Urine as a Fertilizer

...concentrations in urine samples were low compared with other organic fertilizers, but copper, mercury, nickel and zinc were 10–500 times higher in urine than in precipitation and surface waters. In a pot experiment with15N labelled human urine, higher gaseous losses and lower crop uptake (barley) of urine N than of labelled ammonium nitrate were found. Phosphorus present in urine was utilized at a higher rate than soluble phosphate, showing...

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Ridiculous New Parkway Planting Rules for Los Angeles

...pecies. It sounds great . . . until you read the fine print. Those drought tolerant turf alternatives, which include chamomile, yarrow and even strawberries, must be kept “mowed.” If you want to grow any of these plants taller than 2 inches or ones not on the list you’ve got to submit drawings, apply for a permit and pay at least $400, possibly more. Ironically, the cover of the guidelines shows a picture of a mature yarrow pla...

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Greywater Precautions

...g greywater: Do not apply greywater to crops that you will eat raw, such as strawberries, carrots or lettuce. Using greywater on any vegetables is somewhat dodgy in general for heath reasons, but greywater is fine for edible plants such as fruit trees where the crop is far from the ground and the risk of direct contamination by contact with contaminated water is low. Do not apply greywater to lawns (lawns are evil anyways) or to the foliage of a...

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Rain Barrels

...aders it won’t be economical or practical given the space requirements and weight of thousands of gallons of stored water. Thankfully, there are simpler strategies for harvesting rainwater. Rainwater used for irrigating plants does not need filtering or purification, and since outdoor watering accounts for the number one household water use, you’ll be using that water where it is most needed. Now, once again at the risk of sounding li...

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Advances in Gardening Series: The Fan

...act and tidy (because really, how much marjoram do you need?). This new bed, The Fan, is for medicinal annuals, because I need more space to produce them in useful quantities. For instance, you need a good number of chamomile plants if you want enough to put away for tea and a little more for salves. With this in mind, I’m going to rotate “large” crops of annuals through this space, one variety per wedge. This winter’s f...

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Rats

...em? We can think of some real estate agents we would like to give them to, but the rats would probably just run into some other poor sucker’s house. Rat poison is a really bad idea. First of all it is deadly to pets and native animals that might find it. Secondly it can kill a predator such as a hawk or owl, that might prey on a poisoned rat. Lastly, poisoned rats have a bad tendency to climb into a wall and die leaving an inaccessible, sti...

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Quick Relief for Poison Oak

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons I went camping in Poison Oak Central last week, and though I tried to be careful, I got a kiss on the back of the hand from our rakish woodland friend, Toxicodendron diversilobum (Pacific or Western Poison Oak). It was, miraculously, the first time I’ve ever had poison oak. I don’t know how I’ve been so lucky so far.  I’ve heard that rubbing native mugwort on the skin can prevent/treat...

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Anagallis monellii : A New Favorite

Last fall we planted Anagallis monellii “Blue Pimpernel” in a bed of mixed flowers and herbs. This plant is neither edible or medicinal, but we hoped the bees would like its many blue flowers. Anagallis monellii is a Mediterranean native, so it is well suited to the California climate, and it follows that it does not need much water. It is perennial in zones 9 to 11 (that’s us), but can be grown as an annual elsewhere. If you...

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Moldy Grapes!

We had a nice conversation with BoingBoing blogger and Make Magazine editor Mark Frauenfelder about how important mistakes are in the DIY life, so here’s two more recent blunders for ya’ll, courtesy of Mrs. Homegrown Evolution. Recent failure #1: Inedible Pickled Grape Leaves We have grape leaves. Lots of them. Our two table grape vines are a little hesitant to really bust out, but our native grape (Vitus californica) has taken over...

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A Prickly Harvest

...Angeles, prickly pear needs no additional irrigation, needs no pesticides or fertilizers, tolerates terrible soil and produces useful food. It’s the perfect plant for the lives of folks too busy to tend fussy non-native plants. On the first anniversary of Homegrown Revolution, formerly known as SurviveLA, and a year after our last prickly pear fruit harvest season, we can now announce why, ironically, we’ve been too busy to keep up wi...

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