CREEC Greenhouse Youth Group Report, February 2018

by Kay Smith

February was quite a productive month at CREEC. The Youth Group worked a total of eight days. A great deal of weeding in our demonstration gardens was accomplished. Some may have been over-weeded, however, it is always exciting to get to grow new plants in the gardens.

While weeding and pruning the demo gardens, we were able to take cuttings from a large variety of plants. The clone table has an abundance of potential plants on it.

When visiting my friend, I came across a planter full of tangerine seedlings planted by her neighbor. CREEC Greenhouse usually doesn't grow citrus trees because of their high water needs, but with all CREEC's new students and our native forest about to sprout this spring, we needed a lesson in how to transplant sprouted trees. The 24" by 8" pot of seedlings gave us 57 baby trees, which students planted in 1-gallon and 4-inch pots. All the new students know about transplanting baby trees now. We can handle our oaks and toyons with care when they sprout!

The demonstration gardens are very nicely weeded and mulched with the exception of the very last bed. We made attempts to finish, but the rain and hail put a stop to that. We will just keep weeding (in my Dory voice). The students had a "snow day" when it hailed and our shade cloth fell down—they made ice castles using 5-gallon pots full of hail collected from the shade cloth that normally hangs above CREEC's tables of plants. Our Youth Group worked very hard to remove the hail from the shade cloth and then stand the poles back up so the plants were safe. James Smith and Roy Rubick Smith came and and helped us with the corner posts because we called. They are heroes!

The students also potted up trees, flowers, herbs, vegetables, and clones (when they successfully rooted). There are multiple flats of seed pots sprouting inside and outside of the greenhouse. We will be crazy with seedlings soon! Students check the acorns every work day—no sprouts yet. Buckeyes sprouted, though!

Ten students participated at CREEC Greenhouse in February.
In addition to James Smith and Roy Rubick Smith, Ms. Sonja New and her husband, Matthew, and Miylek Anthony volunteered, making CREEC Greenhouse 💞 an even more beautiful treasure under the bridge! There is always lots to do and see at CREEC.

Thank you to all who contribute to CREEC, and to the Board of Directors, who make it possible for CREEC to be such a positive influence on the youth who participate, and thank you for supporting the creation of new butterfly habitat. May CREEC Greenhouse continue to educate and inspire people to give butterflies a place to grow!

CREEC Greenhouse Youth Group Report, December 2017

by Kay Smith

December was a busy time at CREEC Greenhouse. The Youth Group had nine work days and were very productive. Even though our students aren't all present for every work day, we do have a dedicated group trying to make a difference.

Dr. Dean Kelch continued to bring in more acorns to plant, so we will have even more oak trees sprouting. There is a possibility that a very large forest is about to be born at CREEC! We also potted up tree seedlings to tree pots and transplanted oaks, maples, buckeyes, bays, and willows into 5-gallon pots.

We cleaned off the clone table and potted up the many different kinds of plants we propagated. Of course, we have done our best to fill the table up with all kinds of new possible future plants. People also call clones "starts" or "cuttings." It is very exciting to see which plants will make roots and grow into beautiful plants. Pine trees never clone, but almost all the other perennial plants will.

The students spent considerable time recycling soil. We moved our work table and scooped the soil up, using the soil to transplant trees into 5-gallon pots. We were surprised at how much soil had been spilled over time and potted up more than 40 trees with it!

CREEC's garden starts for your winter garden are looking nice. We have 4-inch pots of broccoli, cabbage, kale, red cabbage, and collard greens. We have 1-gallon pots of horseradish. We also have salad planters for cut-and-grow again consumption. We also have herbs of many kinds. Vegetable starts are $1 each.

On December 9th, we did more planting in the restoration project area on Dowrelio Drive. We removed dead trees and replaced them with live ones. We also picked up litter. On our previous planting day in June, it was 103ºF, so quite a few of the big trees didn't grow. With the cold weather and rain, our newly planted babies will grow well.

As always, our pots need weeding. I am happy to report that most of our students know their weeds and are pretty efficient at removing them. Each pot needs weeding at least once every few months. It can be quite challenging to keep up, but it must be done. I say in my Dory voice, "Just keep weeding! Just keep weeding!"

I would like to publicly thank Mrs. Sonja New. On October 28th, she stopped by CREEC Greenhouse and asked me about volunteering. This beautiful human being has made it her business to be at CREEC Greenhouse every work day, taking on curb appeal and big organizing projects. She is amazing! She gets her husband to help and she gets the students to get more done. She's always helpful and kind, making the plants beautiful, and even bringing me coffee! Thank you, Mrs. Sonja New.

Ten students participated at CREEC Greenhouse in December.

Thank you for allowing CREEC Greenhouse to continue to be a wonderful treasure under the bridge in Crockett. I hope more people will come find out about the wonderful things that we can all do to create more habitat for butterflies and birds.

CREEC Greenhouse winter hours are Saturdays from 10 am to 2 pm and Wednesdays from 1:30 pm to 4:30 pm. We hope to see you there. Free native strawberry plant to new visitors!

CREEC Greenhouse Youth Group Report, November 2017

CREEC Greenhouse Youth Group worked a total of eight days in November. Our winter hours will continue to be Saturdays from 10 am to 2 pm and Wednesdays from 1:30 pm to 5 pm. We may schedule more work days since school is out. I will post about additional days, should we have any.
November was a busy time of planting passionflower vines and other flowering plants around the mulberry tree. A new gate was installed by the California State Lands Commission.
Our Youth Group took apart an overgrown planter and replanted it with new plants. It was quite a task pulling apart those overgrown tules, but with cooperation, the task was completed. We have tules in 5-gallon pots for sale, perfect if anyone wants to start a water garden.
We have planted every kind of oak tree known to grow in California. We've also planted toyons, cherries, buckeyes, pines, grasses, flowering plants, and vegetables. We will be potting up some of last season's sprouted seedlings in December.
The Youth Group spends at least a third of their time weeding. We weed each section looking for plants needing attention. As plant issues come up, the students address each issue. They sometimes address the issue at the table where the plant "lives," but sometimes they take the plants to the work area (especially bigger pots or when additional tools are needed to complete the task).
Along with most of the plants at CREEC Greenhouse, the Youth Group has planted many different winter vegetables and herbs, which are available for sale during our work hours at CREEC. Feel free to stop by and visit us.
On that note, CREEC welcomes any donations of plant pots. Drop them off in front of our gate, and we will put them to good use.
Consider supporting CREEC Greenhouse during this holiday season by purchasing plants as gifts for friends and family. Feel free to bring a pretty pot to the greenhouse, and we can pot it up with a plant of your choice. Our students would be delighted to do so.
Nine students participated at CREEC Greenhouse in November.
December brings rain, wind, and cold. Many plants take this time to rest, even dying back to just the roots of the plant until spring. If you visit CREEC, these plants are marked with blue tags. The cold weather is also a good time to plant trees and perennial plants.
CREEC plans to replace some dead trees in the restoration project site under the Carquinez Bridge, next to CREEC's property on Dowrelio Drive. If you'd like to help us, we'll be meeting on Saturday, December 16th from 10 am to 2 pm. After exiting the freeway, go down Wanda Street to the bottom of the hill, and turn left onto Dowrelio Drive. Drive to the end of the road and park. CREEC Greenhouse will be on your left. We hope you can come!
Thank you to CREEC's Board of Directors; our generous sponsors, C&H Sugar and Phillips 66; as well as friends of CREEC for allowing this wonderful place to be such an important part of our lives. The beauty and wonder at CREEC Greenhouse are waiting to be discovered by everyone. Come visit us and see what's growing at CREEC Greenhouse.

CREEC Greenhouse Youth Group Report, October 2017

CREEC Youth Group had a very productive October. With new students finishing their initial community service hours, they now have the knowledge to really make a difference. The enthusiasm and energy is infectious as the students get more involved in caring for the plants.

Infectious energy

We weeded the many beautiful roses, natives, and heirlooms for nearly two weeks! It was thorny work, especially because blackberries grew in under the tables. I told the new students that this was the hardest job we might ever do—and they managed the task! They learned about all the weeds and many of the self-seeding natives while weeding those thorny roses. They learned how to remove blackberries from a planting bed, as well.
We transplanted most of the trees in 1-gallon pots into 5-gallon pots; they are labeled, mulched, and watered under shade recovering from the move.
We cleaned off the clone table. The many plants rooting on it were potted up. There were roses, many kinds of herbs, trees, and even grapes! We are filling the table back up again, fast!
Acorns of all kinds were collected and planted. The seed pots are placed in a large 1/4-inch metal mesh cage so the squirrels and rats don't eat them. We also planted native cherries, maples, bays, toyons, walnuts, and pine tree seeds. It will be exciting to see what comes up!
The Youth Group continues to keep weeding. The roses were difficult, but everyone knows what the weeds are now. I am very happy to report that the CREEC Youth are turning into compulsive weeders.
We've moved the pepper plants inside the greenhouse, hoping to keep them warm. We are trying to clean and make room for growing seedlings of all kinds starting to grow.
CREEC Youth are propagating winter vegetable starter plants for home gardeners. We have Egyptian walking onions, horseradish, sweet potatoes, and many kinds of herbs for sale now.
The Youth Group has continued to plant around the mulberry tree in the parking lot. We've planted purple passionflower vines on the fence. The butterflies are going to love those!
Twelve students participated at CREEC Greenhouse in October.
The CREEC Youth Group winter hours are Wednesdays 1:30 pm to 5 pm and Saturdays from 10:00 am to 2 pm. Feel free to stop by and see what's coming up. There is always lots to do and see.
Thank you for allowing CREEC Greenhouse to be such a treasure under the bridge, allowing all of us the opportunity to learn about the beautiful plants and trees in the Carquinez Strait region.

CREEC Greenhouse Youth Group Report, September 2017

September flew by at CREEC Greenhouse. We continued to water the recently-planted restoration project plants. Some have not survived the transplant and will be replaced; others are very happy in their new spot under the Carquinez Bridge. CREEC has lots of native plants to attract butterflies.
CREEC planted a mulberry tree a few years back across the road by a fence. Our Youth Group planted sea lavenders, California bee plants, and some other beautiful surprises under and around the tree. October will bring a few more! The butterflies and hummingbirds will love it!
Ms. Iris Wesselmann—Math/Science teacher at Carquinez Middle School, Friend of CREEC, and super teacher who bribes us with marshmallows—visited CREEC with her two classes (one class had 24 students and the other had 28 students). The class of 24 students potted up basil and salvia seedlings—5 flats of each, 60 plants in total! The students now have a better understanding of the life of a plant, and plant root structures, stems, and leaves. They really liked mixing the soil in the wheelbarrow!
The class of 28 students transplanted ash and oak tree from 1-gallon pots to 5-gallon pots so they can grow bigger. Almost everyone re-potted a tree or two. They loaded the labeled transplanted beauties and put them in a shady spot and watered them. Both classes were excited and enthusiastic. We're grateful that the students were able to visit CREEC, the treasure under the bridge—all due to the efforts of this wonderful teacher! Several of her students have completed paperwork and are finishing their ten community service hours to join CREEC's Youth Group.

Reorganizing the CREEC Greenhouse to transition from summer to fall/winter is rather heart wrenching as the remaining tomato and basil plants get sent to the compost pile to make room for new seedlings. We have lots of seedlings of all kinds—from grasses to trees, flowers, and vegetables. Acorns are falling and we are planting them as well as lots of other seeds. Come pick up some basil, and also jalapeno and padron peppers in 2-gallon pots to grow inside in the winter as houseplants.
With reorganization comes storing pots and clean-up. All the plants are in rotation for weeding and potting up, labeling, and grooming. Our students are all learning and are happy to be a part of CREEC. The rose tables were very challenging to groom because blackberries invaded from over the fence! It made some very thorny weeding!
Seven students participated at CREEC in September.
CREEC Greenhouse Youth Group fall hours are Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5:00 pm to dark and Saturdays from 10 am to 2 pm. Come by and work with us, check out the restoration sites, or just see what plants are growing and what wildlife is flying around at CREEC Greenhouse!
CREEC is such an exciting place to be a part of. Thank you for letting CREEC Greenhouse continue to be our hidden treasure under the bridge!

CREEC Greenhouse Youth Group Report, August 2017

In the month of August, the CREEC Youth Group has been very productive. We've removed the hay bale garden from in front of the greenhouse and transplanted chamomile and salvias of many kinds into pots. Then, we staged and filled up tires with soil and planted a beautiful garden in the same spot. Dr. Dean Kelch selected the plants and designed the garden, filling the tires and planting some of the many plants with us. We mulched and watered the garden, and the project is splendidly beautiful with butterflies and bees and hummingbirds visiting. Everyone should come and see!
We've also staged a "Plant Sale" area for Saturday's Plant Sale at CREEC (10 am to 1 pm). Although almost all the plants at CREEC are for sale, we've put a large collection of natives, flowers, vegetables, herbs, and trees all together for browsing. We have sweet potatoes in 1-gallon pots. CREEC has a great variety of beautiful plants—something for everyone!

We had wasps nesting in our plant pot storage areas. After our handyman dealt with the wasps, we reorganized our pots and spruced up those areas. Hopefully, the wasps are finished with us this year.
CREEC students shared a table with the Contra Costa Resource Conservation District at Rodeo's Block Party on August 19th. With Elizabeth Harrison and Heidi Petty, the students distributed fliers about CREEC and talked about the need to plant flowers and trees to support butterflies. We've had a few people come by to see us and purchase plants.
The Youth Group has been watering and weeding the restoration project site, as well. We have noticed trash at the site and would like to remind people that litter will need to be picked up by someone. It takes all of us working together to make the garden beautiful, especially under a freeway!
With school starting back, CREEC Youth Group meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5 pm until dark-ish. As the days get cooler and it gets dark earlier, we will change the time to after school. Saturday hours remain the same, 10 am to 2 pm. Feel free to stop by and work with us. We will be potting up our sprouted seeds of all kinds, planting winter vegetable seeds, transplanting the bigger plants into larger pots, weeding a lot, and watering. Always lots to do at the CREEC Greenhouse!
Eleven students participated at CREEC Greenhouse in August.
Thank you for allowing CREEC Greenhouse to be such a big part of our week. It is truly a wonderful place to be a part of.

CREEC Greenhouse Youth Group Report, July 2017

by Kay Smith

CREEC Youth Group has taken on many tasks this month. We have finished mulching all the restoration project plants, and we water them three times a week. We've begun potting up the oak acorns planted this spring into 4-inch tree pots. Last year's acorns are moving into 5-gallon pots. We've removed part of the hay bale garden and replaced it with one side of our new tire planter garden. There are still two very large salvias in the hay bales that we need to move before completing the rest of the tire planters.

We have new students completing their community service, and learning to recognize weeds and to propagate plants. Most are happy and enthusiastic to be a part of CREEC. Thirteen students participated at CREEC in July.

Our handyman did some tree removal and planting, mowing, weed-wacking, and tool repair.

CREEC Greenhouse Youth Group Report, June 2017

by Kay Smith

On June 3rd, our youth group planted lots of plants and trees for our restoration project. We did a second planting on June 17th. Some of the trees have lost the green in their leaves, but others look like they are happy they were planted. Like people, some plants handle change better than others. Most of the plants that were planted in both restoration plantings are showing signs of new growth and recovery from transplant shock. I am happy to report that all the plants have been mulched and marked so we can water them appropriately.

School got out for summer soon after the planting events, and the students were too busy to come to work. We only worked seven days in June—mostly watering, mulching, and staking trees. We grew some clones and basil seedlings, and we weeded a little. Nine students participated at CREEC in June.

Hopefully in July the youth group gets back on track. Summer work hours are Mondays and Thursdays from 7:30 am to 11:30 am and Saturdays from 10 am to 2 pm.

Our handyman worked to repair fencing, wagons, wheelbarrows, and water leaks. He also did some weed-whacking.

CREEC has a lot of tomato plants ready to go free to good homes! (Just make a donation to CREEC to keep up the good work!)

CREEC Greenhouse Youth Group Report, May 2017

by Kay Smith

CREEC Youth Group was very productive this month; we worked a total of thirteen days. Most of our time is spent weeding. There are always weeds to pluck out of potted plants, demonstration gardens, fence lines, and pathways.

Everything from grass to trees sprouts this time of year. Along with the toyon, milkweeds, and oaks of many kinds for sale, CREEC also has tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, okra, Egyptian walking onions, pumpkins, and a wide range of herb plants for the garden. My hope is that people will visit CREEC first to buy plants for their gardens and also to see our beautiful native and drought-tolerant plants.

May also brought a lot of clean-up and reorganizing. We succeeded in filling the recycling, green waste (non-native plants), and trash cans every week. We cleaned out sheds and organized some plant pot storage areas. There is still a lot to work on, but we made some good progress.

Planting natives next to the greenhouse near The Nantucket

The most important project that CREEC Youth worked on was picking out the plants and trees for our restoration project on the property located near the CREEC Greenhouse owned by C&H Sugar! We pulled, weeded, and staged about 200 trees and plants for the project. All of us are VERY excited that our plants are out of pots and into their own soil, to grow and be beautiful for all to see on Dowrelio Drive in Crockett! We will be mulching the newly planted area as soon as possible as they are planted on June 3.

The class from Carquinez Middle School that visited in April from Ms. Wesselman’s math-science class, visited again. Although only five students visited, they were very motivated and happy to get busy and pot up some valley oak seedlings. Then, they spent some time weeding—racing to see who could fill up a five gallon pot first with five specific non-native invasive weeds. Then, we all looked at the okra and marigold seedlings that the students potted up in April. They were excited to see that the plants were ready for the garden. After all that work, the students went to see the fish pond and then went back to school. I hope they had as much fun as I did!
Eight CREEC Youth Program students participated at CREEC in May.

A handyman provided tool repair and maintenance services.
Thank you for allowing CREEC to be such an important part of our world! We excited to complete the new restoration project!