Everlasting Flower for Colds

...e small, about the size of a buttons on a shirt collar. Last summer I was happy to be able to take a class on native plant use taught by Cecilia Garcia and James Adams, co-authors of Healing with Medicinal Plants of the West. One of the many things I learned in this class was that the flowers of California Pearly Everlasting, Gnaphalium californicum, aka cudweed aka rabbit tobacco, are supposed to be good for colds. I’ve not had a chanc...

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Healing the yard with a huge compost pile

...es. Since the lead scare we’ve pulled up those beds. They were semi-sunken beds, the soil in them a mix of native soil, compost and imported soil. When you have contaminated soil yet want to grow food, the easiest solution is to build extra deep raised beds and fill them with imported soil (soil which has, hopefully, been tested for lead!). Some people put plastic sheeting or rock barriers between the imported soil or native soil, which in...

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Picture Sundays: Toyon in Bloom

Our young Toyon (Heteromeles arbutifolia) had its first bloom this year. What’s so great about Toyon? Native bees and honeybees love it.  UC Santa Cruz researchers found that Toyon is one of the best plants for attracting beneficial insects.  Native Americans dried the red berries for use as food. It doesn’t need much water. It will grow as far north as Southern England. Get one for your food forest! ...

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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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Arundo dorax

My native Los Angeles and Houston, where Homegrown Evolution is in temporary residence, have a lot in common. Both are real cities, unlike the Disneyfied theme parks that New York and San Francisco have become. Both Houston and Los Angeles have lots of heavy industry and working ports. Visit the docks in Manhattan or San Francisco and you’ll find expensive restaurants and boutiques. Like the port of Los Angeles, along Houston’s Bayou...

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Dudley brittonii “Giant Chalk Dudleya”

..., it’s around 18 inches across. Annie’s does mail order and we’ve had a lot of luck with their plants. I visited the nursery on a blogger junket last year and was very impressed with the variety and quality of the seedlings–no root bound plants! Now I’ve got to remind myself that a garden needs to be viewed from an overall design perspective, not as collection of pretty plants. Maybe there’s a place for Dudley...

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Gardening Tip: Senecent Seedlings

...kipedia). I believe I’m experiencing it right now. What we’re here to warn you about today is buying plants which are old before their time. Seedlings which are senescent. What are senescent seedlings? Basically, these are seedlings whose roots have met the bottom of their container.  See, plants have their own intelligence and follow their own internal clocks. If, for instance, a little tomato seedling spends enough time in a tiny po...

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Gardening Mistake #12: The Annual That Ate Your Backyard!

...owing annuals, whether they be volunteers or valued vegetables, to overrun the garden and smother your perennial plants. This happens to us more than we’d care to admit. It’s really easy to miss. In the spring, you’re so happy to see lush growth erupting all over your yard, that you’re not looking at it with a critical eye. Also, plants are sneaky. One day they’re nowhere near that little sage seedling you planted, t...

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Compost and Pharmaceuticals

...of pharmaceuticals in the compost made from sewage sludge may easily lead to the elevated concentrations in food plants, if the compost is used as a fertilizer. A slightly contradictory Estonian study concluded: In the current study, uptake of ciprofloxacin, norfloxacin, ofloxacin, sulfadimethoxine and sulfamethoxazole was demonstrated in lettuce. The uptake of fluoroquinolones and sulfonamides by plants like lettuce does not seem to be a major h...

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Reseeding Vegetables for the Warm Season

...on its own. I doubt the stinging nettle or nasturtium will hang on for long (it’s out of season for those plants here).  But I’m willing to bet that the tomatoes, New Zealand spinach, fennel and cardoon will take. Because of the lead, the only thing I would eat of that bunch are the tomatoes (fruit usually does not take up heavy metals). Still, I think bio-activity in the soil in the form of microorganisms and plants will, over a ver...

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