Sunday, March 30, 2014

Native Plants are Hard to Find

After looking through lists of what butterflies eat, I decided that I want to plant another milkweed, a monkey flower, and a California false indigo plant.

I settled on the species Diplacus puniceus, Amorpha californica, and Asclepias californica.

Then I went online to find a place to buy them.

Las Pilitas has Diplacus puniceus, but not Asclepias californica, or Amorpha californica.

 Larner seeds has none of them, but does have Mimulus guttatus and Asclepias eriocarpa which seem like perfectly acceptable substitutes for the monkey flower and milkweed I wanted.

Theodore Payne Nursery has Amorpha californica, but neither the milkweed or monkey flower I wanted nor a suitable substitute. has Asclepias californica, but not Amorpha californica or Diplacus puniceus.

No wonder so few people plant native plants, I will have to buy all three plants from separate sources or wait until I encounter them in a nursery. A lot of the problem may be California. We have everything from redwood forests with lots of rain, to deserts with almost no rain. Elevations from sea level to high mountains. That has resulted in just too many different species for one nursery to handle.

Letter About the Jiffy Mart

I am continuing to harass the local city government. Here is what I sent about a little Jiffy Mart down the street:

Since the zoning is being implemented to match the La Habra General Plan, I thought I would draw your attention to one lot where rezoning would make sense. The lot is 426 Walnut street It was a Jiffy Mart until a few months ago when it closed. Now it is preparing to reopen as a another similar store.

As about the only business in La Habra which is dependent on customers who walk up, rather than drive, the present use of this lot fits into the spirit of the 2035 general plan. The 2035 general plan encourages mixed use neighborhoods, so it should preserve existing commercial sites in residential neighborhoods.
The lot however is zoned low density residential. This means that the owner is unlikely to make any significant upgrades to the building since anything like a major fire would shut it down and replace it with low density residential housing.
While the location for the store is good, the actual building is ugly, and need of serious renovations or even demolishing to create a nicer building. Rezoning to allow a two story live/work loft would be ideal. This sort of mixed use zoning would encourage the owner to invest more into improving the property. Because of that, I urge you to rezone the lot. Due to overly restrictive FAR requirements in the lower density mixed use zoning, I suggest "Mixed-Use Center 3" as the only zoning which might be high density enough to actually result in a nicer building being constructed.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Butterfly Plants

After searching through a list of what plants caterpillars eat, I went to Tree of Life Nursery and picked out two more plants. I got a buckwheat plant, Eriogonum fasciculatum foliolosum, and a plant called false indigo, Amorpha fruticosa. I picked those species because of the plants I could find in the nursery, those two seemed to be the most important for butterflies in my area. Unfortunately I seem to have bought the wrong false indigo plant. I wanted Amorpha californica. I haven't yet decided if I want to keep it or not.

I also decided to post some of my photos of native plants to reddit.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Field Guide to Orange County.

I have often found myself walking around, and wondering what is that ______. It could be a bug, a plant, a lizard, or other strange creature.

This is therefore one of my new favorite websites. For example, I went on a hike earlier today and there were a ton of white butterflies with orange tip wings. Quickly I went to the butterfly page. There I found a full color picture of a Sara Orangetip butterfly.

On that same trip I captured a spider. I was tired of invasive spiders filling my yard and I am looking to replace them with something native which is non-poisonous. A few minutes searching through the spider page, and I found the particular type of crab spider that I had caught.

The site doesn't give much information about each species, but just knowing the name makes it a whole lot easier to find more information on other sites.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Plague of Spiders

I have killed about 30 brown widow spiders in the past week. It is remarkable to me that it is possible for so many spiders to have been supported off of such a tiny back yard. Apparently the plague of brown widows which has descended on Southern California has not slowed down.

So far I have only seen one spider on my property that was not a brown widow spider. It was a [bold jumper spider]( A native, mostly harmless spider which is one of the most impressive looking spiders I have seen. Now, if I can just figure out how to get them to out-compete the brown widows.

Sunday, March 9, 2014


Trying to grow plants really makes me appreciate pesticides.

I haven't used any, and probably won't. So far tomato hornworms killed my tomato plant, cabbage white butterflies have destroyed my collard greens, rolly polys are eating most of my large strawberries and leaf hoppers cover a half dozen other plants.

It probably doesn't help that the best predator I have been able to attract is the brown widow spider. Since it is both invasive and poisonous I have been killing them on sight.

All this trouble despite being as far from a monoculture as is possible. Most of my plants are the only one of their type in the yard. In a large monoculture like most modern farms are I can see how everything would be eaten in no time.