How Not to Grow Potatoes

mazingly after stewing in the summer heat for at least a month we still had a meager harvest. And speaking of heat, we suspect that potatoes may do better here in Southern California in the winter and we’re going to try it again soon–this time with seed potatoes. If any of you loyal readers have any ‘tater growing experiences please share them with us. And don’t worry, we haven’t read Benton’s book and won̵...

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Nopales Season

It’s nopales (the pads of the prickly pear cactus for you Yankees) season at the Homegrown Evolution compound. Our prickly pear has thrown 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...

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Tree Spinach – Chenopodium giganteum

For most of the country planting time is far off but for us, here in the Homegrown Revolution compound in Mediterranean Los Angeles, it’s time to start the winter garden. The billowing clouds of apocalyptic smoke from the fires ravaging the suburban fringes of our disaster prone megalopolis are the only thing that keeps us inside today, giving us time to contemplate one of the seed packets that has crossed our desk, Chenopodium giganteum a...

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Broadleaf Plantain

cooked. The seeds can also be eaten either raw or roasted, though we should note that they have a laxative effect (nothin’ wrong with that!). The plant can also be used to treat wounds, by soaking the plant and applying it to the injured area. A tea can be made of the leaves that will treat diarrhea. Broadleaf plantain was apparently one of the first so-called “weeds” introduced to the New World by the Europeans, which is why th...

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Vertical Vegetables

ne. The New York Times did some critical reporting on the subject of vertical garden systems in a recent article, “Gardens That Grow on Walls.” For certain plants vertical growing might work. I haven’t tried it, but this DIY vertical succulent garden in Sunset Magazine certainly is striking. But vegetables? Their roots need space and you’d need to do a lot of watering to keep a vertical vegetable wall happy. But growing v...

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Rearranging the yard, yet again!

where we garden year round and a bed can cycle through 4 crops a year. We’ll still have dedicated annual beds, but I’m going to reassign some of the beds formerly given over to annuals to useful/edible perennials. 3) Experimentation. Of late we’re very intrigued with the idea of transitioning to a natural form of gardening that is hands-off—rather like our Backwards Beekeeping methodology. We’re greatly influenced b...

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Lead Update

that “plant available” is different than the total amount of lead in the soil. The total amount would be about ten times higher or 1,120 ppm. According to the University of Minnesota Extension Service, Generally, it has been considered safe to use garden produce grown in soils with total lead levels less than 300 ppm. The risk of lead poisoning through the food chain increases as the soil lead level rises above this concentrati...

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Lead Update

Our post about a high soil lead level needs an update. I asked my doctor do a blood test to check for lead levels since we’ve eaten plants grown in the backyard and done a whole lot of digging over the past 13 years. The good news is that no lead showed up in my blood. In the interest of “testing the testers,” I took one soil sample and split it in three, sending one sample to Wallace Labs, one to the University of Massachuse...

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Derek Jarman’s Garden

Photo by angusf Avant-garde filmmaker Derek Jarman spent the last years of his life, after an HIV diagnosis, tending a bleak, wind-swept patch of land opposite a nuclear power plant on the southern coast of England. With just a few hardy plants and some scavenged pieces of wood he put together a stunning garden. He wrote a book about it called, simply, Derek Jarman’s Garden. You can also view a flikr photo set here. Photo b...

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So-So Tomatoes Become Excellent When Dried

As we reported earlier, we weren’t thrilled with our cherry tomato choice this summer. They were just plain dull. They were also rather 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...

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