While work is proceeding on many fronts at Native Here Nursery, several volunteers are implementing measures to keep the Nursery safe and disease-free.
Master gardener Crystal Leanza has been performing regular inspections of all our Nursery stock, noting minor pests and treating them. She is training Kimberly Moses on this interesting and varied work—a bit like detective work, with a lot of finesse. The treatments are very low-toxicity fixes; they just shift the balance of power from the pest to the plant.
Sometimes Native Here needs to test plants for Phytophthora to be sure our plants are healthy. The current best practice is called “pear baiting”—a firm green pear is soaked in water collected from flow-through irrigation of test plants, then incubated for several days. If a pear shows a characteristic type of lesion (surface damage), it may be infested with Phytophthora. To find out what kind of Phytophthora, the pear needs to be cultured by the California Department of Food and Agriculture. Reliable results depend on very careful technique.
Several people have been instrumental in getting pear baiting underway at Native Here. First, Crystal Leanza and Lesley Hunt attended a CNPS-sponsored pear baiting training last summer. Crystal has overseen several episodes of testing. Then Per Brashears, our local technology and construction expert, has built some special testing tables that hold just the right number of plant containers and are easy to clean. Thanks to the efforts of these people, we have had several successful testing days!
Speaking of testing, over the past several months we have identified excess inventory—plants we have a lot of, often good subjects for restoration more than for gardens. We offered these to a number of non-profit restoration projects. And to make sure they were healthy, we tested them all—a big job, overseen by Crystal, and an important one. About a thousand plants, mostly grasses, rushes, and wetland species, found new homes, and now we have a lot more room in the Nursery for fresh, beautiful new plants.
Come by and see what we have growing!
– Barbara M. Leitner