Comopost, Compost, Compost

...with no supplemental 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 vegetabl...

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The Miraculous Lavender

...d. Then I thought, “Is that a lavender plant? Growing here?” Curious to see what would happen, I let it go. I assumed it would not live long. It’s growing out of a crack. It may have sprouted on the back of our last pathetic winter rain, but we’ve had no precipitation for months now. I don’t water it. I don’t send water down the stairs. The soil off the stairs is dry, because that slope is planted with natives,...

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Apartment Parking Lot Gardening in East Hollywood

Today we have a guest post from R.J., who lives near us in East Hollywood. R.J.’s post proves that you can start a garden even if you don’t own a house and how an otherwise useless urban space can be put to good use. R.J. says: I wanted to be able to give my granddaughter the experience of gardening while she was growing up but as both my daughter and I live in apartments, and have no space for gardens I needed to...

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Advances in Gardening Series: A Garlic Mystery

...w features of the garden this year is a long, trough-shaped bed that Erik installed along the edge of our patio. Its inaugural crop was garlic, which is generally a very easy plant to grow. We’ve done it before, many times, successfully. This year it didn’t work. The stalks failed to thrive. Many plants did not set bulbs at all, looking instead like green onions. The heads that were formed are quite small.  We’re not sure why t...

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Waiting for our tomatoes/Tomatoland

...ly sealed beneath a tight wrapper of polyethylene plastic mulch. Then the growers wait while the chemical does its lethal work. Within two weeks, every living organism — every insect, fungus, weed seed, and germ — in the beds is dead. “It’s like chemotherapy,” said Ozores-Hampton. Once the soil is suitably lifeless, it’s time to plant tomatoes. And methyl bromide is just the start–it’s just soil prep...

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Top Ten Vegetable Gardening Mistakes

...are best to outsource to the professionals at the farmer’s market. 4. Not having a plan My brain, to put it politely, is non-linear. If I were to overcome that cognitive flaw and plan out how much and where things should be planted I’d have both a steady supply of produce as well as a more attractive garden. 5. Not labeling plants What kind of okra is that? I have no damned idea. Too bad when I want to plant it again next year. All...

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So-So Tomatoes Become Excellent When Dried

...ther large for a cherry, more like mini-plum tomatoes, which made them awkward for salads. But they were healthy plants, and very, very prolific. In situations like this it is good to remember that tomatoes which don’t taste good off the bush often cook or dry well. The ratio of skin and seeds to pulp in these tomatoes made them a bad candidate for sauce, so we’ve been drying them. And man, are they good dried. Like tomato candy. It&#...

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Salsa Dancing in a World Without Oil

For those of you in the Los Angeles area here’s some events to mark on the calendar: SALSA SALSA What: Salsa Salsa, a Celebration of Love Apples Type: Public Art Event in which we make salsa while dancing to salsa music together. When: Sunday, August 17th, 3 to 7 p.m. Where: Farmlab, 1745 N. Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012 Free to the public SALSA SALSA is a harvest festival inviting the citizens of Los Angeles to come make and taste...

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Roundin’ up the Summer Urban Homesteading Disasters

...sh was still edible, but bland. Moral: winter squash just ain’t space efficient. Next year I’ll tuck it around other plants and trees rather than have it hog up space in my intensively planted veggie beds. Luscious compost tomatoes. Unintentional Gardening I built a cold frame this spring so that I could get a head start on propagating my tomato seedlings. So guess which tomatoes did better: the ones I carefully propagated fr...

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Are Raised Beds a Good Idea?

...remove them soon. If a soil test shows high heavy metal levels I’ll just go with some ornamental/insectary plants.  Above, broom corn (Sorghum bicolor ) doing just fine straight in the ground. A partially sunken bed. Extra points for finding the stinkhorn mushroom. This bed is somewhat of a compromise. I cut the bed in half lengthwise to make it half as tall as it used to be thus getting two beds for the price of one. Then I sun...

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