Milewide Nursery

The Japanese Maple — January 27, 2016

The Japanese Maple

The Japanese Maple

Arriving in Garberville from the oft sweltering heat and dangerous flash-floods of central Texas last June, I found myself on a new adventure in a new place with no idea of what I was going to do. I remember my sister picking me up from amongst the red-eyed street people and driving me up a mountain and down a maze of driveways to get to my new home. I had come to Milewide Nursery, and I was shortly introduced to one of the most striking features I have ever seen on a farm: I stood in the middle of thousands Bloodgood Japanese Maples in full-color bloom in the middle of summer. picture15

As I moved in and started working, I became the primary caretaker for the Japanese Maples from July to October, watering them under their cooling shade in the summer, and listening to the rustling of the trees as the dazzling array of multi-colored leaves sway in the breeze. Nothing feels quite as zen as slowly counting out the seconds as you water 1000 plants and become a part of them, lost under the red-green-orange-yellow purple canopy of leaves.picture21 The endless combination of size, leaf shape, and color makes every plant a stunningly unique individual. I have to say this personal tidbit is one of my fondest memories of working here at Milewide Nursery.

The Japanese Maple

It belong to the maple family
And it’s common name Japanese Maple Tree
And it’s leaves for maple seem so very small
And the tree itself doesn’t grow to be very tall.

And though of trees I do not profess to know
Where bigger trees not suited they can grow
In garden they do not take up much space
And some of the ‘garden proud’ afford them pride of place.

From Spring to Fall their beauty to be seen
They look resplendent in their lighter green
But in latter Fall their beauty in decay
And they stand nude on Winter’s coldest day.

A smaller species of the maple tree
And they look great in their Summer greenery
And their Homeland Japan so their name imply
And if you wish to know more ask other than I.

Francis Duggan

The many interesting qualities coupled with singular beauty makes the Japanese Maple an excellent choice for a household or outdoor plant. picture32Smaller versions can be kept indoors, including the gorgeous bonsai variety,while some varieties become larger and would look impressive in any outdoor garden. picture43

The shallow root profile means it can grow in shallow or rocky soils while it also thrives in pots and just about any soil you can give it. They do well without direct sunlight especially in the summertime. One of the important things to note when taking care of a Japanese Maple is watering, while they do not have any unusual water requirements it is important that they do not receive any sudden shocks. Meaning: if they are growing in soil that is usually moist, do not let them dry out for long periods, and if it grows where it is more often dry, it does not need to be inundated with water, consistency is key.Now that you are suitably dazzled and enchanted by the Japanese Maple with it’s mesmeric beauty and variety,  it has just occurred to me that we have a plethora of them around here on the ranch wanting, waiting to be taken to new homes. They don’t need much, just loving homes (also water and sunlight, and some form of air containing carbon dioxide.) Could you say no to these faces?



We have boxes ready to ship you this most exciting new flora to add to your home, just let us know if you are interested and by next spring you’ll be the one posting ridiculously good-looking tree photos that all of your friends will be envious of.

Rosemary Bonsai on Amazon… — January 13, 2016
Water Resources on the Farm. —

Water Resources on the Farm.

Well, its rainy season and I can’t seem to escape this one central theme – it’s wet. The rainy season in Humboldt County has been much missed by the residents living here for the past few years of severe drought. Having moved from Texas where ongoing long-term drought punctuated by deadly flash-floods is a frequent issue, I feel I can relate to the issues faced by the people of California. Issues ranging from use and management, regulation, law, pollution, and shortage of water continue rising in prominence locally and internationally and it’s important that we keep an eye on these issues. Hopefully this will be the first of many water-resource related articles on this blog.  This post will start small and local, as in here at Milewide Nursery, with a discussion of our water resources, including groundwater and rainwater, problems it can cause, and ways we can deal with them.

A resource we have access to year around is our well water which we can pump to fill our various water tanks for anything we need. in addition to the well, we have several natural springs where water seeps out from the water table. Sometimes it can be difficult to maintain as the flow of the water from the open spring can easily become obstructed. Regular cleaning and maintenance are a must and the natural flow of water can be saved in various water storage tanks for times of drought.

For the past six months, the spring has been constantly feeding a small stream of water into our newest water feature: the pond.20160106_132800.jpeg

The Pond has become a favorite feature here for swimming, nature watching, and general peaceful enjoyment. However, this rainy season has shown us that far too much sediment is running into our new pond and that something must be done to keep silt accumulation after every rain to a sustainable level. The newly dug rainwater ditch was sown with grass seed and a plastic sheet silt barrier put across to slow the water and hopefully catch silt. Once the vegetation takes hold, the silt will have a harder time rushing into the pond. A lot of the sediment washing into the pond comes from the road, and we often have to dig thick silt out of the drainage ditches.

One of our 50,000 gallon tanks, which provides both drinking water and the water to nurture all of our various planties, is also a rainwater collection tank. Like the spring and just about anything else on the farm, it needs frequent maintenance…Usually involving hauling a heavy ladder, in the rain, uphill to the rain tank and cursing loudly to yourself as you wonder why you didn’t clean the rain gutters before it started raining. 20160113_101025.jpeg

Another point of interest on our little slice out here is the creek, little more than a moist trickle in times of drought, and an unstoppable force that scours the valley, tosses boulders, and redraws the geography of our land during flood events. While it’s not a water resource that we are currently tapped into, we necessarily view the creek as a valuable resource to be protected. If we wish to keep using the waters to swim and enjoy on nature hikes, we must do everything we can to prevent runoff of both chemicals and sedimentation into this waterway. 20160106_135635.jpeg

I know, I know, you’re thinking “this article can’t possibly be wrapping up!”.  Just take away a couple things from this post. First, if you have water resources on your property, give them frequent attention. A rainwater tank with a clogged gutter is just an empty tank. An open spring that’s spilling its water on the ground instead of flowing into a pond or tank is a travesty, one that can be prevented here by taking out a few scoopfuls of dirt and leaves. If you plan on building yourself a handy dandy little pond, make sure you take measures to minimize runoff deposits into it. Learn to relish the idea of regular dredging of smelly, slimy, salamander laden mud. Last, I invite you, the reader, to look forward to future posts about water resources.

Pond Management

– Joe Kelliher



Aloe is a highly versatile plant. Superb for our skin, hair and general health. I want to talk for a moment about its benefits for our hair. Aloe has proteolytic enzymes which repair dead skin cells at the scalp. This makes aloe great for healthy, dandruff-free hair while also leaving it strong and conditioned. Diane Gage, author of  Aloe Vera: Nature’s Soothing Healer says, “Keratin, the primary protein of hair, consists of amino acids, oxygen, carbon, and small amounts of hydrogen, nitrogen, and sulphur. Aloe vera has a chemical make up similar to that of keratin and it rejuvenates the hair with its own nutrients, giving it more elasticity and preventing breakage.”

So, naturally, we had to make a hair mask out of it! This is what you are going to need:

🔹Aloe          5 tbsp

🔹Olive Oil   4 tbsp

🔹Egg Yolk   1

Now, that we have all the ingredients; let’s make a mask!


Step 1: Heat the olive oil for about 10 seconds. 

Step 2: Mix the Olive Oil, Aloe and Egg Yolk in a bowl together. 


Step 3: Brush this strange mixture into your tired locks. 

Step 4: Leave on your hair anywhere from 4 hours to all night.

Step 5: Wash hair with a mild shampoo.

Step 6: Smile and (once your hair is dry) do one of those swishy hair flips like you’re in a commercial, while patting yourself on the back for doing such a great thing for the health of your hair. 

You are visualizing the awkwardness of those two actions together, aren’t ya.. are you trying it?!? Good. BTW, your hair looks great! = )

I put this interesting concoction on my hair and curled up for the evening. (I also made a face mask to make it more of a beautifying evening) When i washed it out, I could feel that my long, fine, wavy hair was softer and healthier. It also vamped up the shine! I will be trying this one again. 


         -ash –


Garlic in the garden… — August 9, 2015

Garlic in the garden…


Garlic, now that is my favorite, and it always delivers. Looks great in the garden and is very easy to grow. We start our baby garlics in October – they are cloves from the last year’s harvest. We fork up their bed with compost and manure; we add some ranch mix (cottonseed meal, seaweed, oyster shell flour…) and then water it in well. Every clove gets pushed into the soil and the whole thing is then covered in straw. If things are a little cool, then we cover with a woven row cover; but if it is a warm fall, we leave them uncovered and water regularly. As fall lengthens, we cover anyway as protection against our winter’s frost – garlic will fail if it gets frozen. We use a heavy mulch and the row covers to protect them. When spring arrives , we top dress them hard with manure to encourage rapid growth. We expect harvest in  late spring, around the first week of June.
When you harvest, fork the plants up, tops and all. Wash em up and dry them out throughly. You will use those tops to braid your garlic for storage. We keep ours in our pantry – at as moderate temperature as we can.

Garlic is central to the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet, which also involves lots of vegetables, fish and olive oil. Allicin is the compound that provides most of the health benefits derived from garlic and it also gives garlic its distinctive smell. Garlic is very rich in Vitamin C, in Vitamin B6 and in Manganese. Garlic use has a significant impact on your susceptibility to the flu and the common cold. High doses of garlic will actually reduce high blood pressure for those who suffer from this issue. The antioxidants in garlic helps prevent Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia.


Olive oil health benefits… — January 10, 2015

Olive oil health benefits…

For me, I have always lived a Mediterranean diet or close to. My Nana and my aunts all cooked off the boat Sicilian. And just like you read, the diet is based around what was available around the Mediterranean Sea for thousands of years. This includes olive oil, garlic, vegetables and seafood – we might mention, lots of vegetables. My Nana made eggplant melanzane that just rolled in olive oil; my Dad, an old North Dakota guy, was deeply suspicious of all that oil. But it has turned out that a couple tablespoons of olive oil a day is really very good for you.


The health benefits aren’t some old wife’s tale and quite a bit of research has floated to the top on the subject. Olive oil offers antimicrobial, antibacterial and antiviral properties; it helps the cardiovascular system and, generally, offers antioxidant and ibuprofen-like effects as well. Not only is the oil to die for, but many of these benefits can come from olive leaf extract and, perhaps, even from olive oil processing water.
The phytonutrient in olive oil, oleocanthal, acts like ibuprofen; but it isn’t the only virtue to the oil. Olive oil use, partly because it lowers your use of other oils and butter, lowers general levels of total blood cholesterol. Oxidative stress causes aging, general deterioration and weakens the body in the face of cancer but olive oil is rich in antioxidants, especially vitamin E. Olive oil also very high in monounsaturated fat, which has a much lower oxidizing effect on the body. Olive oil also decreases blood pressure, helps in diabetes control, helps with osteoporosis by improving bone mineralization and calcification.
NOW that you have some small idea of what olive oil and olive leaf extract is about, you need to check out the links below. These go into detail about what we have just touched on. is a commercial website, but you can explore their information for free. If you want to try the extract out, you can purchase a bottle from these folks right away. But, Milewide Nursery has just bottled up its first olive leaf extract, which you can try when it is ready. Milewide uses fresh picked leaf from our olive orchard – grown using natural and sustainable techniques. We will let you know on this blog.
Dr. Amanda Jackson has compiled an excellent essay on the benefits of olive leaf extract. The essay seems to be available at several web sites – here is one:
Well worth the read…

It isn’t hard to make a tincture. Fill a clean mason jar with olive leaf (or rosemary leaf or whatever) and then pour the jar full with grain alcohol (Everclear). Let it sit in a dark place for a month. Turn it over every couple of days. Watch in case the alcohol level drops a little as the leaves absorb it – you may want to add a little more to top off. Alcohol tincture can’t go bad, but it can evaporate.



A Meditation on Maples: Breathing Room — December 17, 2014

A Meditation on Maples: Breathing Room


Years ago, on the land now owned by Milewide Nursery, cowboys were running cattle. Their lingering remains can still be seen here and there in man-made spring trenches and old, fallen-down fences. What we call the ‘Cowboy Shade’ was once a fenced-in area they used to corral and brand the cattle under the oak canopy above. This space is now used as shade for Milewide’s potted maple trees, it spreads over an acre plus, enough to hold several thousand maples. Out there you will find Japanese maples of several different phenotypes, as well as paperbark maples, and other species like dogwoods, white oaks, witch hazel, and hydrangeas. Considering its size, watering the Cowboy Shade is a task we are fortunate enough to have on an automatic system. However, the boss certainly threw all caution to the redwood wind when he invested in his maples – currently, we have about 5000 Japanese maples, in diverse age ranges. Each year several hundred are selected to graduate into larger pots so that they can to grow to their potential. The older Japanese maples, in particular, have proved their worth in size, and created a spacial predicament in the Cowboy Shade.

Through adolescence the maple trees are lined up next to each other and as a result of the crowded environment, many morph from their natural growth formations. It is very important for us to separate the trees as they get crowded and this becomes a problem when producing such large quantities in a limited amount of space. Realizing this our nursery manager, Ash, devised a plan that would utilize less space and honor the maple’s affinity for breathing room: The Maple Garden. About two years ago the largest maples were ready to enter adulthood and stretch out their delicate limbs in the new space. Inadvertently, it turned into a major potting project that required twelve pairs of hands and an entire week to accomplish the vision. Today it sits atop a quaint hill in peaceful solitude just across the road from the Cowboy Shade. Knowing Ash, I think it must have stemmed from some sort of deep reflection amongst the maples. It’s literally become a meditation garden of maple trees, and also my favorite place on the Milewide grounds.

Whenever the opportunity ever arises, I give an eager hand to water the Maple Garden. It is a precious little world of deep reds, fair oranges, vibrant greens and canary yellows. The power of walking through the circular configuration with a hose is completely different than the experience of turning on an automatic watering system. The plot is dead silent, except for a single stream of water and your own footsteps. Taking a moment to saturate each pot commands daydreams, distances, and prospects. It is an instant that spreads into a minute; the effort of troubling with the hose eases, and becomes a workless progression of hours. It becomes an image of the watcher’s hopes, as if in some tranquil trance plans travel and flow through the water. Trees and all things that move have a unanimous hush, even when the wind falls through the valley. It’s a practice that devours two hours if you want to give each and every maple attention.

The consolation I get from this particular maple patch is the sense of order in a chaotic clutter of tilting trees trunks and intersecting branches. It is a collection that imposes a timeline, signifies existence, and is a vital piece of what makes Milewide unique. There is a conventional notion that art is merely found inside museums and galleries. A wise friend once suggested that art cannot be aligned with any specific form yet it must be aligned with a range of sensations. Each time I enter the Maple Garden, whether it be to water, sit, read, write or just walk through to the barn, a different emotion develops. I’d like to suggest that art has been manifested in our Maple Garden, and extend to you a similar challenge: to unearth a piece of art in nature. It is the only dirt-cheap pleasure I know hat’s always free of disappointment, so enjoy yourself and remember to breathe.

Brielle, ranch hand at Milewide Nursery


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