Borage (Borago officinalis)

...ker is probably a corruption of the Andalusian Arabic abu buraq or “father of sweat”, a reference to it’s diaphoretic qualities1. Both the leaves and the blue flowers (sometimes white flowers) are edible and have a refreshing cucumber like taste. Borage is an annual herb that we plant in the late fall here in Los Angeles for an early spring bloom, but in most other parts of North America you’ll plant it in the spring after...

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Greywater Workshop at Good Magazine

We’ll be doing a greywater workshop at Good Magazine this Wednesday May 27th from 7 to 9 p.m. Directions and RSVP info are here. We’re going to focus on what I consider to be the easiest way to reuse your greywater: hacking your washing machine. We’ll take a look at a couple of approaches including our surge tank, pictured above, which we just got around to elevating with scrap lumber to get a gravity assist. We’ll also...

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The End of California Citrus?

...citrus psylid is big trouble! When I spotted state agriculture agents on our street I knew something was wrong. It turns out that a specimen of the dreaded Asian citrus psylid showed up in our neighborhood. The Asian citrus psylid is not a problem in itself, but carries an incurable bacterial disease called huanglongbing (HLB). HLB, first reported in Asia in 1919, renders citrus fruit inedible and eventually kills the tree. Parts of Africa, Asia...

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Thyrsus: the new hipster accessory

...Censorship of these ancient fertility symbols is related in my mind to modern fears of the fecundity of nature. It’s these fears that lead landlords to pour copious amounts of concrete and gravel to smother every living thing. It’s what causes neighbors to launch irrational tree and bush killing rampages over the property line lest any bit of foliage fall and mar their precious SUVs. As rampaging forest fires send Vesuvian plumes of...

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California Agriculture Journal Online

The University of California has put 63 years worth of its journal California Agriculture online for convenient downloading at californiaagriculture.ucanr.org. There’s plenty of detailed (peer reviewed!) nuggets for the home gardener between the pages of this scientific journal. Make sure to check out the article and video of UC Berkeley entomologist Gordon Frankie explaining what kinds of plants are best for attracting bees in your urban...

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Fish Don’t Fart

...the benefits of fish over methane generating cattle. We skipped over aquaponics in our book since we considered it too expensive and complicated for most people. But perhaps we should give it closer consideration. Aquaponics is profiled in the pioneering urban homesteading book, The Integral Urban House: Self Reliant Living in the City and Scott Kellogg and Stacy Pettigrew’s book Toolbox for Sustainable City Living: A do-it-Ourselves Guide...

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Introducing Lora Hall

Please put your hands together and welcome Homegrown Evolution guest blogger Lora Hall. Lora is a neighbor, owns Los Angeles’ largest hen, Southern California’s largest rhubarb plant and is currently finishing a graduate degree at Cal Poly Pomona. Her master’s work involves the use of vermicomposting to break down a variety of materials (maybe we can get her to explain this!). You can meet Lora in person and pick up some seed...

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Saturday Linkages: Controversy Edition

Gardening Homegrown polenta? Floriani corn plants deliver ‘amazing flavor’ http://fw.to/2ju3QtE The High Line in Person by Susan Harris http://gardenrant.com/2013/08/the-high-line-in-person.html?utm_source=feedly … Knocked Out—and not in a good way by James Roush http://gardenrant.com/2013/08/knocked-out-and-not-in-a-good-way.html?utm_source=feedly … Hackin’ Open Tech Forever: permaculture/open tech startu...

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Real Estate Bubble Bananas

...d 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 for paring with the outflow of a shower or laundry machine. Fruit score: 10 to the squirrels 2 to the people I’m sorry to say that I don’t know what variety this banana tree is, but June is a good month to plant bananas here in Southern California. Figuring out when to harvest bananas is tricky. So...

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Tips on Composting from Will Bakx of Sonoma Compost

...Temperature/Turning Sheet (pdf) to keep track of the temperature of the pile. If the pile dips below 135ºF, turn it. If it doesn’t get up to temperature, add more nitrogen containing materials. If it gets above 163ºF, add more carbon containing materials. After the initial turnings just let it sit unless you have to turn to add moisture. Bakx believes that you should turn as little as possible, just enough to achieve that first period of 15...

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