Till vs. No-Till

...al agriculture (compared to organic agriculture) to till, use excessive fertilizers, pesticides, etc. I guess it depends on how you regard the soil – as a medium for growing vegetables or as an ecosystem (and I’m not being judgmental). It’s a philosophical choice. No-till agriculture advocates argue that tilling oxidizes organic matter leading to a loss in soil fertility and the creation of carbon dioxide which, in turn, le...

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Growing Artichokes on the Sly

...dwack everything to lawn level. If you can negotiate with them, or somehow put a protective barrier between your plants and the whirling cord of death, you can grow stuff. Take this lovely artichoke. It was a sprout off of one of our own plants, which we gave to a friend who lives in a courtyard apartment. She tucked the sprout near a wall, between some permanent shrubs. It flourished through our wet winter–she says she didn’t give it...

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Lasagna Gardening Simplified

...e, the cardboard interferes with water penetration (I know this from experience) and the kitchen scraps create a plant nutrient overload. Instead Chalker-Scott suggests simply a very thick layer of mulch–12 inches. Mulch is often free, as many cities give it away, and it does wonders for the soil. Mulch, in fact, breaks down into soil, retains moisture and creates habitat for earthworms. Read more in Chalker-Scott’s post, “Is...

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Organic Gardening Magazine Tests Seven Different Potato Growing Methods

Doug Hall, writing for Organic Gardening magazine, did a test of seven different potato growing methods: hilled rows, straw mulch, raised beds, grow bags, garbage bags, wood boxes and wire cylinders. His conclusion? Raised beds worked the best giving the highest yield. Some of the other methods worked well too, though I wonder about black materials, such as grow bags, in our hot climate. The last time we grew potatoes we used a stack of tires....

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Why I Grow Vegetables From Seed

...ir pots. And someone tell me what’s up with the trend I’ve noticed recently of selling mature tomato plants in small pots? I suppose novice gardeners probably think they’re getting a better value with a large plant, so the nursery has an incentive to sell root-bound stock. In fact, every last vegetable seedling at the nursery had root systems as congested as the 405 freeway on a Friday afternoon. When roots hit the bottom of a...

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The Barrier Method

Over the years we’ve lost countless plants to digging, chewing, trampling and sucking critters, mammals and insects both. We finally got smart. It makes sense to invest a little extra time and money to protect your crops and your livestock with physical barriers. This practice started sort of piecemeal around here, with us only exerting ourselves over particularly problem-prone situations. Nowadays protection is standard for every bed we p...

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Genetically Modified Oranges Coming to a Store Near You

...ding thousand of acres of abandoned citrus groves, have devastated the Florida citrus industry. The psyllid made its way to California and the industry here is alarmed that HLB will soon follow. A Reuters story on HLB, “A day without genetically altered orange juice” has a number of astonishing revelations, The bacterium that causes citrus greening is so lethal that the U.S. government classified it among potential bioterror tools kno...

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Poison in the Compost

...ost often clopyralid and aminopyralid). As our reports included below indicate, these chemical residues can kill plants or severely stunt their production, costing gardeners money and time. What do you need to know about contaminated compost? Affected plants show signs of curled, cupped leaves, wilting new growth and poor germination in tomatoes, peas, beans, lettuce and other garden crops. The chemical residues causing the problem can be presen...

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It’s Elementary

...t a volunteer work day at the 24th Street Elementary School in the West Adams district of Los Angeles yesterday. It’s run by the Garden School Foundation. I can’t tell you how amazing this garden is, but I think the picture above says it all. It’s about the future, and that future is going to have more mulch and a lot less asphalt! The 24th Street Garden contains vegetables, a mini orchard and two native plant gardens, which are...

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