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...

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Tippy Tap, Beta Version

...or hand washing — better than spraying water all over with the hose, especially in these times of drought. It would also be a good handwashing station for camping.  So I made a beta version to test the idea. Long story short, it works well. I made a few mistakes and want to work out some kinks. Also, for use in the garden, I want to design a more attractive tippy tap, perhaps using a gourd or ceramics. For the how-to, and some links to othe...

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Our Holiday Gift Suggestions

...mpletely rewritten version of her classic book Edible Landscaping . The book is full of dazzling photos, helpful design suggestions and a long plant list with detailed growing and harvesting directions. I’ve been carefully reviewing this book as we redesign our yard. Especially helpful has been Creasy’s suggestion to draw a plan, to scale, and create lists of design ideas and problem areas. Going through this process helped me spot a...

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Know Maintanance

...permission to disengage, pull away, and let go. When we do that, our landscapes suffer. And so do we. Rainer on Gardening in Small Spaces I found out about Rainer 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...

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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 n...

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Why Your Garden Should Be Dark at Night

...we’d take better care of our home. Highline Park at night. Photo: highline.org. Keeping Gardens Dark Thankfully light pollution is an easy fix and saves money and energy too. We can keep our outdoor spaces dark at night to benefit our well being and as well as the survival of nocturnal creatures. Night Sky concluded with a brief interview with Hervé Descottes, one of the lighting designers of the Highline Park in New Yor...

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Interview With Apartment Gardener Helen Kim

...a friend recently gave me a little lecture on the importance of fertilizer and I thought I’d finally give it a whirl… and I have to say that, yes, the plants are a bit happier than they were this time last year. I’ve been using Dr. Earth fertilizer and making fertilizer tea. HE: Did you choose your apartment with the idea that you’d be gardening in it? If so, what should a prospective renter look for? HK: I had three m...

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Summer Nights in the Garden at the Natural History Museum

...n thumb? Stop by the painting booth and that can soon be changed. Artist Peter Tigler brings participatory image making to NHM. Learn the hi-tech method of fingerpaint meets the ancient art of color-by-number! RSVP HERE for free admission to L.A.’s best garden parties! Unable to RSVP? We will continue to allow limited entry at the door until we hit capacity. EACH NIGHT WILL INCLUDE… MUSIC! Enjoy the ambient music of KCRW DJ, Anthony...

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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...

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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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