The Three Sisters

lding inspectors reviewing our expensive foundation work nobody seems to care about the two large raised beds we installed. In fact one of our neighbors has planted her own parkway vegetable garden just down the street. Since it was so late (July) we decided to cultivate heat tolerant vegetables and upped the ante by planting the Native American three sisters–corn, beans and squash. The three sisters are textbook permaculture, the idea bein...

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Using Greywater from your Washing Machine

With our current bad drought conditions it makes no sense to pour perfectly good water down the sewer. So we just joined the greywater underground with our illegal washing machine surge tank, and the installation was a piece of cake. We built our washing machine surge tank based on the design in Art Ludwig’s book Create an Oasis with Greywater. The purpose of the surge tank is to prevent the built-in pump in the washing machine from burni...

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Mulberries

er if this is a myth, like the story about boy scouts roasting hot dogs on Oleander sticks (yes, Oleander is very poisonous, but apparently the boy scout story is an urban legend). We found the Mulberries sweet and delicious. It’s a fruit that doesn’t ship well, hence its absence in our crummy supermarkets....

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Apron Contest Winner

Homegrown Neighbor here: We have a winner for our apron giveaway . I received a lot of great entries. It was fun to hear what each of you would do in an apron. I’m happy to say that we have a lot of interesting, witty and crafty readers. I even received some international entries. I wish we could give you all aprons. But Katie Presley made me laugh, so I had to choose her as our winner. Lots of people cook and craft, but Katie cooks and...

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Defining a Garden’s Purpose

Organic Mechanic’s Garden in San Francisco I’m an idiot when it comes to garden design. To up my skills in this department I attended the annual Garden Blogger’s Fling last week, which took place this year in San Francisco. Thankfully the Fling did not involve sitting in a sterile hotel conference room. Instead, we boarded two buses and took a look at fifteen spectacular gardens in the bay area over three days. I’ll share...

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Annie’s Annuals and Perennials

The artist Sandow Birk once did a show depicting a fictitious war between Northern and Southern California. If that war were to be fought by plant nurseries, the forces of Northern California would have us, down here in the Southland, badly beat. There’s a few good native plant nurseries here, but that’s about it. There’s nothing quite as spectacular as Annie’s Annuals and Perennials, located in Richmond on the eastern s...

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Analysis Paralysis

is the way Shakespeare describes this condition in Hamlet. The re-design of our backyard lead to the worst analysis paralysis I’ve ever experienced. Weeks went by with no progress. Ideas came and went. The internet made it worse by providing way too many possibilities. A quote in a book finally broke my analysis paralysis spell. The gist of that quote was that we are all called by a higher power to build. I realized that I needed to set a d...

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Stoicism as a Toolkit for Modern Life

...1;all these kinds of things help keep us grounded and hopeful. But sometimes you need a little more help. Maybe we’ll call these posts “When chickens aren’t enough.” Whether the world is ending or not, it’s important to have a tool kit for dealing with stress and anxiety. Stoicism, an ancient form of philosophy which has not been too popular of late, but which did have a profound influence on Western thought, and whi...

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Cactus Thief Strikes Again

...our clothes and you are not angry at the man who steals them . . . our losses and our pains have to do only with the things we posses.” (Discourses Book 1.18) And wanting to posses a Home Depot cactus is quite pathetic. It reminds me of something a friend told me, “Never drive by and look at a garden in a house you once owned.” Our gardens are impermanent. That impermanence is actually something that makes gardening interesting....

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