What's for dinner? A crab spider, camouflaged in our lavender patch, didn't catch a honey bee, a butterfly, an ant or a syrphid fly. No, it nailed...
A crab spider dines on a green bottle fly in a lavender patch in Vacaville, Calif. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
The crab spider is camouflaged, but its prey, a green bottle fly with its familiar metallic blue-green coloring, isn't. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
During excessively hot summer days it's not only humans that can suffer from heat stress. Your plants can suffer from heat stress as well, especially when there is an abrupt spike in the heat. Excessive heat and sun radiation can result in scorched twigs and leaves, inhibit plant growth, reduce germination potential of the seeds, and discolor fruit and leaves. Excessive heat can also potentially lead to thermal death of a plant.
There are a few basic steps you can take to help reduce the potential for heat stress in your plants. When it's really hot, we perspire to cool down our body temperature. The equivalent in plants is transpiration. Plant transpiration increases in hot weather. So it's important to keep yourself and your plants hydrated in hot weather. Ideally, plants should be given a good watering prior to a predicted sudden heat spike to reduce the potential for heat stress.
Adding several inches of mulch around trees and plants will help the soil maintain moisture. It also helps cool tree and plant roots. Plus, there's the added benefit of weed suppression.
Suspending shade cloth or some other fabric above the plants to provide them with shade during extreme heat will help keep the plants cooler and protect tender new growth. And remember to try to stay in the shade if you must do a limited amount of yard work during extreme heat.
A good general rule of thumb is during extreme heat, take precautions to protect both yourself and your plants from heat stress!
KQED reporter Mark Schapiro discovered a "center of insurrection" at the UC West Side Research and Extension Center in Five Points, where UC Cooperative Extension cropping systems specialist Jeff Mitchell has been building soil on a research plot for 20 years.
Schapiro's story was part of a series titled "Reckoning in the Central Valley," a collaboration between Bay Nature magazine and KQED Science examining how climate change is exposing the vulnerabilities of California agriculture.
In the Central Valley, climate change is disrupting the predictability that is key to maintaining a profitable industrial agriculture system. Mitchell believes that employing practices that build soil - such as reducing or eliminating tillage and planting cover crops - will help farmers ride the wave of climate change.
It's that cover-cropped field “that is the real disrupter here," Mitchell said.
The soil in test plots where cover crops were grown are loaded with far more organic matter than soil in fields where cover crops were not grown. The organic matter which improves water absorption, making the land more resilient to drier conditions. Fields with cover crops also sequester carbon and produce crops that may be more nutritious.
“What you see in Five Points,” said Daphne Miller, a physician who studies the links between the health of the foods we eat and the soil in which they're grown, “is that the plots with the greatest diversity of cover crops had the most diverse microbiome in the soil.”
Lovin' the lavender... If you attended the Lavender Festival last weekend at the six-acre Araceli Farms at 7389 Pitt School Road, Dixon, you were in...
The six-acre lavender fields on the Araceli Farms, on the outskirts of Dixon, glow during the Lavender Festival. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
The Araceli Farms are planted with seven varieties of lavender: seven varieties of lavender: Grosso, Provence, White Spike, Royal Velvet, Violet Intrigue, Folgate, and Melissa. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A Cordovan honey bee, the color of pure gold, takes flight through the lavender fields. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Clay's Bees--Clay Ford, owner of the Pleasants Valley Honey Company, Vacaville--pollinate the lavender fields. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A variegated meadowhawk (Sympetrum corruptum)in the lavender fields. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A Western pondhawk (Erythemis collocate) rests on a lavender. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A painted lady butterfly (Vanessa cardui) flutters around the lavender fields of the Araceli Farms in Dixon on June 22. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Maria Gonzalez of Dixon cuts lavender on the Araceli Farms. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Close-up of the curved knife, perfect for lavender harvesting. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Visitors at the Lavender Festival at Araceli Farms stroll through the vendor area. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Six little words to get make your summer perfect:
“Go see The Biggest Little Farm!”
Then, check out www.thebiggestlittlefarm.com