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Beuna, Garden Coach

California Drought – Why Should I Care?

The California drought is very serious for all of us. The impact may not be felt much until at least spring of next year but will likely continue for many years. It is believed that parts of California will never recover from the drought. The San Joaquin river which provides water to residents and water for growers is sinking and listed as the number 1 endangered river.  The recent rains in California are not enough. The news reported that 75” are needed between now and next September which would amount to a storm every day from now until then.

How will this impact the rest of the U.S.?

About ½ of our fruits, vegetables, and nuts are grown in California including 99% nuts, 95% broccoli, 91% grapes, 92% strawberries, 90% tomatoes, and 74% lettuce. Growers in California have been planting much less than usual and ripping out almond trees because why plant if you can’t water.

What percentage of produce is grown in your state and consumed by people in your state? Utah grows only 12% of their produce.

Produce buyers in California will likely be going to other states to purchase produce which will lessen the availability in those states and increase prices. I have noticed price increases for produce for some time now.

If we cannot get fresh produce we will either have to import it from other countries which don’t have the same safety and pesticide regulations
grow it ourselves.

Because California growers are not growing as much they have less need for employing people to plant and harvest which in turn throws people out of work.

California's Central Valley Sinking

California’s Central Valley Sinking

What can we do?

Learn to grow as much as you can of your own food. Start with 1 – 4 things and expand as you gain confidence and experience.

If you already are growing some of your own, try to increase what you grow.

Don’t have a yard? Find a yard to share here.

Learn to sprout and/or grow microgreens. This will serve you well when you can’t grow outside.

Grow edibles as houseplants.

Growing in a raised portable garden can help if you can’t or don’t want to stoop or you don’t have much yard space. It can also be moved into a garage or other space and used during the winter.

Grow in pots outdoors.  Although I have a yard I grow some plants in pots so I can move them indoors or to other parts of the yard.

Trade what you are growing with someone who is growing other things. Good luck trading all of that zucchini!

Buy locally. Buying local when possible will cause local growers to plant more plus local is fresher. Find local growers including Community Supported Agriculture.

Support grocers who sell locally grown produce.

Learn about what is already growing in your yard that is edible. If you didn’t plant it then it is likely able to handle the conditions that were already existing. If you did plant it maybe you didn’t know it was edible. One good resource is a book I recently co-authored.

Store dehydrated, freeze dried, frozen, and canned. Dry, freeze, or can your own when possible. Otherwise purchase from quality companies. One that I like is Thrive. Just like with other items it is good to read the label when purchasing so you know what you are getting.

Conserve water including proper watering of landscapes and gardens.

Learning all of the above skills now and doing as much as possible will help you later even if you aren’t yet noticing the effect of the drought.

The Weather Channel’s report on the drought

More information about Cracked – California

Faces of California Drought – See what real people are experiencing right now

American Agriculture Vulnerability

Why Not Grow Nuts? (Plus some recipes)

Nut trees are an edible plant that many people don’t think about planting in their yards. There are several less known nut trees but today I will focus on some of the better known. Plan before purchasing and take into consideration mature size. Nut trees require full sun and well-drained soil. For some, you may need to plant two trees for pollination.

Filberts and hazelnuts grow on 12 – 20′ trees depending on variety and how they are pruned. Hazelnuts and filberts begin producing in 6 years. The names Hazelnut and Filbert actually refer to the same tree and nut.  Two trees of different varieties are required for pollination.

Almond trees look much like a peach tree, grow 12-20′,  and begin producing in 3 or 4 years.  I first planted almonds after hearing that they should grow anywhere that a peach tree will grow. I never lost a crop until the magpies eventually figured out what delicious edible nuts were growing on the trees. In addition to the nuts, almonds have beautiful spring flowers. In most cases two different varieties are required for pollination.

Walnuts are much larger trees (40′) so considering mature size is especially important. It may be many years before your walnut tree is old enough to produce so the sooner you plant the better. Also, walnuts contain a substance (juglone) that is toxic to some plants. Lawn will grow near a walnut tree although I would recommend keeping a space of at least 3′ in diameter between any tree and a lawn area. Some other plants won’t do so well so you would want to research and avoid planting sensitive plants within the drip line of the tree or using the walnut leaves as mulch on such plants.


I love nuts and have often made spiced nuts at Christmas time. I was seeing recipes for Crockpot spiced nuts and thought I would try this method instead of the oven. I also found recipes for using different seasonings to make a spicy rather than sweeter type. I made two batches – a sweeter one in the Crockpot and the spicy in the oven. I changed each recipe a bit.

I didn’t see how using the Crockpot was less work so the advantage I think more is if you don’t want to heat the house with your oven. Maybe there is also less chance of burning the nuts. Trying a different mix of seasonings has caused me to want to experiment more with other types of flavors. However, next time I will just use the oven.

I used Brazil nuts, walnuts, and cashews this year. I have used almonds and pecans in the past but not peanuts. Whatever your preference is should be fine.


Sugar Spiced Nuts

So, here is what I did:

Sweet Spiced Nuts

1 ½ c brown sugar
1 T ground cinnamon
¼ t ground ginger
¼ t ground allspice
¼ t ground cloves
1 egg white
2 t vanilla extract
¼ c water
1 lb nuts

Lightly butter the bottom and half way up the sides of Crockpot. Mix sugar and spices, set aside. Mix egg white and vanilla then mix with nuts. Add nuts to Crockpot. Add sugar/spice mixture to Crockpot and stir well. Set Crockpot to medium. With the lid on cook nuts for 1 hour and 40 minutes, stirring every 20 minutes. Add water and stir well. Leave lid off and cook an additional 20 minutes. Remove from Crockpot and spread on a cookie sheet to cool. When nuts have cooled and are dry place in sealed containers such as jars or zippered bags.

Seasoned Nuts

Spicy Nuts

2 ½ t Chili powder
2 t Cumin
1 ½ t Onion powder
¼ t Cayenne
¼ t salt
2 T Worcestershire sauce
1 Egg white – mixed until slightly foamy
1 lb mixed nuts (walnuts, Brazil nuts, cashews)

Mix Worcestershire sauce, egg white and nuts. Mix seasonings together and then mix with nuts/egg white mixture. Spread on slightly greased cookie sheet. Bake at 250 F for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. Let cool. When nuts have cooled and are dry place in sealed containers such as jars or zippered bags.


Green Chili Almonds

I also got some Green Chili Almonds at Whole Foods (always wanted to try them). I plan to take some of each flavor to a Christmas party this year.


In case you would like the recipe I have used in the past and will probably use in the future. (I prefer the less candy coated taste and appearance.):

Spiced Nuts

1 egg white
2 T water
½ c sugar (I use brown sugar)
¼ t cinnamon
¼ t cloves
¼ t allspice
½ t salt
1 lb nuts

Mix all ingredients except nuts and let stand until sugar dissolves. Mix in nuts. After nuts are thoroughly coated spread on pre greased cookie sheet. Bake at 250 F for one hour stirring several times. Remove from oven and cool.

Wild Medicinal and Edible Plant Book Now Available

The book I have co authored on wild medicinal and edible plants is now available.  It is available directly from me, my co author, and a few stores in Bountiful, Utah, and one in Fort Collins, Colorado (hopefully in more soon) More information and locations.

Herbs to Know 2: Wild Medicinal & Edible Plants by Kathy Wilson and Beuna Tomalino

Edible and Medicinal Plants

I was recently asked to co author a book on wild edible and medicinal plants.  This would be a small sized, spiral bound book which would be easy to carry with you.  There will be photographs and descriptions to help with identification.  This book will also contain information about which parts to use and what to do with them plus how to grow them in your yard.

Expected publishing date is mid November. If you join my website you will receive notification of release.

I am also the author of What About Herbs? available as a PDF. Also available for Kindle and Nook. Hopefully soon available as a physical book.

Beuna, Garden Coach


Tonight I will be teaching a composting class at Woods Cross High School through the Adult Community School.  Anyone old enough to sit and listen is welcome.  $10 registration at the door.

Saturday I will be teaching two 30 minute classes on edible plants for indoors and out at the Utah Preparedness Expo, Sandy, Utah.  One class will be held at 10 a.m. and one at 6 p.m.  Both classes are free once you are at the Expo.  Tickets to the Expo are $8.  A discount may still be available online with the promotional code Prepare

If you would like to schedule a class for your neighborhood, family, friends, or organization just let me know.  More details are here.

My website calendar lists  classes and other events open to the public.

Parking Strips

Grass in a parking strip* has never made sense to me.  All that mowing, watering, etc and what is it used for?  If you are going to have grass in your landscape use it for sitting and or playing for you, your children, or your pets.  We don’t usually sit or play in a parking strip.  If you are going to sit in your parking strip why not create seating instead?

* Parking strip:  the strip of land between the sidewalk and the street.  Depending where you live it may be called: mow strip, berm, besidewalk, boulevard, boulevard strip, city grass, curb lawn, curb strip, devil’s strip, easement, furniture zone, grass bay, grassplot, hellstrip, nature strip, neutral ground, park strip, parking, parkway, planter zone, planting strip, road allowance, road verge, roadside, sidewalk buffer,  sidewalk lawn, sidewalk plot, snow shelf, street allowance, street easement, street lawn, swale, terrace, tree belt, tree lawn, utility strip, verge

So, instead of grass, plant (or replace your grass) with drought tolerant plants, groundcovers, or edibles.  Check your city ordinances and HOA rules before installation to see what is allowed.  If your city or HOA requires you to have a lawn there work to get the ordinances or rules changed.

Why replace the grass?

Less water
Less work
More food production (I would recommend not growing edibles within 2′ of the road due to car exhaust)
More attractive

From Wikipedia

From Wikipedia

Main Street  Downtown Bountiful, Utah Kale along with ornamental plants

Main Street Downtown Bountiful, Utah
Kale along with ornamental plants

Parking Strip Salt Lake City, Utah  thanks to  Timmi Cruz edibles including artichokes, kale, swiss chard, and herbs

Parking Strip Salt Lake City, Utah thanks to Timmi Cruz. Edibles including artichokes, kale, swiss chard, and herbs

More photos: Garden Inspire on Facebook

If you are thinking “How would I do this?”

Contact me and I can help you

More information:

Wild Ginger Farm

Rip Your Strip

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Why I Don’t Use Recycled Tires



Tires are recycled as rubber mulch, garden edging, tree rings, and by homeowners for raised beds, growing potatoes, and other gardening projects.

When you are driving,  your tires pick up toxins from the roadways including gasoline and oil. Maybe this is cleaned off the tires before use. Maybe not.  Also, consider what cleaners are used to remove them.

Tires contain materials that I would prefer not to have in my landscape. There are studies indicating that these leach into the soil.

If using rubber mulch and you ever want to remove it Good Luck!  Since it does not decompose like bark or other organic mulches it would be difficult if you change your mind and want it out.

Tires stink. The smell of tires while sitting in a tire shop makes me feel sick. I want nice smells in my garden such as herbs, flowers, and healthy soil – not tire smell.

If you need some more reasons or information:
PDF about rubber mulch including references

Dangers of Recycled Tire Mulch

Home Turf Disadvantage

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Beuna, Garden Coach

Pesticides and Herbicides

Herbicides really are pesticides – the pest is plants in this case.

I have several links on my site on pesticide information – two just added today.  Please read this information so you are more aware about these products which are  used on lawns, flower beds, vegetable gardens and other parts of landscapes.

Think these pesticides are necessary?  There is also information here about what you can do instead.

Please read this information and share with others!

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Beuna, Garden Coach

On The Radio

I’ll be a guest on Vitality Radio (1280 AM), Saturday, May 10, 9 – 10 a.m., Salt Lake City, Utah, probably the first 15-20 minutes.
You can also stream