Accidental Garden Design: Pomegranate and Prickly Pear

...ited I didn’t get that gene, unfortunately. But at least a garden can sometimes put on a good show despite the gardener’s lack of design sense. Above, the view out our front window of our pomegranate tree (Punica granatum ‘Wondeful’) against our overgrown prickly pear cactus (Opuntia ficus-indica). These two plants have a lot in common. They both produce abundant and nutritious food in a dry climate with little or no atte...

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The Miraculous Lavender

...appen, 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, which are getting no irrigation. There’s no plumbing beneath the staircase, either. Yet the l...

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Nopales Season

...wn off so many leaves that a neighbor dropped by last week to ask for some. We filled a bag for her and declined the dollar she offered us. To cook up our nopales we use a simple recipe found in Delena Tull’s book, Edible and Useful Plants of Texas and the Southwest. First scrape off the spines with a knife and chop a pad (one pad per person). Boil for 10 minutes. Next, put 1/3 cup whole wheat flour, 2/3 cup cornmeal, 1 teaspoon chili powde...

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Stinging Nettles and Cat Allergies

Facebookers have already seen these pics. Kitty, being a fast moving black hole, is very hard to photograph. Mrs. Homegrown here: Sorry this is sort of rambling, but context is everything. Our friend Anne, of the pea-eating-Chihuahua fame, and the chicken-sitting-on-kitten fame, and various other fames, is a frequent animal rescuer. She came over to our house maybe 2 weeks ago with a pet carrier. She said, “Someone dropped this of...

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Picture Sundays: The Backyard in Spring

Thank you Mrs. Homegrown for the amazing planting in our reworked backyard. Version 4.0 of the garden in 16 years? This afternoon I sat down in one of those red chairs and admired the view. We really need to get around to profiling a few of the plants Mrs. H selected. In the meantime here’s a closeup: Now I need to get around to building the garden shed . . ....

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Build a Washing Machine Greywater Surge Tank

After the shower, the next best source for greywater is the washing machine. Constructing what is called a surge tank with a fifty gallon plastic drum is the simplest way to reuse your washing machine waste water. Perfectly good water that would ordinarily just go down the sewer will instead water your plants after first spending a short time in the fifty gallon drum. Temporarily draining your washing machine into a fifty gallon drum has two adv...

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Straw Bale Garden Tour Part I

In this vide we take you into the backyard for a tour of our straw bale garden. We started rotting the bales in late April by adding blood meal. In May we added a balanced fertilizer and started planting the bales. In the video you’ll see the veggies we planted in early June. The soaker hose you see comes from Home Depot. I’m pretty sure it is this stuff. Every other week I add some fish emulsion to a watering can and hand water t...

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Flexible PVC Pipe for Greywater

...on an earlier post about using your washing machine’s greywater in your garden we thought we would revisit the sexy and exciting world of flexible 1″ pvc pipe and other exotic plumbing materials to be found in the isles of your local pool and spa supply shop–the unlikely go-to source for greywater revolutionaries. Flexible pvc pipe is probably the easiest way to run washing machine waste water out to your plants, just like you...

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How to Deal With Thrips on Stone Fruit

...wer thrip (Frankliniella occidentalis), was noshing on our nectarines. Thrips damage the fruit when it is small. The scars enlarge as the fruit matures. How do you manage thrips? UC Davis notes: Western flower thrips overwinter as adults in weeds, grasses, alfalfa, and other hosts, either in the orchard floor or nearby. In early spring, if overwintering sites are disturbed or dry up, thrips migrate to flowering trees and plants and deposit eggs i...

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Cat Litter Compost, Installment #3

...ard-to-access–and hot!–side yard. This meant I never wanted to tend it, and when I forced myself out there, I was pretty unhappy. There wasn’t even enough room to wield a shovel comfortably. 2) A big pile is a good pile. While I made this work in a 50 gallon drum, the best compost comes from a bin which is about 1 cubic meter/yard in size. Smaller bins just don’t heat up sufficiently, and are invariably pokey and hard to w...

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