City Farm Chicago

...stand and provides opportunities for economically under-developed neighborhoods. City Farm is a mobile endeavor. The basic idea is to take advantage of some vacant land and, when the inevitable development comes, pull up everything and move on. Assuming that urban land is contaminated, the City Farm folks simply piled up about three feet of compost, soil and mulch right on top of the broken concrete and asphalt of its current location. All that s...

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Native Plant Workshop

...riate plantings. 2. Natives aren’t edible. Many natives yield edible and medicinal crops. In North America the best way to delve into this topic is to figure out the plants that Native Americans in your area used. 3. Southern California is a desert and native plants are desert plants. Coastal Southern California has a Mediterranean climate not a desert climate and native plants adapted to this region do not look like desert plants. Coastal...

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Summer Nights in the Garden at the Natural History Museum

Join us for an evening of music, art, nature and science at the Los Angeles County Natural History Museum’s Summer Nights in the Garden. We’ll be part of the festivities this Friday July 25th where we’ll be: POTTING SUCCULENTS! They’re one of the most low maintenance plants out there, and one that’s perfect for our dry L.A. climate. Urban homesteading experts Erik Knutzen and Kelly Coyne are here to help you...

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

...ers or stick to ornamentals. You could also try bioremediation: each season plant a cover crop, let it grow, and then pull it up and dispose of it. Test the soil until it comes out clean. This works well, but it can take many years to get all the contaminants out. For those of you in Los Angeles, our local Extension Service agent Yvonne Savio kindly sent me the following list of labs with comments. Biological Urban Gardening ServicePO Box 76Citru...

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Root Simple’s New CritterCam

...7;s a digital still and video camera with a infrared flash and a motion detector. If something moves in front of the camera a picture or video is taken. It also stamps the time and records temperature and moon phase. [See update at the end of this post--this is probably the wrong camera for the application I intend. Thanks Max!] My plan is to use it for some urban, backyard citizen science. Specifically I want to figure out a few things: What ma...

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Rubber Sidewalks Rescue Trees

Homegrown Neighbor here: I love trees and all of the things they do for us. They shade us, feed us, house us. Trees are something we just need more of here in Southern California. I used to work at an urban forestry non-profit, TreePeople. So I am familiar with the challenges of the tree/sidewalk interface. I have fielded calls from people frantically trying to save trees that are being ripped out because they are lifting the sidewalk. I hav...

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Gardening Mistakes: Six Ways We’ve Killed Plants

...quality largely due to almost a hundred years of construction projects (decks, foundation work terracing, etc.). The same plant that might thrive in one spot will wither in another. This is where trial and error comes in. Sometimes the only way to find out if what will grow is to plant stuff and see what takes off. 2. Soil compaction This is a big problem in urban areas and our yard is no exception. The parkway, which gets a lot of foot traffic,...

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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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Italian Dandelion Redux

...alvae” (“As for me, olives, chicory, and mallows provide sustenance”). It’s a comfort in these uncertain times to observe such a hardy plant. While my cabbage and kale wither under the hot sun and an army of aphids, the Italian Dandelion seems immune to both pest and disease. And, nearby, volunteer mallow hints at a spring of easy foraging. Horace was on to something. And to all who responded to my call for urban homestead...

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On Living in Los Angeles Without a Car: A Debate

...re. I know it’s possible–we’ve been doing it. But it’s not pleasant. Have you ever heard the term “pole shade”? It’s the thin sliver of shadow thrown down by the pole of a street light. People waiting for buses in LA huddle in the pole shadows, trying to shelter from the insanely intense LA sun. There are very few bus shelters here. Bus stops are ill-marked afterthoughts in an already unlovely urban lands...

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