Our Winter Vegetable Garden

...year I addressed that grievance. Beets “Bietolo da Orto Egitto Migliorata” A repeat from last year, these are tasty red beets. Buck’s horn plantain also known as “Erba Stella” An edible weed. Stinging nettles One of my favorite plants. It’s begun to reseed itself in the yard. Useful as a tea and a green. For more information on when to plant vegetables in Southern California, see this handy chart. And let us k...

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Advances in Gardening Series: We’re maturing

...rrounded by rain or snow with dreams of your own spring planting. Back in November, I cleared ground and planted the Phan/Fan with medicinal seedlings. See some of that history here. Now we’re at the end of February, and the Calendula and chamomile plants are mature. The Calendula (the yellow flowers in the pic) is giving off lots of blossoms, the chamomile–not so much. That’s garlic growing on the far right. It’s beginnin...

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Self-Irrigating Gutter Update

...strawberries, I believe, have a fungal disease called red stele (Phytophthora fragariae) which came either from the soil that came with the starts or from the planting mix I used. If I want to grow strawberries again I’m going to have to thoroughly disinfect the gutters. The SIG is hooked up to a 55 gallon rain barrel. Unfortunately the lower gutter leaked around 50 gallons of stored rainwater down into the garage below...

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Flexible PVC Pipe for Greywater

...on an earlier post about using your washing machine’s greywater in your garden we thought we would revisit the sexy and exciting world of flexible 1″ pvc pipe and other exotic plumbing materials to be found in the isles of your local pool and spa supply shop–the unlikely go-to source for greywater revolutionaries. Flexible pvc pipe is probably the easiest way to run washing machine waste water out to your plants, just like you...

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Advances in Gardening: The Trough of Garlic

..., every new bed helps. Even small ones. This is one reason we squeezed this one out of our patio. Note that like The Fan, The Trough is also covered with hoops and netting to keep skunks and squirrels (and chickens) out until the plants get established. Grow Your Own! If you haven’t grown garlic, it’s super easy. Just break up a head of garlic and plant the individual cloves pointy end up under an inch or so of soil, about six inches...

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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

...ong 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 about 5 weeks old....

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Decomposed Granite as Mulch: A very bad idea

...with DG. They then punch some holes in the DG/plastic and pop in succulents and maybe a rosemary bush or two. By the time the yard becomes a sad, desertified tangle of unhappy succulents and crabgrass, the flippers are long gone. I’ve got a big issue with DG as mulch. In order for DG to look good, it’s got to be compacted and soil compaction is really bad for plants, including hardy natives and succulents. It stifles the life of the s...

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In the Gutter

...ble surface that prevents rainwater from going where it should go–to our edible landscape. We can minimize the surface area by living in as small a house as possible and trying to maximize open ground. At our own compound we’ve even gone so far as to remove some previous resident’s bad addition and reduce the footprint of our house. So called green roofs, which have soil and plants growing on them our an option for the wealthy, but at prese...

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How to Deal With Thrips on Stone Fruit

...wer thrip (Frankliniella occidentalis), was noshing on our nectarines. Thrips damage the fruit when it is small. The scars enlarge as the fruit matures. How do you manage thrips? UC Davis notes: Western flower thrips overwinter as adults in weeds, grasses, alfalfa, and other hosts, either in the orchard floor or nearby. In early spring, if overwintering sites are disturbed or dry up, thrips migrate to flowering trees and plants and deposit eggs i...

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