Know Maintanance

ainer via Garden Rant, who interviewed Rainer on the topic of small garden ideas. As we struggle with some design mistakes we made last fall, Rainer’s advice really rang true: Don’t bring a plant into that garden unless it has a striking form (spiky, billowing, vertical spire), strong foliage color (blues/golds/purples, etc), or a long season of blooms (2 month minimum). We had to redo our yard after last year’s lead soil reports (...

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Vegetable Garden Note Taking

A page from Thomas Jefferson’s garden diary. My worst mistake in the fifteen years we have been gardening here in Los Angeles has been my shoddy note taking. Even though we don’t have frosts to contend with, it still can be tricky to figure out when to plant vegetables. In a lecture I attnded at the National Heirloom Exoposition, Sonoma County gardening guru Wendy Krupnick had a simple suggestion for what to take notes on in your veg...

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Interview With Apartment Gardener Helen Kim

We got a lot of emails after posting the image above of Los Angeles based photographer Helen Kim’s astonishing windowsill garden. It’s a great example of what you can do with a small amount of space, and brings to mind William Morris’ advice, “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful”. Helen graciously sat down for an email interview to talk about her beautiful and useful garden...

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Why Your Garden Should Be Dark at Night

A confession: I was a teenage astronomy geek. This hobby that gave me an awareness of how depressing it is to live in a city so brightly lit that you can count the number of stars in the night sky. A documentary, currently streaming on Netflix, called The City Dark details just how many other problems lights cause that you might not have thought of: Lighting confuses migratory birds. Millions crash into buildings every year. Sea turtle hatchl...

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Straw Bale Garden: What I Learned

Straw bale garden–April on the left, November on the right. The straw bale garden I started this spring has been one of the most successful vegetable gardens I’ve ever planted. In fact it’s still producing well into November. Here’s what I learned from the experiment: Plants that suck up a lot of nitrogen, like squash, do well in a straw bale garden. My tomatoes flourished but, due to the high nitrogen, made more leaves...

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Yet More Tasteless Garden Statuary

 Photo by Anne Magnér Photos of shocking garden statuary continue to pour into the Homegrown Evolution in-box. Anne Magnér sent these amazing photos all the way from Denmark. The crass garden gnome, apparently, cuts across all European cultures from north to south.  Photo by Anne Magnér Photo by Anne Magnér I wonder what’s up with the confident and smiling Danish woman statues to the right of the kids. Wouldn’t mind one of thes...

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Garden Like a Pirate

...for growing food crops. The first bit of land we hijacked was our own parkway, that bit of dirt between the sidewalk and the street that technically belongs to the city, but is the responsibility of the homeowner to maintain. It’s yet another space, like the vast asphalt hell of parking lots, garages, freeways, car lots, auto repair shops, and junkyards in our car-obsessed city dedicated to the needs of the personal automobile. We decided t...

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Book Review: The New Sunset Western Garden Book

The Sunset Western Garden Book was one of the first gardening books we picked up when we bought our house back in 1998. A new version is out this month, now dubbed The New Sunset Western Garden Book, and it’s a significant improvement over our old copy. Lavish photos have replaced the drawings of my 1998 copy. The new edition has significantly more coverage of edibles, including a vegetable planting schedule as well as nice photographs of...

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Polyculture

Here at SurviveLA we are experimenting with something called polyculture in the the garden. We read about it first in the worthy permaculture guide, Gaia’s Garden, by Toby Hemenway. Polyculture is the practice of planting a community of interrelated, interdependent plants, mimicking in your garden (in our case a raised vegetable bed) the complex relationships that are found between plants in nature. In the case of food crops, a polycultu...

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