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Grassroots Graton - Heather Granahan - March 2017


Grassroots Graton - Heather Granahan -  March 2017

by Heather Granahan

It’s Not Dirt. It’s Soil.

It’s March. It’s Graton. Do NOT, repeat, NOT start putting your summer annuals out in your garden beds – unless they are nestled under a well-fastened row cover. Here’s damply hoping that by publication date these interminable rainstorms will have headed elsewhere. The storms have wreaked havoc with the roads all over West County and Graton didn’t escape. Green Valley Rd. has been ravaged by the change in the waterway bed which now has decided to take a permanent shortcut across the road at the bend near the old cemetery. Emergency repairs are being planned and should be done very soon; waiting is not a choice as it will mean losing access on that road before long. Hopefully the skies will clear and allow the repair in coming weeks.

Clear skies in Graton mean lots of frost, however, so keep your plant babies wrapped up or just wait and get some rockin seedlings from your favorite farmer’s market. Meanwhile, chill while you can, things always get lively around here in April.

I know, it’s hard not to get out there and dig into that soil as it soon as it’s friable and boyoboy do we have interesting soil around here. The menu includes fine-loamy, mixed, superactive, thermic Abruptic Haplic Durixeralfs (set aflame tableside?), sheared serpentine (clearly a haircut), Franciscan melange matrix (for dessert of course) and maybe a bit of Huichica soil type which is found in Napa and Sonoma. 

Huichica soil is named for a 18,700 square mile land grant in Sonoma given to Jacob P Leese in 1841 (or it was 5.5 nautical leagues depending on where you look; which is confusing as the term “league” originally meant how much a person could walk in an hour…but as only certain politicos think they walk on water, it just doesn’t add up). You see, Leese married the sister of…who was it now? Oh, yes – General Vallejo, and was an early pioneer who – fun fact – built the first house in San Francisco. 

The word Huichica is actually from Huchi, a village of the diverse Coast Miwok which stood near the plaza of the city of Sonoma. Along with the destruction of their language, we are all now familiar with the dark side of Indian enslavement at the hands of the missions. It’s a long way from the sugar cube mission models us NorCal schoolkids all had to make after our sugar-coated field trips to Vallejo.

But, I digress (a lot); if you want to learn more you may dig into this 1916 publication California Place Names of Indian Origin, by A. L. Kroeber; University of California Publications in American Archeology and Ethnology Vol 12, No 2.,pp 31-69 June 15, 1916, found at .


It is still mushroom hunting season, and we finally have good pickins out there. This week we have seen many delectables including yellowfoot/winter chanterelles, black trumpets, fluted even saddles, bluets, and boletes. Be sure and get with an experienced hunter and do your due diligence – observe habitat, cap texture, gill attachment, aroma, spore prints and careful physical characteristics. A good local group to know is SOMA Mushroom-ID on Yahoo. Be sure and only post any pics after you can provide above details. 

Marching Along

You see, it can be done. An entire column without one rant about TrumpleThinSkin. Why try; by the time you read this I can only imagine how many gaffes and frightening political moments we will have endured. And endure we will, together. Maybe even thrive a bit here and there.

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