The Original L.A. Urban Homestead

You know that band you saw play at your local dive bar back in the day that is totally popular now and playing in arenas? Well, the L.A. Eco-Home is kind of like that. Long before glossy magazines were doing “Green” issues, before hybrid cars and composting became hip, Julia Russell had been giving tours featuring the environmentally friendly aspects of her home and garden. Julia is pictured here in front of her Gordon apple tree wh...

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Summer Urban Homestead Failures: Exploding Beer Bottles

Somehow in last week’s roundup of the summer’s failures I blocked out of my memory the most exasperating: exploding beer bottles. I think I may have had a contaminated siphon hose which passed on some nasty, yeasty bacterial bug to every single bottle of two batches of beer I had made this summer. Three of those bottles over-carbonated to the point that they became beer grenades and exploded. One blew up on the kitchen counter and...

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What We’re Going To Do About That Lead

...in a thick layer of mulch and we do most of our growing in raised beds. We will stop growing edibles directly in the ground. We’d already planned to redesign the yard to include lots more native and Mediterranean flowering plants. These we can’t eat, but will secure the soil and provide food and shelter for lots of beneficial insects who will aid our food crops. We’re really happy that we’ve always mulched, because it has...

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Plantasia: Music for Plants Part II

...own Evolution reader Avi, track down a downloadable copy of Dr. George Milstein’s 1970 album Music to Grow Plants, but  he also suggested two more cultural landmarks of the 1970s “chattin’ with plants” period. Mort Garson’s Moog generated album Plantasia: Warm Earth Music for Plants and the People Who Love Them is pretty much what I would imagine a macramé suspended spider plant wanting to listen to. Its groovin̵...

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Gardening Mistakes: Six Ways We’ve Killed Plants

...me plant that might thrive in one spot will wither in another. This is where trial and error comes in. Sometimes the only way to find out if what will grow is to plant stuff and see what takes off. 2. Soil compaction This is a big problem in urban areas and our yard is no exception. The parkway, which gets a lot of foot traffic, is very compacted. Very few plants do well with compacted soil, including natives. The best way to break up compacted s...

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The Brooklyn Bee

...le are always shocked to see a basketball sized cluster of bees hanging out on a local light post. He deals with these sticky situations through careful neighborhood diplomacy and, of course, free honey. Howe argues that his honey is more organic than commercial honey since his bees pollinate plants in an urban location that does not have the sort of intense insecticide application seen in agricultural areas. Since he’s the only beekeeper i...

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Urban Foraging with Nance Klehm

Via The Little Green People Show, a podcast with Chicago’s urban forager Nance Klehm: “We’re not talking gardens or dumpster diving. This is a discussion of the riches that grow in our highway medians, city planters, backyards and rail lines. Expert forager, Nance Klehm, sheds light on the city’s bounty, from medicinal plants to tasty greens. Getting to know the foraging landscape takes some time and energy, but gives bac...

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Our Books

...book–if we don’t say so ourselves. Here’s a preview what it looks like inside. Please forgive the black layout marks: The Urban Homestead (Expanded and Revised Edition): Your Guide to Self-Sufficient Living in the Heart of the City (Process Self-reliance Series) by Kelly Coyne and Erik Knutzen  “The contemporary bible on the subject” — The New York Times This celebrated, essential handbook for the...

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The Strange World of Artificial Plants

...Ikea’s Fejka. On a recent pilgrimage to Ikea, I ended up staring at a large display of fake plants while Mrs. Root Simple found a replacement for our kitten-shredded drapes. Viewed from a distance Ikea’s plastic plants were realistic, though seemingly outside of any known plant genus. I found myself pondering the question of what permacultural context in which these plastic plants would be an appropriate design solution...

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The Food and Flowers Freedom Act

Local food is coming back to Los Angeles. Homegrown Evolution is proud to be a part of a new group, the Urban Farming Advocates (UFA). Not in LA? Start your own UFA branch. City codes need to be changed everywhere! UFA activist Glen Dake posted the following notice on the Garden Council website: Problem: In 1946, a Los Angeles municipal code known as the Truck Gardening Ordinance was written to allow the growing of vegetables in a residentia...

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