Ask Mr. and Mrs. Homegrown

The yodeling around here is non-stop. Photo by Elon Shoenholz Hey Kids! We thought it would be fun to find out what’s on your mind. If you’ve got a question you’d like some advice on, this the place to ask. We’re best at answering questions about things like chickens, gardening, pickling and fixing bicycles. We’re not so great with questions regarding physics, Sanskrit translations or intellectual property...

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All is Fire

...ot a robust investment. Make sure you have a garden that bears fruits.” Amen to that. Taleb’s book, The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable along with Seneca’s Letters from a Stoic and the fragments of Heraclitus are what I point people to when they ask, “so why do you do these things, gardening, pickling, brewing etc.” Invoking these stoic philosophers both ancient and modern is along winded and perhap...

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Peat-free Planting Mix Recipe With Coconut Coir

...d. Options   Another planting mix option is part coir and part compost. This is provided your compost is of the best quality–bagged compost from the nursery is not good enough. This is a hard area to generalize about because compost varies wildly in both quality and consistency, but you’d want to use lovely, lively, springy, sweet smelling compost. Gardening guru John Jeavons starts his seeds in mix which is 1 part compost and 1...

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Lucius Annaeus Seneca on Living Within Limits

...heating? Is it not living unnaturally to plant orchards on top of towers, or to have a forest of trees waving in the wind on the roofs and ridges of one’s mansions, their roots springing at a height which it could have been presumptuous for their crests to reach? -Letter CXXII from Letters from a Stoic (Penguin Classics) Apparently the Romans had a thing for ridiculous, energy intensive vertical gardening schemes. Perhaps it’s what ha...

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Plantago coronopus, a.k.a. Buckhorn Plantain, a.k.a. Erba Stella

Cruise down the produce isle of a supermarket in the United States and you’ll only find highly domesticated foods. Thumb through the pages of the Silver Spoon (the Joy of Cooking of Italian Cuisine) and you’ll discover entire chapters devoted to the use of wild or semi-wild plants. This summer I grew one of these semi-cultivated Italian vegetables, Buckhorn plantain (Plantago coronopus) also known as Erba Stella and Barba di frat...

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Book Review: The New Sunset Western Garden Book

The Sunset Western Garden Book was one of the first gardening books we picked up when we bought our house back in 1998. A new version is out this month, now dubbed The New Sunset Western Garden Book, and it’s a significant improvement over our old copy. Lavish photos have replaced the drawings of my 1998 copy. The new edition has significantly more coverage of edibles, including a vegetable planting schedule as well as nice photographs of...

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In Chaos Order, In Order Chaos

Periodically Mrs. Homegrown and I teach vegetable gardening classes. For the students, I’ve been looking for a way to illustrate nature’s complex, non-linear dynamics that, paradoxically, seem ordered. I stumbled across this cool sculpture that neatly summarizes the idea of “in chaos order, in order chaos.” Imagine each of the hammers standing in for one of the systems in your garden, insect life, nutrients, microbes, f...

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Urine as a Fertilizer

How do I spend my Saturday mornings you ask? Answer: scanning the peer reviewed literature for articles about using human urine as a nitrogen source in the garden, i.e. taking a leak in the watering can. As we’re currently hosting some excellent classes at our house taught by Darren Butler, a big proponent of what he calls “pee-pee-ponics,” I thought I’d take a look at the science of urine use. Urine offers a free and re...

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The Barrier Method

...days protection is standard for every bed we plant, for our seed starting boxes, and often for new perennials in the ground. The result is peace of mind, better results…and fewer gardening meltdowns from Erik (Squash Baby excepted). We’ve written about all this before in various posts, but here’s some photos to give you an overview of some of the possibilities: Our seedling trays are now contained within The Germinator ...

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