Hens in the Orchard for Pest Control

Photo: hencam.com Author Terry Golson, who blogs at HenCam.com, sent along a great pest control tip in response to our thrip post–chickens, of course! Chickens and orchards go together like gin and tonic. The hens take care of pests, clean up rotten fruit, add nitrogen to the soil and the canopy of the orchard protects the hens from hawks and heat. Plus you get eggs and meat. Permaculture in action. The 1920s era photo you see above comes...

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Straw Bale Garden Update: Success!

Ladies and gentleman, straw bale gardening works. I left town for a week earlier this month and, during my absence, the vegetables in the straw bale garden exploded in size. The Tromboncino squash on the left, is threatening to envelop the entire yard.  The tomatoes are equally vigorous and covered in ripening fruit. Zucchini is on the menu. While it takes an input of outside resources in the form of straw and fertilizer, straw bale gardening i...

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Growing Food in a Hotter, Drier Land

We just got our hands on Gary Paul Nabhan’s newest book, Growing Food in a Hotter, Drier Land: Lessons from Desert Farmers on Adapting to Climate Uncertainty. It couldn’t have arrived at a better time. In the spirit of full disclosure, I heard about this book on the grapevine a good while back, and requested a review copy from the publisher because we’ve met Gary and like his work. Getting free books once in a while is one of...

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Induced Demand

Image: Wikipedia. I was on the phone the other day having a conversation about greywater with a person enrolled in an entrepreneurial program. She asked me an excellent question: did having a greywater system cause me to use more water? She was alluding to a concept known as induced demand. In other words, when you have more of something you use more. Buy a hybrid car and you end up driving more miles since you don’t pay as much for gas. B...

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Top Ten Vegetable Gardening Mistakes

Not ready for Martha Stewart: our front yard vegetable bed.* Some of the worst meltdowns and temper tantrums of my adult life have their origins in failed vegetable gardening projects. I thought I’d list off my top ten vegetable gardening misadventures  so that you don’t have to repeat them. 1. Not paying attention to soil fertility This is my number one mistake. Most vegetables suck up a lot of nutrients. They need lots of compost...

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Saturday Linkages: Soils, Prickly Pear and the Case for Going Outside

Soil diagram from the Garden Professors. Let’s get (soil) physical… https://sharepoint.cahnrs.wsu.edu/blogs/urbanhort/Lists/Posts/ViewPost.aspx?ID=943 … The Science Behind Honey’s Eternal Shelf Life http://blogs.smithsonianmag.com/science/2013/08/the-science-behind-honeys-eternal-shelf-life/#.Uh0YB1lfCUw.twitter … Open Tech Forever: permaculture/open tech startup: http://boingboing.net/2013/08/21/open-tech-forever-permacultur.html …...

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Sweet Potatoes for Breakfast

Yesterday I talked about the worst breakfast ever. Today I’ll tell you about my new favorite breakfast. Erik knows what he’s going to have for breakfast every day: Grape Nuts. He’s had Grape Nuts for breakfast pretty much every day since I’ve met him, excepting travel, special pancake-type breakfasts, or the occasional Grape Nut outage. I’ve never been a fan of the cereal myself, since I learned as a child, much to...

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Why is My Squash Bitter?

“Long of Naples” squash growing in our backyard. It’s the bees. Squash is a member of the Cucurbitaceae family, one of the most difficult vegetables to save seeds from. Cucurbitaceae have both male and female flowers and lots of wild, inedible relatives. Cross pollination is what Cucurbitaceae want to do. If you want to save seed and you take the precaution of taping up the flowers, bumblebees and solitary bees can chew their w...

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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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