Worst time of the year - for weeds! But wait: Toyon seedlings!

This year I'm doing a better job of pulling the Mediterranean weedy grasses in the north valley before they go to seed.

Pretty sure this grass is a weed!

I resolutely face up-slope towards my target zone and try to not think about the designated area of benign neglect lying below me.

Benign because - the critters have to have something to eat and hide in even if it is mostly weeds. Grasses and mustard and chervil and leafy spurge and sour grass and - oh my! — way more species of weeds - abound.

Above the path, I'm on the offensive though.

One section is mulched and one not - and the difference is quite dramatic.

The mulched area has a lot less weeds (Non mulched area is visible in top left)
Really no seedlings except a smattering of grasses and (of course!) sour grass are making it through the mulch. But - the non mulched area is a different story.

I've also been trying to distinguish between nasties like rip gut brome and common brome which is native. I think I have it: The native one has rougher grass blades and is generally hairier, and the stem is darker and not so plump. It's not an annual and is harder to pull too. I can tell from the seed head - but I don't want things to get that far.

I'm pretty sure the grass peeking up through the fern is common brome, a native - Bromus carinatus.

It's quite pleasant work really, if you forget about the whole killing living things bit. Your attention dwindles to one small area at a time. Weeding from a path to an up-slope is also easy on the back.

As I moved on from the mulched part to the non mulched part - oh! many more grass seedlings and tiny seedlings of all kinds.

Many seedlings - probably most weeds. Bigger ones are some kind of mustard.

And then - wonderful surprise - among the tiny multitudes one sort that rang a bell. I've propagated these! - They're toyon seedlings!

Toyon seedlings! (Heteromeles arbutifulia)

Lots of them!

Here are some of the parent shrubs - wild, leggy, old:

The wild toyons whence came the seeds!

Have I never seen them before because I just wasn't looking? Or was it the dry fall and winter? Because it was so dry I think we had very little sooty mold this year - and thus more lovely red Toyon berries (instead of blackened ones) - probably resulting in more viable seeds.

Not picture perfect but a whole lot better than any other year's berries on my property.

In any case, I immediately potted up 8 seedlings and marked a few more for observation where they are growing.

I'm not sure how many to grow - when I first started propagating I grew anything and everything that was wild and local - or tried to anyway. I was left with quite a few toyon and other large shrubs on my hands - neither I nor anybody else I knew (bar one) had much need for them. But eight seems like a good number.

In a couple of years, I think the mulch and jute netting will decompose, along with the annual grass seeds that abounded there too, I hope. It'll be interesting to compare the mulched and unmatched areas to see if in the end there is any difference in the outcome. Meanwhile I'm happy with my surprise babies.