How to Keep Skunks Out of the Yard

...table. Working with skunks Once plants are well established skunks aren’t much of a problem. Where I don’t want to have to take all these preventative measures (such as the front yard) I’ve got fruit trees, native plants and cardoons–things skunks can’t uproot. The two vegetable beds I have in the front yard have to be encased in bird netting since there’s no way to fence in the entire front yard (it’s a...

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Spreadin’ Seed

ay okra, cosmos, and mystery seeds from my mom’s Greek neighbor. A seed swap makes a great excuse for a party and a great time was had by all. The Neighbors My mom’s elderly neighbor, who spends each summer in his native Greece, loves to garden and grows, among many other things, at least four different kinds of arugula, which he calls, “the Greek Viagra”. He gave us seeds for two different arugulas, some basil from the no...

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Rain- The Best Gift of All

...r straight to the street where it goes to the ocean. It would be better to have that water sink back into the earth. So I want to redirect that water into a detention basin instead. It will be a small depression planted with native plants adapted to our weather patterns. More water for me, less water wasted! Directing rainwater from your roof into the landscape is often simpler and lower in cost that harvesting in a barrel or cistern. The sm...

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Mystery Weed Identified: Geranium Molle

A number of Root Simple readers identified a plant that springs up in our backyard every winter. It’s Geranium molle. Readily pollinated by hymenoptera, Geranium molle has two popular names: Dovefoot Geranium and Awnless Geranium. Native to the Mediterranean, it was introduced to North America. The Plants for a Future database has a reference to the use of Geranium molle on wounds (Glossary of Indian Medicinal Plants). Other than that, it...

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Mandrake!

...vive cultivation of the plant. This summer season we’re surrounded by nightshade plants, tomatoes, ground cherries and eggplant. These common nightshade family members, as well as mandrake and the datura that the local Native Americans used for there spirit journeys, have a strange relationship to human culture, at once edible, sometimes poisonous, sometimes psychotropic. We think we can almost hear them talk....

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The Three Sisters

...eds we installed. In fact one of our neighbors has planted her own parkway vegetable garden just down the street. Since it was so late (July) we decided to cultivate heat tolerant vegetables and upped the ante by planting the Native American three sisters–corn, beans and squash. The three sisters are textbook permaculture, the idea being that the beans nitrogenate the soil and climb up the corn while the squash provides mulch. All plants ar...

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Advantages and Disadvantages of Raised Bed Vegetable Gardening

...an unsustainable product. Unfortunately, all those bags have to be hauled up thirty steps. As a whole, what we’ve done with our garden is a compromise. Most of the yard is permaculturish: lots of small fruit trees, some native plants, ornamental flowering plants for the wildlife and a whole lot of mulch. But I like to have a few Italian veggies so we’ve got five small raised beds. Did I leave anything off this list of raised bed pros...

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A Review of Masanobu Fukuoka’s Sowing Seeds in the Desert

...these areas with seed pellets (a how-to for making seed pellets is included in an appendix). And the content of those seed balls? Whatever will re-vegetate the landscape most effectively regardless of whether those plants are native or not in order to achieve what Fukuoka calls a “second Genesis.” As he puts it, I would mix the seeds of all plants–forest trees, fruit trees, perennials, vegetables, grasses and legumes–as we...

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Least Favorite Plant: Yellow Oleander (Thevetia peruviana)

thousands of cases each year, with a case fatality rate of at least 10%. Around 40% require specialised management and are transferred from secondary hospitals across the north to the Institute of Cardiology in Colombo” Native to central and south America Thevetia peruviana made its way to Sri Lanka only recently, with the suicides starting up within the last 25 years, according to an article in Bio-Medicine. Apparently news accounts of sui...

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Warning: This Blog is Based in a Mediterranean Climate

A fresco from Pompeii depicting many familiar plants. I’ve been meaning to do this for a long time: write up a sort of this-blog-is-in-a-Mediterranean-climate disclaimer. There’s a certain amount of awkwardness when discussing vegetable gardening in the Northern Hemisphere’s winter months. I imagine that most of the readers of this blog are either taking some time off from gardening or gardening under a hoop house. But for us h...

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