Introduction to Landscape Rainwater Harvesting

CRSP Institute for Urban Eco-Villages
Hands-On Urban Permaculture Workshop Series
Introduction to Landscape Rainwater Harvesting
with Joe Linton
Saturday June 14th 9am-3pm
Los Angeles Eco-Village, 117 Bimini Place, L.A. 90004
Cost $35
Workshop size limited, pre-registration required
Call (213) 738-1254 or email crsp@igc.org

The course includes: an overview presentation on Los Angeles water issues, including local multi-benefit watershed management efforts, a tour of Los Angeles Eco-Village rainwater harvesting landscape features, and a hands-on workshop to build terraced swales to detain and infiltrate water.

Who should attend: folks interested in water sustainability and/or watershed restoration, gardeners, folks interested in creating small-scale water-harvesting earthworks.

Note: This course focuses on building earthworks that gather and infiltrate rainwater in the landscape. It does not cover rainwater harvesting with cisterns, which we anticipate will be the subject of a future workshop, hopefully in early fall 2008.

For directions and additional information, see www.laecovillage.org

Native S. California Plants for Bog Gardens

Native S. California Plants for Bog Gardens and
Other Moist Container Plantings

“Out of the Wilds and into Your Garden” Series

Thursday, June 12th 2008 – 6:00-7:30 p.m.

Arthur Johnson Memorial Park
Community Room
1200 W. 170th St
Gardena, CA

310-217-9539 or www.gardenawillows.org


Caribbean and back

CO 1703 - Los Angeles, CA (LAX) to New York/Newark, NJ (EWR - Liberty) on Fri., May. 23, 2008
CO 312 - New York/Newark, NJ (EWR - Liberty) to Aguadilla, PR (BQN) on Fri., May. 23, 2008
CO 315 - Aguadilla, PR (BQN) to New York/Newark, NJ (EWR - Liberty) on Mon., May. 26, 2008
CO 17 - New York/Newark, NJ (EWR - Liberty) to Los Angeles, CA (LAX) on Mon., May. 26, 2008

Followed almost immediately by three hours of driving. My ass is sore.

Great beach house

Pardon Our Dust, the LA Times home improvement blog, linked to a Malibu beach house awarded the RESIDENTIAL DESIGN AWARD OF HONOR by the American Society of Landscape Architects.

The project was aided and abetted by the financial wherewithal to span three lots. Nonetheless, perhaps someone I know with a beach house will use it as inspiration. ;-)


Catching up with One Pot At A Time; garden blooms

These photos were taken on or around the 12th of May, but I have not had a lot of time to keep current with my blog.

My very own One Pot experiment with Leptosiphon (new name) Linanthus (old name) is coming along in fine style. I like this plant a lot. It has a Seussian look to it with an outsized spike-covered ball on a spindly stalk topped off with a white and golden flower. The petals of the flower turn progressively more purple - perhaps after pollination. The pots have a 12" diameter opening to give you an idea of scale.

My last official One Pot project is Douglas' Meadowfoam (Limnanthes, which I'm always confusing with the previous plant's former genus) which has not held its flowers for as long as I had hoped. Still, this is a nice annual. I wonder what the seeds will look like?

The Gilia One Pot plants that I've dissed for not germinating and over which I sowed Claytonia (which also did not germinate) have recently produced one (count it) little plant. Phhtt.

The Tidy Tips are just about done, and I've harvested seeds from them as they ripen.

Elsewhere in the garden there's a native "Seaside" daisy (Erigeron glaucus "Sea Breeze") at the margins of my dwarf citrus in the front. It's doing really well as it enters its second full year and deserves its reputation as an unfussy garden champ. The flowers are a bit more purple than this photo shows.

More like this, but it's still not quite right. I'm not too satisfied with my camera.

This pot of Lavatera babies is interesting because they came from year old seed that I scattered and then ignored, aside from moistening the soil, believing that few would germinate. Finally one tall sprout showed its head (at lower right in photo), but the leaves were devoured almost overnight. It seems to have recovered well, however, and in the meantime other plants have joined it. The seeds come from Jim Osborne, who's family (Grandmother?) gathered the originals on one of the channel islands years ago. Jim has grown it in his backyard since then.

Triteleia laxa "Ithuriel's spear". This is new as of last fall in my garden. It's a bit out of focus, but I thought I'd document it anyway.


Ricky and Rita visit

Ricky the Raccoon has been visiting my yard for a year or so. Last night, he showed up with his friend Rita and they romped on the roof of my house for a good long time - looking in the rain gutter and playing on the TV antenna mast. Juli suggested that they were curious about the mast, since like most Los Angelenos they had only heard about them as stories passed down from their grandparents.

After giving me a hiss and scampering a short distance away, they more or less ignored me and went about their business. I guess they weren't given the memo on who the dominant mammalian species is on this planet.


What I learned in (traffic) school last night

I did an online traffic school the other day to avoid a point on my license. Here's some tidbits of information that I noted while reading the class material.

While discussing fuel economy: "keep the outside of the car clean; it also reduces drag."

[I guess if you're looking at tertiary or smaller effects then you could make this argument with a straight face.]

"Small animals may run into your path. Never risk a collision or put a life in jeopardy to avoid a small animal. Larger animals, however, should be avoided."

In the duh category: "If you experience brake failure, downshift to a lower gear to help slow down the vehicle. Pump the brake pedal several times. Activate the hazard lights. Pump the parking brake while releasing the lock mechanism. Move off the road safely. If you are still not able to stop, look for an uphill slope, guard rail or curb to help further reduce your speed. As a last resort, select objects that are soft and will give on impact to collide with in order to come to a complete stop. Avoid objects such as trees, light posts, telephone posts, buildings, etc." [emphasis mine]

Also in the duh category while discussing escape from a sinking car:
"Roll Down Your Window to Escape - Opening windows may make it easier to open a door. Open the window and get out of the car as soon as you can--if possible, before it starts to sink."

"If for some reason you cannot get the window down, wait till the car fills completely before you can open the door. If you try to open the doors too soon the water rushing in will impede your escape and could trap you. When the car is filled, the water pressure will be equal on both sides. This will allow the door to open. Before exiting, try to find a pocket of air at the top of the car and take a breath."

OR use a small hammer, a Philips screwdriver or center punch, available at most hardware stores to shatter the glass. Strike the window at the bottom or a corner edge. Always try to break a side window.

[Of course, most people I know carry those in their car where they have easy access in the panic of an emergency. But of course you could always run to the local hardware store if you needed one.]

"Never sit in the car and just wait. It takes a car 2-3 minutes to sink, depending on the car. If you follow these steps, you should be able to escape the car before it starts to sink."

If you are in a car or mobile home, get out immediately and head for safety."

[Those mobile homes seem to be tornado magnets. I wonder what would happen if you were in a car that was in a mobile home park?]

New information about scooters, skateboards, and skates, and passengers there on:
"As of January 2003 California law requires all persons under 18 years of age to wear a properly-fitted and fastened bicycle helmet while operating a bicycle or riding upon a bicycle as a passenger, operating a non-motorized scooter or skateboard, wearing in-line or roller skates, or while riding upon a non-motorized scooter or skateboard as a passenger."

"You must also report the collision to the DMV if it involved property damage of $750 or more or if someone was injured or killed."

[Maybe we've just been told the minimum value of a human life. And the maximum (below). Or maybe the DMV doesn't index for inflation.]

"The required minimum liability insurance coverage is:
* $15,000 for injury/death of 1 person.
* $30,000 for multiple injuries/deaths.
* $5,000 for property damage caused as the result of one collision."

Weekend wrapup

Today, Monday, I ate the first olallieberry from the vines. It was delicious.

Sunday my father and mother came down to celebrate Mother's Day. We ate again at Shafaa, who were offering a Mother's Day platter. It was mostly delicious: I really enjoyed the jeweled rice and kabobs. However the falafel that my father ordered was over cooked. That was the only flaw to the meal in my opinion.

My sister-in-law and brother joined us later in the evening with my son and girlfriend Juli.

My mother and father joined my as I was finishing up some gardening chores in the front yard: I used the weed whacker to demo the yarrow and shovel pruned many of the other spent wild flowers. I collected seed pods before cutting many of them down which I will mostly donate to the One Pot project.

I had read that one could prune poppies, add a little water, and get them to rebloom but I wasn't sure exactly how to prune them. I tried a number of different ways. I subsequently read that you should clip them all off close to the ground, but I'm happy to report that almost any method that removes the seed heads can stimulate new growth. It's just that they look better without the withered remains of the last bloom's leaves, so you might as well take them down to the ground.

The front yard will need a complete makeover this fall. I can't really think too hard about that now, so in the mean time here's my house before my recent yard work. This featured my neighbor's chemical lawn in the foreground (with purposely unkempt edge which he hopes will annoy me or spread his lawn contagion), then fence, Penstemon (great flower performers), driveway, then overgrown random native plantings. I exaggerate, but the yarrow meadow was past its peak bloom, the wild flowers had come and gone (except the many Phacelia next to the porch), the Mimulus had been suffering for some time, and the buckwheat plants were too large for their space and location.

I like the angle of this photo, but usually I'm parked in the drive which wouldn't give quite the same effect.

Here's what it looked like after my demo and shovel pruning. I have plans to extend the native plants onto the turf grass area next to the street so I realigned the existing meadow border at the left of this picture and added a new border that I've extended into the turf grass area (lower left). In what is now turf grass, I'll probably put pavers with low native grasses or sedges to the right of the new border and low shrubs to the left of the new border, though the kids next door might influence my choice more towards something with thorns.

Digging out Yarrow is not all that easy. This yarrow is planted too densely for optimum health but has nonetheless formed a fairly dense mat of roots. I've decided that I like it in small doses, but as a monoculture I feel it has aesthetic problems.

A lot of the dead and gone plants that I demoed yesterday were first crop Phacelia. However, I have a significant area still dedicated to a second crop of P. tanacetifolia. chuck b. also likes the shape of Phacelia and has photographed it well. The flowers curl around on themselves like a scorpion's tail, which may give rise to one of the common names, Scorpionweed. I've never heard anyone call it that around here, however. My second crop of Phacelia was sown from seed collected from last year's meadow garden, but much later in the winter than the first crop (which had the same seed source but sowed itself naturally), so it's only blooming now. Confusion among Phacelia taxa seems to be easy to come by.

Another crop that has run to its end is the Globe Gilia (Gilia capitata). Many of the seed heads were just sitting there like little cups, full of loose seed ready to be tipped into my bag for collection. I also bid farewell to my Mimulus (Sticky Monkeyflower) which I either overwatered last year or, more likely, stepped on while my son and I were removing some nearby plants earlier this year.


Dominguez Gap Wetlands

Bottom line - the money's out there, you just have to have the will power.

Long Beach cuts the ribbon on a wetlands wonder
By Pamela Hale-Burns, Staff Writer

LONG BEACH - At first glance, you might not think the site is a
flood-control channel, but that's exactly what it is.

With an array of beautiful flowers and wildlife in the background,
Long Beach Mayor Bob Foster and Los Angeles County Supervisor Don
Knabe cut the ribbon at the opening of the $7million, 50-acre
Dominguez Gap Wetlands project in Long Beach on Thursday.

The first of its kind in the region, the wetlands project, along the
east and west sides of the Los Angeles River between Del Amo
Boulevard and the San Diego (405) Freeway, still offers flood
protection along the river's urban lower reaches.

But it also helps improve groundwater quality, restores some native
habitat and offers trails for walkers and horseback riders.

"This is a great day for the Los Angeles County and for its water-
quality partners," said Knabe. "The project's open space, water-
quality improvements and groundwater recharge make it a cost-
effective solution for addressing some of the county's toughest
regional issues."

Water flows into the wetlands from the river and Long Beach-area
storm drains. Some 1.3 million gallons per day is then treated by
the wetlands' plant life, which removes traces of heavy metals,
organic carbons, oil and greases from urban runoff.

"We want to deliver water that is of some quality to our community,"
said Mark Pestrella, assistant deputy director of the County of Los
Angeles Department of Public Works. "We know that we will reduce the
nutrients a significant amount."
The treated water from the east basin flows into the west basin for
storage and groundwater recharge or flows into the L.A. River.

"The purpose of this project is to provide flood protection, improve
water quality and to provide water conservation,
" said Diego Cadena,
County Public Works deputy director.

The construction of the 37-acre east basin includes one mile of
treatment wetlands, pedestrian and horseback trails, bird
observation decks, woodland and riparian habitat and a bike trail
rest station.

Some of the wildlife native to the area, including the red-
shouldered hawk, the great blue heron, and the tri-colored
blackbird, are returning to the region, according to county
officials. Plants like purple sage, buckwheat, monkeyflower and
willow trees are also part of the habitat.

"It adds recreational opportunities like hiking, biking and a rest
area," said Cadena. "There are educational opportunities as well.
It's a true multipurpose facility."

The 24-hour facility is open to the public except on storm days,
when it is closed for security reasons.

"We want the public to come out," said Cadena. "You're right in the
middle of the city but you'll believe you are somewhere outside of
L.A. It's so beautiful and peaceful."

Although plans have been under way since the early 1990s,
construction took 18 months and was funded with a $2.35 million
Proposition 13 CALFED grant, $200,000 from Proposition 40 funds
administered through the Rivers and Mountains Conservancy, $400,000
from the California Coastal Conservancy Wetland Recovery Project,
and $4 million from the Los Angeles County Flood Control District.

The 15-acre west basin will add 450 acre-feet of water a year to the
system - an acre-foot of water is enough water for two families of
four for one year.

"The Dominguez Gap Wetlands project will have a measurable impact on
water quality and return enough water to the groundwater system to
meet the supply demands for 900 families of four for one year,"
Cadena said.

The L.A. River has historically been polluted by stormwater and
runoff that collects on the city streets and communities, due to
littering and illegal dumping of automobile fluids and other

"We want the public to know it starts with them; the cigarette butts
they drop, the trash," Cadena said. "They are a key component to
water quality and helping solve the problem."


North side yard flowers - finally

After years of waiting - seriously, it's been at least 5 years that this plant has been in the ground - I have more than just two or three flowers.

Yes, it's an exotic. I planted it before my current native fascination. Yes, it's commonly planted along the freeway soundwalls here, suggesting a plebian and not-at-all-difficult-to-grow nature. Yes, it's really taken more than 5 years to flower like this. Yes, I am still pleased.

It's some sort of trumpet vine. The actual cultivar name is lost in the mists of time.

What did I do differently in the past year that could have caused it to flower? Nothing. Perhaps you could say I was served no vine before its time.

Wikipedia has this to say about trumpet vine.
"The vigor of the trumpet vine should not be underestimated. In warm weather, it puts out huge numbers of tendrils that grab onto every available surface, and eventually expand into heavy woody stems several centimeters in diameter. It grows well on arbors, fences, telephone poles, and trees, although it may dismember them in the process. Ruthless pruning is recommended. Outside of its native range this species has the potential to be highly invasive, even as far north as New England."


That's the name of a new blog find of mine. They garden and it also looks like they too are renovating their house.


Water rationing this summer?

A May 2 article in the LA Times predicts another water shortage this summer in California. Apparently our nice amount of rain this winter didn't persist for very long as snowpack in the Sierras: In March, we were at 97% of normal snowpack thanks to a nice series of storms that rolled through California. However, since then we haven't had any of our normally anticipated later March, April, or May showers. Add to this recent court decisions to divert water for ecological reasons, and you have a convergence of factors that will probably result in a water shortage (even rationing is possible) this summer.

If my records are correct, at the end of February we had our last good storm here in LA. We had no rain in March, and early April brought only a light sprinkle. Nonetheless, in early April I stated that we were more likely than not to get another rainfall. I was wrong. Northern California has been suffering with a similar problem along with unusually warm weather that has melted snowpack more rapidly than usual.

Peoples' lawns will be the first to go, of course.

...After a record-dry 2006-07 snow year, water managers had hoped this year would bring ample snow and rainfall to fill reservoirs and ease worries about water shortages. Those concerns have been exacerbated by a long drought in the Colorado River Basin and a federal court ruling curbing water deliveries from Northern California.

Cities throughout Southern California supplement their own local supplies with two major sources outside the region: Sierra water pumped south through the State Water Project, and water transported west from the Colorado River.

Los Angeles traditionally has gotten 30% to 60% of its water from the Eastern Sierra via the Los Angeles Aqueduct, but it still buys water imported from the north and east.

"I think we're all facing a worrisome water picture," said H. David Nahai, general manager of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.

Statewide, early hopes of a wet year faltered when snowfall in some areas of the Sierra -- the source of much of the state's water -- virtually stopped in early March. The months of March and April combined were the driest in the northern Sierra since 1921....

...State meteorologist Elissa Lin fell short of officially declaring a drought. "It's been a very tough two years for water supply in California," Lin said. "All of these things are pointing in that direction. . . . Certainly, if we go into a third year, we're looking at some critical situations."

Further tightening water supplies, state deliveries to Southern California were slashed in December after a federal court decision last summer aimed at protecting endangered smelt in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.

U.S. District Judge Oliver Wanger, who ordered those restrictions, is scheduled to hold hearings in June to decide whether to impose further cutbacks to protect chinook salmon and Central Valley steelhead trout.

LA Times article on Sierra snowpack.

There's discussion of what motivates people to NOT conserve in the present climate:

"Water is too cheap, until they get the prices right to encourage wise use of water by hitting people in the wallets, they will be pi$$ing in the wind to get people to conserve.

Which gives rise to the sentiment previously expressed of if I conserve they will just route the "saved" water to the profligate user." -Sunsetbeachguy

To which I respond:

I think you have it slightly wrong. What motivates my sentiment is that in previous rationing years, water allocations have been based on historic consumption.

So why should I take extraordinary measures to conserve now when that makes my water allocation during drought unlivable? Furthermore, there is an established history of early adopters of conservation measures being screwed for their investment when later widespread adoption is encouraged by rebate programs.

I do the sensible things right now to save water because I'm a responsible adult, but if were the type who already lived with buckets in my shower what could I do to further reduce consumption when I'm allocated down in a rationing year?

The bottom line is that I'm not in a mode of "If I don't use it someone else will". I'm in a mode of "Don't make my life unlivable when I have to cut back further."

Note: After only a nanosecond more additional thought I think that raising prices more dramatically as you consume more water really would get to the heart of the aggregate water consumption problem. Nonetheless, history has shown that water allocations ARE based on previous consumption, so even if water were priced aggressively and progressively the thought process holds for those anticipating either rationing or rebate.

Gardena Willows wetland restoration - 3rd Saturday

Received on email today

8:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.
Flowers are Blooming!
APRIL 19, 2008
MAY 17, 2008
JUNE 21, 2008
Meet at the Willows Entrance in
Arthur Johnson Park (formerly South Park)
Between Normandie & Vermont-
One block north of Artesia
1200 West 170th St., Gardena, CA
Join in habitat restoration and
learning about this beautiful
environment. Wear work
clothes and sturdy shoes.
Tools, gloves & water will be
FUNDRAISING—The “FRIENDS” are collecting
CRV aluminum cans, glass & plastic bottles.
Please help!! Bring on above dates & times.
Any questions please call 310-217-9539. Volunteers under the age of 15 years must
be accompanied by an adult.
Organizations/youth groups please R.S.V.P.

Website: http://www.gardenawillows.org Email: gardenawillows@pacbell.net
Mailing Address: 2027 W 149th Street Gardena, CA 90249