This Is Why Mint Is Invasive

...ressive mat you see above. I’m sure small bits will remain to haunt me, but all in all, I’m grateful it was that easy. The moral: If you’re thinking about planting mint for the first time, keep in mind that it spreads, given space and water. Its roots, properly called rhizomes, run underground and can send up shoots many feet away from the mother plant. In this way, it will cheerfully take over your entire herb bed or your borde...

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Failed Experiment: Bermuda Buttercup or Sour Grass (Oxalis pes-caprae) as Dye

...cast–and that was exciting– but the color came out when I hand washed and rinsed the shirts. Perhaps it was a half-assed project all along. I had no burning reason to dye with Oxalis–except that it’s thick on the ground right now. Also, Oxalis is rich in oxalic acid, which is supposed to (cough) serve as a built in mordant, helping the plant dye to bind more easily to both plant and animal fibers. Oxalis theoretically yiel...

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More on our gardening disasters

...the standard edibles, we should plant some unusual things this spring, stuff we’ve never grown before, or plants that attract me for some idiosyncratic reason. Fun plants, in other words. Above, I re-posted that picture of the heart-shaped flax bed I created planted back in 2011. Planting a few square feet of flax was not the most practical act in the world, but it was fun. I’d never seen flax growing before, and I wanted to get to k...

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Anagallis monellii : A New Favorite

Last fall we planted Anagallis monellii “Blue Pimpernel” in a bed of mixed flowers and herbs. This plant is neither edible or medicinal, but we hoped the bees would like its many blue flowers. Anagallis monellii is a Mediterranean native, so it is well suited to the California climate, and it follows that it does not need much water. It is perennial in zones 9 to 11 (that’s us), but can be grown as an annual...

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The End of California Citrus?

...and replacing them with fruit trees unrelated to citrus. This follows our stoic, get tough policy in the garden. Planting a tree entails a considerable investment in time. It can take years to get fruit. Why not plant pomegranate instead and let other people worry about citrus diseases? If a pomegranate disease shows up, rip it up and plant something else. Following this approach will eliminate habitat for the psylid and negate the need for pesti...

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Tips on growing great garlic

...lic he ever grew took root accidentally in a compost pile. Pull the garlic cloves apart (leave the skins on) and plant them in the ground with the pointy end up. Nekola suggests planting them with a tablespoon of soybean meal (found at feed stores as animal feed). Nekola also recommended mulch. Let the garlic sprout first, but then pack down at least an inch of straw. Lay your drip tubing under the straw. When to plant varies by location but it’s...

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Least Farvorite Plant:–Heavenly Bamboo–Neither Heavenly nor Bamboo

...ilver Lake Farms came over to rethink the garden. Eying the heavenly bamboo she scowled and demanded, “rip it out,” noting that it was ugly, diseased and caked with Los Angeles smog dust. A few hour later I ripped it out. Needless to say Mrs. Homegrown is dismayed that it takes two experts to confirm something before I’ll listen to her advice. Marital landscaping disputes aside, it’s not that this plant is inherently evi...

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Adopt an Indigo Plant in Los Angeles

...and joining the other growers for a couple of indigo dyeing fiestas. We realize this is a highly local post, but it’s a great idea, and we hope it might inspire some of you to do group growing/harvesting projects in your hometowns. Here’s the 411 from his website, grahamkeegan.com: Indigo pigment grows naturally in the leaves of a large number of plant species from around the world. This plant, Persecaria Tinctoria, also know as Polyg...

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Greywater Fed Tomato Plant Takes Over The World

...stem didn’t get much water before and were just barely surviving. There are several fruit trees, a rhubarb plant and an assortment of perennial herbs lining a narrow strip of land along the side of the house. Now, the plants getting fed by the greywater are going bonkers. Last week the area became impassable it was so overgrown. The path along the side of the house had disappeared. I have the laundry water going to the sewer half the time b...

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Native Plant Workshop

...our ugly chain link fence There’s a couple of common misconceptions amongst novice gardeners about native plants: 1. If you use native plants the whole garden has to be natives. In fact, it’s great to mix natives with non-native plants. The natives bring in beneficial wildlife, are hardy and are efficient in terms of water use. Flexibility is key here–go ahead and mix natives with vegetables, fruit trees and other climate-appro...

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