Why You Should Avoid Staking Trees

The correct way to stake a tree. Image from the Vacaville Tree Foundation To answer the question of why tree staking should be avoided, one can turn to the latest Extension Service advice or to the nearly 2000 year old words of Seneca: No tree becomes rooted and sturdy unless many a wind assails it. For by its very tossing it tightens its grip and plants its roots more securely; the fragile trees are those that have grown in...

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Tips on Composting from Will Bakx of Sonoma Compost

...this issue, please leave a comment. Alleopathic plant material such as eucalyptus leaves and walnut leaves, on the other hand, are ok to add. Bakx cited studies where plants were successfully grown in leaf litter made entirely out of eucalyptus leaves. He suggested keeping such alleopathic material to less than 15% of the pile. Web links Sonoma Compost’s website: www.sonomacompost.com Sonoma Compost’s Simple Guidelines to Compostin...

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Thyrsus: the new hipster accessory

Ancient thyrsus on left, modern hipster version on right. The traveling exhibition Pompeii and the Roman Villa, currently at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, has a few nice tchotchkes worth considering for those of us attempting to garden in Mediterranean places. One of the centerpieces of the show, a large fresco depicting a garden, includes many familiar plants: chamomile, oleander (who knew oleander existed before freeways!), strawberr...

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Hornworm meets alien!

...tch. In this Purdue Extension Entomology Service produced video, you’ll see a hornworm devour a tomato and then fall prey–Alien-style–to a species of parasitic wasp (Cotesia congregata). Not only do these parasitic wasps devour their host but in order to overcome the caterpillar’s defenses, mama wasp injects a virus before laying her eggs. How do you create habitat for Cotesia congregata? Adults feed on nectar producing pl...

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Comopost, Compost, Compost

...ntal water in hard-packed clay soil contaminated with lead and zinc in a hot side yard. Why did it do well while the rest of my vegetable garden did not do as so good this summer? Homemade compost. I didn’t have enough compost for the rest of the veggie garden so I bought some at a nursery. The homebrew compost obviously had much more life in it.  And life is the point. Soil is a living thing. Plants, particularly vegetables, need microbia...

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Real Estate Bubble Bananas

...ble 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 take a lot of water and get somewhat rangy looking when the wind rips up their leaves. But they are one of the most greywater tolerant plants and a good choice...

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Saturday Linkages: Hiding Spots, Bedbugs and Rodents of Unusual Size

...lld.com/2013/04/130-square-foot-micro-apartment-in-paris/ … Bedbugs! How a Leafy Folk Remedy Stopped Bedbugs in Their Tracks http://nyti.ms/12H9HDI Gardening All About Gabions : Cheap Retaining and Other Garden Features http://shar.es/JHCQS  New killer compost problem–Imprelis: http://ow.ly/1UWcBj How to protect plants from frost: http://ow.ly/1UMWLG Farmers tackle pests with colas: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/3977351.stm … Rode...

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Greywater Guerrillas in LA this Weekend

...il Matt Moses Space is very limited so register early! Workshop will include a presentation on greywater reuse, the design process of the system we’ll be building, and the construction of a greywater system from the washing machine to ornamental of plants. Activities will involve digging, measuring, cutting pipes, observing, and more! Sunday July 20th: Presentation: How to Disengage from the Water Grid: With Greywater, Rainwater, and Compo...

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Humanure Dry Toilet Made From a Milk Crate

Modern toilets take two valuable resources, water and nitrogen rich human waste, and combine the two to create a problem: sewage. In a dry or “humanure” toilet, you cover your deposits with a layer of non-toxic sawdust. Once the toilet is full you dump the contents into your outdoor humanure pile and compost the waste at high temperatures for at least a year. You can then use that compost as fertilizer for plants. The ubiquitous fi...

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A Question About Gophers

...se galvanized hardware cloth or gopher wire as an underground barrier. We even mentioned this in our first book. The main problem I have with this advice is that the galvanized metal used for hardware cloth and gopher wire leaches significant amounts of zinc as it breaks down. Zinc, in high quantities, is toxic to plants. And, when using cages for trees, I’d worry that the cages would not break down soon enough, causing the roots to circle....

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