Designing edible gardens

Designing edible gardens

Garden Design Magazine is introducing readers to Niki Jabbour’s new book, Groundbreaking Food Gardens, and they are sharing five garden design sketches from the book.

Jabbour presents a fresh idea among garden and landscape designers: that food doesn’t have to be planted in rows — that fruit, vegetables, spices and chickens can mix and mingle with shrubs, perennials and annuals throughout a beautiful landscape design. What a great idea, and the sketches just might spark an idea or two for your own landscape. Also, one of the sketches is the San Diego garden of Nan Sterman, a watersmart gardening expert, author and host of A Growing Passion on KPBS.

Explore food gardens and more on the Garden Design Magazine website 



Plant Extravaganza this Saturday at Balboa Park

Plant Extravaganza this Saturday at Balboa Park

Come this Saturday to Balboa Park for a Plant Extravaganza produced by the Master Gardener Association of San Diego County — a.k.a. the experts on growing plants in San Diego’s climate and soils.

You’ll find over 1,500 square feet of table tops filled with California natives, salvias, succulents, tillandsia, epiphyllum, asclepias, staghorn ferns, unusual varieties and everyday favorites, ranging in size from 4″x 4″ pots to small shrubs and trees. This is a popular event, so come early for the best selection.  You’ll also find Master Gardeners ready to help you with information about the plants and their care and cultivation, exhibits and demonstrations, garden art, garden tools and supplies, and books.

The event is open from 9:00am to 3:00pm at the Casa del Prado and adjacent patios. For more information and a map go to the Master Gardener Association of San Diego County website.

Scripps scientists forecast future weather

Scripps scientists forecast future weather

Precipitation in California, especially Southern California, is already more variable from year to year than anywhere else in the U.S, which makes things difficult for water utilities.

“It rarely happens that we get near-average rainfall for a year, we typically get deficient rainfall or excessive rainfall,” says Alexander Gershunov, a research meteorologist at Scripps Institution of Oceanography.  Scripps recently published studies investigating California’s current and future weather, and the forecast is even greater variability.

Read About California’s Future Weather


La Mesa Park Appreciation Day – October 7th!

La Mesa Park Appreciation Day – October 7th!

The City of La Mesa is holding its 12th annual Park Appreciation Day on Saturday, October 7, from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. at MacArthur Park.

Come work together with neighbors and new friends to beautify MacArthur Park, and bring your own gloves and rake if you have them. When the work is done, enjoy a community BBQ and games for all participants. Helix Helps will be there! Look for our volunteers in their bright green shirts.

You can show up at the park on event day or go to the city’s Park Appreciation Day webpage in advance to sign up for the clean-up and landscaping activities you want to participate in, and to sign the required waiver.

In case you don’t know, MacArthur Park is on Memorial Drive, which is just a few hundred feet west of where La Mesa Boulevard joins University Avenue. It’s where the Kuhlken baseball field and La Mesa Community Center are. Drive past the community center on Memorial Drive and you’ll find a community pool and the old driving range.

Call 619.667.1491 for more information.

Reserve your seats for October 21 WaterSmart Landscape Design Workshop

Learn how to transform your yard into a beautiful, water-saving landscape at our next WaterSmart Landscape Design Workshop on October, 21, 2017.

The free workshop, from 9:00am to 12:00pm, is taught by a local landscape expert at Helix’s Nat L. Eggert Operations Center in El Cajon. You’ll learn the skills needed to convert your turf into a water efficient landscape:

  • How to remove turf
  • How to analyze your yard, identify soil types and irrigate efficiently
  • How to select plants that thrive in our Mediterranean climate
  • How to create professional landscape, planting and irrigation designs

This event fills up fast, so don’t wait to reserve your seats.


Helix is Going Green

Helix is Going Green

Helix Water District is turning green, and it’s not from all the rain last year.

In 2014, the board of directors adopted a strategic plan that emphasized their commitment to the environment. While Helix’s much touted success in water conservation is what first comes to mind — thanks to our customers — the district has also thoughtfully implemented a much broader, environmentally conscious approach.  From solar energy to plug-in hybrid vehicles, the district is looking for ways to not only reduce its carbon footprint but also save money. Put simply, we are going green to save our customers green.

Over the last several years, we have conducted extensive energy efficiency audits and have completed our first comprehensive inventory of greenhouse gas emissions.  These audits have identified opportunities to implement energy efficient solutions in facilities as they come due for rehabilitation, such as facility lighting, heating, cooling and roofing systems. These studies serve as guiding documents for the district to develop long term strategies to reduce its carbon footprint.

In 2010, Helix installed a large, 250 kilowatt solar photovoltaic system on our Nat L. Eggert Operations Center in El Cajon, and the system produces enough clean energy to fully power the center.  Building on this success, Helix has continued to evaluate other opportunities for solar power and has successfully connected smaller-sized solar systems to power other district facilities.

Within the last six months, we added four plug-in hybrid vehicles to our fleet and we have already seen a dramatic increase in fuel efficiency. With an environmental protection agency estimated 133 miles per gallon gasoline equivalent, this technology is delivering significant fuel savings.

In addition to the dramatic increase in fuel efficiency, existing state incentives provide savings of $5,250 on the purchase of each new hybrid vehicle, making this an extremely cost effective solution for the district’s fleet.  Within the next 10 years, as vehicles become due for replacement, we expect to integrate over 40 plug-in hybrid vehicles to our fleet, providing anticipated annual savings of $40,000 from reduced fuel consumption.

An exciting new development supporting this fleet evolution is the construction of 20 electric vehicle charging stations at district facilities in La Mesa and El Cajon.  These charging stations are fully funded through a California state grant and we expect to complete construction before the end of the year. Moving forward, Helix will continue its responsible stewardship of our precious natural resources.

Helix customers continue to conserve

Helix customers continue to conserve

This July, after the wettest winter ever recorded in California, Helix customers used the same amount of water they used last July, when the state was still in the grip of a severe drought.

This is consistent with the results of a county-wide survey conducted by the San Diego County Water Authority in May. When asked how much water they would use in 2017 compared to 2016, 59% of respondents said they would use the same amount, 33% said they would use less, and only 5% said they would use more.

It’s consistent with statewide water use, as well.

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