Away for a while

I'm going to a take a brief blog vacation. I'll be back soon.


Rain 0.44"; season total 17.38"

0.38" in the morning of 24 March.
0.01" got the ground wet on 25 March
0.05" recorded on 26 March in the AM.

When reading my rain gauge I've discovered that I have a higher (and, I believe, more accurate) reading if I fling the rain gauge around in a semicircle, driving water droplets that are on the sides of the gauge into the bottom by centrifugal force.* There can be a few 1/100 ths difference in readings before vs after using this technique.

I had previously used a technique where I moved the gauge slowly about such that the main body of water flowed up the sides and captured rogue droplets stuck on the sides with surface tension.

I'm certain that had I looked I would have found this rain gauge pitfall described elsewhere. But what fun would that be.

*centrifugal force from the point of view of a droplet. But of course if I were a strict adherent to classical physics I would say that I see a centripetal force on the droplets.



Rain 0.28"; season total 16.44"

That 0.28" happened to fall when I needed to make a long walk to my car. That was without an umbrella since I made the decision this morning that blue skies in the am meant blue skies all day. By afternoon the sun was shining like it had never rained.

- Posted at great expense from my iPhone

Rain 2.48"; season total 16.16"

We're having a high rainfall year officially now. With some more storms coming through later this week we'll soon be into the high teens of inches for the year.

2.48" total for this storm with
2.20" measured at 6 pm on the 20th and
0.28" measured on the morning of the 21st with clear skies ahead for the day.

Update: Based on blue skies this AM I didn't take an umbrella and got caught in a downpour today, so there will be another blog post later on.  Rain is expected about every other day this week and we already have the second highest rainfall in the past seven years that I've tracked in my back yard.  The gray dashed line in the graph below is this year's rainfall.  Only the seriously large rainfall of 2004-05 exceeds it.

- Posted at great expense from my iPhone


Back yard

I figured that "Amanda" would have a mustache, but was pleasantly surprised that she was an actual female. Craigslist had come through for me and Amanda arrived with her boyfriend to take my pile of unused bricks away.

The bricks were one of the last tasks needed to clean up the yard.

Click for what I hope is a nice panoramic view.

- Posted at great expense from my iPhone


Stars of the meadow

Poppies are the stars of the meadow right now. There's Blue-eyed grass and Yarrow mixed in with a couple other things, but its the poppies that are taking the prizes right now.  I'm adding supplemental water and hoping for one last storm to give me some additional punch with the blooms.

My only regret is that I wish I had not used the inland poppy variety. 


Rain barrels schmain barrels

Someone else has cottoned to the fact that rain barrels are a gyp. Though I've not previously heard of Owen Dell, he seems to be a well-respected enviro-writer who is "master of the craft: Landscape architect, educator, and author". Thanks to Emily Green (previous link) I became aware of some of his recent writing where he calls bullshit on the cult of the rain barrel, using the generally-higher-rainfall-than-Los Angeles area of Santa Barbara as his point of reference.

Of course my reader already knows that rain barrels don't get the job done due to my insightful series of articles on the cult of the rain barrel.

Go and read Owen's blog and skip to the part where he writes rain barrel suppliers for more information:


I have a 7,500 square foot lot, and I use about 140,000 gallons of water per year for landscape irrigation. A single 60-gallon rain barrel will supply 0.00043 of my annual water needs, making it necessary for me to have 2,333 barrels to meet those needs. They will fill almost a quarter of an acre of land if placed side-by-side. My lot is only about .17 acres, and the house and garden take it all up. Do you have any suggestions? Thank you.

The responses are illuminating.


Rain 0.01"; season total 13.68"

I had hoped for more rain. Perhaps I'll get some today. However, overnight we had barely enough to get my rain gauge wet so I'm call it 0.01".

0.01" - 07 Mar 2011


Invasive plants at Home Depot and Lowes?

Hot on the heels of my find of Ceanothus 'Yankee Point' at Home Depot, I found this on Saturday at both Home Depot and Lowes.

Scotch broom (Cytisus scoparius) and French broom (Genista monspessulana) are scourges of the local back country and while I know there are supposed to be "non-invasive" types such as this one, I'm still dismayed every time I see it since I don't know what sort of testing these plants go through before being sold at Home Depot and its ilk.

This one is being sold as Genista (Cytisus) x spachiana (Sweet Broom) which is believed to be a cross between Genista canariensis and Genista stenopetala. It will cross again with the invasive French Broom, which is how we have the selection Cytisus 'Porlock'.

Researchers are puzzled why Broom is such an innocuous plant in its home ranges and so invasive here.

California native meadow rejuvenation

Hot on the heels of my somewhat remorseful post about my meadow neglect is a post about meadow rejuvenation.

Weeds dug:

Mulch down:

I think that the Platonic ideal meadow doesn't have a mulch, but mine does now. It's simply too much work to contend with the weeds otherwise. I chose a shredded bark mulch because I thought it would decompose fast enough to mimic decomposition in an actual meadow while still keeping the weeds down. I also thought it would stay on the slight slopes that I've built and not roll or wash off.

I had the help of Saul and Juli who worked with me all day and we managed to weed and prune the whole front yard as well as other miscellaneous tasks.

- Posted at great expense from my iPhone


rain 0.20"; season total 13.67"

We had a steady rainfall last night - something in excess of what I expected given the forecasts - and ended up with:

0.20" on 03 Mar 2011

This wet season looks to be the second highest amount of rainfall in the past 7 years.