Thursday, April 30, 2009

Forgotten Fruits: The Medlar Tree

I'm going to make this a new part of my blog. So we'll see how it works.

Here's an introduction:
Think about all the food you eat. EVERYTHING you purchase at the supermarket has ONE thing in common. If you ONLY eat food from supermarkets and food from restaurants that means EVERYTHING you eat has this same thing in common. Give up?

All that food is profitable. All that food you eat is grown, or sold, most likely because it can be shipped. Think about figs, only recently have fresh figs been available in the market because of new breeds. Figs were only available as dry fruits (see: fig newtons) and that is really the only thing that saved the fig from being lost in oblivion. Figs typically open up on the ends when ripe and so they were never suitable for shipping. The tomatoes one buys at markets are also tough skinned so they won't bruise or break when being shipped. And so our diets are based on what foods are profitable for business. (see: McDonalds)

Unfortunately this has happened to many fruits. And today I'm going to talk about the medlar fruit.

I've never had one, but i've heard good things. It is native to Iran and was grown in ancient Rome and Greece. This leads me to believe it may be a PERFECT tree to grow in southern California as we share the mediterranean climate it was originally grown in. Mespilus germanica is it's botanical name. The fruit needs to be bletted in order to be eaten (that means it needs to be over ripe like the persimmon) It is also similar to the persimmon and blueberry in that the flower is directly attached to the fruit and noticeable. The fruit is a matte brown when ready to eat and is described as similar in taste and consistency to apple sauce.

Here is a photo of some of it's flowers. The tree gets to about 25 feet or so and is deciduous. "medlar" was once used as a term for "whore." And Mercutio mentioned the tree in this context in Romeo and Juliet.

"If love be blind, love cannot hit the mark.(35)
Now will he sit under a medlar tree
And wish his mistress were that kind of fruit
As maids call medlars when they laugh alone.
O, Romeo, that she were, O that she were
An open et cetera, thou a pop'rin pear!(40)
Romeo, good night. I'll to my truckle-bed;
This field-bed is too cold for me to sleep.
Come, shall we go?"

I would LOVE to get my hands on a tree, but I can't seem to find a local nursery that has them for sale. I did find this nursery in northern california that I could order one from but they seem to be out of stock. Rolling River Nursery

If anyone knows where I can find one TELL ME. If I can find a place that sells them I'll share it here. And if anyone has ever had one fresh, please share your experience! Otherwise I'll keep checking back on Rolling River Nursery until I can get one of my own.

Friday, April 24, 2009

What is Green? a critic's view

As a self proclaimed environmentalist. I often find myself to be critical of what it means to be an environmentalist. I have an aversion to this "Green" culture that is evolving. Even "sustainability" is shifting in meaning.

I recently heard an advertisement for Monsanto (see: The World According to Monsanto, and Aspartame) on NPR. Monsanto is the enemy of the original meaning of sustainability, BUT they are now saying they are leading agriculture towards sustainability! Well, in the sense that they can grow food for long periods of time they are right! But are they ACTUALLY Sustainable? When their patented genetically modified crops cross pollinate with neighboring crops on other farmers' land they will sue and they will win. Even though there was nothing that could have been done by the farmer. Monsanto even genetically modified their seeds so that when the plants become adults those new seeds are NOT VIABLE! They will NOT germinate! That is NOT sustainable. Imagine of those plants cross pollinate. And cross pollinate across the world. Monsanto would own ALL food and NO food could be grown without purchasing seed from Monsanto

Hybrid Cars. I'm very sorry to all my hybrid car driver friends but you may have bought into the hype, I do not find hybrid cars to be sustainable or environmental in any way. They still use gasoline: a non renewable resource that pollutes. alternatives? Mass Transit, Bicycle, Biodiesel and Vegetable oil and even electric cars, there's a company in San Dimas If you live to far from where you work to ride a bike or take mass transit, then maybe you should consider moving. Of course those who drive hybrids say they are "Green" and maybe that is so, but what does that really mean? That they are polluting a little less than others?

Recycling. Not that great. Simple fact. Recycling takes energy to create something new. Try reusing and buying compostable packaged items. Bring your own cup to your coffee shops, or drink at a coffee shop that uses mugs.

I think the problem comes in the group mentality. Like established religions, people begin to accept and think how everyone is thinking. Jesus was actually an anarchist yet many so called christians believe in placing heavy restrictions upon other people. Many so called buddhists often pray to the Buddha (much in the same way one prays to a God) and did you know Islam actually means peace?

It's when people begin thinking and acting within a group and become a single mass that single mass becomes easily manipulated like Hitler's Germany was manipulated. And how Gang Culture manipulated many people into thinking the toughest were the coolest.

Groups like Monsanto, Car Companies, the United States Green Building Council are leading and manipulating the poor folks who want to be "green" or "sustainable" and are making them think they are doing the right thing by bringing in the shiny and the new. And those poor folks aren't actually questioning or looking deeper to find the truth to what is actually happening. Not many people know what is real anymore.

But then, there's the effort. It's just so easy to see the advertisement that says "be green, by a hybrid" it takes much more effort to really think about it.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Live Chickens in Pomona

Little chicken
Originally uploaded by hddod
The other day (before my bicycle got stolen) I found a chicken walking around my yard. It had actually been walking around quite often in my yard and figured it was a neighbors coming to hang out. I'm fairly busy so I don't go out in my jungle that often.

But the other day I decided to chase it around. It had three chicks following it and I wanted to see where it'd go. As it turns out, this chicken and her chicks have been LIVING in my yard without my knowledge! I chased it to its nest which is hidden behind a few stalks of bamboo where our fence meets the shed. Very hidden and discreet. I found a lot of broken egg shells and feathers in the nest.

I decided I'd have to take the chicken to court and file a civil suit. But, I figured it could wait until the morning. Later that night, I heard the chicken get in a fight with a cat, twice. I went out to see what was going on but I was too late each time. Come morning, there was only one chick left. Poor chickens. So, while the chicken was out grazing for some food, I blocked off her nest and then cornered the chicken into our cage(it was formerly a wild cat cage) and then locked her up.

So with this, I've been looking at chicken laws in Pomona. Calwatch had given out some information previously but I wanted to know more. Pomona Muni Codes see Chapter 6

Chickens ARE legal to keep in Pomona BUT Roosters are not. There are at least two roosters in the neighborhood, one of them frequently visits (probably the father of the chicks).

I am a little confused about about 6.9 since the chicken had been obviously living at my house. Do I need to actually go to the shelter manager and then see if I can own the chicken?

Animals that aren't allowed within city limits are Swine, Dangerous or Poisonous Reptiles, Bees, Male Goats, (and exotic animals without a permit)

Unfortunately the only animals that one is allowed to slaughter are Chickens and Rabbits, (I would like to raise ducks but I won't be able to legally slaughter them within city limits, however I just might accidently do it anyways)

So, I suggest more peole raise chickens in Pomona, Maybe we can all help feed each other. And you don't need a rooster to get eggs, just eggs that turn into chicks.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Planning Commission Meeting + Update on Watt and the Artisan.

So I went to the planning commission meeting tonight. Are there always that few people? I think I was the only "non-official" of some sort myself and three others were in the audience and the three others were Larry Eagan, Mr. Fong, and another city employee.

Anyways. The Pomona Downtown Parking plan that was proposed actually looks really good AS IS. They seem to really know there stuff. The only thing I would be concerned with is the design for future structures and how those are designed. But that's something far in the future.

It's a lot to go into so I won't.

Ray Fong also gave a quick update on Watt and the Artisan Project. The Artisan project is entirely abandoned. BUT Watt is revisiting the project and going to come forward with some new ideas. The old ideas are dropped because the return on the market for what they had planned to build isn't enough to continue with the project. SO there will be new ideas put forward hopefully within a year.

on a sour note, I rode my bike to the meeting. I locked it RIGHT OUTSIDE the Council Chambers. went in at 7pm walked out at 8:40 and the chain was cut and my bike was gone and I had to walk home. I filed a report, but am kind of sad because I had just gotten that bike in perfect working condition on Monday, and Today was the first day I rode it in that condition. New Seat, New left Crank and New Rims front and back. (oh well, you win some you lose some, life goes on)

15 Gallon Tree vs. 36" Box Tree

Originally uploaded by andrewkanzler
I take requests!

This image is of the Chino Creek Wetlands Educational Park, It was taken a Year Ago. If you were to go to that same spot, your view would be completely obstructed with green crap(leaves).

Chainsaw Eddie asked a question. The basic question is, What is the difference between planting a 36" tree and a 15 Gallon tree. The answer is ONE thing. INSTANT GRATIFICATION. and even THAT can sometimes be a FALLACY.

Trees come in many different sized containers. The most common being 15 Gallon 24" Box and 36" Box. There is little difference between a 24" box and a 36" box and there is also little difference between a 15 Gallon container and a 24" container.

The INTENT for the difference in sizes of containers is based on the size of the ROOTBALL. NOT the size of the tree above ground. That can vary in relation to the size of the rootball. There is little consistency whatsoever.

Not only that, but sometimes a nursery will have just transplanted a 15 Gallon sized tree into a 24" Box just before it was sold and sometimes directly into a 36" Box (because it is harder to transfer from box to box due to the size) So There ARE chances you are getting a 15 Gallon Tree in a 36" box.

A lot of times those transfers are done TOO LATE! and that can be VERY DANGEROUS. If a 15 Gallon tree has been root bound in a bucket (meaning if you took the tree out and you can see a LOT of the roots and it begins to wrap around) Then that tree is in danger of Falling over in a few years. Trees need their roots to spread out laterally to gain a footing in the ground, not around in a circle (Arch principle doesn't work here folks). Nurseries WILL transfer those root bound buckets into boxes and SELL THEM. It is easier to check for this danger while it is still in a bucket. You can just pull it out, check the roots and put it back in. When it's in a box it's a little harder to check but you can push the trunk back and forth and see if the root ball moves in what might look like a 15 gallon sized radius(might take a trained eye).

Now let's say you've got ALL the BEST scenarios for a 36" Box, a 15 Gallon tree, of average size and healthy, and a MASSIVE 36" box with healthy roots and a healthy top.

That really means one thing. One is a bit older than the other (probably by a year). When you put the 36" in the ground it'll look like a tree (Instant Gratification Realized). The 15 Gallon won't look like an established tree for another year or two. But when it comes to trees, growth spurts happen only in their first few years of life. If you plant both those trees at the same time, by the second year, you won't be able to tell which one was the 36" tree and which was the 15 Gallon tree. (granted they are well taken care of)

So in the BEST Case scenario, the only difference is instant gratification.

No wait, that's not true. Let's not forget the price. a 36" tree can cost a few hundred dollars. A 15 Gallon tree, almost always under a hundred, say more like 50 dollars. If that tree dies, You'll be glad you went with the 15 gallon tree. Actually, no matter what, you'll be glad you spent 4x's less for any tree that'll look the same in 2 years.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Too many workshops on April 4th!

Don't forget everyone, My good friends at the Regen Cooperative of Pomona is putting on the 6th annual Sustainability Seminar beginning at 8am at 341 Kingsley Ave. Pomona

More info and Schedule can be found here

Also there is an Old Home Restoration Workshop put on by Pomona Heritage at 9:00am at the Trinity Methodist Church at 676 Gibbs, near Holt

More info here

and ONE more!!

According to Lisa, The Garden (nursery) at 845 N. Garey Ave. is doing a Victory Garden workshop at 2:00pm

Here's a website but not much info

so much to do, so little time! Maybe next year our good community organizers can get together and try to do things on different weekends! wouldn't it be great to have different things to go to every weekend?


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Landscape Architects to Design Skins of Buildings?

This photograph here seems to be only the beginning(Patrick Blanc is however a botanist). With Living Walls and Green Roofs growing in popularity, Landscape Architects are encroaching on the field of Building Architecture. (I hope they don't take it personally) But this is really only the beginning.

As experts of exterior design, no one understands better than the Landscape Architect how exteriors change with time. If it happens on the outside the Landscape Architect knows best how to deal with it. And though buildings are currently being dressed in living material (which Landscape Architects are also experts at designing with) Soon Landscape Architects will be dressing exteriors with other kinds of materials.

Landscape Architects are also experts on materials. They have an extensive world of materials and a great understanding in weathering and change of the materials is always taken into consideration.

One thing that permeates throughout all aspects of Landscape Architecture is the idea of Change. Landscape Architects never design for stasis. However it is common to see Building Architects design with stasis in mind (or at least that ends up being the result). Buildings do not typically change (especially the skins of and with exception to the flux of people) but Landscapes always do. Even the most highly groomed gardens like Japanese Gardens and Versailles are in a constant flux. Changes in the seasons, the movement of water and its affect on stones, growth of plants , the weathering of materials, climate change etc...

So, will it be that one day Landscape Architects will be designing the skins of buildings? It seems like it may be going that way. But only as long as Building Architects design with change in mind.