More on our gardening disasters

We need to put the heart back into our garden. (Our Heart of Flax from way back in 2011) I thought I’d chime in on the subject of this year’s garden failures. Before I do, I’d like to thank you all for your kind advice and commiseration that you left on Erik’s post. First, I will agree that it really, truly has been a terrible year in the garden. Sometimes Erik gets a little melodramatic when it comes to the crop failure...

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Mullein (Verbascum thapsus)

Every time we visit the nice folks at Petaluma Urban Homestead they send us home with some strange plant. Thanks to PUH, who are busy actually doing things as opposed to blogging about doing things, we now have a beautiful flowering mullein plant (Verbascum thapsus). Verbascum thapsus is one of those plants that most people think of as a weed. Native to Europe and Asia, Verbascum thapsus was introduced to North America because of its many medic...

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Healing the yard with a huge compost pile

The new compost pile is covered with a tarp to keep moisture in. Eventually it will fill this whole space. In the background you can see our leftover adobe bricks. So–our regular readers will know that we have high levels of lead in our back yard soil. We’re dealing with this by filling most of our yard with mulch and perennial natives to lock down the soil (lead laden dust is bad) and to diversify the local ecosystem. Mea...

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Indigo 101

...s and notes which I hope will help other indigo beginners sort things out. Here’s a stack of stuff he’s working on : And here’s some silk he dyed with bougainvillaea flowers. The two tone effect is just how it happened to dye. You rock, Graham!: But back to the indigo. Indigo seedlings on Graham’s front step. A hint from Graham: to ensure germination, scarify the seed with sand paper and soak overnight before plan...

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Deadly Nightshade vs. Black Nightshade

...na. One must be careful when using the popular names for plants! Solanum nigrum To add to the confusion, Solanum nigrum is eaten and used as animal fodder all over the world, though many sources continue to describe it as toxic. As with all members of the Solanum family there’s still a great deal of superstition when it comes to toxicity. Remember that many Europeans considered tomatoes to be poisonous well into the 18th century....

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Resilient Gardens

The other day I was reading a message board where people from all over were talking about how their gardens had done this year. Most of them had trouble, and most of them blamed the strange weather. Now, of course, we can’t know the weather was truly to blame in each and every failure–but temperature shifts, unseasonable heat and cool do play havoc in the garden.  It got me to thinking about climate change and how gardeners mi...

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Saturday Linkages: Talking Plants, Microbes, Groundcovers, Shaving Rituals

Maybe Prince Charles was right after all: British scientists reveal plants really do talk http://bit.ly/Lr30hj Finally, A Map Of All The Microbes On Your Body http://n.pr/M2V5FQ   Groundcovers for gaps: http://ow.ly/1NEm0w Unique Shaving & Grooming Rituals from History and Around the World | The Art of Manliness http://artofmanliness.com/2012/06/07/shaving-rituals/ Handlebar Bicycle Hanger Suspends Your Ride from the Wall | Designs &...

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Favorite Plants- New Zealand Spinach

New Zealand Spinach, Tetragonia tetragonioides. When the lettuce wilts in the heat, caterpillars and aphids destroy the kale and your swiss chard is plagued by powdery mildew…. there is New Zealand spinach. It is not a true spinach but is in a genus all its own. The leaves are triangular in shape, and very succulent. They grow on long, rambling stalks. The seeds are triangular as well and the plant will reseed if you let it. It tends to...

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Saturday Linkages: Beer Caps n’ Plants

Beer cap floor via Dude Craft. DIY Beer Cap Bathroom Floor http://www.dudecraft.com/2013/04/beer-cap-bathroom-floor.html … Lecture on stone-wall building, with miniature stone wall built: http://boingboing.net/2013/04/02/lecture-on-stone-wall-building.html … Plants! Growing Food in a Hotter, Drier Land http://j.mp/12r218m Transmitted light photos of houseplants: http://plantsarethestrangestpeople.blogspot.com/2013/04/exceptionally-pretty-pictu...

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Rain Barrels

Constructing a cistern large enough to supply potable indoor water is an ambitious project involving pumps, filters, UV purifiers, and very large and expensive tanks. We don’t want to discourage anyone from making an attempt at it, but for most urban homesteaders it won’t be economical or practical given the space requirements and weight of thousands of gallons of stored water. Thankfully, there are simpler strategies for harvesting...

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