Derek Jarman’s Garden

Photo by angusf Avant-garde filmmaker Derek Jarman spent the last years of his life, after an HIV diagnosis, tending a bleak, wind-swept patch of land opposite a nuclear power plant on the southern coast of England. With just a few hardy plants and some scavenged pieces of wood he put together a stunning garden. He wrote a book about it called, simply, Derek Jarman’s Garden. You can also view a flikr photo set here. Photo b...

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Tomato Report II: Franchi Red Pear

Franchi’s Red Pear tomato is a beefsteak variety we’ve grown for several years. It tastes phenomenal either fresh or cooked. From the Seeds from Italy website: This is an old North Italian variety specially selected by Franchi Sementi. It is an indeterminate red, pear-shaped beefsteak. An outstanding producer of huge (as in 8-18 ounce) very tasty fruit. Great fresh eating. Early for such a large plant (70-75 days).  This is no...

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Guerrilla Gardening: Over and Out

Seed Bombs at Whole Foods! Photo by Jimmy Chertkow Proof that all counter-cultural movements eventually get subsumed into the mainstream: a Whole Foods seed bomb display sent to me by Root Simple tipster James Chertkow, who pointed out the anthropomorphized orange with a Mohawk. Maybe it’s time to retire the whole guerrilla gardening/punk rock thing and just, well, plant some flowers and not make a big deal out of it....

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The Cat Poop Portal: Litter Box Composting, Installment #1

...y. We’re just going to do straight up, classic composting, Humanure Handbook style. The only difference between this style and ordinary composting is that we’ll let this compost rest for two years before we spread it, to be sure the bad beasties die off. And in case they aren’t gone, we won’t spread the finished compost around edible plants. No, this is not orthodox practice. It is not considered “safe” to comp...

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Roundin’ up the Summer Urban Homesteading Disasters

Everyday loaf on the left, “charity” loaf on the right. As we’ve noted in our books, part of the deal with this lifestyle is persevering through the inevitable disasters. Which means it’s time for a regular blog feature, the disaster roundup.   Loafing Around I agreed to bake a few baguettes for a charity function this evening. Problem #1 is that I can’t do baguettes in my small oven so I decided to do a s...

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Rearranging the yard, yet again!

Backyard redesign, in progress. Mrs. Homegrown here: This is all my fault. Last fall we re-did the back yard, but I decided it still needed a few refinements. I feel a little like a sitcom wife who can’t make her mind up about the draperies (cue Erik, the long-suffering husband, moaning in the background)–but we can’t be afraid to fix our mistakes. Perhaps I shouldn’t say mistake. There was nothing wrong with the...

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One Craptacular Week

It’s been one hell of a week. First we find out, via a soil test, that our backyard may have high levels of lead and zinc. We’ll write a lot more about this once I confirm the results–I’ve sent in another sample to a different lab. And my doctor has agreed to give me a blood test. Whatever the results, I want to help get out the word about this serious issue–ironically, next week is National Lead Poisoning Preve...

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The CDFA’s Pesticide Theater

In the fall of 2009 a citrus pest called the Asian Citrus Psylid showed up in our neighborhood. It’s a major concern to commercial citrus growers since the pest spreads an incurable and fatal plant disease called huanglongbing (HLB). The California Department of Food and Agriculture commenced a futile effort to suppress the psylid by hiring a contractor, TruGreen, to spray residential backyards in Southern California with a combination o...

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Sunset Magazine’s Take on Zones

re finely delineated micro-climates. You can find your Sunset zone here. With your Sunset zone you can then use their handy online plant finder or one of their many books. While an excellent resource, unless I failed to find it, I couldn’t locate any vegetable planting schedule based on Sunset zones. Perhaps its an impossible question, proof of the adage that “all gardening advice is local.”...

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Testing the Lead Testers

...n extractant, AB-DTPA (ammonium bicarbonate Diethylene Triamine Pentaacetic acid). Here’s how Wallace described their lead testing techinique, We use AB-DTPA (ammonium bicarbonate Diethylene Triamine Pentaacetic acid). It is a gentle extractant and it mimics roots in extracting minerals from the soil. Most often environmental tests are made with boiling acids which are more aggressive than roots. The AB-DTPA method is a standard testing me...

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