North Coast CNPS


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Wednesday, March 10th, 7:00 PM  - via Zoom 
Our Precious Prairies  
Pacific reed grass in a grazed coastal prairie 

Coastal Prairies are a diverse habitat that sequesters carbon, prevents erosion, and increases groundwater retention.  They are under siege by conifer encroachment, fire suppression, land use changes, and agricultural development.  Hugh McGee and Veronica Yates of the Mattole Restoration Council will explore the values, threats, and restoration efforts to conserve these stunning, valuable, and diminishing communities.  
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  Recycling Nursery Pots at Home! 

Photos and descriptions by Rebecca Zettler

Recycling nursery pots is one of the many ways you can support the local chapter of the California Native Plant Society.  It’s not difficult; here’s how to get started.

Pots Presoak smaller First, remove any leftover potting media.  A whisk or paint brush works well under the rim.    Remove the labels if you can.   Pots that are cracked, have damaged rims (hazard), or have heavy mineral stains should be thrown away, along with the potting soil debris.


Wash out the pots in the sink or a tub; I use a toilet brush.  You can presoak, or not.  If you use soapy water, rinse afterwards.  The point is to remove as much soil as possible to avoid contaminating the sanitizing solution.  Let the washed pots drain a bit so they don’t dilute the sanitizing solution.

Pots Washing small

All recycled pots must be sanitized using a bleach solution.  Use a well ventilated space, wear gloves and eye protection, and wear clothes you don’t mind getting bleach spots on. 

Once sanitized, the pots can’t come in contact with any soil, so you also need a non-porous surface to set the pots out to dry.  You can set the pots out to dry in a carport, garage floor, driveway or sidewalk that’s been well swept, or you can cover a table or bench with plastic and set them on that. 

(And if you don’t have the space, or this step seems too fussy, you can always bring the washed pots back to the CNPS nursery where they can be sanitized in the hoop house.)

A tall kitchen trash container holds 5 gallons of sanitizing solution. The solution ratio is 9 parts water to 1 part (unscented) household bleach (5.25% or 6% sodium hypochlorite). A half (½) gallon of bleach plus four and a half (4 ½) gallons of water makes five gallons of solution. A one gallon milk or water jug is helpful for measuring.

Pots Sanitizing small

To sanitize the pots, immerse them completely in the solution for at least five (5) minutes.  The solution must cover all surfaces of the pots.  



After the soak, give them a quick rinse in a tub of water and set the pots out to dry. Once they’re dry bring them back to the nursery.  There is a space set aside in the hoop house for sanitized pots. Pots Drying small


(A few words about bleach:   It actually outdates so check the label.  Also bleach solution starts to lose potency in a matter of hours (especially in sun light, warm temperatures, and once the solution gets dirty), so plan on getting this part done in one day.  Sanitizing solution is dilute enough to go down the drain or get dumped in an area of the yard you aren’t concerned about.  You might want to check if you have a septic system though.  Bleach breaks down into salt and water.)


For the original article, see the Fall 2020 issue of the Darlingtonia. Look under "About Us" and then "Newsletter".


The Demonstration Garden at the CNPS Nursery Site at Freshwater Farms Reserve

The many simple and powerful reasons to plant natives are what motivate the dedicated volunteers that keep our North Coast Chapter nursery running, as well as the inspiration for a new demonstration garden at our nursery site at Freshwater Farms Reserve in Eureka.  

In keeping with its mission to promote and provide native plants, our chapter aims to showcase design possibilities for native gardens and some of the many options for incorporating a variety of native plants. The garden also functions as a living seed bank for the future, similar in purpose to the many spaces that local non-profit Lost Foods has worked to create in the area, but much smaller in scope.

 Garden2Small  To prepare the space, with many volunteers and a visiting crew from the organization Helping Humboldt, we weeded, sheet mulched with cardboard and a couple thick layers of rice straw and wood chips donated by our landlords, the North Coast Regional Land Trust, and built raised areas to fill with soil we had saved and purchased. Once we had built up our planting areas and done the work to help keep weeds at bay, we started planting. There are many sources of information available on variations of this relatively inexpensive technique. It can be scaled for anything from our small garden space, to larger lawn conversion projects

With sage guidance from the collective knowledge of CNPS nursery volunteers involved in the project, the garden layout was  based loosely on principles from a book about the “Plant Community Approach” to garden design by Glenn Keator and Alrie Middlebrook.

Garden4Small While we definitely factored in the importance of considering height, spread, bloom time, etc. in our design, Keator and Middlebrook emphasize appropriate companion planting based on community type, which usually correlates to similar or synergistic plant needs like water, sun, and soil type, and promotes beneficial plant community interaction by grouping plants that have co-evolved over long periods of time.
The CNPS demonstration garden features five basic community types in miniature: Mixed Evergreen, Redwood Forest, Chaparral, Grassland, and Bog or Riparian. We also included a small area for succulents and coastal plants, and another for shade plants. With the space available, complete fidelity to plant community types was not strictly adhered to – there are also overlaps in our approximated “eco-regions,” as well as plants that occur in multiple communities. Garden5Small
Garden6Small When in doubt about how to choose and group plants,  and  are both great resources. Calscape provides most details you would want to learn or verify, with advanced search options that allow you to search by guidelines like water requirements, bloom season, region, or even plant attributes like deer resistance.

Calscape plant profiles often provide a list of common companion plants and CF usually lists the plant communities associated with a particular species (categorized more specifically than the community types laid out for home gardeners by Keator and Middlebrook).

Garden8Small Whether creating a new garden space, adding natives to your existing landscape, or planting in containers, there are many approaches. We hope our garden helps demonstrate some of the possibilities and above all, that the choice to plant natives doesn’t mean you need to sacrifice having a colorful and attractive garden.
We plan to invite visitors to a garden viewing within the next year, to see how the garden has taken off after less than two years since planting. We are currently working to create informational signs and plant labels so that visitors can easily take ideas home to their own gardens Garden9Small
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