As the farm backs onto State Park land, we feel it is especially important for us to be diligent in removing pervasive invasive species. The two most significant offenders here are Vinca major, and French broom, both of which are very common in this region, and almost impossible to eradicate. Vinca spreads via tenacious underground runners, and broom produces seed that can remain viable in soils for at least 50 years. As broom also fixes nitrogen in the soil, in large stands it can leave the soils inhospitable to some more favorable native species. Fortunately, we only have a few problem areas to work on. Clearing small areas at a time, our granitic free draining soils make encouraging the regrowth of established natives, and newly planted specimens, relatively easy.
Over the last 30 years in this part of the Santa Cruz Mountains, we’ve noted a significant change in weather patterns. Significantly less cooling summer fog along the coast, longer, warmer, and drier summer months, and unpredictable winter rainfall accumulations. All of these can make gardening challenging. However, our California native plants are adapted to extended dry weather periods, and episodic deluges of rain. As the farm depends on a freshwater spring system for humans, and animals alike, focusing primarily on native plants is the most sensible water-wise choice.
One of the principle rewards of encouraging native plants to grow on the farm, is they are host to a number of native insect, birds, and mammal species that depend on them. From our enormous tanbark oak trees, that provide winter stores for Acorn Woodpeckers, to the tiniest of native wildflowers spotted in late spring, Scrophularia californica, where even tinier native Agapostemon and Certaina sp. bees can often be seen foraging.