Roundin’ up the Summer Urban Homesteading Disasters

...by racoons and the other that never fully matured before the vine crapped out. The immature squash 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 propag...

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Greywater Workshops in Los Angeles

...s easy to install in most home applications. This is a hands-on class, participants will be learning about and participating in the construction of a real greywater system. The class will cover: Greywater principles, the best plants to water with greywater, common pitfalls and how to avoid them, and how to install a system that is legal under the new California code. (for Santa Monica residents only) Design and install your own laundry to landsca...

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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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Advances in Gardening Series: A Garlic Mystery

  One of the new 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’...

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Stinging Nettles and Cat Allergies

...incredibly strong Strain to a new jar Drink it iced, room temp or gently reheated. Try to drink that quart over the course of the day. Don’t keep it around, because it will lose its potency after a day. Pour it on your plants and make a fresh batch. Kitten facts for those interested: Kitten is genderless for now. We took he/she to the vet, and the vet was genuinely puzzled. Tricky kitty! We have to wait for more certainty. Kitten is abou...

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Compost Rebuttal

...ens. Kill root nematodes. Don’t just believe me, listen to soil scientist Dr. Elaine Ingham in this youtube video: Ingham’s work is controversial, but I believe time will prove her ideas correct. To grow fussy plants like vegetables we need to introduce beneficial microorganisms and fungi into the soil via well made compost. To make that compost we need to monitor the pile’s temperature carefully (it should be between 55ºC a...

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The Vertical Gardens of Los Angeles

...see above is growing through a drainage hole (the level of the ground behind the wall is where you see the plant growing). Makes me wonder if this particular design could be done on purpose, given the appropriate context. The plants, in this hypothetical drainage hole garden, could act as biofilters, absorbing excess nutrients and toxins. Slap a trademark on it, form a non-profit and Bob’s your uncle. Extra points to the person who can i.d...

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Is Peat Moss a Sustainable Resource?

...s improved but CO2 continues to be released by high levels of bacterial respiration, which represents the decomposition of mulch and other organic matter. It takes a number of years for the photosynthetic rate of new peatland plants to outpace the respiratory rate: until this happens, even restored peatlands represent a net loss of carbon to the atmosphere and thus contribute to greenhouse gas production. Chalker-Scott goes on to list a number o...

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Genetically-Engineered Organism Secretes Diesel

...n produce 15,000 gallons of diesel fuel per acre annually, over four times more than the most efficient algal process for making fuel. And they say they can do it at $30 a barrel. Normally I am opposed to genetically modified plants but this would appear to be a contained situation. Would it be a good thing for the planet if we had unlimited diesel fuel? I would guess that the CO2 would be net neutral whatever escapes the exhaust pipe would have...

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