Direct Seeding vs. Transplants

How I used to plant my veggies. An 8 inch spacing guide and some seedlings back in 2009. To direct sow or transplant, that is the question. I’m as indecisive as Hamlet when it comes to this question. Some caveats here: we live in a warm climate where you can direct sow almost anything unless you want to get an early start on tomatoes and peppers. And we don’t have to start seedlings indoors. Another thing to note–I fell under...

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Saturday Linkages: Independence Day Weekend Edition

Fireless cooker via Low Tech Magazine. We insulate our houses, why not our cooking pots? http://www.lowtechmagazine.com/2014/07/cooking-pot-insulation-key-to-sustainable-cooking.html … GIF Gardens: How to (Easily) Animate Your Plant Photos http://disq.us/8j1m1y Never Buy A Rotten Avocado Again http://www.nwedible.com/2012/05/never-buy-a-rotten-avocado-again.html … Why Do We Refrigerate Eggs in the United States? http://www.kcet.org/living/food/t...

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Induced Demand

Image: Wikipedia. I was on the phone the other day having a conversation about greywater with a person enrolled in an entrepreneurial program. She asked me an excellent question: did having a greywater system cause me to use more water? She was alluding to a concept known as induced demand. In other words, when you have more of something you use more. Buy a hybrid car and you end up driving more miles since you don’t pay as much for gas. B...

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Organic Seed Growers Webinar

I’ve enjoyed all the webinars from the eOrganic folks. While they are oriented towards small farmers, I’ve found them useful for us home gardeners. They are putting on a seed growing webinar at the end of this month. I’m especially looking forward to the pollinator lecture, featuring Eric Mader of The Xerces Society, that takes place on Saturday February 1st. Here’s the 411 on the conference, which is free: Join eOrganic...

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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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Straw Bale Garden: What I Learned

Straw bale garden–April on the left, November on the right. The straw bale garden I started this spring has been one of the most successful vegetable gardens I’ve ever planted. In fact it’s still producing well into November. Here’s what I learned from the experiment: Plants that suck up a lot of nitrogen, like squash, do well in a straw bale garden. My tomatoes flourished but, due to the high nitrogen, made more leaves...

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Have We Reached Peak Kale? Franchi’s Cavolo Laciniato “Galega De Folhas Lisas”

I’ve heard murmurings of a kale backlash. Apparently, too many restaurants have kale salads and fancy city folks like us are losing sleep worrying what the next hip vegetable will be. I have a proposal. Let’s keep with the kale for awhile longer. I propose a Franchi kale “Galega De Folhas Lisas” as the new big thing. Translated, the variety name is something like “Galacian smooth leaf.” To add to the confusio...

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Picture Sundays: What Commuting by Bike Looked Like in 1942

From the Library of Congress photo archive a 1942 picture from Burbank, CA: The bicycle brigade at Lockheed Vega Aircraft Corporation. Employees living within four miles of Lockheed’s plant may purchase bicycles through the company and resell them to the company when need for them no longer exists. This mode of transportation is becoming increasingly popular, and has resulted in the sale of 2,400 bicycles in record time. This is part of t...

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Reforming City Codes

On my high horse pointing a finger. In response to my intemperate use of the word “bureaucrat” in yesterday’s post on the city of Miami Shores’ crackdown on a front yard vegetable garden, a Root Simple reader DRBREW responded: I hate to do this, but in defense of City bureaucrats (of which, I am one) and code enforcement people (of which I am not)…… Most of those citations are complaint driven, it is the code enforcement...

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Late Blight of Tomato and Potato Webinar

What late blight looks like. Got late blight? Learn more about this pathogen, which caused the Irish potato famines, by joining a free webinar at eOrganic on January 14, 2014 at 2PM Eastern Time (1PM Central, 12PM Mountain, 11AM Pacific Time). The webinar is free and open to the public, and advanced registration is required. Attendees will be able to type in questions for the speakers. Register now at: https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/60105...

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