Three Front Yard Vegetable Gardens

...rogress on this one. In this front yard, the lawn has been replaced with drought tolerant perennial shrubs and grasses arranged around gravel paths. It’s very pretty. I like that the landscaper included some artichoke plants in the mix, proving that gardens can be edible and stylish. Many people don’t know that artichokes open into huge, striking purple flowers if you don’t harvest them for food–so it’s win/win eit...

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Bleach Alternatives for Disinfecting Pruning Shears

Apples with fire blight: one reason you should disinfect pruning sheers. Photo by Peggy Greb Neighbor Anne tipped me off to an interesting fact sheet on disinfecting pruning sheers by Dr. Linda Chalker-Scott, a horticulture professor at Washington State University. I’ve been using bleach which, it turns out, is not the best choice. Bleach is both toxic to humans and to plants as well. It also stains clothes and damages tools. Chal...

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Introducing Nancy Klehm With Tips on Growing Jerusalem Artichokes

...ates: http://www.usna.usda.gov/Hardzone/ushzmap.html. In the Midwest, where winter is a serious endeavor, a zone 5 growing season’s frost dates are May 15 and Nov 1, meaning that is the bracket for growing more tender annual plants such as basil, tomatoes, melons, etc. We have had a mild winter and a very early Spring this year – almost a month ahead according to any record. As a true farmer said: ‘This is the warmest April on record.’ And it wa...

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Book Review: The New Sunset Western Garden Book

...ficantly more coverage of edibles, including a vegetable planting schedule as well as nice photographs of veggies worked into ornamental landscaping schemes.  One of the improvements I’m most pleased to see are lists of plants for attracting bees, butterflies, birds and beneficial insects. And Hawaii, Alaska southern British Columbia and Alberta residents will be happy to find their states and provinces included.  I also find Sunset’s...

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Kelly’s Shibori Challenge

...ing.  As I execute this plan, I’ll post some more and so hopefully will share some useful information with you along the way, The plan is in three parts: Part the First: I’m going to make natural dyes using common plants like red cabbage and sour grass, following the instructions in The Handbook of Natural Plant Dyes: Personalize Your Craft with Organic Colors from Acorns, Blackberries, Coffee, and Other Everyday Ingredients by Sasha...

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Of Stickers and Boomers

...think us urban and suburbanites should think his plea has nothing to do with us.  I think we can develop strong affection for our little yards. We can nurture the soil and teeming life there, making our commitment to all the plants and creatures in our care. We can also develop strong affection for and commitment to our communities and neighborhoods. If we do not have land of our own, we can care for that which we are temporarily living on, and...

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Picture Sundays: Giant Crops of the Future

From Paleofuture, some 20th century notions about the factory farms of the future, from Arthur Radebaugh’s Sunday comic strip “Closer Than We Think” COLOSSAL CROPS — In addition to dire threats of destruction, the atomic age has also produced many brighter horizons for mankind’s future. One such happy prospect is the use of radiation to create more uniform and dependable crops that will end famine everywhere in the world. Gamma ray fi...

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Disconnect to Reconnect: Ditching the “Flushie” for a Composting Toilet

...read: very experienced) composter of other organic waste and have the place to do so that will not create a nuisance (aka SMELL) for your neighbors or family. Waste should not foul potable aka drinkable water. Waste treatment plants use chemical and loads of energy (gas and electricity). Electricity by the way, depending how it is generated also uses large amounts of fresh water. Greywatering your house is a much more enjoyable way to stretch int...

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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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Accidental Garden Design: Pomegranate and Prickly Pear

Can good garden design be taught or is it something you’re born with? If it’s inherited I didn’t get that gene, unfortunately. But at least a garden can sometimes put on a good show despite the gardener’s lack of design sense. Above, the view out our front window of our pomegranate tree (Punica granatum ‘Wondeful’) against our overgrown prickly pear cactus (Opuntia ficus-indica). These two plants have a lot...

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