Moringa!

Photo by Harvey McDaniel One of the big inspirations for starting our front yard urban farming efforts at the SurviveLA compound is a Philippino neighbor of ours who has turned his entire front yard and even the parkway into an edible garden featuring fruits and vegetables from his native land, most of which we have never seen before. This morning, while walking the dog, I found him cutting hundreds of long seed pods off of a small attractive...

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Campfire Cooking: Fish in Clay (& Vegetarian Options!)

...ed, it needs to be seasoned, and dressed with a little fat. We were using butter infused with wild herbs, but olive oil is great too. The herbs we were using in the field included a type of wild clover, sagebrush, wild mint,  native sage, white pine and watercress–but not all on one fish! I think a little lemon and garlic slipped into our cooking, too, here and there, and of course, salt and pepper — um…all wild foraged, of cour...

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Growing and Preparing Cardoons (Cynara cardunculus)

It’s the ultimate pain in the ass vegetable to prepare and I’ll probably get in big trouble in native plant circles for even mentioning it, but just last night I fried up my first successful plate of homegrown cardoons (Cynara cardunculus). Not the most attractive blanching job, admittedly. All ready to prepare The cardoon is a close relative of artichoke, identical in appearance, except that the flowers are much smaller and t...

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

Is that a lavender bush cowering under the monster squash leaves? I just thought of another mistake: allowing 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...

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Rain Barrels

...aders 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 rainwater. Rainwater used for irrigating plants does not need filtering or purification, and since outdoor watering accounts for the number one household water use, you’ll be using that water where it is most needed. Now, once again at the risk of sounding li...

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Greywater Precautions

...g greywater: Do not apply greywater to crops that you will eat raw, such as strawberries, carrots or lettuce. Using greywater on any vegetables is somewhat dodgy in general for heath reasons, but greywater is fine for edible plants such as fruit trees where the crop is far from the ground and the risk of direct contamination by contact with contaminated water is low. Do not apply greywater to lawns (lawns are evil anyways) or to the foliage of a...

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Ridiculous New Parkway Planting Rules for Los Angeles

...pecies. It sounds great . . . until you read the fine print. Those drought tolerant turf alternatives, which include chamomile, yarrow and even strawberries, must be kept “mowed.” If you want to grow any of these plants taller than 2 inches or ones not on the list you’ve got to submit drawings, apply for a permit and pay at least $400, possibly more. Ironically, the cover of the guidelines shows a picture of a mature yarrow pla...

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Urine as a Fertilizer

...concentrations in urine samples were low compared with other organic fertilizers, but copper, mercury, nickel and zinc were 10–500 times higher in urine than in precipitation and surface waters. In a pot experiment with15N labelled human urine, higher gaseous losses and lower crop uptake (barley) of urine N than of labelled ammonium nitrate were found. Phosphorus present in urine was utilized at a higher rate than soluble phosphate, showing...

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Advances in Gardening Series: The Fan

...act and tidy (because really, how much marjoram do you need?). This new bed, The Fan, is for medicinal annuals, because I need more space to produce them in useful quantities. For instance, you need a good number of chamomile plants if you want enough to put away for tea and a little more for salves. With this in mind, I’m going to rotate “large” crops of annuals through this space, one variety per wedge. This winter’s f...

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Gardening Tip: Senecent Seedlings

With seedlings, small is good. Mrs. Homegrown here: Senescence is the “change of the biology in an organism as it ages after it reaches maturity” (see Wikipedia). 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 botto...

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