A zero-waste way of mulching

Patchwork Farms/Capay Valley Lavender
SLEWS Program | Sacramento Valley | January 26, 2021

Partners/Landowners
Yolo County Resource Conservation District
Sherri Wood – Patchwork Farms/Capay Valley Lavender
Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation

Volunteers
Beth DelReal
Thomas Steensland
Josh McCabe
Cody Hamer
Jen Knudsen
Lars Knudsen
Anna Tolle
Stuart

Summary of the Day
When I visited Patchwork Farms last summer for a meeting with landowner Sherri Wood and Yolo County RCD Project Manager Joanne Heraty, Sherri showed us a big pile of lavender stems she kept from her harvest and asked if we could use it as mulch around the hedgerow project we were planning. “Why not, it’s worth a try!” was Joanne’s reply, which brings me to our second (and third! Another double day) field day at Patchwork Farms.

I will say, this was the best-smelling SLEWS Field Day I have ever experienced – the spent lavender clippings were still incredibly fragrant. Our volunteer crew had a little aromatherapy bonus to go along with the hard work! The other bonus was this was a great way to use up Sherri’s lavender waste while providing our native hedgerow with weed prevention and increased water retention.

Our two shifts of volunteers mulched around two lines of plants, 342 plants in all. We had great weather all day, with rain beginning only as I unloaded gear at the end of the day. This rain turned into the HUGE storm we all remember in late January, with power out and damage done throughout the Sacramento Valley. With the addition of mulch, hopefully our plants can enjoy that water for a few weeks to come!

A record-setting planting day

River Garden Farms
SLEWS Program | Sacramento Valley | January 21, 2021

Partners/Landowners
Yolo County Resource Conservation District
River Garden Farms
Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation

Volunteers
Nick Gallagher
Brandi Goss
Gabrielle Stadem
Sarah Gaffney
Krysteen Terlouw
Peter Johnson

Summary of the Day
For our first (double) field day of the season at River Garden Farms, we were rewarded with great weather – and an ambitious day of work! Last year, Florin High School students installed native habitat under some powerlines amid a walnut orchard (blog post here: https://landbasedlearning.org/blog/2020/01/14/plants-under-the-powerlines/) and our work was continuing this project south of County Line Road. It worked out that we had volunteers for this project, as this area would be difficult if not impossible to access by school bus!

Since River Garden Farms can’t extend their orchard under the powerlines, they elected to make it an area of native habitat. There are many lines of irrigation already installed here to support the plants, so the work for the day was planting, “as much as we get through”. The ground had been turned recently so we didn’t need pickaxes this time – what a relief! – so we spread out along multiple lines and worked hard, planting through the morning and afternoon shifts of volunteers. This was the most tiring SLEWS day I can recall, but I was still SHOCKED to hear that with just 6 SLEWS volunteers and some RCD staff, we had shattered the previous SLEWS record for most plants installed in a day (450ish) – we had planted over 750 plants!

This is SLEWS’ FIFTH season of field days at River Garden Farms! Hopefully next time we’ll have a crew of high school students with us.

The second phase of hedgerows at the Maples

The Maples
SLEWS Program | Sacramento Valley | December 9, 2020

Partners/Landowners
Yolo County Resource Conservation District
Center for Land-Based Learning Headquarters at the Maples
Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation

Volunteers
Miles DaPrato
Sara Bernal
Joel Jorgensen
MJ Farruggia
Katie Wrightson
Ric Murphy
Chris Jadallah
Joel Jorgensen
Corey Shake
Kendra Just
Bri Grosskopf
Ric Murphy
Dominic Carrillo

Summary of the Day
For our first “double header” SLEWS day (two field days in one!), we were at Center for Land-Based Learning Headquarters at the Maples. As you may recall, Woodland High School students participated in a SLEWS project here last year, installing a native plant hedgerow and grasses in the stormwater basin (see the blog posts here: https://landbasedlearning.org/blog/category/slews-program/the-maples/). This year’s project would be somewhat of a continuation of that project, a hedgerow and native grassland perpendicular to that site and extending around an adjacent ag field.

We began the day by installing an irrigation system, working as a team to lay out the irrigation line and install emitters. We followed by planting 205 native plants in the very dry soil – we had to use pickaxes in order to loosen the ground enough to plant! Many of these plants were planted in metal baskets to protect the roots from pesky gophers. We also installed a protective tube around each plant to protect it from wind, herbicides, and pests. The morning volunteer crew got through about two thirds of the planting before the afternoon crew arrived to finish up. Then we began on the next task – mulching! Yolo County RCD had strategically placed native grass straw bales along the hedgerow, and we applied a thick layer of mulch around each plant to assist with moisture retention and prevent weed growth. Finally, to prepare for the native grass seeding to come in a few weeks, we cleared a bunch of cobblestones from an area they had been discarded. Looking forward to watching this hedgerow mature right outside our office doors!