Derek Jarman’s Garden

...st 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 by angusf Jarman’s friend Howard Sooley, writing in the Guardian,...

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Rearranging the yard, yet again!

...y change in our layout is that I’ve established a new curving path that will carry you through the garden. It connects with the pre-existing path to form a loop. One advantage of establishing a path is that once the “people space” is established, all the rest of the garden becomes useable plant space. We actually have more growing space now. 2) Perennials: The last redesign put a lot of emphasis on growing space for annual plan...

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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

A Sunset Magazine zone map Yesterday we posted a USDA zone based vegetable gardening planting guide. But the problem with USDA zones, as many readers pointed out, is that they aren’t specific enough. For instance, all of the city of Los Angeles is in USDA zone 10, but the difference between where we live and the coast is significant. This is where Sunset Magazine’s more detailed zones maps come in handy. Sunset has divided t...

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Testing the Lead Testers

...nique, 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 method of the Soil Science Society of America. It is called the universal extractant. It measures the bioavailable or plant available minerals wh...

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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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What We’re Going To Do About That Lead

White sage, yarrow, rosemary and aloe vera–the kind of plants we’ll be planting more of. Let’s assume that we have a lead problem in our backyard. That’s a big assumption at this point because we now have two very conflicting test results. But, for the sake of an argument, let’s say the first alarming test is true, what are we going to do about it? These are the options: Radical remediation: Remove all t...

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Rapini!

...re bought broccoli as band and rapini as “flavorful”. Actually rapini is not related to the broccoli plant and is instead more closely related to turnips. The variety we planted is called Cima di Rapa Quarantina and is available from growitalian.com. Thanks Los Angeles for not enforcing your parkway codes! Sometimes LA’s lack of attention to sidewalks (at the current rate, no joke, it would take 200 years to fix LA’s crumb...

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The Survivor

...note of tartness to balance out the sweet pomegranate juice. The name, Survivor, is in part a dedication to the plant itself. Pomegranates can survive with little or no water in terrible soil and never seem to need to be fertilized. As a symbol the pomegranate can be found in all of the cultures of the Mediterranean. From the Wikipedia entry: In the sixth century BCE, Polykleitos took ivory and gold to sculpt the seated Argive Hera in her templ...

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