Advances in Gardening: Introducing the Germinator™

I’ve built a kind of seedling Guantanamo which I’ve dubbed the “Germinator™.” Why? Two reasons: 1. Damn squirrels and chickens. Both have gotten into my seedling flats in the past and wreaked havoc. This is why the Germinator™, for most of the year, has a wire mesh top. That wire mesh also takes down the harsh Southern California sun a notch so the flats don’t dry out. 2. During the cooler spring season, I can tra...

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Advances in Gardening Series: We’re maturing

November–seedlings new planted January–all the foliage is in End of February–the flowers really start to pop Stuff grows. You just gotta remember to plant it! A quick photo update on progress for the Phan of Pharmacy and the Hippie Heart, mostly for our own record keeping. Maybe it will inspire those of you surrounded by rain or snow with dreams of your own spring planting. Back in November, I clear...

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Survival Gardening

One of many survival garden pitches. Listen to AM radio for more than a few minutes and you’re bound to hear an ad touting seeds and “one acre survival gardens.” The implication is that hordes of foreclosed zombies will soon empty the shelves of the local Walmart and leave us all bartering for gas with our carefully stored heirloom pole bean seeds. But it does raise the question of how much space you need to grow all...

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Advances in Gardening Series: A Garlic Mystery

  One of the new features of the garden this year is a long, trough-shaped bed that Erik installed along the edge of our patio. Its inaugural crop was garlic, which is generally a very easy plant to grow. We’ve done it before, many times, successfully. This year it didn’t work. The stalks failed to thrive. Many plants did not set bulbs at all, looking instead like green onions. The heads that were formed are quite small.  We’...

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Advances in Gardening Series: Thoughts on The Fan, and the problems of overabudance

The Fan late in the season, about to be pulled out. See earlier photos of The Fan here. Mrs. Homegrown here: Last fall we dug up a sort of feral herb bed and replaced it with a more formal, three-part bed that I call The Fan. The idea is to use this bed to plant annual herbs and flowers. While some of these plants are medicinal, it is also a bed dedicated more to aesthetics than the rest of our garden, so it’s also a place where I...

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Ordo Ab Chao

...the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders turned into gardening advice.Got attention deficit disorder? Well, here’s how ya mix up your own potting mix. Face it, we’re all in the diagnostic manual somewhere. I suffer from a chronic lack of organizational ability. Square foot gardening has never worked for me–I just can’t keep up with the schedule. For some folks, I&...

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Vegetable Gardening for the Lazy

One of the problems with growing vegetables is all the labor involved–starting seeds, composting, watering and watching out for bugs. It’s worth it, of course, for the tasty rewards, but many busy folks are simply too exhausted after work or corralling the bambinos to pick up a shovel and garden. For those who’d rather sit on the porch with a martini than laboring in the field, and we often include ourselves in that category, p...

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Saturday Linkages: Gardening, Rocket Heaters and DIY Tips

Forgot your reading glasses? No problem. Tip via Popular Mechanics. A Garden Cannot be Designed http://landscapeofmeaning.blogspot.com/2013/11/a-garden-cannot-be-designed.html … Seeds on seeds on seeds: Why more biodiversity means more food security http://garynabhan.com/i/archives/2347  Lawn Pesticides Outlawed! by Susan Harris http://gardenrant.com/2013/11/lawn-pesticides-out-lawed.html?utm_source=feedly … Chelle Lindahl’s r...

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Gardening Mistakes: Six Ways We’ve Killed Plants

In the years we’ve gardened we’ve killed our share of plants. I’d like to think we’ve learned from our errors. To that end, I thought I’d run down some of the big mistakes we’ve made. 1. The right plant in the right place Our front yard is a hillside. Our backyard has two tall trees that cast shade towards the north. The soil varies in color, texture and quality largely due to almost a hund...

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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...

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