February to March

A lot of last week was spent preparing to take over greenhouse management from Alex (Forest Service Biotech). I was reading the greenhouse notebook, books on nursery management and pest disease, and various other articles. I met with Mary, a Forest Service Biotech who had formerly managed the greenhouse, and Alex who managed the greenhouse up until last week. I learned how to sterilize old soil, mix new soil, treat a couple of common pests, and the daily and monthly routine for completing greenhouse tasks. As I’ve been spending more time in the greenhouse, I’m noticing more, especially the pests.

Right now I am working to treat 200 manzanitas for scale. Scale is a common insect pest on many trees and shrubs. Scale insects form a waxy, protective coating and remain in one place on a plant for most of their lives. When they first hatch they crawl away from the mother to find a new spot and then lose their legs. Only males will emerge in a winged form later on to mate with immobile females. The scale feed on the plant and damage includes water stress. Our manzanita are heavily infested and the leaves are quite yellow and brittle. The treatment for scale is simply to scrape the little buggers off the plant. Since they don’t have legs they can’t come back. This I am patiently doing using an old toothbrush.


Scale on Manzanita.

Other pests we deal with in the greenhouse include aphids, gnats, and powdery mildew. There is also a mysterious problem with some of our terragon, which have small, round, black spots over the leaves. These terragon plants are quite old and have filled their pots to the bottoms with roots – apparently from what I have read this can decrease the ability of a plant to defend itself. I have also seen one more unknown pest, which, like scale, appears to be immobile on Rabbitbrush, but is brown in color. If anyone knows what these might be, please comment!


Aphids on Sandberg Bluegrass.

Captured gnats.


Mysterious Terragon affliction.


Unknown, immobile pest on Rabbitbrush.


I have continued to go in the field for restoration site monitoring, HMP monitoring, and to plant with the Americorps crews. This week I learned to build T-post fence, which is A LOT OF FUN. I learned how to plan a fence, brace the ends using Wedge-Loc or wire, use a fencing tool, pound the posts, and string the wire under the tutelage of Hannah (Southern California Mountains Foundation Employee). I can’t wait to build another!


Completed fence.


Post pounding to brace a corner.

Otherwise, the weather is getting very nice here. Since daylight savings we have light much longer in the evening, and I have been using the extra light to run along the perimeter of Big Bear Lake. We had (probably) our last snow this past Friday, and I was fortunate to be able to enjoy the rain, snow, and winds first hand as I walked home from the grocery store. By morning we had a nice coating, but it quickly melted. As always, I am working on my plant ID, reading, going to yoga classes, and recently started a knitting project.

Very cool fungi in the greenhouse.

Very cool fungi in the greenhouse.

San Bernardino National Forest
Fawnskin, CA

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