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: The Fan

Yet another heat wave slowed our backyard redesign project, but the weather is looking more cooperative at last and things are coming along. What we thought we might do over the next few days is share some of the new things we’ve put in, and how/why we built them, just in case any of it might be useful to you. Everything is pretty rough and ragged right now, but it will be fun to report back in a couple months and do a compare/contrast. T...

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Ordo Ab Chao

There’s a lot of conflicting advice in the vegetable gardening world. You’ve got your square footers, biointensivists, permaculturalists and survival gardeners, just to name a few. The truth is these often conflicting techniques probably all work for someone. I’ve been thinking lately that the next book we write should be a version of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Dis...

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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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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 rocket mass heater h...

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Are You Gardening on the 4th?

In the garden today? I just got back from a three day tour of San Francisco Bay Area gardens and will be reporting on that trip soon. In the meantime, I’ve put up over 600 photos from the “Garden Blogger’s Fling” here. Above is a bee visiting a striking plant at Sunset Magazine’s headquarters. Unfortunately, I did not get the name of the plant. Bragging rights go to the person who names it in the comments . . ....

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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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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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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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