The Homegrown Mailbox: How and Where Do I Get My Soil Tested?

When you write a book you get questions. In our case, due to the sinking economy in California, they are delivered by Kevin Costner on horseback rather than by email or regular federal postal trucks. No problem, we like questions. A caveat here: like Nancy Klehm, the Green Roof Growers and Black Swan author Nassim Taleb, we prefer the term “practitioner” to describe what we do as opposed to “expert”. We favor experience o...

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Italian Dandelion Redux

Italian Dandelion (Cichorium intybus) It’s been a difficult winter growing season here in Los Angeles. Our unpredictable Mediterranean climate has thrown a few curve balls in the past few months courtesy of an ocean temperature phenomenon known as La Niña which has caused alternating periods of cool weather followed by 80º days and little rainfall. Our deciduous trees did not loose their leaves until after New Years, most of the winter ve...

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Native Plant Workshop

Vitus californica covering our ugly chain link fence There’s a couple of common misconceptions amongst novice gardeners about native plants: 1. If you use native plants the whole garden has to be natives. In fact, it’s great to mix natives with non-native plants. The natives bring in beneficial wildlife, are hardy and are efficient in terms of water use. Flexibility is key here–go ahead and mix natives with vegetables, fruit...

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Tell the Bees

Anderson removing a hive from a fence. Photo from the Backwards Beekeepers. Urban beekeeper Kirk Anderson has a vision: bees, kept without the use of chemicals, in backyards all over Los Angeles. Homegrown Evolution was lucky to be able to attend a beekeeping class taught by the very knowledgeable and entertaining Anderson, who has a theory: “There has been a lot of news stories about the bees dying. They became infested with a parasitic...

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California Agriculture Journal Online

The University of California has put 63 years worth of its journal California Agriculture online for convenient downloading at californiaagriculture.ucanr.org. There’s plenty of detailed (peer reviewed!) nuggets for the home gardener between the pages of this scientific journal. Make sure to check out the article and video of UC Berkeley entomologist Gordon Frankie explaining what kinds of plants are best for attracting bees in your urban...

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Saturday Linkages: Incas, Big Rocks and Cool Cucumbers

Engineering professor Michael Peshkin and his clear whiteboard. Growin’ things Wildflower project takes root in Echo Park http://feedly.com/e/pugEWv4Z  Lost Crops of the Incas http://feedly.com/e/9GygG_Yc  Reading: Urban Oasis on a Balcony: From Concrete Furnace to Edible Habitat… http://bit.ly/HSeQ6B  Look at My Big Rock by Evelyn Hadden http://feedly.com/e/0gB_TOO6  The coolest cucumber you’ve never met: http://modernfarme...

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How To Calculate Anything

It needn’t come to this! (Though we think this is pretty cool.) Need to calculate Ohm’s law? Convert women’s clothing sizes? Calculate the area of a circle? Figure out whether its better to buy or rent a home? It’s all at www.calculatoredge.com. The site has lots of formulas for the urban homsteader even if you never have to perform a Sallen-Key Butterworth Low Pass Filter equation (except, perhaps, for recreational reaso...

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Los Angeles is One Step Closer to Legalizing Bees

Hats off to the folks at HoneyLove for the hard work they are doing to legalize beekeeping in Los Angeles. This Wednesday they got a unanimous vote out of the city council to ask city staff to come up with a way to legalize beekeeping in residential areas as well as ways to encourage humane bee removal. While much hard work is ahead, HoneyLove’s strategy should serve as a model to people everywhere who are taking a look at our overly rest...

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Saturday Linkages: Fire Plows, Kite Fishing and Roundup-Ready Turfgrass

Tell Me You Wouldn’t Buy This Snow-Fighting Fire Plow http://paleofuture.gizmodo.com/tell-me-you-wouldnt-buy-this-snow-fighting-fire-plow-1519897386 … Tear Down These 10 Freeways! (And Then Tear Down Some More) http://feedly.com/e/5TEe4eBI  Mineral waters à la carte http://shar.es/QRHOf  Google hangout with Lloyd Kahn, master urban homesteader: http://boingboing.net/2014/02/12/google-hangout-with-lloyd-kahn.html … 3 MAKE projects to help...

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Help us With a Fodder System for our Hens

A big commercial fodder system. We need something much smaller! I feel somewhat guilty about having our five hens in a confined coop/run. Ideally they’d be grazing on green pasture all day. But our abundant urban predators, lack of space and dry climate make the vision of hens clucking on verdant fields a challenge. I’m thinking of building a DIY fodder system but I’m a bit confused by the instructions I’ve seen floating...

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