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Clearing toyon brush for firebreak

Using eucalyptus leaves for compost pile

Matt, My Man: I guess it’s time to cut a firebreak around my home. I hate to clear natural vegetation, but it’s better than having my house burn down. Part of the vegetation is toyon, and I know for a fact that’s a protected plant. Can you cut it for a firebreak? — Toto Two, San Diego

Matthew Alice: Is the oil of eucalyptus leaves toxic to plant roots if they are used in large quantities as a surface mulch and/or worked into the soil as a soil amendment for garden vegetables and fruit trees? In compost? — Apprehensive, National City

Ooooh, nix that euc mulch scheme. No good, sez a county ag rep. Landscape one minute, moonscape the next. Eucalyptus, pepper, oleander—nasty allelopaths — spread toxins into/ontc the soil to kill the competition. Most oozes from the roots, but it’s in the leaves too. But euc compost is another pile of poop entirely. Follow carefully all the universal laws of composting, and you’ll have a toxin-free soil amendment. Microbial action in the heap gets rid of the bad stuff. A Ventura County farm advisor tested euc-augmented compost and gave it his seal of approval But like many So Cal plants, fibrous ’lyptus leaves are tough and decompose at a glacial pace, You’ll tweak the process along if you spread the leaves on your lawn, run over the mess with a mower, then wet the minced euc real well before you dump it in the bin. Oleander, by the way, is poisonous to animals and man (as you might suspect, since it flourishes in freeway exhaust) so just on general principles, avoid that entirely.

Something else we can dump in the bin is the “fact” that toyon is protected. According to the local, um, branch of the California Native Plant Society, toyon is going the way of most indigenous greenery, but the plant that put the “holly” in Hollywood is still hanging in there But just because you’re permitted to cut it down doesn’t mean you should. You can clear other brush in the firebreak and leave selected plants. And when the fire department recommends that you clear brush, they don’t mean rip it out by the roots. You need a city-issued permit tc do that, even if the vegetation isn’t protected. Just give the area a trim a couple of inches from the ground and leave the roots in to prevent soil erosion. The San Diego city fire department’s community education division at 1010 Second Avenue can give you more details. Oh, by the way, toyon aside, you can’t cut endangered plants in a firebreak area. Protected means protected even from your good intentions.

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Matt, My Man: I guess it’s time to cut a firebreak around my home. I hate to clear natural vegetation, but it’s better than having my house burn down. Part of the vegetation is toyon, and I know for a fact that’s a protected plant. Can you cut it for a firebreak? — Toto Two, San Diego

Matthew Alice: Is the oil of eucalyptus leaves toxic to plant roots if they are used in large quantities as a surface mulch and/or worked into the soil as a soil amendment for garden vegetables and fruit trees? In compost? — Apprehensive, National City

Ooooh, nix that euc mulch scheme. No good, sez a county ag rep. Landscape one minute, moonscape the next. Eucalyptus, pepper, oleander—nasty allelopaths — spread toxins into/ontc the soil to kill the competition. Most oozes from the roots, but it’s in the leaves too. But euc compost is another pile of poop entirely. Follow carefully all the universal laws of composting, and you’ll have a toxin-free soil amendment. Microbial action in the heap gets rid of the bad stuff. A Ventura County farm advisor tested euc-augmented compost and gave it his seal of approval But like many So Cal plants, fibrous ’lyptus leaves are tough and decompose at a glacial pace, You’ll tweak the process along if you spread the leaves on your lawn, run over the mess with a mower, then wet the minced euc real well before you dump it in the bin. Oleander, by the way, is poisonous to animals and man (as you might suspect, since it flourishes in freeway exhaust) so just on general principles, avoid that entirely.

Something else we can dump in the bin is the “fact” that toyon is protected. According to the local, um, branch of the California Native Plant Society, toyon is going the way of most indigenous greenery, but the plant that put the “holly” in Hollywood is still hanging in there But just because you’re permitted to cut it down doesn’t mean you should. You can clear other brush in the firebreak and leave selected plants. And when the fire department recommends that you clear brush, they don’t mean rip it out by the roots. You need a city-issued permit tc do that, even if the vegetation isn’t protected. Just give the area a trim a couple of inches from the ground and leave the roots in to prevent soil erosion. The San Diego city fire department’s community education division at 1010 Second Avenue can give you more details. Oh, by the way, toyon aside, you can’t cut endangered plants in a firebreak area. Protected means protected even from your good intentions.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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