Decomposed Granite as Mulch: A very bad idea

There’s a well defined architectural vocabulary house flippers use in our neighborhood. Flippers buy a crumbling 1920s bungalow, paint the front door orange, add a horizontal fence, redo the interior in a Home Depot meets Dwell Magazine style and then turn around and sell it for a million bucks. When house flippers tackle a yard they tend towards the “low-maintenance” landscape (in quotes because there’...

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A Year After the Age of Limits: Mr. Homegrown’s Take

Our culture tends towards false dichotomies, in the case of last year’s Age of Limits conference, the “desparium” of climate change and resource limits versus the broader culture’s “hopium” of techno-utopianism. As filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsy once said, “One day, someone showed me a glass of water that was half full. And he said, “Is it half full or half empty?” So I drank the...

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Cactus Thief Strikes Again

I knew this was going to happen. After the theft of the first of three barrel cacti in our front yard, I knew the perp would be back. Sure enough the second cacti disappeared the other night. Now I’m left with the smallest, and most pathetic of the three cacti. In response I considered rigging up some kind of Arduino based cacti security system that would set off an alarm and flashing strobe in the house. Attach a trip...

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In Defense of the Paper Wasp

Paper wasp building a nest. Image: Wikimedia. I really don’t like gardening advice that divides the natural world into lists of good and bad bugs. From nature’s perspective all creatures have a role, even the much despised paper wasp. Paper Wasp Biology 101 Wasps perform important duties: some wasps eat other insects, other wasps are scavengers, acting as nature’s garbage disposers. That’s not to say t...

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2013 in Review Part II

July We got rid of our compact florescents and went back to incandescent bulbs. In most household applications, believe it or not, incandescent bulbs are a better choice. Mrs. Homegrown pondered equine touring by reviewing an obscure book, The Last of the Saddle Tramps. Perhaps she was inspired by our 2012 siting of the 3 mule guy (one of our most Googled posts, by the way). August I consider summer to be our winter in Los...

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How to Deal With Cabbage Worms

It happens every year. I forget the gardening lessons of the year before. Take my many failed attempts to grow cabbage, for instance. It always gets decimated by the imported cabbage worm (Pieris rapae), a creature as abundant in Los Angeles as aspiring actors. There are several strategies I could use to deal with this pest (cabbage worms, that is–I have no problem with actors). I could spray Bacillus thuringiensis but...

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Village Homes: A Model for Sustainable Suburbs

I’ve recently discovered a truly inspiring housing development in Davis, California. This is not new news–it was built in the 1980′s, but it’s new to me and worth sharing. Village Homes is the brainchild of architect/developer Michael Corbett. It encompasses 70 acres and 200-some homes. It has all the space and privacy that brings people to the suburbs, but it’s designed with considerable intelligence. For instan...

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A Year after The Age of Limits: 5 Responses to the End Times

photo by Sansculotte on de.wikipedia Ever since Erik and I and our friend John attended the Age of Limits conference a year ago, I’ve been meaning to offer some kind of measured response to the conference.  (The Age of Limits conference is a sort of woodsy fiesta for doomers held annually in Pennsylvania. For more info, follow the link.).  I’ve hesitated to do so, though, for two reasons. The first reason was that...

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Saturday Linkages: Gourds, Cats and Cider Bread

The Mukombe. Image: Afrigadget. The Mukombe–a hand washing station made out of a gourd:  http://www.afrigadget.com/2014/04/06/the-mukombe/ … Farine: Mike Zakowski making cider bread http://www.farine-mc.com/2014/04/mike-zakowski-making-cider-bread-video.html?spref=tw … 6 Methods for Harvesting Rainwater – Homesteading and Livestock – MOTHER EARTH NEWS http://www.motherearthnews.com/homesteading-and-livestock/...

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Looking for Tough, Drought Tollerant Plants?

For Californians, you need look no further than UC Davis Arboretum’s searchable list of All-Stars. The horticultural staff of the UC Davis Arboretum have identified 100 tough, reliable plants that have been tested in the Arboretum, are easy to grow, don’t need a lot of water, have few problems with pests or diseases, and have outstanding qualities in the garden. Many of them are California native plants and support nati...

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