Droopy Leaves are Not a Good Thing

Droopy Dawg Mrs. Homegrown here: So I just learned I’ve been taken in by a popular myth. You know how in the summer, the leaves of some plants go droopy in the heat of midday, then bounce back when it cools off? I’d heard…somewhere…who knows how these things get planted in your brain…that this was nothing to worry about. I’d also heard that was ineffectual, anyway, to water them midday. Well, I was wr...

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A Common Sense View of Invasive Plants

Via the Garden Professors blog a sensible letter in Nature from Mark Davis and 18 other ecologists on the tired, in my opinion, native vs. invasive species debate: It is time for scientists, land managers and policy-makers to ditch this preoccupation with the native–alien dichotomy and embrace more dynamic and pragmatic approaches to the conservation and management of species — approaches better suited to our fast-changing planet. Clearly, natu...

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Advances in Gardening Series: A Garlic Mystery

  One of the new features of the garden this year is a long, trough-shaped bed that Erik installed along the edge of our patio. Its inaugural crop was garlic, which is generally a very easy plant to grow. We’ve done it before, many times, successfully. This year it didn’t work. The stalks failed to thrive. Many plants did not set bulbs at all, looking instead like green onions. The heads that were formed are quite small.  We’...

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Compost Bin Project From Our New Book

Natural Home and Garden magazine has excerpted a shipping pallet compost bin project from our new book Making It: Radical Home Ec for a Post-Consumer World . I’ve been using shipping pallets as a compost bin for a few years now and they work great. A compost pile, in my humble opinion, should be a minimum of a cubic yard in order to jump start the heat and microbial life that makes for good compost. Nail together a couple of pallets a...

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Germinator Update

Last year my tomato seeds failed to germinate. Why? It was just too cold. I vowed to build a cold frame and this winter I made good on that promise. I’ve upgraded the plastic sheeting on the “germinator” to rigid plastic awning material (plastic sheeting over a flat surface doesn’t do well in rain . . . duh). If I were to build this thing again I’d construct a sloping top, especially if I lived somewhere with actua...

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Backwards is the New Forwards

Our beekeeping mentor Kirk Anderson had some words of wisdom on Facebook yesterday, Hey, the world is going to hell in a hand basket. Better plant that garden get those chickens plant a tree and get some bees. I have spoken. Got nothing more to add to that. And, about getting those bees, watch Kirk’s instructional videos on the website of the Backwards Beekeepers. ...

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City of LA Shakes Down Community Gardens

The City of Los Angeles Department of Rec and Parks just announced fee increases for community garden plots. The rental of a 10 by 20 space will go from $25 to $120 a year. In the midst of an economic crisis, when the city should doing everything it can to encourage growing food in the city, we get this. The good news is that, unlike national politics, we can make a difference by getting involved at a local level. I was alerted to this shortsi...

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Ask Mr. and Mrs. Homegrown

The yodeling around here is non-stop. Photo by Elon Shoenholz Hey Kids! We thought it would be fun to find out what’s on your mind. If you’ve got a question you’d like some advice on, this the place to ask. We’re best at answering questions about things like chickens, gardening, pickling and fixing bicycles. We’re not so great with questions regarding physics, Sanskrit translations or intellectual property...

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What’s eating my cilantro?

Mrs. Homegrown here: While we’re inviting questions, we’ve also got a question for you guys. What sort of critter likes to eat cilantro? I think it’s a critter, not a bug. There’s no sign of leaf damage, just nibbling the stems down. There’s no digging or other disturbance. Whatever this critter is, it has a defined taste for cilantro, because the cilantro is interplanted with parsley and it never so much as touche...

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Advances in Gardening: The Trough of Garlic

Remember a while back I posted a picture of Erik in a manly pose, whomping our patio with his sledgehammer? He took out a strip of concrete and built this over the hole: a new planting bed.  That’s the Germinator on the right, butting up to it and my Fan behind it.  When we’re done with all this redoing, we’ll clean everything up and take some wider shots so it all begins to make sense. For now–believe me–it’...

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