Staking Tomatoes with Concrete Reinforcing Mesh

...h to stake our tomatoes. It’s a 6-inch square grid of wire and is used to reinforce concrete slabs. I buy it in 3 1/2-feet by 7-feet sections at my local home improvement center. To make a tomato cage with it you find a flat stretch of patio or driveway and bend the wire into a tube. I overlap it a bit and tie it together with wire. This year, thanks to a tip from Craig Ruggless, I decided to double the height of the cages using two per p...

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Real Estate Bubble Bananas

...but the bananas, the ones the squirrels didn’t get, were the tastiest damn bananas I’ve ever eaten. It turns out that our national real estate bubble has a fruit filled silver lining. I imagine that all across America there are abandoned fruit trees yielding their bounty for a new generation of gleaners. Thank you Angelo Mozilo for creating a literal banana republic! Bananas are not my favorite plant for Southern California as they t...

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Three Front Yard Vegetable Gardens

...or expensive. Neighborhood gardens like this are really what inspired us when we started out. They taught us to plant boldly, to plant casually, and to plant anywhere we wanted. This yard above delighted me. It seems they’ve given up on their lawn and instead have planted an army of caged veggie seedlings in orderly rows across their front yard. Not pictured is a little strip of  established food garden at the front of the yard. It looks...

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Making Beer in Plain Language

...ng professor of rhetoric and comparative literature Judith Butler via the Bad Writing Contest Huh? At least the terminology surrounding beer making ain’t that obtuse, but it certainly could use some simplification. For novice home brewers, such as us here at Homegrown Evolution, the terminology creates an unnecessary barrier as impenetrable as a graduate school seminar in the humanities. Let’s see, there’s a mash, a...

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Advances in Gardening Series: Thoughts on The Fan, and the problems of overabudance

...ains come next year, I’ll be pulling Calendula and chamomile volunteers. Moral is, know what you need, and plant no more than that. Unless you’ve got the time and energy to maintain larger, more flashy beds. I’m all about making it easy on myself, so next year I’ll plant less. Of course, it takes experiences like this to learn exactly what our needs are. This is just how it goes.  What’s next: The next round of plant...

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Indigo 101

...era suffruticosa, which is native to Mexico and South America. • You can grow your own indigo (any seeds you buy labeled as Indigo will probably be tictorium or suffructicosa). Indigofera is a pretty plant from the legume family. That family is valuable in the garden because it draws nitrogen into the soil. It would be nice to grow just as a conversation starter. I don’t know much about making the dye from scratch, but it is quite possible...

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Advances in Gardening: The Trough of Garlic

...crete and built this over the hole: a new planting bed.  That’s the Germinator on the right, butting up to it and my Fan behind it.  When we’re done with all this redoing, we’ll clean everything up and take some wider shots so it all begins to make sense. For now–believe me–it’s better to keep to limited views! Right now,  as its name suggests, this new bed is planted with garlic–and a few shallots. Rathe...

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Plant Thievery

...cactus. Will the cactus on the right be next? I know I’m supposed to be Mr. Groovy Permaculuture Dude, but it’s hard not to get angry when a barrel cactus gets jacked out of the front yard. The irony is that I planted this cactus to keep people from stealing the nectaplums higher up the front slope. Clearly I need to either let go of it all and accept the free exchange of the universe thing or plant a giant man-eating Venus fly trap t...

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Garden Design Trends: Interplanting and Plant Communities

...ls “interplanted everything” and another he calls “community gardens” (by which he means plant communities not allotments). Rainer says, “Massing is out.  Highly interplanted, mixed schemes are in.”  It’s a design aesthetic that mimics nature’s diversity, but in a somewhat more compressed form. The example he uses is the striking garden at Arthritis Research UK. You can see a video of that garden he...

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Advances in Gardening Series: The Perennial Herb Bed, Patience and Plant Spacing and Breaking Your Own Rules

...they grow to full size. A very common landscaping mistake is to go out and buy a bunch of gallon-sized landscape plants and plant them close together, just so the yard looks good right away. This practice has probably worsened with all those “overnight transformation” type TV shows. Two things are questionable about this scenario. First, it makes both financial and horticultural sense to plant young, small plants. Small plants are che...

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