Straw Bale Garden Part III: Adding Fertilizer

After watering our straw bales for three days our next step is to apply a high nitrogen fertilizer. We’re following West Virginia University Extension Service’s Straw Bale Gardening advice. They suggest a 1/2 cup of urea per bale or “bone meal, fish meal, or compost for a more organic approach.” (I think they mean blood meal as bone meal does not have much nitrogen in it.) Choosing the organic approach, we’re water...

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Saturday Linkages: Hiding Spots, Bedbugs and Rodents of Unusual Size

...et-8-great-hiding-spots-in-ordinary-objects/ … 130 Square Foot Micro Apartment in Paris | Inthralld http://inthralld.com/2013/04/130-square-foot-micro-apartment-in-paris/ … Bedbugs! How a Leafy Folk Remedy Stopped Bedbugs in Their Tracks http://nyti.ms/12H9HDI Gardening All About Gabions : Cheap Retaining and Other Garden Features http://shar.es/JHCQS  New killer compost problem–Imprelis: http://ow.ly/1UWcBj How to protect plants from fro...

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Decomposed Granite as Mulch: A very bad idea

There’s a well defined architectural vocabulary house flippers use in our neighborhood. Flippers buy a crumbling 1920s bungalow, paint the front door orange, add a horizontal fence, redo the interior in a Home Depot meets Dwell Magazine style and then turn around and sell it for a million bucks. When house flippers tackle a yard they tend towards the “low-maintenance” landscape (in quotes because there’s no such thing as...

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LA’s Parkway Garden Dilemma: Not Fixed Yet

A parkway vegetable garden on Sunset Blvd.. The City of Los Angeles’ crackdown on parkway vegetable gardens made international news thanks to an article by LA Times columnist Steve Lopez. Lopez was reporting on two parkway gardens that were issued citations by the LA Bureau of Street Services. This crackdown came two years after Ron Finley was busted for being a vegetable gardening outlaw. Over the weekend I started seeing articles, Tweets...

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In Defense of the Paper Wasp

Paper wasp building a nest. Image: Wikimedia. I really don’t like gardening advice that divides the natural world into lists of good and bad bugs. From nature’s perspective all creatures have a role, even the much despised paper wasp. Paper Wasp Biology 101 Wasps perform important duties: some wasps eat other insects, other wasps are scavengers, acting as nature’s garbage disposers. That’s not to say that wasps don’...

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Getting Things Done

One of the side benefits of the Age of Limits conference, that we attended back in May, is that whenever we tired of what was going on in the main tent, we could always find Archdruid John Michael Greer holding court outside on everything from HAM radio to vegetable gardening to the history of obscure fraternal societies. He’s got another good blog post this week. My favorite quote from that post: . . . if the global economy is sure to g...

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Watering 101

This is watering 101. Those of you who have been gardening for a while have probably learned this the hard way. Those of you just starting out may find it helpful. Soil lies. It looks wet, but it’s bone dry a fraction of an inch beneath. Or it looks dry on the surface, but it’s actually quite wet below. Or it’s wet, but only for one inch down. The only way to find out if you’ve watered your garden enough is to stick your...

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Village Homes: A Model for Sustainable Suburbs

I’ve recently discovered a truly inspiring housing development in Davis, California. This is not new news–it was built in the 1980′s, but it’s new to me and worth sharing. Village Homes is the brainchild of architect/developer Michael Corbett. It encompasses 70 acres and 200-some homes. It has all the space and privacy that brings people to the suburbs, but it’s designed with considerable intelligence. For instanc...

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How to Deal With Cabbage Worms

It happens every year. I forget the gardening lessons of the year before. Take my many failed attempts to grow cabbage, for instance. It always gets decimated by the imported cabbage worm (Pieris rapae), a creature as abundant in Los Angeles as aspiring actors. There are several strategies I could use to deal with this pest (cabbage worms, that is–I have no problem with actors). I could spray Bacillus thuringiensis but I don’t like...

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