Seaching for Seeds

Old school seed searching: order assembler standing next to racks containing packages at the W. Atlee Burpee Company, 1943 It’s never too early to start planning that garden. And towards that goal, Mother Earth News has created a nice custom Google search engine that scours over 600 seed suppliers. It’s the perfect way to find those obscure plants and varieties not at the local nursery. The search engine even includes our favorite s...

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The End of California Citrus?

...responsibilities as a backyard gardener to large scale growers? Do the benefits of international trade outweigh the inevitable appearance of invasive species? Should we close the downtown flower markets and produce distribution warehouses where state entomologists suspect the psylids might have come from? Rather than try to answer the unanswerable, I’m going back to two of my favorite books books that don’t have anything to do with p...

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Introducing Lora Hall

...be we can get her to explain this!). You can meet Lora in person and pick up some seedlings and fruit trees at the Highland Park farmer’s market (map) where she runs a booth with Trisha Mazure every Tuesday from 3 to 8 pm. When we visited her at the market last week Lora had a bunch of interesting plants including purslane, tomatoes, tomatillos as well as a selection of fruit trees appropriate for our warm climate. In the LA area and want...

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Laundry to Landscape 2.0

...together it took just a few hours. Lora ran a load of clothes immediately and it worked perfectly. It was one of the easiest home improvement projects I’ve done. No cursing whatsoever! Now Lora can’t wait to do the laundry. She, of course, uses only Oasis Biocompatible Laundry Detergent. Note that many “eco” detergents will kill terrestrial plants–I’ll do a blog post on this shortly, as I discovered one major m...

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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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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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Made in the shade- Passive cooling

We just survived another major heat wave here. People and plants were positively melting. The sidewalks were veritable solar cookers. I’m sure I could have fried an egg on the sidewalk outside my house. I prefer not to crank the air conditioning, so I have been thinking a lot lately about simple ways to cool ourselves and the spaces we inhabit. Air conditioning is the main mechanical means by which we cool buildings these days. However, t...

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3D Greetings

...readers is a headache. Well, to be precise, we offer you three dimensional images of two of our favorite garden plants. Above, the prickly pear cactus (Opuntia ficus-indica) and, below, spearmint (Mentha Spicata). To view these two images in three dimensions follow these instructions, specifically the bit about “parallel viewing”. Be persistent, like all good things it might take some practice. We taught ourselves how to free view th...

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Magenta Spreen Lambsquarter

...e. Seeds of Change sells this beautiful variety, oddly named “Magenta Spreen.” Like other members of the Chenopodium family it has a fair amount of oxalic acid which could be a problem if it’s all you ate. Even though I’m prone to kidney stones I’m not concerned about oxalic acid in moderation. Cooking reduces oxalic acid as well as saponins that the leaves also contain. The Plants for a Future database entry on Chen...

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Tomato Review #1 Red Currant–The World’s Smallest Tomato

...arden this year we’ve had a bit of a “need to get produce at the supermarket” gap. Ironically, the first bit of homegrown produce to appear this summer came in the form of what we’re calling the world’s smallest tomato: an heirloom variety Mrs. Homegrown Evolution picked up at this year’s Tomato Mania sale called Red Currant (Solanum pimpinellifolium). This is a domesticated version of wild tomato plants origi...

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