The Babies are Doing Fine

Site 8 Milkweeds and Yerba Santa on Spring Creek

Mother Nature has been kind to me. When I’ve had to plant or water, she has kept the temperatures cool. Last week, I planted my first site along the Spring Creek. This makes two of ten sites completed for my CA RCD grant. I am making adjustments in each site to see if one thing works better than another. Site 8 is located near a creek with some shade for a portion of the day. The soils stay moist for longer. Contrast this to Site 10, near the original South Plot, which gets sun nearly all day and is located on the top of a hill. I will be monitoring which species perform the best in those conditions.

A few days after planting Site 8, I hiked over to check on the plants. All were well except the yerba santa. She was very healthy in the pot, but may have not liked the transfer or dried out too soon in the four day heat wave we had. I found her still firm but leaves limp.

Heather watering the yerba santa in Site 8 with her hat

I did not bring a bucket with me for watering. Fortunately, I had my tightly woven work hat on. It was able to hold water that I pulled from the creek. There is a small trickle of water still flowing, and when placed underneath the waterfall, it can fill a vessel without too much silt or debris.

Yesterday was one week since planting. This meant it was watering day for Site 8. I have staggered the sites so I am not watering too long into the morning on any given day. Site 10, the South and North Plots and the nectar plants are all on Saturdays. Site 8 and the deer grass hillside are on Sundays. The days will become hotter in a very short time, and it is best to get all the watering done in the morning before it gets too hot.

In my plan, I anticipated availability of water from my small pond and the spring flow in the creek. We got a later start on planting, and then had some scheduling challenges with the cattle rotation, so the pond will not be of as much use to us this year. Fortunately, the Spring Creek is still flowing. It is not moving a great deal of water, but it is enough to noticeably see a flow and keep puddles clear (vs algae filled).

I bring two 1 gallon buckets and fill them at least half way. I haul them a little ways to the planting location. It takes some time and effort. The monarchs are worth it, AND I get exercise. For the last three years, the Spring Creek flowed all year. If this continues, we should be able to pull water from the creek for the plantings. I do have a back up plan if the water gets too low. I will fill vessels with rain water from the tanks and drive them as close to the site as possible, then haul them to the site. We will only need to do this through the summer. In Fall, the plants will eventually lose their leaves and go dormant for the rest of the year into winter.

Deer grass on the eroded side of Spring Creek

I was pleasantly surprised to see that the deer grass was still doing well. That hillside has some tough dirt, and I am hoping that we gave the plants enough room for their roots to develop and get a stronghold on the hillside. I watered them as well on Sunday.

Although I did not document it in this blog two weeks ago, I did plant the second delivery of nectar plants. I planted them near the South Plot and on the east side of my house. In doing so, I am providing the butterflies multiple options near and further away from the milkweed. I will monitor to see if there is a difference in preference. All these plants are doing well two weeks out from planting. There is some creature that snipped a piece of the sulphur buckwheat off, then just left it two feet away. The large branch of the romneya died off after transplanting, but it has significant new growth.

If you are interested, below is the list of nectar plants I planted in the second delivery with numbers and descriptions by Ron Allen (my partnering UC Master Gardener and co-owner of Mariposa Native Plants).

(3) California aster, (2) Coyote mint, (3) White (native) yarrow, (1) Hairy evening primrose (early bloomer, strong plant, big flowers, good for nectar), (1) Carpenteria (beautiful, evergreen, nectar, Fresno foothills), (1) Romneya (beautiful, deciduous, nectar, SoCal), (1) Sulphur buckwheat (native, beautiful yellow flowers, attracts nectaring insects, low-water, does not spread so much)

I feel very fortunate to have my hands in the earth, in a beautiful, quiet place – being able to walk in safety with my fur-babies running around. These are troubled times in the world. Hate is a contagion. It is worse than covid-19. To be able to murder someone simply because they have more melanin in their skin, is a sign of illness and self-hatred. To reduce as non-human people because they don’t think like you, is an illness and self-hatred. What does hate get us? Insecurity. Violence. Disease. When will we realize that we are all one people, that all living things have worth? Instead of building hate, build a garden. Instead of building walls between one another, build a habitat. Allow your energy to be used to facilitate life. I guarantee you, you will feel better.

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