Archive for November, 2016



As the weather cools, we see the trees turn beautiful shades of orange, red and yellow signaling autumn. These colorful falling leaves also remind us of our chore of cleaning their litter off our sidewalks, lawn and properties. As I walk my dogs through the neighborhood and parks, scuffling through and crunching the carpet of leaves, I notice many homes with piles of leaves on the street waiting for the city to haul them away. My first thought is, I should come back and steal these however unpractical that is, then I realize they must not know what a gold mine they are tossing out as a nuisance.

As an avid gardener, I’ve experimented with many soil amendments throughout the years from compost, to worm casings, to stinky fish emulsions (yuck), synthetic fertilizers, wood chips…and absolutely nothing works as well to make my plants thrive and my clay soil soften better than leaf mold. What is leaf mold? Well, when you suck the leaves through your blower/vac or even rake them, put them in a black yard waste bag (must be black to stay warm and dark) loosely tied and set them aside somewhere outside. By spring the bag will be full of partially decomposed leaves covered in white mold. Spread this around your trees and plants or under your mulch as you would compost and voila! This same process also happens when you leave the leaves under the trees or shrubs they came from or if you spread them as mulch now, but the process just takes a little longer. You should always leave a few inches of leaves under the trees and plants where they came from as that is what feeds them, keeps them healthy, drought tolerant, prevents disease (never pile mulch around the trunk) and keeps them out of the landfill. Blowing all the leaves out from under your tree leaving hardened clay soil robs it of nutrients.

Leaves are great for healthy lawns too. If you have a light sprinkling of leaves on your lawn, don’t bother raking or blowing them off. Take the bag off your mower, mow right over them and leave them in place. Don’t worry about the messy look of leaf pieces, as they won’t last long. Within a couple of days and watering the soil organisms will have worked them in to your soil (they’re fast!) and your lawn will have had an organic nutrient rich treat. So next time your mow and blow guys skin your property and toss out natures free compost, tell them to black bag it for you instead. Your gardens will thank you!

Thanks to all the “Park Angels” who helped spread the mulch


We’re not sure who those Angels were but, we sure want to THANK YOU for doing such a great job at the corner of Burchell Avenue and Oakglen Way in TJ Martin Park.  Thanks to you, we won’t be seeing as many weeds this Spring in our park.

Dangerous Mushrooms Springing Up in Bay Area Yards & Parks

According to a Pet Advisory put out by SAGE Centers for Veterinary Specialty & Emergency Care, dangerous Amanita Mushrooms are springing up in Bay area yards & parks.

With both recent and upcoming wet weather in our area, SAGE wants to remind us about the potential danger of poisonous mushrooms growing in our yards and neighborhood parks. They recently had a dog presented to SAGE Concord in severe liver failure, just one day after going on a hike with his owner. Unfortunately, organ damage was too severe and he wasn’t able to be saved. A fecal sample later submitted for examination tested positive for amanita, known as the death cap mushroom.


Clockwise from top left: Amanita phalloides are associated with trees and are typically found near oak trees. Lepiota are small, with a pink-brown scaly cap. These can grow in lawns and in the forest, and are not associated with trees. Galerina autumnalis is a brown-spored mushroom that grows on branches and woodchips. Pholiota is a group of mushrooms that are brown-spored, grow in soil, and have a flat to conical cap.


It’s suspected that this dog encountered mushrooms while walking through Briones Regional Park in Contra Costa County, where fog at the hilltop provides adequate moisture for mushrooms to grow. While poisonous mushrooms are an uncommon cause of liver failure in many parts of the country, they can be prevalent throughout Northern California.

“The death cap mushroom is toxic to the liver,” said Dr. Jeremy Wong, an emergency veterinarian at SAGE Concord. “It gets absorbed quickly and becomes part of the ongoing circulation between the liver and small intestine. It causes irreversible damage.”

Clinical signs of their ingestion can include vomiting, abdominal pain, lethargy, bleeding, and jaundice. Initial signs of illness often occur within 6 to 12 hours of the pet eating the mushroom, with organ failure beginning at 12 to 24 hours. The ingestion of just one mushroom can cause death in an otherwise healthy large dog.

If a mushroom is ingested, doctors will want to induce vomiting immediately. If the patient is already sick when presented, treatment is likely to include aggressive liver support with IV fluids, antibiotics, milk thistle, Vitamin E, and potentially other products such as antioxidants and blood products. The prognosis depends on the amount of poison ingested, the extent of liver damage, and the administration of early and aggressive medical care.

Exposure to amanita can be limited by making sure your yard is free of mushrooms and keeping your dog leashed in parks and other unfamiliar areas. Please spread the word. Let the pet owners in your life know to be vigilant about mushrooms.


Have you been wondering what’s going on with the PG&E towers in our Park?


Well, after talking to the tower crew, our MFPA members, Pat Pizzo, Vince Piazzisi, and Larry Sasscer, have the following explanations:

They are in the process of applying tension to the lines in order to raise them. In order to do this, they have to beef-up the tower structure with load-bearing struts and then replace the existing ceramic  insulators with more heavy-duty ones than the ones that were already there.

Larry and member Pier Maggiani both talked to the Contractor and were told that after they have the new equipment installed and the lines tightened up, they may gain an additional 5 ft to 10 ft of clearance from the ground.  Always a good thing when it comes to saving our park trees under the power lines.

Vince talked to one of the crew members about the work on the tower just across the street from his house. He had noticed them installing wheels on the lines.  After asking about the wheels he was told this was to facilitate the tightening of the power line to take out slack.


How would you like being over 70 feet in the air next to 115,000 volts of electricity?!

Park benches get a fresh coat of paint

Thanks to the efforts of MFPA member, Larry Sasscer, he has the three benches in the western portion of TJ Martin Park  looking brand new.  So come outside, sit a spell, & enjoy the beautiful Fall weather.

They really look great, Larry!

District 9 Councilmember Donald Rocha submits Memorandum on Park Maintenance to City Council Rules Committee


The following is a quote from Councilmember Rocha’s newsletter:

“Dear Neighbor,

Over recent months, I’ve received an increasing number of complaints from residents about the condition of parks in my district. Residents report problems such as dead grass, dead trees, overgrown weeds and decaying fixtures. In many cases they have waited patiently for these problems to be fixed, but are increasingly frustrated at the City’s continued inability to address their concerns. (As an example of the kinds of complaints I’ve heard, I’ve included some pictures of our parks at the end of this newsletter.) Given the seriousness of the problem, I have issued a memorandum intended to help bring forward potential solutions to the problem in time for next year’s City budget.”

Click here to read Councilmember Rocha’s memorandum