More Medlar Mania

...blight killed the limbs they were on so I lost them. We are in a colder spot but still are only about 15 – 20 miles inland from the coast. If you have an existing pear tree you may want to graft medlar onto that so you don’t have to plant a whole tree to see if they will do well in your area. Make sure you sterilize pruning tools and grafting knives between cuts and do not share infected scion wood. This will help to control fire blig...

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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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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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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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UMass Soil Testing

...finally got around to trying out the University of Massachusetts’ soil testing service and can report that it’s fast and cheap. I tested two areas of my yard for both nutrients and heavy metals and found out, more or less, what I expected, that I need to add a small amount of nitrogen. Surprisingly, for having such an old house, I don’t have a lead problem. It costs just $9 for the basic test and $13 for the basic test + heavy m...

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Coffee Chaff Chickens

...aw because we clean the inside of the house regularly–their overnight poo is quite concentrated– and it’s very easy to scoop up the poo when it’s mixed with fluffy wood shavings. It also smells better longer. Straw in the house is just sort of substandard. However…the big however….them’s dead trees we’re shoveling into our hen house, and as we all know, trees don’t grow on trees. But what̵...

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Acanthoscelides obtectus- A seed saver’s lament

Homegrown Neighbor here: Well, I had a rude awakening when I tried to plant my beans a few weeks ago. I have been growing several different types of pole beans for three or four years and saving seeds from them at the end of every summer. I usually grow purple, yellow and green varieties of pole beans for beautiful summer soups, salads and other dishes. Not this year. When I opened the packet of bean seeds that I had saved last fall, I found al...

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Asian Citrus Psyllid Eradication Program Causes Outbreak of Citrus Leafminer

...to the USDA Agricultural Research Service, “The leafminer moth, Phyllocnistis citrella, forms channels as it feeds inside citrus leaves and, as a result, often makes the plant more susceptible to canker disease. Further exacerbating the leafminer problem is the spraying of more insecticide to combat another pest—the Asian citrus psyllid. The insecticide is killing off the leafminers’ natural enemies, allowing the pest to increase in number...

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