We’ve witnessed a changing mindset these past few years in gardening. What were random statements at first have evolved to show a shift in attitude about growing. Folks have been expressing the opinion that if they are going to water, they want to be able to eat what they grow.

For some their landscapes are changing. Portions or entire backyard lawn areas are being removed and replaced with raised beds for vegetables. Ornamental shrubs that were once planted across fence lines are being replanted with rows of blueberries. Where roses formerly stood, fruit trees are now installed. Some folks are looking at their yards from every angle, trying to make what they grow purposeful.

The challenge is how to get everything you want to grow in to your space.

Smart Pot Big Bag Beds, Planters and Pockets have been welcomed with open arms by growers. The entire Smart Pot line has offered growers an easy way get their garden growing. The material used in the construction of the Smart Pot allows plants to enjoy excellent drainage, encourage air-pruning (so plants don’t become root bound), and lets the heat escape during hot weather.

Earth Boxes have been available for almost a decade now and they haven’t lost their footing in popularity. The Earth Box holds its own water in a reservoir at the bottom of each planter which becomes available when needed by your installations. Earth Box planting is ideal considering our water issues, and plants love it. The Earth Box we have at the nursery has been in business for almost 6 years. It has hosted spring, summer and winter veggies. Tomatoes, squash, beans, lettuce, several herbs and even a melon has matured in the Earth Box.

This season, Ultra Dwarf fruit trees are finally becoming mainstream. Ultra Dwarf fruit trees produce regular sized fruit, yet they mature only anywhere from 3-5’ tall and wide depending on the selection. Considering the mature growth, you can now maximize your fruit tree area, growing more selections without the fear of blocking much needed sunlight.

Almost all fruit trees varieties can be found as Ultra Dwarf selections, you can grow peach, cherry, apple, apricot, pear or nectarine. Look for quality Ultra Dwarf fruit trees. They should have sturdy branching and robust trunks. Take care when planting any type of fruit tree. Amend the soil well, using a premium soil conditioner. Use a starter fertilizer, or bone meal in the hole to stimulate root growth. Loosen soil around root ball of your desired fruit tree.

A happy fruit tree is one that is planted with its roots showing no memory of ever being in a nursery pot.

Blueberry plants have become widely popular, and have proven themselves to thrive in our local climate. Blueberry plants can grow rather large. Most selections can reach 4-5’ tall and wide. They prefer full morning into the afternoon sun, not full hot sun. Each spring, amend the soil around your blueberries with dolomite lime to sweeten the soil. Plant several different varieties of blueberry. They need friends to cross-pollinate.

Now is the time to start your seeds for summer veggies. Start seeds indoors, of if you have one of those handy pop-up greenhouses, that would be perfect for seed starting outside. When planting seeds, be aware of the recommended planting depth listed on the seed package. If you plant your seeds too deep they won’t get the light it needs to germinate.

Happy Gardening.

Nicole Hackett is the Garden Girl at R&M Pool, Patio and Gardens, located at 6780 Marsh Creek Road in Clayton, 925-672-0207.

Nicole writes for the Clayton Pioneer Newspaper, and She is also the Clayton Valley Garden Club 2012 President.



The Clayton Police Weekly Activity Report:

The times shown indicate when the incident was reported to the PD.


  • Michigan Blvd.  No Injuries.  (02/21/15 – 0458 hrs.)


  • Clayton Rd./Kirker Pass Rd.  DUI: Alcohol.   A 30-year-old Pittsburg male was arrested after being stopped for Vehicle Code violations.  He was transported to Concord Police Department for booking.  (02/22/15 – 0204 hrs.)
  • 5400 Clayton Rd.  False Identification to a Peace Officer; Warrant.  A 26-year-old Walnut Creek male was arrested after officers responded to a call for service.  He was transported to Concord Police for booking.  (02/23/15 – 1005 hrs.)
  • Marsh Creek Road/Stranahan Cr.  Disorderly Conduct: Alcohol; Probation Violation.  Two Clayton males, ages 24 and 27, were arrested after being contacted by officers.  They were transported to Concord Police for booking.  (02/26/15 – 0114 hrs.)


  • Ahwanne Ln.  Petty Theft.  (02/25/15 – 1521 hrs.)
  • Jeffrey Ranch Pl.  Grand Theft.  (02/27/15 – 2035 hrs.)


  • None.


Anybody recognize this guy?

The person who sent the video said the man stole a package from his doorstep, then quickly & quietly rode away on his bicycle.

Anybody with information should call the Concord Police Dept.



Thanks to Mike Kearns for sending this picture of the view of Diablo from Franklin Ridge, above Martinez on Saturday.

Absolutely amazing picture, thanks, Mike!


It’s gorgeous outside, and if you weren’t able to leave the house for some reason or another today, here are a few beautiful pictures to help you enjoy the outdoors, from the comfort of your computer chair.

Thanks to Jenny Wood-Pierce for sharing these amazing photos with us.

You can click on each one for a much larger view.

Thanks again, Jenny.


Click on each photo above to view the Concord Police Arrest Report (four pages).

Names of those arrested are not included in the report

The last two numbers in each address have been deleted to respect the privacy of any possible victim(s).



This is the Concord Police weekly burglary report. Please click on the image for a much larger view.

This week, Concord had 18 burglaries. The week before, Concord had 13, and before that, Concord had 17 burglaries.

The last two numbers in each address have been deleted to respect the privacy of the victim(s).

According to the Concord Police, the report shown above might not include burglaries that are still under investigation.


A Sacramento woman was sentenced to four years in jail and ordered to pay nearly $780,000 in restitution on Thursday after she pleaded guilty to identity theft and stealing money from a Concord company, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Consuelo “Connie” Puente, 44, pleaded guilty on Dec. 4 to wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. According to court documents, she was employed by a Concord company from May 2008 to June 2013.

During that time, she was the sole employee responsible for handling payroll, prosecutors said. Puente admitted to falsifying personnel records and classifying former employees as current employees so they would continue to be paid.

She then deposited that money into her own bank account, prosecutors said. She furthered her scheme by preparing fake W-2 forms for each of the former employees and then omitted the money she was depositing to herself in her own tax returns, prosecutors said.

Puente transferred $543,545 into her own bank account, causing the company to pay an additional $84,362 in false IRS withholdings for a total of $627,908, according to prosecutors.

She was indicted on March 18 last year and charged with three counts of wire fraud and three counts of aggravated identity theft, but pleaded guilty to just one count of each charge.

In a sentencing memorandum, Federal Public Defender Steven Kalar said Puente was undergoing significant financial hardship at the time and struggling with alcoholism.

He cited the murder of Kelvin Bibbs, the father of Puente’s second child, in a home invasion robbery as one of several traumatic events in her life.

Puente remained close to Bibbs’s family and helped raise his daughter from a previous relationship, Kalar said. The daughter, who is now 29 years old and works as a probation officer, “is devoted to Ms. Puente, who supported her through many difficult years,” Kalar said.

Kalar said Puente had a history of stable employment since she was 18 years old and continued to support her two daughters and stepdaughter even after she lost her partner. She also took on the care of her mother, who Kalar said is illiterate and has a variety of medical problems.

When Puente pleaded guilty, she expressed profound remorse for her actions, Kalar said.

“(I feel) horrible, shamed by my actions and selfishness,” Puente said, according to court documents. “I know that I have failed all my family, work colleagues especially. I feel I have let a lot of people who believed in me down.”

Kalar said Puente is committed to paying restitution for the money she stole.

Prosecutors said Puente is in custody and will begin serving the sentence immediately.

The prison term will be followed by a three-year period of supervised release and she will have to repay $151,987 to the government and $627,908 to the Concord company and anther entity, which was not named in court documents.

Abraham Simmons, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office said he could not disclose the name of the Concord company or disclose the third entity at this time.



Youth baseball players are still locked out of their regular playing fields due to a labor dispute at the Tesoro oil refinery in Martinez.

Pattie Behmlander, president of the Concord-based Junior Optimist Baseball League, said that roughly 600 players on 49 teams have been forced to share just three fields when they normally play on 18, because 15 of those fields are located on property owned by the Tesoro refinery that is closed due to a strike.

Behmlander said forcing the teams to share space is a “big safety issue.” The teams are in their practice season and would normally start their regular season on March 21, she said.

The refinery has been shut down and the fields closed since workers began a strike following the expiration of their contract on Feb. 1.

The Tesoro facility in Martinez was undergoing a routine shutdown of its refining operations to perform maintenance work at the time the strike started and management made the decision to keep the refining operations idle until it strike ends, Tesoro spokeswoman Patricia Deutsche said.




Click on the photo above to check out what’s happening this week in beautiful Downtown Martinez!

We’ll post this every Saturday on


Claycord – Talk About Whatever

February 27, 2015 16:10 pm · 150 comments


Happy Friday to all the wonderful citizens in the City of Claycord.

This is a post with no subject, you can talk about whatever you want. If breaking news happens (such as an earthquake), or you hear about something newsworthy, feel free to post it here.


Claycord – Talk About Politics

February 27, 2015 16:05 pm · 328 comments


This post is “Talk About Politics”.

Please use this post to talk about politics, and keep politics out of the “whatever” thread.

Thank you, and be kind to each other!



This special post is “Talk About LOCAL Politics”.

Please use this post to talk about LOCAL politics, and keep state and national politics out of this thread.

Thank you, and be kind to each other!


HomeExpo Ad 2015



The Concord Police Department is stepping up pedestrian safety enforcement operations today, with focused enforcement on collision causing factors involving motorists and pedestrians.  Routine traffic patrols are focusing on trouble spots while special overtime patrols will also be deployed to crackdown on drivers and pedestrian’s who violate basic traffic laws.

The department has mapped out locations over the past three years where pedestrian involved collisions have occurred along with the violations that led to those crashes.

Officers will be looking for traffic offenses made by drivers and pedestrians alike that can lead to life changing injuries.  Special attention will be directed toward drivers speeding, making illegal turns, failing to stop for signs and signals, failing to yield to pedestrians in cross walks or any other dangerous violation.  Additionally, enforcement will be taken for observed violations when pedestrians cross the street illegally or fail to yield to drivers who have the right of way. Pedestrians should cross the street only in marked crosswalks or at corners.

Pedestrian fatalities are rising in California as more people use non-motorized means of transportation.  Locally, The Concord police Department has investigated 97 fatal and injury collisions involving pedestrians during the past three (3) years. In 2012, California witnessed 612 pedestrian deaths that year while nationally; 4,743 pedestrians were killed.

A national study reveals that pedestrians and drivers do not obey laws and signals consistently and many often use cell phones, text and listen to music while walking or driving. Only 60 percent of pedestrians said they expected drivers to stop when they were in crosswalks, even though they have the right-of-way.  The following safety tips can save lives and stop this tragedy witnessed far too often in Concord:

Drivers can:

  • Look out for pedestrians, especially in hard-to-see conditions such as at night or in bad weather.
  • Slow down and be prepared to stop when turning or entering a crosswalk where pedestrians are likely to be.
  • Stop at the crosswalk stop line to give drivers in other lanes an opportunity to see and yield to the pedestrians too.
  • Be cautious when backing up – pedestrians, especially young children, can move across your path. See

Pedestrians can:

  • Be predictable. Follow the rules of the road, cross at crosswalks or intersections, and obey signs and signals.
  • Walk facing traffic and as far from traffic as possible if there is no sidewalk.
  • Pay attention to the traffic moving around you. This is not the time to be texting or talking on a cell phone.
  • Make eye contact with drivers as they approach. Never assume a driver sees you.
  • Wear bright clothing during the day and reflective materials (or use a flashlight) at night.
  • Look left-right-left before crossing a street.

Funding for this program is provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.


The “Water Cooler” is a feature on where we ask you a question or provide a topic, and you talk about it.

The “Water Cooler” will be up Monday-Friday at noon.

Today’s question:

Everybody knows you’re not supposed to eat, drink or smoke (anything) while riding on BART. Do you often see people breaking these rules, and if so, what the worst case of disobeying the rules you’ve ever witnessed?

Talk about it….



The competitive bidding process opened this week for a new contract to provide emergency ambulance service throughout much of Contra Costa County, a step toward identifying the county’s main provider beginning in 2016.

Contra Costa Health Services (CCHS) seeks a five-year contract with a qualified ambulance provider to serve all parts of the county, excluding areas served by the San Ramon Valley and Moraga-Orinda fire districts, with a five-year renewal option based on performance.

American Medical Response (AMR) has provided the service for several decades in Contra Costa. The current contract expires at the end of 2015.

The new request for proposals (RFP) requires bidders to respond to two different service models: One similar to the county’s current model, and another with extensive strategies to optimize services while matching emergency ambulance service levels to patient need, according to the County.

The strategies are based on recommendations in the EMS Modernization Project Report, a review of county emergency medical service delivery ordered by the Board of Supervisors in 2012. They are intended to reduce the chance that the county will need to subsidize the ambulance provider.

To read the report, visit

Bidders must also demonstrate their qualifications, fiscal sustainability and ability to meet rigorous patient care, safety and quality criteria developed by the CCHS Emergency Medical Services Division (EMS) and its consultant, Fitch & Associates, including response time, staffing and equipment requirements, engagement with the healthcare system and ability to support fire-first medical response.

The Board will select its preferred service model when it selects a bidder.

Bids are due May 21, 2015 at 4 p.m.



Radio Shack, located on Contra Costa Blvd. in Pleasant Hill, is closing.

The store will close next month, according to an employee.

Radio Shack on Ygnacio Valley Rd. in Walnut Creek, and Radio Shack on Willow Pass Rd. in Concord have also closed their doors within the past two months.



Concord Police are searching for three armed carjacking suspects who violently stole a vehicle at gunpoint from a person on Tyler Ct., which is off Via Montanas, near San Miguel Rd.

The suspects are described as three Hispanic males.

The carjacking occurred a little before 8pm.

It is unknown if the vehicle was located, but police are still in the area searching for the suspects.

No further information is available at this time. Check back for updates.

UPDATE, 9pm: The vehicle was located, abandoned, on San Miguel at Bonnie Clare Dr.