Jan 3

Jan 3
This Valentine's Day

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Food Forest on Marina Place in Benicia

Here are some photos of a 700 sq ft Permaculture Food Forest that a group of volunteers installed in Benicia last weekend.
This is the site on Saturday morning.
This is the almost complete scene at the end of the day.


The address is 489 Marina Place in Benicia. It is off 5th Street one block from Military. Being a front yard anyone can visit the site. I'm sure that you will have the courtesy not to trespass or disturb the generous community minded residents that live here.

Me with a load of plants trying not to be anxious about the day ahead
Project leader Elena introducing the plan for the day

This project is one of 4 Food Forest installations planned this spring by Benicia Community Gardens. There is a little on their website now and hopefully more is coming soon.

Time-lapse Video

Here is the whole 7 hours captured in a Time-lapse Video produced by Stephen Dale.
The grey bin is for construction waste. We found 43 cents!

There is a certain irony that this actually a front yard 
The first task was to mark and dig 2 on-contour swales which cross the site for water catchment. These will slow, spread (across its on-contour length ~30') and sink surface water not only from rainfall but from a land drain porting water from the back of the house. This drain feeds water to the left end of the top swale. A relief spillway adjacent to the driveway on the right eases surplus water to the lower swale. We used some on site river rocks for this purpose and they are perhaps best seen in the video and the AFTER photo above.
Flour was used to mark the swales as determined by an "A" frame.

 After digging the two swales we filled them with tree chips.

In total we would need 6 - 8 cu yds of tree chips for the swales and then a mulch covering.
I was able to bring 4 yds in the trailer.
I also delivered 1 cu yd of planting mix from Contra Costa Topsoil ($45.00)

Then it was lunch time.
I believe we had 15 volunteers. They all Brought unique and valuable talents.
Artists at work painting signs
After lunch we began the planting. The first tree planted in the Benicia Sustainable Backyard project was a Hass Avocado.

Planting 2 Southern High Bush Blueberries on the berm

Coffee grounds and soil acidifier were added for the Blueberries

Nick said this Improved Meyer Lemon was the first tree he had planted in his adult life.
Kristen and Nick are receiving a Food Forest at their Benicia home in May.
The face of success


We will be installing another Food Forest in Benicia on March 14 2015. Details will follow.
 I'd better start planning!

May you be inspired and in-joy,


925 286 7225




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 !