Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Student Science Experiment in Dänemark finds Plants won't grow near Wi-Fi router

Photo: girls from 9b

Ninth-graders in Dänemark design science experiment
to test the effect of cellphone radiation on Water Cress
plants. These surprising results are causing a stir in the
world's Scientific Communities.
I've been researching something which appears to be very very serious going on here in Sweden in both the wilds and Urban City gardens. I first noticed it when I first got home back from the United States, because all around my neighbourhood, these various different species of conifers are all dying at once and there seems to be no one species which is immune to this blight which I would call, "Fire Blight on Steroids". Every single kind of Cypress, Junipers, Cedars, and even some of the native Scots Pine are showing some effects. I tried to do a bit of Googling to find anyone else noticing this, but nothing yet. Although, many citizens here in Göteborg are talking about it. During the Google search, I stumbled across this story out of Dänemark which appeared around the middle of May 2013. Such a simple experiment and revealing given modern Mankind's addiction to everything electronic. 

What's incredible about this experiment was that it was created based on other observations and questions about an entirely different problem. The girls noticed that if they slept with their Cell or Mobile Phones near their heads at night, they had problems concentrating at school the next day. The school had no specialized equipment and facilities for testing out such an experiment, so it was decided that they would test out Cell Phone radiation on plants instead.

Photo courtesy of Kim Horsevad
These are what are known as KarseFrö (Lepidium sativum) or Garden Cress Seeds. There were six trays of the seeds which were put into a room without the effects of the radiation, and six trays of seeds which another room next to two routers. According to the girls, this way of experimenting emitted about the same type of radiation emitted by Cell Phones. Notice the healthy tray of seeds in the tray above which were grown in the room with no radiation influence from the Router whatsoever.

Photo courtesy of Kim Horsevad
They waited about twelve days, observed, measured, weighed and finally took pictures documenting growth along the way. The results really spoke for themselves. These Cress Seeds above grown inside the room with the Router had not grown and many that did were mutated or dead. 

Photo: Kim Horsevad
From left to right: Lea Nielsen, Mathilde Nielsen, Signe Nielsen, Sisse Coltau, and Rikke Holm. The experiment secured these girls in the finals in the competition of "Young Scientists", but it was only the beginning as other outside interests have been impressed and want to repeat the experiment. Good for them and their teacher.
Researchers from other countries like Nederland (Netherlands), England and Sweden have shown interest. One of them here in Sweden is Olle Johansson, professor at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm. He will now an attempt to repeat this experiment with a Belgian research colleague, Professor Marie-Claire Cammaert at the Université  libre de Bruxelles, for trial. He had this comment about the girls below.
"The girls are within the scope of their knowledge and skills implementing and developing a very elegant job. The wealth of detail and accuracy is exemplary, choosing the right Garden cress is very intelligent, and I could go on."  
"I sincerely hope that they spend their future professional life to researching, because I definitely think they have a natural aptitude for it. Personally, I would love to see these people on my team." 
Olle Johansson 
Article Source from Dänemark

Back to my horrific and frantic search for anything regarding this mysterious sudden death syndrome effecting most all of the evergreens here in southern Sweden. I'll keep looking and I've taken lots of photos. I'll post a gallery of them soon. 

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Always Collecting Seeds & Plants

even when I have no Place to put them
Alligator Juniper in Anza CA
This morning I replied to a comment post on my Alligator Juniper post to Palomar & Southwestern Colleges Biology Teacher Robyn Waayers. The post was about an Alligator Juniper I had collected while on a visit up Carr Canyon in the Huachuca Mountains above Sierra Vista, Arizona. The tree of course was only about six inches tall, but as I showed in the photo of it which I took at the end of May 2013 this year, it is now about one meter high. Believe it or not, the present property owners don't even know the tree is there. Anyway, it also got me thinking other things I have collected over the years, even collecting things when I have no real place to put them. Seeds are some of those things. Both in California and here in Sweden, I have stashes of seeds in plastic bags everywhere. Sometimes I use them and often not. I suppose I have sort of ScrubJay tendencies. Robyn commented on the uniqueness of those mountains and she is correct. These mountains along with the Santa Ritas to the west and Chiracahuas to the east are unique in that Tropical and Temperate species of all forms of life come together and blend beautifully. Birds, Animals, Plants, everything. I hate to admit it, but perhaps I should have collected in some of those areas. I'm sure there are some rules written somewhere against it, but it's that darn ScrubJay Syndrome in me. I just can't help myself. When my wife and I have visited the Canary Islands in winter to get away from the Swedish cold, I still collect and some things for which have no business outside in my garden in this Boreal Forested climate.

I wrote Robyn back about something else I had collected up there another time and that was a Huachuca Agave. It's amazing to be up so high in a Sky Island forest as they are called in Southern Arizona and find Agaves inside the old growth Pine/Oak Forest understory. You just don't associate in your mind such things coming together. And yet there they are. This tiny agave I took was actually a pup I had separated from the mother plant was about the size of the palm of my hand. I planted it under the New Mexico Locusts I had collected years previous on a visit to Ruidoso, New Mexico. The Agave grew quite well, but when I sold the property, I just couldn't part with it. Hence I brought it down to my Mum's house in El Cajon CA, but I didn't have a place for it, so I took it to my place of work and replanted it on the hill. 

Photo Mine
This is from our trip to the Sonoran Desert Museum in Tucson AZ & the Huachuca Agave display

Photo Mine
And there is it. Even has pups on the other side of it. I actually acquired it back in 1996. It's a long way away from it's form birth place high forested shady elevation in another state to a fun sun much hotter southern exposure in El Cajon California.

Photo Credit: Tom Peck
Another plant I had collected from up there in the Huachucas Mtns was a beautiful native Coral Bells variety with exceptional deep lipstick red colour. So many I had seen back over a decade ago were many with pale red or pink flowers in Nurseries, so a deep bright red was an eye catcher. Unfortunately it was along the side of a dangerous rock cliff face which also had slippery seep or cienega which hydrated the plants. I actually had to scale up this rock face a bit and reach over from the side and pluck out a tiny specimen. Coral Bells will often form several bunches which can be separated to form and grow newer plants. For people unfamiliar with Carr Canyon Falls and where I plucked this plant from, here is an illustrated example to the right and above. This is a dangerous area and it notoriously known for many deaths by people taking *cough-cough* chances like me. So please don't do this. I no longer take such stupid idiot chances, although it doesn't mean I don't think about doing such at times. Fortunately now I simply cop out. 

Credit: Tom and Carol Sykes
I brought the plant back to my place in Anza and planted it under a fairly moist area some Redshanks of all plants. But as you can see from the photo by Tom Sykes, plants you do not normally associate together do quite often form strange bedfellows there in the Huachuca Mountains. The plant actually grew into several and once again, when I moved I took them with me to El Cajon CA. I placed them in my mum's newly created planter I built. They did wonderfully for a year until my Mum's stupid Wienerdog (Dachshund) which is a tweaked disturbed hound with an obsession for fetching and if you didn't continually throw her toy, she would go and destroy what plants she noticed you would so lovely attend to. My sister's dog (a Border Collie) was also another one of those insane fetch dogs. I spent over a month creating a kool native plant scene and installed a nice lawn at her brand purchased tract home in Lakeside CA in 2001. This dog was jealous if you refused to fetch and would deliberately tear out plants in retaliation. And that's exactly what happened, it totally trashed her yard. I literally found both of those dogs extremely irritating. What's even more frustrating than that is the inability to move the owner's of such dogs into action to put a stop to it. As a landscape supervisor in San Diego for that property management company, I had developed a reputation for hating the client's dogs. That was untrue, what I disliked was an owner's unwillingness to control and prevent their dog from crapping on our public lawns, especially since the Human owner or master is the main one who has power and authority to make the dog behave. That never happened. Needless to say, those original Huachuca Coral Bells no longer exist at Mum's place. *sigh*

Apache Pine
On another note, I also mentioned another tree for which I had taken back to California from Arizona. This was the Apache Pine I mentioned yesterday in the Alligator Juniper post. I did however, purchase it from James Koweek, who in turn actually did climb the Huachucas and collect the seedlings in the wild because he could never find viable seed or had trouble germinating them if he did acquire it, I forget exactly what he said. But I did have a Nursery receipt when I crossed that California/Arizona border at the Blythe Agricultural Station. But it didn't stop that officer from taking that plant out of the container and messing with the root ball which I thought would have done it in for sure, which was no doubt what he wanted as well. Fortunately the Apache Pine and me had other ideas. Apaches have always been hard to kill. *smile* Sadly, as I mentioned in that post yesterday, a tree trimmer who rented my old place cut it down for a place to park his equipment. Whatever. But just to let folks interested in landscaping in Southern California know, the Apache Pine does extremely well in landscape or garden situations in the interior valleys which are often very hot and dry. Take for an example, the Wild Animal Safari Park south of Escondido in the San Pasqual Valley. I took photos there back in 2007 when we last visited. My favourite place in all that Park hasn't always been around the African or Asian animals, though they are kool. It's the native plant garden and desert plant garden areas. 

photo: Mine
In so many ways, this remarkable Pine is similar to Canary Island Pine and would make an excellent replacement. But unfortunately you just don't find them anywhere in any of the local So-Cal Nurseries. Most of the So-Cal Native Plant Nurseries won't touch anything out of state, well, unless of course it's Baja. But I have to admit that it's ability to survive and thrive down along the interior valleys of Southern California does impress me because even the native Jeffrey and Ponderosa Pines up in the local mountains will not do as well. They are both very smog sensitive and demand a cooler environment in which the local high elevations offer.

Photo Credit: Mine 2011
This is a closeup of one of the branches of an Apache Pine near the cage enclosure of the Thick Billed Parrot which is a native to southern Arizona. In some ways their cones are similar to Canary Island, but just a bit more round and wider.

Photo: Mine
This shot of the Apache Pines is taken next to the green & red Thick-Billed Parrot enclosure. It's appropriate since both the parrot and the pine share the same habitat in Arizona. Clearly though, anyone can see the tree does rather well at these hotter drier locations where Jeffrey, Ponderosa and other high elevation So-Cal natives would and do often fail. I really hope one day someone out there gets a clue and decides to collect enough seed to start promoting to the public the potential value of Apache Pine in California Urban Landscapes. If you don't believe it can be done, just visit the San Diego Safari Park and Native Plants collection display.

I don't know if my collecting days are finished or what. I don't have the resources for establishment anymore. Or even a favourable climate for that matter. But I still have this inner drive to collect seed and small plant specimens. So I guess I'll always have ScrubJay Syndrome, but I think I can live with it. As a result, I have learned so much over the years with this quirky handicap. 


Thursday, June 20, 2013

Alligator Juniper (Juniperus deppeana) @ Ramsey Canyon Arizona

Photo: Mine
On some previous trips to Arizona I always seemed to find something I wanted to take back as a specimen souvenir. Just to see  how it would fare in an Anza high Mountain ecosystem. Many similar climates around Arizona when comparing Anza Valley. This particular trip where the plant was collected was up above Ramsey Canyon in the Huachuca Mountains above Sierra Vista Arizona. The large tree specimens and signage above were down in the Canyon walk itself. The little tree I found was from driving up Carr Canyon Road just south of Ramsey Canyon Rd which takes you up to higher elevations. As I revisited Anza this year I could see that people are still making the same old blunders purchasing plants from conventional Retail Plant Nurseries only to see their landscape choices fail. But I brought back a tiny 5 or 6 inch high Alligator Juniper seedling from that trip. The time was summer in August. I know, odd time for taking a specimen where most would have collected it in winter or early Spring. But it is possible to collect and transplant if you know what to do and do it quickly. I've done Sycamores and Big Leaf Maples this time of year and with great success as well. 


Thumb sized PT Mycorhizae Truffle associated with
young Slash Pines
Back in the 1990s, I was still using Plant Health Care Inc's (PHC) mycorrhizal inoculation mixes. This particular mix I used was called Tree Saver Injectable. I never used a high pressure injection system, I simply used to apply the powder which contained natural humic acids for triggering root growth and most importantly Pisolithus tinctorius spores. I also added some wild collected spores from truffles collected off the Dunn Ranch just north of Hamilton Creek Canyon in eastern Anza. The initial response after a month of transplanting the 6 inch high Alligator Juniper was that a thumb sized Truffle appeared at the base of the tree. Truffles will not appear unless they are able to draw off the carbons of their host. The picture above from Forestry Images for which I am a member, is almost as exact as what I have experienced with all pine and oak transplants or new tree inoculation. Only after the next rainy season and Spring growth will you ever notice any improved vigorous grow in both stems and foliage. The odd thing here with the Juniper however, PT Mycorrhizae is host specific and supposedly will NOT colonize with Junipers. Surprise surprise!

Photo Mine

This little tree was planted in 1996. It never struggled, but did get nibbled on by rabbits until I put the chicken wire around it. Babied it the first your with regular weekly water and tapered off with monthly. After that first year I did nothing. As you can see, it is now about one meter high as of June 2013. Also, notice I put it smack in the middle of old growth Redshank or Ribbonwood (Adenostoma sparsifolium) Chaparral High Desert Elfin Forest. I
never do give it another thought to remove what many people usually consider evil competition. I also contacted Dr Donald Marx (PHC Chief Scientist) in Frogmore South Carolina when I discovered that the colonization actually took. He was blown away too. So was I. So I sent him some pics. It's amazing how much there is yet to be discovered, especially in such an arrogant world where the leadership believes it knows it all. Eventually when the root system reaches a maximum point of establishment and the top of the Juniper pushes through the Chaparral tree canopy, it'll really take off. In the mean time, the environmental conditions will allow very few lower tree branches and being supported in early life by the chaparral will have a nice clean trunk for which that characteristic Alligator bark will manifest itself beautifully.

Photo: Mine
Photo: Mine
With Alligator Juniper, it's that characteristic reptilian bark pattern that catches and captures your attention while out on a hike. Some giant twisting individuals look like some prehistorical beast trying to free itself from the Earth's hold on it. Arizona Highways one year had a picture of a long dead Alligator Juniper, but which it's skeletal size still provided an illustrative vision of what it must have looked like when still alive.

Photo: Mine

Some interesting fire ecology facts about Alligator Juniper. While like most other living plants this tree will burn, but it also has the amazing ability to sprout back from it's root system. It's rugged reptilian looking bark is tough enough to withstand fire and has been noted that most canopies and crowns of Alligator Juniper are untouched, although lower limbs may be scorched. The foliage example as referenced in the picture above reveals just how beautiful this tree could be for the landscape and especially in areas where there are water issues.

There were other trees and plants worthy of note in the Huachucas. Apache Pine (Pinus engelmannii) is another one of those interesting pines that doesn't fit the profile of pines in So-Cal. It has a brighter green foliage which is itself much like those long subtropical needles pines. When it is a young sapling, it is often referred to as the "Hippie Pine". I acquired one years before my Alligator Juniper find, from a Native Plant Nursery in Elgin Arizona just south of Sonoita. The Nursery was owned by James (Jim) Koweek of Elgin and he later moved his Diamond JK Nursery to Sonoita Arizona just to the north at the Junctions of Hwy 82 & Hwy 83. He has since sold it and now has a Soil Preparation Services company and website here:

Photo: Mine

This particular Apache Pine was up that same Carr Canyon Rd. I planted one of these Apache Pines on my Anza property in the early 1990s. After I sold that property in 2002, in 2003 it was rented out by the new owner to a guy who was a tree trimmer. He had lots of equipment and wanted a place for parking it. Understandable since Anza is known for having plenty of citizens with sticky finger tendencies. But he leveled half a dozen fairly large pines to do this along with Chaparral and the Apache and Arizona White Pines were among these. When I visited a few years later and discovered the loss, it was similar to my shock with the Rattlesnake Mountain Torrey Pine removal. Oh well, it was no longer my place anyway. But that Apache pine was almost 10 foot tall with good branch density when I left. The foliage of course stood out with it's bright green (almost Ponderosa looking) and did also prove that such pines would do well there. For all you off the hill plant shoppers, get a clue.

Photo: Mine

Just by way of location and height reference for the former Apache Pine on my property as of 2002. This photo above is a fortunate Coulter Pine that was not touched by the tree trimmers Ax or Chainsaw. You can see the height and branch circumference here are very very healthy. The Apache Pine was on the other side of this photo angle to the north and this tree was only one and a half foot tall compared to the 10 foot tall Apache when I left. So the Apache would have been more than doubled in it's size today if still alive. Also keep in mind as far as growth and health issues go, none of these trees on my former property are watered and have even endured the low rainfall years (eleven or twelve) since 2001 until this present day. So they still haven't done too bad. Shows what a healthy mycorrhizal grid network will do for a landscape system.
And Finally - 

Photo: Mine
Photo: Mine
Photo: Mine

These last three pictures are of the meadows of grasses and flowers leaving Ramsey Canyon back toward Hwy 91 South. Keep in mind the best time of year to visit is July/August when the summer Monsoons are in full force. Sad to say, from the climate shifting News Reports I am hearing, there may be an abnormal shift from July/August to September/October. This may well screw up many things with regards several ecosystems in the southwest.

Good Reading References:

U.S. Forest Service & Alligator Jumiper Fire Ecology

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Mountain Fire Updates for Trails End and Camp Joe Sherman & Chaparral Fuel Management

2013 Mountain Fire Update July 17, 2013

Evacuation of all Residents if Trails End and Camp Joe Sherman and other residents on Morris Ranch Road above Garner Valley

CBS Los Angeles: "Evacuation Ordered For Idyllwild and Fern Valley Area As Mountain Fire Grows To 19,000 Acres"

Credit: Cal-Fire

Weather Shift Update July 19, 2013: Weather-Underground Interactive map of fire region

One of the sadest things to me besides the destruction of folks homes and other property, the area of Trails End has a trailhead location entrance for hiking up to the Pacific Crest Trail along the desert view mountain ridge line. The trail is called Cedar Spring Trail (4E17) and it is one of the only places in ALL of the San Jacinto Mountains [that I know of and from what the James Preserve told me] where Big Leaf Maple (Acer macrophyllum) is located as far as habitat. There are a number of others, but that endemic isolated anomaly stands out most in my mind. There is no doubt that Trails End community is in a sort of Death Trap if caught under the right circumstances. The video by Cal-Fire below illustrates just how close the fire is moving in that direction. Incredible that this all started on private property a couple days ago. Wonder what the investigation will reveal ?

Idyllwild Town Crier: BREAKING: Mountain Fire updates

image by Tom McGiffin

Trails End Community at the end of Morris Ranch Road as fire comes up over the hill on July 18, 2013. Below here is the photo I took in May 2013.

Photo: Mine

Looking straight on from the top of the hill on Morris Ranch Road, this is a view of Trails End as of  June 2013 where you see all the Jeffrey and Coulter Pines over on the left side. Incredible to think that all this which took so long to create and where many my have lived most of their lives may be gone now forever [well, in a life time anyway]. You can just barely see the Cedar Spring Trail over on the lower right going upwards in a switch back direction. Photo above here reveals fire coming over the ridges.

Below is the original article on Camp Joe Sherman and the Fire Breaks they have created. It will be interesting to see what transpires if anything here.

I believe it was here that Bert Wilson of Las Pilitas Native Plant Nursery did one of his habitat Restoration Projects back in the early 1990s, but it may have been earlier. I dare say whatever advice he gave them way back when has not been followed as evidenced by the supposedly high tech land management around the Camp perimeter and the sterile hygiene regimen employed around their Pine Tree Plantation.

Photo Mine

Girl Scout Council of Orange County
Camp Joe Sherman

This location is on Morris Ranch Road above the Garner Valley floor off of Hwy 74 in the San Jacinto Mountains. In the old days it didn't have all the continual chaparral removal programs which are present now. Hardly the picture of pristine beauty one would expect in such a scout camp setting.

Photo Credit: Mine
Photo Credit: Mine
Photo Credit: Mine

The fire break creation around the entire Camp wouldn't really save much anyway if weather conditions were just right. I've never seen nor experienced many of the lightning fires doing that much damage up in this region of the San Jacinto Mountains anyway. When there have been lightning strikes up here, they always tended to burn slowly anyway as a result of the high moisture content of these higher elevation areas and always accompanied by a lot of white smoke as opposed to black. The dangerous Santa Ana wind currents have historically tended to blow most fires which may have ignited east of this location near Santa Rosa Mountain, over towards Thomas Mountain anyway.

At the bottom photo however, they have almost guaranteed a possibility that a fire will start as a result of Human stupidity or some modern day Psychopath's arson activity. Which is easier to catch fire, green or brown dead vegetation ?

U.S. Forestry
One of the earlier things I remember in the 1980s was an attempt to transform the heavy Chaparral (which in reality contained many Oak species) woodlands to a Pine Forest. This is not a surprise because most Forests are pictured or illustrated as a conifer type of ecosystem. Just do a Google on ALL manner of Forest Service or Forestry symbolism and a Conifer of some type is almost always illustrated on the official literature, uniforms, equipment etc. Take the lower valley example of the State Route Hwy 74 "Palms to Pines Scenic Highway" , where there is Government Policy Mandate through the San Jacinto Mtns, but especially Garner Valley. The general public is fed an illustrated practice example of clean healthy forests as being strictly Pine Trees with a sterile carpet for understory. So it's not surprising when you see private property concerns replicating what they think the Forest Service Experts doing. The unconscious reason on the part of the Public is, 'surely the Forestry must know what they are doing'. When the original Pine Plantation was put in around the Girl Scout Camp, they stripped bare the landscape of what was believed to be the competition. Such general first step land sterilizing for tree planting programs are almost always undertaken as priority one. I mean who in their right mind would plan a reforestation project without first first stripping the competition from those poor helpless L.A. Moran Nursery grown trees ? Well let's see, people ignorant of how ecosystems actually work and function ? Anyway that's exactly what they did and it was following the outdated archaic thinking as set forth in most Government projects. But they also have mistakenly over the years kept up the same chaparral clearance program believing they are helping their trees by eliminating their  competition. WE we know, that couldn't be further from the truth.

Photo Credit: Mine
Photo Credit: Mine

First I'd like to start off saying that I am not opposed to such forest re-establishment in such areas. Such areas as this had such healthy forested areas prior to late 19th Century obsession with raw building materials and the numerous Sawmills which were established below. Also not to mentioned prior to two specific major forest fires which started east from here and burned massive amounts of forested land around 1920, only to have another almost similar Forest Fire burn the same regions and destroy what come back of re-vegetation that took place after that original first fire. No I don't believe it was 1000s of years ago when there was more forest. Forest may take a thousand years to reach very substantial old growth maturity, but it takes a mere spitting distance of time (a 100+ yrs in geologic timescale) to ruin it all and memories fade fast if there is no one to document or anyone old enough and still around to explain what once was. But I will always be critical of the methods used which hurt as opposed to helping such a forestry project to reach success.    

I tried taking other shots of the tree plantings done years ago by the Scout Camp, but my Camera lost battery power. Whatever. But as you can see, a regular maintenance program of chaparral removal has been undertaken over the years because of the mistaken concern over chaparral being competitive, aggressive and  restrictive'  No doubt the Scouts who are being taught this uninformed conventional outdated thinking are being driven away from what real Conservation should be. The Camp's land sterility maintenance scheme does nothing in the mean time to advance the trees into a mature forest. Interestingly, this area receives far higher rainfall averages in both winter & Summer Monsoonal rainy seasons. Anza has annual rainfall averages around 14.41 inches and Mountain Center 27.08 inches. And Terwilliger a hair less rainfall than elsewhere around Anza valley, and yet I had more successes with tree transplanting there where it should not succeed (according to experts), than this project above. While there were the obvious first couple years of irrigation life support and inoculation with mycorrhizal fungal spores collected from the Dunn Ranch area, it never the less was a replication of what I had learned Here . But I also remember there were some artificial hand watering being undertaken at the Scout Camp as well. Also, only 40% of the Chaparral was removed at my project, as opposed to their sterile landscape stripping which removed 100% of the Chaparral cover at the Morris Ranch Rd location. Look, once again, I'm not being critical here for the sake of being critical against some authority as is popular today. I actually want those projects to succeed. But then such projects need to be done correctly and sometimes that means dumping the bad conventional ideological science which some researchers came up with decades ago, and yet it is still being pimped today as 'ahead of it's time science'. As time progresses forward, I'm looking at many of these State and National Forest Service organizations as nothing more than giant Military styled Fire Fighting Units. But in the times we live in, they have no choice. Plus, how do you change people ? How can authorities get people to do the right responsible thing when it comes to attitude, conduct and actions ? Answer, You can't!


It's time to leave the Lab and Ideology Indoctrination Department and move on out into the field the way Science was practiced decades ago, observe, meditate and replicate what you see all around you. 

Monday, June 10, 2013

Fond Memories of Hawkeye's Hometown Crabapple Cove

Anyone remember where Crabapple Cove is from ?

Artist Robert A Wieferich - Crabapple Cove, Maine
Was watching an old episode of Mash with Hawkeye Pierce and the subject of his old hometown came up. The name is of course a mythical place, but most don't remember that there was a novel titled "M*A*S*H goes to Maine" written in 1972 by Author Richard Hooker who was famous for his 1968 book, "MASH: A Novel About Three Army Doctors". But that hometown of Hawkeye got me thinking about some pictures I took last year while leaving Slottsskogen Park in Göteborg after work one day. The subject of course is Crabapples which are popular here in folks gardens. The bright red tiny apples hang on afterwards for ages during the first part of winter. These particular trees were on the front of a commercial store front and Apartment building.
Photo Credit: Mine
These trees are attractive in their own little way. I've never seen them attacked by any insect pests and the blend very well in a wonderfully put together woodland garden landscape design among just the right plants.

Photo: Mine

Photo Credit: Mine
Admittedly, these little fruits are so perfect looking in shape and colour. No disease blight or insect attack blemishes. Makes you wonder why we can't grow standard apples with such perfection without chemicals. For those who know Crabapples you may think their sour tartness is a protection for them. I mean what self respecting insect would dare attempt biting into such a pucker puncher. But truthfully, I did try a couple of these little bright red gems and they were not at all insipid as you may think. While they definitely had a bit of tart, they were also very flavourful and slightly sweet. This tree's variety would have made some of that great Apple Butter Jam people back in New England are known for making with handed down family recipes.

Photo Credit: Mine

Norway Maples in Autumn Colour

Photo Credit: Mine
These photos were all taken on November 1, 2012. This is an ice covered pond, but not the type of ice you can walk on, as you can see it is a mere thin crust. Just the beginning of winter coming. As much as I hate cold and winter's long dark season here, I have to admit it makes me think of certain food items like the Crabapple Jam or for that matter any type of apple butter jams, especially the ones below which I use to distribute for back in the middle 1990s when I distributed Dudley's Bakery from Mel Ashley and Marylee Stretch. Certain foods taste better on such cool crisp or even very cold days

Credit: Carlos Rull

Julian Jams at Dudley's Bakery,

Santa Ysabel CA
Julian Jams actually does have a Crabapple Butter Jam among others. My flavourite is the Natural no sugar added Apple Butter and the Brandy Apple Butter. But as far as Crabapples go, they'd go great in any woodland landscape setting. Even if you don't eat the apples, they will be utilized by the wildlife anyway during the long cold winter months. In the end, that is really what a woodland garden should be all about, the attracting of wildlife. 

Friday, June 7, 2013

Forestry's Land Mismanagement has an Influencing Effect on it's Citizens

Ever hear the expression, "Like Father Like Son" ? It reminds me of that famous anti-smoking PSA that first aired in September 15, 1967 and ran until 1982. The Father to Son relationship clearly illustrates the power of those viewed as authority figures and how good or bad may result from the responsible or irresponsible  actions of such leadership. Take a look below at this iconic 1960s Anti-Smoking television advertisement.

Something I saw near my mother's place in El Cajon California got me thinking of the poor excuse for leadership the average person has when it comes to land management and fire safety. I was driving down Pepper Drive and noticed this house on a hill where the home owner had stripped bare the top acreage of all coastal sage scrub, which honestly is not very tall as far as most chaparral plant communities. In it's place was thick tall nonnative grasses like European Wild Oats, Mustard, and various other foxtail grasses. The situation is actually worse now than formerly. Now if a fire occurs, them home owner has mere seconds to escape as opposed to minutes in the slower burning chaparral. I once saw a 500 foot hillside in Santee California go up in the most rapidly moving flames in 10 seconds than I had ever seen before. Anyone who has knowledge of northern Santee knows that most all the hillsides there are thick dense grasslands created a century ago by overgrazing by excessive Cattle ranching. It was 1971 and I had climbed Rattlesnake Mountain to watch it that evening. I had a high school acquaintance who was a rookie firefighting trainee who was present and I inquired of him about the explosion of flames on that huge hillside. He said they knew ahead of time what was going to happened and pulled everyone away from that fire line to let the fire run it's course up the slope. I was reminded of this incident from a posted article by Rick Halsey of the Chaparral Institute who was interviewed on the subject of fire and the presently ongoing Powerhouse Fire near L.A. which had much misleading terminology demonizing Chaparral. Yet it did acknowledge some good points.

"Elsewhere on the fire line, crews have come across less thick but quick-burning grasses. The grass burns even faster than the chaparral, making it more dangerous for firefighters."
At the very least, this article did acknowledge the far deadlier potential of grasses and other non-native weedy invasives in creating far more potential for disaster and danger to firefighters. But back to that failed leadership problem. The article references so-called experts who clearly are not an expert in exactly how the Chaparral Plant Community functions, and who spend more time collecting Brownie Points by demonizing these plants than actually offering intelligent viable solutions. Take this well known notorious political sucking up example here:
"Richard Minnich, a geography professor at UC Riverside, has long argued that aggressive fire suppression for small wildfires has created large swaths of land primed to combust because they haven't burned in many years. The result, he argues, is larger and faster moving fires that don't run into enough fire breaks that previous blazes can create."
Demonizing the Chaparral Plant Community apparently is what everyone wants to hear. Hence with such poor examples of leadership referenced above, you have gullible home owners like the example below who hang on to every word and become incapable of thinking logically for themselves and actually doing their own homework on exactly how Nature actually works.

Photo Mine
Well, here is the scene that got me thinking about the propaganda that the average person buys into from the interviewed experts when it comes to land management. Clearly the fire potential here on this hilltop property has been very much accelerated by the improper brush removal and the allowing of non-native invasive weeds to move on in. The home owner now has only seconds as opposed to minutes to escape a fire under the ideal conditions. But let us look further at the irresponsible practices in the Forestry which actually mirror this disaster waiting to happen. 
When my wife and I came out in 2011, we drove up Hwy 74 to visit Idyllwild. along the way I noticed what clearly was a horrible decision making as far as land management and fire safety. I'm assuming it was the U.S. Forest Service, but it may have well been Cal-Fire. At certain intervals along the Hwy 74, they were clear cutting with chain saw all chaparral plants along both sides of the highway. I suppose this was a proposed fire prevention solution as a result of the Baldy Mountain Fire which had it's start along Hwy 74 just before the South Fork San Jacinto hiking trail turnout almost a decade ago. I imagine they saw the potential if the fire had started far below in lower elevation along Hwy 74 which would have taken a fire directly towards Mountain Center or even Idyllwild.. Take a look at the far more dangerous situation they have created which is simply just waiting to happen.

Photos Mine

When we came through in 2011, the ground was bare white decomposed granite soils with several brush piles down next to the road way waiting to be hauled of to a landfill. And while this chaparral has grown back some what, it has done so slowly as a result of low rainfall the past couple of years here. However, notice the grasses have had no problem finding their way where they never once existed previously. Next are some closer views.

Photo: Mine

Photos Mine

I know what their thinking was here in view or the old Baldy Mountain Fire over a decade ago. They most likely assumed someone threw a cigarette out their Car window and started that fire. And yet, with these irresponsible actions here in allowing dry grasses and other non-natives to infiltrate this hillside, they have almost guaranteed that some cigarette will ignite a potentially deadly fire. The Chaparral along here was always beautiful. I mentioned this to friends I took to the South Fork hike to investigate the stream diversion. I said, "Keep a lookout for the Chaparral Currant which should be in bloom along the roadway here". But then there was no Chaparral Currant any longer. It had all been removed. I knew it was there from years of commuting up and down that mountain, but now that was history. Instead there are Foxtail Grasses and European Wild Oats, both of which burn like gasoline. At least under the dander of Chaparral it would never have ignited with a mere cigarette. Of course you can never say never, but chances of fire potential have now increased 90%. The other danger is the rapid burn which would race up these slopes will not allow firefighters a chance to get a head start fire line around these areas. At least if chaparral did start fire, it would start out with white smoke long before roaring fire was created. This would have allowed precious minutes to get a handle on the thing. One year in the 1980s, some idiot did try to start an arson fire at this exact location and someone had enough time to stop at Mountain Center and use a Payphone (Mobile Phones weren't invented yet) and alert Fire Stations who 30 minutes later found the same idiot trying to ignite the chaparral only to create lots of white smoke.
Fortunately, the article referenced above did conclude with an informative and corrective reference from California Chaparral Institute Biologist Richard Halsey:

But other scientists point out that some of the most catastrophic wildfires in the history of Southern California happened in places that had seen large fires just a few years before. 
Those scientists argue that wind-driven fires go through young chaparral and old chaparral alike. 
Rick Halsey, founder and president of the California Chaparral Institute in San Diego, said the age of a chaparral "is not really a significant issue when it comes to fire spread and fire size." 
"Intense, periodic wildfires are common in chaparral areas. But simply letting them burn is not the answer", Halsey said. "Areas that have burned frequently tend to be overrun by invasive weeds and grass, which he said is more flammable than old chaparral."
The biggest problem that will not be admitted is that the leadership is not so much trying to manage land as they are people. How does one go about managing the irresponsible behavior of human beings ? How to you prevent Psychos from deliberately setting wildfires ? How do you prevent irresponsible dumb choices like a guy who performs welding work on his horse trailer next to Foxtails ? How do you stop an idiot from throwing his cigarette out the Car window ? The answer to all of those questions is, you don't, because you can't. They already know it's going to happen anyway, so the strategy has always been lets remove as much of the fuel potential as possible because people cannot and will not change their behavior. This is why much of the so-called fire history cannot be compared with today in regards to the way Nature worked in the past. There is no comparison to the historical past when you try to compare it with modern day human idiocy. More later on the ongoing program of vegetation removal in Garner Valley to save those Park-like setting trees and future plans for stripping areas around Anza that is already on the books.