Can our landscapes model a vibrant future? Not according to the LA DWP.

California is suffering from drought. In Los Angeles, we’ve experienced back to back two of the driest winters on record (winter is our rainy season). Last year’s rainfall total was under 6 inches. The governor has asked California residents to cut their water use by 20%.  Apparently, we’ve only managed to cut it by 5%. There’s a strange sense of unreality about the drought. I think that’s because we’re just...

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Roundup

...red to tolerate the absorption of Roundup—it eliminates all plants that are not GM. Monsanto Inc., the major engineer of GM crops, is also the producer of Roundup. Thus, while Roundup was formulated as a weapon against weeds, it has become a prevalent ingredient in most of our food crops. Three recent studies show that Roundup, which is used by farmers and home gardeners, is not the safe product we have been led to trust. A group of scientists le...

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Mahonia gracilis – Mexican Barberry

s an edible berry. But as usual most other sources don’t comment on the edibility of the fruit. To add to the paucity of information and general confusion, some botanists argue that the family name is incorrect and that it should be called Berberis gracilis. Some sources place it on a deep shade list, while others say it needs dappled sun. We’ll throw it open to all the Homegrown Revolutionaries out there. Do any of you have exper...

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On the Many Frustrations of Gardening: Pierce’s Disease

la fastidiosa) spread by an insect called the sharpshooter. Pierce’s was discovered in 1892 in Anaheim and is basically the reason we no longer have many vineyards in Southern California. Once a vine gets Pierce’s it will die within a few years. You have to admit failure and rip it out, which I plan to do soon. “Wood on new canes matures irregularly, producing patches of green, surrounded by mature brown bark.” To confir...

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A Review of Masanobu Fukuoka’s Sowing Seeds in the Desert

...ed by Chelsea Green. Fukuoka’s writing deals with the tricky practical and spiritual issues involved with our place in nature’s synergistic complexities. To intervene or not to intervene is often the question when it comes to what Fukuoka called his “natural farming” method. Fukuoka councils a humbleness before nature, a cessation of the materialist drive to understand and control. Fukuoka illustrates this approach in a pe...

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How to Keep Skunks Out of the Yard

Skunks love to dig up our vegetables in search of grubs. Our late Doberman used to enjoy late night backyard skunk hunting expeditions which never ended well for him. For years I’ve used bird netting to keep them out of my vegetable beds. The problem with bird netting is that it’s a pain to work with–it catches on things, tangles up, and occasionally traps a bird. I hate the stuff. It took me 16 years to realize that I could ex...

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How To Design a Garden Step I: Identifying Goals

s space for native plants areas that are semi-wild and not often visited  space for the composting Think and meditate on your goals before drawing up a plan.  And for those of us in the urban homesteading movement, I think it’s important to measure productivity in more ways than just the amount of food you get from your yard.  How will the garden provide peace and well being? Educational opportunities? Ways to commune with nature? Some g...

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Home cooking advice?

Our talk about the perils of added sugar this past week has reinforced to me how very important it is to cook at home, from scratch. It’s important for so many reasons, and big reasons, too. To name just a few, it’s good for our health, it’s good for the environment, it makes us civilized, it teaches kids what real food tastes like, it reinforces cultural traditions and forges bonds between family and friends. Sometimes, thoug...

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Plants: When to Hold Them, When to Fold Them

One of the most difficult lessons to learn about gardens is that they are not permanent. As Heraclitus says, “all things are flowing.” The best gardeners I know don’t suffer the attachments to plants that I do. They are much more ruthless. If a tree is in the wrong place it gets cut down. If two plants are too close together, one gets ripped out. What Pierce’s disease looks like. I’m trying to get the hang...

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Root Knot Nematodes, Meliodogyne spp.

nds of nematodes and not all are garden pests. However, the root knot nematode is a very annoying pest indeed. Above ground, plants are stunted. Below ground, the little guys are sucking on the plant’s roots and robbing it of nutrients. This weakens the overall root system, starves the plant and allows entry points for fungus and disease. Bad stuff. I have had plants that mysteriously won’t grow. No amount of fertilizer, water or sunl...

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