Root Knot Nematodes, Meliodogyne spp.

...odes 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 sunlight seems t...

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Plants: When to Hold Them, When to Fold Them

...itus 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 of this lack of attachment. This fall I get to rip out a grape vine that has graced our entrance ar...

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Yucca!

...ca plant represets cleanliness and played an important part in many ceremonies. Yucca is one of those miraculous plants that everyone who has a patch of earth under their control should consider planting, particularly if you live in the Southern California area. SurviveLA likes plants that do not require supplemental irrigation and have multiple uses and the yucca plant, in addition to making rope, can also be used for basket weaving, as a deterg...

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Advances in Gardening Series: Thoughts on The Fan, and the problems of overabudance

...arlier photos of The Fan here. Mrs. Homegrown here: Last fall we dug up a sort of feral herb bed and replaced it with a more formal, three-part bed that I call The Fan. The idea is to use this bed to plant annual herbs and flowers. While some of these plants are medicinal, it is also a bed dedicated more to aesthetics than the rest of our garden, so it’s also a place where I particularly want to plant flowers and plants of strong visual...

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Making Beer in Plain Language

...comparative literature Judith Butler via the Bad Writing Contest Huh? At least the terminology surrounding beer making ain’t that obtuse, but it certainly could use some simplification. For novice home brewers, such as us here at Homegrown Evolution, the terminology creates an unnecessary barrier as impenetrable as a graduate school seminar in the humanities. Let’s see, there’s a mash, a mash tun, a wort, some sparging, maltin...

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Making Tofu From Scratch at the Institute of Domestic Technology

...ute of Domestic Technology, founded by our friend Joseph Shuldiner. The IDT is not your usual cooking school and its offerings are difficult to define succinctly. If I had to take a stab at explaining what the IDT does it would be that it teaches things worth doing from scratch that most people haven’t attempted since the pre-Betty Crocker era: cheesemaking, home coffee roasting, bacon curing, bread baking, jam and exotic projects like maki...

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More on our gardening disasters

...the standard edibles, we should plant some unusual things this spring, stuff we’ve never grown before, or plants that attract me for some idiosyncratic reason. Fun plants, in other words. Above, I re-posted that picture of the heart-shaped flax bed I created planted back in 2011. Planting a few square feet of flax was not the most practical act in the world, but it was fun. I’d never seen flax growing before, and I wanted to get to k...

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Mullein (Verbascum thapsus)

...g 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 medicinal uses, almost too many to list. Most commonly used for respiratory problems, it also makes both green and yellow dyes and doubles as a fish poison! Tradition holds that it also wards off...

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Indigo 101

...igo dye. If you’re shopping for indigo dye you’ll probably see either Indigofera tictorium, which is native to India, or Indigofera suffruticosa, which is native to Mexico and South America. • You can grow your own indigo (any seeds you buy labeled as Indigo will probably be tictorium or suffructicosa). Indigofera is a pretty plant from the legume family. That family is valuable in the garden because it draws nitrogen into the soil. I...

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Healing the yard with a huge compost pile

...has grown to be about 12 feet wide and 2 feet deep. This pit is going to be our new planting area, but obviously it needs to be filled in. Instead of buying imported soil, we’re going to grow soil by composting on a grand scale. We’re going to compost right in the pit and fill it up bit by bit. When it’s done, we’ll have a big round area where it will probably be safe enough to plant food crops. Might the plants suck some...

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