Notes on developing my urban/suburban yard space in San Jose, CA. Topically related to homesteading, permaculture, composting, community, wildlife habitat, and growing a food forest.


Some highlights are playing at self sufficiency, gaining appreciation for land management and agriculture, designing a calming space, meditative physical activity, growing plants to provide shade and fragrance, growing fruit and vegetables not available in stores, identifying new volunteer plants, nurturing a rich ecosystem of diverse flora and fauna, providing a wildlife habitat. Observing visitors such as skunks, possums, cats, birds, squirrels, lizards, moths, butterflies, bees, mantises, and spiders.

Problems, and what’s working?

  • Weeds – Endless invasive noxious weeds.
    Answers: Cardboard sheet mulching everywhere, plant groundcover that once established can outcompete and shade out weeds.
  • Pests – Lost a tree to a beetle infestation. Aphid infestation on vegetables. Leaf miners on citrus. Ants eating through stems.
    Answers: Lacewings, ladybugs, soap solution spray, diatomaceous earth, and water blasting.
  • Fungus and Disease – Lost 2 old trees to fungus (honey fungus and heart rot). Peach trees also suffer from leaf curl. Rust on dragonfruit.
    Answers: Planting resistant varieties, spray with copper seasonally, hot compost (PFRP), carefully source mulch and compost, clean tools with bleach solution.
  • Elements – 2 trees fell from wind, a young tree got scorched from the summer sun. Drought.
    Answers: Tree braces help. Shade cloth helps protect from sun. Rainwater capture, plant drought tolerant varieties, mulch.
  • Location – Had to remove a tree that was growing through the neighbors fence.
    Answers: Need to consider the mature size of the tree when planting.
  • Time – This all takes a lot of time. Pruning, weeding, watering, inspecting, propagating…
    Answers: Automation, drip irrigation, robot mower, plant scanner, appropriate hand tools, and most importantly enjoyment of the process.

What’s growing?

Open to share my experience, seeds, cuttings, and divisions for propagation. Grateful for a neighbor who runs a plant library where I get seeds and seedlings of seasonal vegetable varieties. Some public libraries have a similar program.

Below is a non-exhaustive list of what’ I have’s growing. Doesn’t include nurse logs, compost piles, and bug hotels.

Common NameType of Plant*CA Native*Edible*Mature Size*Water Req*Pests and Diseases*
Bamboo Striped VivaxBambooNoNoVariesHighNone
Bamboo VivaxBambooNoNoVariesHighNone
Oldhamii BambooBambooNoNo50-70 ftModerateNone
Dragon FruitCactusNoYesVariesLowAphids, scale
Asparagus FernFernNoNo2-4 ftModerateAphids, mealybugs
Golden PolypodyFernNoNo6-12 inModerateNone
California Golden PoppiesFlowering PlantYesNo12-18 inLowNone
HollyhockFlowering PlantNoNo3-8 ftModerateRust, aphids
Blue Oat GrassGrassNoNo2-3 ftLowNone
Festuca Glauca ‘Elijah Blue’GrassNoNo8-12 inLowNone
LemongrassGrassNoYes2-4 ftHighNone
Muhly Grass RedGrassNoNo2-3 ftLowNone
Water ReedGrassNoNo6-13 ftHighNone
Baby’s TearsGroundcoverNoNo2-4 inHighNone
Creeping RosemaryGroundcoverNoYes1-2 ftLowNone
Dymondia Silver CarpetGroundcoverNoNo1-3 inLowNone
Lambs EarGroundcoverNoNo6-12 inLowNone
ChamomileHerbNoYes12-24 inModerateAphids, caterpillars
Coyote MintHerbYesNo1-2 ftLowNone
Lemon ThymeHerbNoYes6-12 inLowNone
Miners LettuceHerbYesYes4-12 inHighNone
Roman ChamomileHerbNoYes6-12 inLowNone
SageHerbNoYes1-2 ftLowSage pests
SpearmintHerbNoYes1-2 ftModerateMint rust, mint flea beetles
Spring OnionHerbNoYes1-3 ftModerateOnion flies, thrips
Curly Spider PlantHouseplantNoNo8-12 inModerateNone
Black Chilli PepperPepper PlantNoYesVariesModerateAphids, mites
Margarita BopPerennialYesNo1-3 ftLowNone
Mediterranean SpurgePerennialNoNo2-4 ftLowNone
MilkweedPerennialNoYesVariesLowMilkweed bugs, aphids
Perez’s Sea LavenderPerennialNoNo1-2 ftLowNone
Purple HeartPerennialNoNo8-12 inLowNone
RhubarbPerennialNoYes3-6 ftModerateRhubarb curculio
Royal RobePerennialNoNo2-4 ftLowNone
Santa Barbara DaisyPerennialNoNo6-12 inLowNone
Seaside DaisyPerennialYesNo1-2 ftLowNone
StrawberryPerennialNoYes6-12 inModerateStrawberry pests, gray mold
Woolly Blue CurlsPerennialYesNo1-2 ftLowNone
Yerba Buena TeaPerennialYesYes6-12 inLowNone
Baby SageShrubNoYes2-3 ftLowAphids, powdery mildew
Bladder PodShrubYesYes3-8 ftLowNone
Blue ElderberryShrubYesYes10-30 ftLowAphids, powdery mildew
BlueberryShrubNoYesVariesHighBirds, aphids
California Native RosemaryShrubYesYes3-6 ftLowAphids, powdery mildew
Ceanothus ConchaShrubYesNo6-10 ftLowAphids, spider mites
Coastal BuckwheatShrubYesNo1-2 ftLowNone
Cowboy CologneShrubYesNo3-6 ftLowNone
Curry Leaf PlantShrubNoYes6-15 ftModerateNone
Dog RoseShrubNoYes6-10 ftModerateRose aphids, black spot
Golden BerriesShrubNoYes2-4 ftModerateAphids, whiteflies
Golden CurrantShrubYesYes3-6 ftModerateAphids, powdery mildew
GooseberryShrubNoYes2-4 ftModerateGooseberry sawfly, powdery mildew
Leptospermum scopariumShrubNoNo6-12 ftLowNone
Manzanita Dr HurdShrubYesNo6-8 ftLowNone
Manzanita Howard McMinnShrubYesNo4-6 ftLowNone
Manzanita Louis EdmondsShrubYesNo6-8 ftLowNone
Manzanita Pt ReyesShrubYesNo6-8 ftLowNone
Missouri Pink Love AppleShrubNoYes3-6 ftModerateNone
RaspberryShrubNoYes3-6 ftHigh
Redvein AbutilonShrubNoNo6-8 ftModerateWhiteflies, aphids
RosemaryShrubNoYes2-6 ftLowRosemary beetle, powdery mildew
Saltbush/Quail BushShrubYesNo3-6 ftLowNone
Sarah LavenderShrubNoNo2-3 ftLowNone
White SageShrubYesNo3-4 ftLowNone
AloeSucculentNoYesVariesLowMealybugs, scale
JadeSucculentNoNo2-3 ftLowMealybugs, aphids
NopalesSucculentNoYesVariesLowNopal beetles, aphids
Ponytail PalmSucculentNoNo6-15 ftLowNone
20th Century Asian Pear TreeTreeNoYes15-30 ftModerateFire blight, aphids
Avocado HassTreeNoYes30-40 ftModerateVarious pests
Benton CherryTreeNoYes20-30 ftModerateBirds, aphids
California Bay TreeTreeYesNo40-80 ftLowNone
California Peppercorn TreeTreeNoNo25-40 ftLowNone
CamphorTreeNoNo50-60 ftModerateScale insects
Canyon Live OakTreeYesNo30-70 ftLowOak root rot, oak gall wasp
Cherry PlumTreeNoYes15-25 ftModeratePlum moth, brown rot
Chinese ElmTreeNoNo40-50 ftModerateElm leaf beetle, powdery mildew
Chinese HackberryTreeNoNo30-40 ftModerateHackberry psyllids, leaf spot
Cider GumTreeNoNo50-70 ftModerateEucalyptus longhorned borer, canker
Coast Live OakTreeYesNo30-70 ftLowOak root rot, oak gall wasp
Curly Willow TreeTreeNoNo30-40 ftHighNone
Date PalmTreeNoYes50-80 ftHighNone
Eureka Variegated LemonTreeNoYes10-20 ftModerateCitrus pests
FigTreeNoYesVariesModerateFig rust, aphids
Fuyu PersimmonTreeNoYes15-20 ftModerateAphids, scale
GinkgoTreeNoNo50-80 ftModerateGinkgo gall, aphids
GrapefruitTreeNoYes15-20 ftModerateCitrus pests
KumquatTreeNoYes10-15 ftModerateCitrus pests, diseases
Latina Cherry TreeTreeNoYes25-35 ftModerateBirds, aphids
Meyer LemonTreeNoYes6-10 ftModerateCitrus pests
Lemon GuavaTreeNoYes15-25 ftModerateGuava moth, aphids
LoquatsTreeNoYes10-30 ftModerateLoquat psyllids
MandarinTreeNoYes10-15 ftModerateCitrus pests
Norfolk Island PineTreeNoNo50-80 ftModerateNone
PeachTreeNoYes15-25 ftModeratePeach leaf curl
Pink Lady AppleTreeNoYes10-15 ftModerateApple pests
Pinus Pinea (Stone Pine)TreeNoNo40-60 ftLowPine processionary
PlumTreeNoYesVariesModeratePlum pests
Queensland Bottle TreeTreeNoNo30-50 ftLowNone
Silver Coin EucalyptusTreeNoNo20-30 ftLowNone
Spice Zee NectaplumTreeNoYes10-15 ftModeratePlum aphids
Tropical AshTreeNoNo30-40 ftModerateAsh borers, fungal diseases
Glossy PrivetTree/ShrubNoNo20-30 ftModerateAphids, scale insects
JuniperTree/ShrubNoNoVariesLowCedar-apple rust, aphids
PomegranateTree/ShrubNoYes10-20 ftLowPomegranate pests
Sargent JuniperTree/ShrubNoNo3-6 ftLowNone
Cherry TomatoesVegetableNoYesVariesModerateAphids, whiteflies
Lincoln PeasVegetableNoYes2-4 ftModeratePea aphids
Merit Tree CollardVegetableNoYes3-4 ftModerateCabbage worms, aphids
Purple Tree CollardVegetableNoYes4-6 ftModerateCabbage worms
Monstera DeliciosaVineNoNo10-30 ftModerateNone
PassifloraVineNoYesVariesModeratePassion vine pests
Passion FruitVineNoYesVariesModeratePassion vine pests
WisteriaVineNoNoVariesModerateJapanese beetles, aphids
* Columns populated by ChatGPT, and thus may contain inaccuracies.

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