAB  R  (B.BLACK/S.ANDREWS) 

H135 8232 9:00AM-5:00PM ESTIMATE/CONTRACT  alt.Sat  (B.BLACK) 




H184 8289 6:30-9:20PM PLANTING DESIGN  M  (PAM WINTHER) 

DECEMBER 3RD Plug in Logs (Mushrooms) by Michelle 


DEC 6TH AND 7TH FUNGUS FAIR SF Hall of Flowers  10am-5pm $8 with student I.D. ($10 w o) 
FEB 12TH NORCAL SHOW in San Mateo 
Persimmon leaves in November
Happy Thanksgiving !

Friday, November 7, 2014

Permaculture in Benicia

On November 1st 2014 a new era began at the Avant Community Garden in Benicia.
An 8' x 16' plot was cleared and planted as a Permaculture demonstration garden. Small beginnings but a very important development in the history of this high profile community garden situated on a lot for sale in the middle of downtown Benicia. Positioned at the corner of 1st Street and E. D Street, for a decade this garden has long served and inspired local residents.
 More at: beniciacommunitygardens.org
The Benicia Sustainable Backyard program is an off shoot of Benicia Community Gardens, a non profit that manages two community gardens and an orchard along with other social enterprises supporting local sustainability. Our goal is to install at least 10 back yard food forests based on Permacuture principals. This includes vertical layers, plant guilds and the use of greywater.
Here is a recent Contra Costa Times article that explains more about the BSB Food Forest or Seed Plot plan for Benicia.

Food Forest Farm West

Jessica Bates is developing her business in El Sobrante. She specializes in Food Forest design and maintenance. I recently visited her home where she has an amazing variety of useful edible perennial plants in her nursery. She is almost complete on redesigning her front garden.
Jessica at home in her garden

Please visit Jessica's blog
Martinez: Curly Kale and Onions growing in a front yard barrel.

Miss November x 2 ?

Unprecedented, we have never seen the coveted "Chicken of the Month" title awarded to more than one hen. If brevity is indeed the soul of wit then the brief explanation is recognition of their join contribution to the 'Benicia Sustainable Backyard' program info sessions and the preparation of the demonstration garden at Avant. Both twins, Big Aeigchellski and Little Aeigchellski, equally contributed to the soil preparation, weed seed and pest control. They nobly demonstrated their valuable role in nature where everything is connected and everything serves more than one function.
Any worms, spiders or larvae?
Helping clean up a potato patch. Scratching for food and cultivating at the same time.

Systematically scouring other areas for nutritional potential
So we have two "Miss Novembers" who travel well and are easy to direct back into their travelling suite at the end of the day. Their breeding is White Crested Black Polish. Both are molting, which is a natural thing for them to do at this time of year. For them Nov.1 was certainly a wonderful banquet of a day to remember (if they do?).

Anika: Ardent admirer and food sponsor of the Aeigchellski Twins
Hope you enjoyed the beautiful full November Moon last night.
The November moon is sometimes called the Hunters Moon in the UK. The Beaver Moon in a native American lore. Other names include the Frost Moon and the Snow Moon. The last two not so much here in Martinez :))

Happy days of Fall,

925 286 7225

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Trick or Seat

Thanks to the Natural Building class at DVC our first cob bench at CACG is almost complete.
 If there is any "Trick" then this is the trickster!

Ms Bethallyn Black. Teacher of the Natural Building class at DVC
Here are some images of work on the back of the bench. The sticks act as strengthening and key the base and back together.

Because the cob has to dry it took several visits to the bench site to complete the process. Part of the learning was to gauge the moisture content of the mix. The art comes in the fact that depending on the part of the bench, and the chronological order of each particular batch, every mix needs to be slightly different.
Half finish coat applied

What Can I Plant in My Garden Now? 

In Late October it is getting risky to plant small seeds of beets, chard, kale, peas, radishes or lettuce. The nights are getting down to the forties and conditions are becoming too cool for a strong start before winter sets in.
It is possible to plant transplants of beets, cabbage, chard, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce, garlic cloves.
It is possible to plant cover crops. UC Davis has a useful list. I have had trouble getting red clover started, as much as I like the idea of how beautiful that could be. Fava beans and mustard seeds are good choices to begin germination as the first rains begin.

From Ariana Notice of a Community Trade Event in Pleasant Hill

*Gregory Gardens Community Trade Event*
    WHEN: November 8th, 2014 from 10am-2pm
    WHERE: Gregory Gardens Elementary School
 Greetings Neighbors!
I’m inviting all families to join us for a very special event taking place on Saturday November 8th from 10am to 2pm. This will be our third community trade event and I hope you can be a part of it one way or another!
Gather your toys, clothes, games, tools, jewelry and anything else you have in mind to trade. This is a great way for us to come together in peace and meet new neighbors while having a great timing enjoying ourselves.
------- The intention of the event is to reduce money usage and introduce the concept of trading; this way we can feel connected and relieve stress! -------
Ø     In addition to the trading, I encourage those who play instruments to bring them down to the park and jam out during the event, which will be held in the field in the back of Gregory Gardens Elementary School.
Ø     If you do any form of art- poetry, painting, singing etc, come show your neighbors how you express yourself! If these are tradable items, feel free to include them with the community trade.
Ø     Bring along a snack as well if you can to help contribute to our feast!
Please be respectful of the area and your surroundings, so clean up after yourself!! Also, remember to bring back your belongings once you leave the event.
 Thank you, hope to see you there!
  If you have any questions or would like to help out,                                                  please contact  Ariana via email – peaceandpepsi@yahoo.com
Collard Treat between 'Joy' and 'Freedom' raised beds at CACG

Building Swales above San Jose

Earlier this month I was able to create rainwater harvesting swales on a 3 acre site at Mt. Hamilton in the hills to the east of San Jose. In total there were several hundred feet of swale which will slow, spread and sink rainwater for a new orchard and natives planting. I very much enjoyed this creative and very useful project and hope to do something similar, closer to home, soon.

The soil was very dry clay. The aim is to create an effective capture of runoff without destroying the beauty and natural flow of the land. Swales are about 1foot deep and 4 to 5 feet across.

I found gopher snakes and spiders.

Gopher Snake
A tarantula?
Thank you all for the support of the Crop Swaps. Next one is on November 26th. The last one of the year. We can light the fire pit and have some hot chocolate afterwards.
Happy days of Fall,
925 286 7225