Archive for March 2011

IPM Disappointment   1 comment

One of my current outdoor projects right now is weeding, specifically, removing catchweed bedstraw from a patch of the front lawn, planter, and wherever else I find it. This was a project that I knew was coming since there was no way to avoid scattering the seeds as I removed the dead vegetation in the yard after we moved in. However, I forgot all about it between last summer and about a month ago when I noticed the weeds sprouting. This weed is one of the few that I am immediately inclined to eradicate, because the leaves have little hooks that catch on everything and the plant has an annoying climbing habit. I wanted to check for the best way to get rid of it before delving in because weeding the wrong way can sometimes make the problem worse, or expend great energy to make no progress at all. So I went to the University of California Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Program website (and then did an internet tour of several other state/university IPM websites) to identify the weed and then find out the particulars.

Unfortunately, the websites didn’t really answer all of my questions, and I’m really disappointed by that. I am a big believer in IPM, which is an ecosystem-based approach to managing pests. That means using strategies like varietal selection, and mechanical and biological control, before resorting to pesticides. In this particular case I was worried about the “catchy” nature of the catchweed bedstraw, since it seems like most plants that develop clinging mechanisms do so to help them spread. My big questions were “does the entire root system need to be removed” and “can this weed self-propagate from pieces of leaf left behind?”

The first question was sort of answered, but second question didn’t get answered. Every website did state that it spreads through seeds, and the UC website says “Cutting catchweed bedstraw to 2 to 3 inches usually is not effective and has been reported to actually increase biomass production up to 30% compared to uncut plants.” There was no explanation as to why cutting it results in more biomass, so I can’t rule out that it might be able to propagate from the leaves even if I think it probably just means that the plant branches out more to make up for the loss of height. I was really disappointed at how sketchy the information seemed to be on these authoritative websites, and I was really disturbed by the number that seemed to skip straight from “remove it before it seeds” to “here are the pesticides that work”. IPM is supposed to reduce pesticide use, so shouldn’t there be more extensive discussion of non-toxic control methods? Or am I being too demanding?

Maybe I’m just being too demanding. In any case, these weeds will not be going into our compost until I am assured they will not resprout, but will instead go into our green waste bin since “weeds” are specifically listed as acceptable material.


Posted March 7, 2011 by mayakey in environment, gardening

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One Year Blog-iversary   2 comments

Wow, I’ve been blogging here for a whole year! I hope someone enjoyed/got something out of something that I have written here. This has been INCREDIBLY helpful for myself on my journey, and I really hope that I’m not the only one. I’ve debated stopping, but I enjoy writing and at the least I know that I get value out of it so I hope someone else does too. I still don’t feel like I’m very good at blogging, since I don’t know that I’ve really found my voice yet. Part of the problem is uncertainty about my audience. At the outset I planned for my primary audience to be family and friends with a secondary audience of people I don’t know in person. But after a year I’m not really sure who my (tiny) audience is, and that adds to the challenge of deciding what/how to write. I’d absolutely love feedback, and a hint of who actually reads this blog. My big wish for the blog would be more comments and less of me writing into a void. I would really love to eventually use the blog to help me write a treatise that I have planned on rights and responsibilities, but that would require 1-an audience and 2-commenters. I intent to continue writing, because I’m having fun and can’t keep up with all of my post ideas. Time is definitely the limiting factor here.

WordPress’ stats are helpful at knowing if people are actually reading what I write and yet not because of all of the spam referrers. The blog stats page tells me how many page hits, referrers (websites from which someone clicked to my blog), and search engine hits. Unfortunately there is a chronic problem with spammy referrers messing up the stats for small blogs like this one, so I can’t tell how many people have read a particular post. Supposedly there have been 2,663 page hits over the last year, but it looks like around 15% are completely bogus. For example:,, ??? Apparently these sites send out bots as a way to promote the websites. I have to admit that at first I did occasionally follow a link, and they’re usually an ad or a fake blog. Some people reeeeeally need to get a life, and realize that bots are a really ineffective tool for promoting a website. Spam comments at least make sense from a sleazy-person-promoting-something perspective. And while there have been 158 comments, I have deleted 1,011 spam comments. Most of those spam comments were gibberish, some were in asian or eastern european languages, and most are very obvious if only by the completely advertise-y email addresses (nothing in the spam queue right now to use as an example).

It has been very surprising how may search engine hits this blog has gotten. It still totally weirds me out that this blog shows up on a search engine, but I have no objection. The most popular search terms have by far been related to carpet recycling in Sacramento and the Bay Area. Other popular search terms that brought up posts from this blog have been related to cable boxes, marmoleum, junk food, solar gas stations, smoothies, and whether pregnant women should pump gas. It’s fun looking at the particular search terms that people use.

So, again I say I hope that you’ve enjoyed some of my writing, and I’d love to hear from you!

Posted March 2, 2011 by mayakey in mission