Compost Rebuttal

Kelly’s secret compost pile. I found out via a blog post last week that Kelly had secretly constructed a compost pile to deal with a surplus of kitchen scraps. She knew I’d be unhappy with this due to my anal retentive approach to composting. So why am I unhappy with this pile? The reason is simple: it’s too small and will never generate enough heat to: Kill weed seeds. Kill human and plant pathogens. Kill root nemat...

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The Vertical Gardens of Los Angeles

Photo by Anne Hars Like Emily Green of the Los Angeles Times I’m a vertical garden skeptic, especially in a dry climate. That being said, artist and master gardener Anne Hars and I found a successful, though unintentional, vertical garden in our neighborhood while walking her dogs yesterday. The plant you see above is growing through a drainage hole (the level of the ground behind the wall is where you see the plant growing). Make...

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Is Peat Moss a Sustainable Resource?

Two very different views on the ethics of using peat moss: one from garden writer Jeff Ball via Garden Rant, Here are the simple facts. Canada has over 270 million acres of peat bogs which produce peat moss. Each year the peat moss industry harvests only 40,000 acres of peat moss mostly for horticultural use. If you do the math that comes to one of every 6,000 acres of peat moss is harvested each year. And here is the cherry on top. P...

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Genetically-Engineered Organism Secretes Diesel

Image © Joule Unlimited, Inc. It sounds like science fiction but according to an article by Jay Lindsay of the Associated Press, A Massachusetts company has a patent on a genetically modified organism that secretes diesel fuel from water, sun and CO2 inputs. Here’s an excerpt: Joule claims, for instance, that its cyanobacterium can produce 15,000 gallons of diesel fuel per acre annually, over four times more than the most efficient alg...

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Borage: It’s what’s for dinner

image courtesy of wikimedia commons Our friend Milli (Master Gardener of the Milagro Allegro community garden) stopped by today to pick up some sourdough starter. On seeing our back yard swamped abundant with borage (Borago officinalis), she mentioned that she’s been really digging borage tacos lately. This was very exciting news to us, because we’d never eaten our borage leaves–only the flowers. So tonight I went out...

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Juicing Cane

At Camp Ramshackle, the plants that thrive are the ones that don’t require too much attention. Our sugar cane, started as a six inch start, is case and point. I harvested a stalk to add to lemonade. I first removed the thick tough skin. Once the skin was peeled, I sliced the cane stalks in half. Resident child labor juiced the stalks. Despite the mechanical help of the juicer it was an arduous task. Our yield was meager a...

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Advances in Gardening Series: We’re maturing

November–seedlings new planted January–all the foliage is in End of February–the flowers really start to pop Stuff grows. You just gotta remember to plant it! A quick photo update on progress for the Phan of Pharmacy and the Hippie Heart, mostly for our own record keeping. Maybe it will inspire those of you surrounded by rain or snow with dreams of your own spring planting. Back in November, I clear...

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Rearranging the yard, yet again!

Backyard redesign, in progress. Mrs. Homegrown here: This is all my fault. Last fall we re-did the back yard, but I decided it still needed a few refinements. I feel a little like a sitcom wife who can’t make her mind up about the draperies (cue Erik, the long-suffering husband, moaning in the background)–but we can’t be afraid to fix our mistakes. Perhaps I shouldn’t say mistake. There was nothing wrong with the...

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Lead Update

This week I thought I’d do a series of posts about soil and heavy metals beginning with a few more details about the possible lead contamination situation in our backyard. Two weeks ago Darren Butler, who is teaching a vegetable gardening series at our house, led a class project where we took four samples from different locations in the backyard, mixed them together and sent them off to Wallace Laboratories, a local soil testing lab with...

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A Question About Gophers

Pocket gopher, courtesy of Wikipedia We’re putting together a short vegetable gardening pamphlet and could use some advice, specifically about gophers. Thankfully, we don’t have any experience dealing with them. Something about our neighborhood, either the lead in the soil or the police helicopters, seems to have made gophers extinct here. Standard advice when planting a tree or installing a raised bed in gopher infested a...

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