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...

Continue reading…

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,...

Continue reading…

Apartment Parking Lot Gardening in East Hollywood

...re Foot Gardening Book by Mel Bartholomew I built two 5 ft. x 1 ft. square foot garden boxes from inexpensive ($ 2.15) 1 x 6  x 6 ft. cedar fence boards bought from Home Depot. I waterproofed them by sealing the insides with with pure tung oil from Jill’s paint in Atwater. Each planter gives me 5,  12 x 12 inch sq. ft. spaces for growing. These boxes take up a small amount of space and fit easily in the area  ( about 2...

Continue reading…

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...

Continue reading…

Waiting for our tomatoes/Tomatoland

...hem off everything I was fed. In retrospect, I don’t blame my young self–they were horrible. Believe it or not,  I didn’t know what a real tomato tasted like until I was 20 or so, not until an aggressive fruit vendor foisted a slice of heirloom tomato on me and I was too polite not to eat it in front of him. The flavor exploded in my mouth. It was–truly–a life changing revelation. I wonder if more people grew up eati...

Continue reading…

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...

Continue reading…

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&#...

Continue reading…

Salsa Dancing in a World Without Oil

...Sept. 14, 6pm – Movie “The End of Suburbia” followed by community discussion Saturday, Sept. 20, 9am-5pm – “Designing the Transition” – a full day conference exploring the Transition concept Thursday, Sept 25, 7-9pm – Peak Oil Community Discussion – the first followup event to the Transition conference Thursday, October 23, 7-9pm – “Power Down” Location, details and regi...

Continue reading…

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...

Continue reading…

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...

Continue reading…