On why our vegetable garden is such a disaster this year . . .

One of the front beds–soil problems, I think, are causing the gap in the middle of the bed. I’m having my annual gardening-caused mental meltdown. When it comes to vegetables this winter (the best time to grow them here in Los Angeles) if it could go wrong it did. Vegetables are needy, fussy plants and we’ve not had much luck with them recently. So I thought I would list the factors, natural and human that went into this year&#...

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Journal of the New Alchemists

“Six-Pack” Backyard Solar Greenhouse, 1975. Image: Journal of the New Alchemy. After reading an article by Paul Ehrlich, “Eco-Catastrophe!,” Nancy Todd turned to her husband John and said, “We must do something.” The year was 1969 and the Todds along with Bill McLarney went on to found the New Alchemy Institute. History repeats itself. What the New Alchemists did, in response to the 1970s era energy crisis and...

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A New Reality

We received an email from a casting agency searching for talent for a reality show where the participants will live on a remote farm, grow their own food and come up with their own method of governance.  The series will make use of the usual reality show plot device of having participants vote each other off the show. The agency wanted us to put out a casting call. We won’t do that. I’m tired of stories that sow discord and hold up...

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Gardening Resources in Los Angeles County

Perhaps because the real estate market is heating up again, we’re getting a lot of requests for gardening resources in the Los Angeles area. It thought I’d list our favorite resources in this blog post that I can refer people to. But I need your help–please let me know in the comments if you know of a resource that I should have included. Soil Testing Wallace Labs. When you fill out the form check off the box for “Stand...

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Least Favorite Plant: Ficus benjamina

Photo by Elon Schoenholz While Ficus benjamina, a.k.a. “weeping fig”, is one of my least favorite trees, my most favorite photographer, Elon Schoenholz is currently posting a series of ficus tree images on his blog. Schoenholz, wisely, takes a neutral stance on this hot button tree describing Ficus as, “L.A.’s favorite underappreciated, unheralded, unfavorite curbside flora. I have no real love for these trees, per se, n...

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Lasagna Gardening Simplified

First popularized back in the 1970s, “lasagna gardening” involves piling up thick layers of cardboard and uncomposted kitchen scraps on top of (sometimes) double-dug soil. The practice is touted as a way of removing lawns and improving soil with little work. Linda Chalker-Scott, Extension Urban Horticulturist at Washington State University, proposes a vastly simpler version of lasagna gardening.  Chalker-Scott suggests skipping th...

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Root Simple and LA Bread Bakers at Artisinal LA

This Saturday Kelly and I will be joining a panel discussion on urban homesteading along with our good friends Craig Ruggless of Winnetka Farms and goat keepers and cheese makers Gloria Putnam and Stephen Rucidel. The panel will take place at Artisinal LA on Saturday April 16th at 2 pm in Santa Monica. I will also be taking part in a bread baking demo along with the LA Bread Bakers the same day at 1 pm. More information at artisinalla.com....

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Whistle Stop Book Tour of the Northwest

head north into your gorgeous lands. San Francisco Events: Friday, April 29, 7 PM: Speaking at Book Passage Corte Madera Book Passage Store–not the one at the end of Market, the one on the other end of the ferry line: 51 Tamal Vista Blvd., Corte Madera, CA 94925 Saturday, April 30, 12 PM: Meet us at 12 noon on the lookout point of Sutro Heights Park. We’ll take a walk along the cliffs and forage a salad, then hang out and chat whi...

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Los Angeles Announces Parkway Cemetery Program

Merging interest in “green” burials and urban land remediation, the City of Los Angeles just announced a groundbreaking new program: parkway cemeteries. Like many cities across America, Los Angeles has a huge debt, $350 million to put a number on it. So it comes as no surprise that city officials are seeking innovative ways of enhancing revenue sources.  Most often a tangle of weeds and compacted earth, parkways have seen attenti...

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Novella Carpenter Update

We posted yesterday about author and urban farmer Novella Carpenter running afoul of the law in Oakland for “agricultural activities”. She has a clarification on her blog and some new, alarming information. She makes clear that she was busted for selling vegetables not growing them. The disturbing news is information she received that the people who reported her may have been animal rights activists upset that she eats her rabbits....

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