|Jennifer and Mike getting a workout|
|Grateful for Terry and his tractor|
We have been busy spreading tree chips at CACG. We are using them to build soil, hold moisture and suppress weeds. About 8 truck loads have been spread already this year. Permie or not we certainly would not have been able to accomplish this feat without the help of Terry and his tractor.
At the top end of the garden we have begun the planting of a Fedge, a food hedge. This will be mainly Raspberries and Blackberries.
|Brenna, Colin and Karen collecting transplants from our Raspberry patch|
|Karen planting short rooted divisions a few feet from the parking lot to form the beginnings of our food hedge|
We have lots of Sunchokes or Jerusalem Artichokes to share. There is a bucket of them under the chalk board so please help yourself. There is still more in the ground!
There are more great, current photos and information on the garden at Jim's Blog Thank you Jim!
Something a little different...
I like Almonds and especially Almond Butter so it was disturbing to learn that California’s raw almonds are no longer truly raw. The USDA, at the request of the Almond Board of California, has been requiring that raw almonds be treated using a process that the industry generously describes as “pasteurization.”
The rule mandates either the gassing of almonds with a toxic fumigant (propylene oxide) or treatment with high-temperature steam-heat. The scheme imposes significant financial burdens on California small-scale organic and conventional growers, lacks scientific justification, damages domestic almond markets, and does not address the agricultural practices used on the industrial-scale almond orchards where the only documented Salmonella outbreaks have occurred (the rule has been justified as a food safety measure).
And the treated almonds can still be deceptively labeled as “raw”! No labeling in retail outlets is required to alert you to the treatment process.
A group of committed almond growers in California is challenging the treatment requirement in federal court. These farmers are seeking to overturn the rule and return truly raw California almonds to the American marketplace.
The Cornucopia Institute has been helping the California almond farmers involved in this fight. Cornucopia has prepared educational materials on this issue, including a fact sheet available on Cornucopia’s website, www.cornucopia.org.
A pollinator is required for the Almond crop. Commercial growers in the Central Valley use Honey Bees. It's a huge crop, 740,000 acres, and it has been said that 3/4 of the nations bee hives are in California around Valentine's Day. That is about 1.5 million! It's sad to know that bees are trucked in from all over the country and fed sugar water for weeks to boost the numbers. This is because it is not warm enough in February to sustain colonies of the size required to service the monocultured Almond crop.
Here is a report from UC Davis that offers a glimmer of hope regarding the role of native pollinators.
It's a little heavy duty and you may not need all the details but you can get the picture.
At home in Martinez my 5 bee hives are doing well. I lost one in November. That is not surprising but I'm not sure of the cause. Other local bee keepers have told me that they too have lost hives. This loss in winter seems to be normal now. One commercial beekeeper reported that he now expects to loose 30% of his hives over the winter period form various causes.
Is this CCD?
Well is is hard to say exactly what has created this situation. Could be mite infestation or the presence of chemicals. The whole picture is still fuzzy but it is clear to me that the bees are the "Canaries" in our environment and they are telling us something.
Inside the bee hives the queens are laying more and more eggs each day.
Here is an overview of what is happening in February.
Mid February is a time of building brood numbers in preparation for the main nectar flow which will hopefully begin next month.
There is limited nectar and pollen outside to forage.
There are fewer bees to go out foraging.
The brood nest is growing and needs to be kept warm which means bees have to stay home to accomplish this.
Bees turn to their stocks of honey and pollen that they stored away last summer. This is why we leave them honey for their own use.
My BEEK friends (that is a contraction of Beekeeper and Bee Geek) report that 2012 was a poor honey year. It seemed that the bees were working and just not putting away much honey by comparison with other years. The dry winter last year might have been a contributing factor. Less moisture in the soil translating to less growth and abundance in trees and plants generally.
A New Book For Your Library
The book is about living in harmony with both nature and neighbors to produce and share an abundant food supply with minimal effort. Christopher highlights everything you need to know to start living off the land lightly, including how to create rich, healthy, and low-cost soil, blend a functional food garden and decorative landscape, share the bounty with others, and much more. It's inspiring, easy-to-follow, information-packed, practical and will help you transform your garden into a food forest that feeds you for years to come.
I was fortunate to attend his book launch at The Ecology Center in Berkeley on February 7th and am delighted to announce that Christopher will be coming to MPC one evening in March to share his knowledge of Permauclture with us. Date to be arranged.
There is more to add regarding seasonal and garden news but this might be a good time to stop, post this, and work on another missive to post within the next week.
Here is advanced notice of a Garden Awareness project that Jennifer has conceived and organized to bring attention to the garden, build community and share the surplus.
BURLAP SACK GIVEAWAY
Where: Center Ave. Community Garden
333 Center Ave, Martinez
Time: 11:00 am to 3:00 pm
Center Ave. Community Garden and Republic Services will be giving away burlap sacks for free. If you would like the sacks for sheet mulch, planting, bee keeping of crafts or whatever stop by and get some.