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...

Continue reading…

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...

Continue reading…

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...

Continue reading…

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...

Continue reading…

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...

Continue reading…

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/...

Continue reading…

Saturday Linkages: Rocket Stoves, Big Cargo Bikes and Shopping for the Apocalypse

Image: BoingBoing. The Flying Tortoise: A Very Gorgeous Little Rocket Mass Type Terracotta… http://theflyingtortoise.blogspot.com/2014/05/a-very-gorgeous-little-rocket-mass-type.html?spref=tw … How to mount staghorn ferns in your garden http://bit.ly/1nosn5W  #diy Getting to the root of gardening’s role in mental wellness | Victory Gardens Blog | http://buff.ly/1o3lIkd  Darrel Morrison’s Addition to the Brooklyn Bo...

Continue reading…

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...

Continue reading…

Self Watering Barrel Gardens, Aussie style

Gardening Australia did a video, well worth watching, of David de Vries’ self watering containers that he builds for the Red Cross in Alice Springs. De Vries has devised a simple and efficient way to turn drums into gardens. They look good too. We’ve featured self watering containers on our blog and in our books. They are a great way to deal with hot climates and bad soil. And, in many places, drums are as plentif...

Continue reading…

June: National Bathroom Reading Month

By bikin’ friend Colin informed me last week that he had heard a report on National Public Radio about June being, “National Bathroom Reading Month”. Doing a little digging revealed that, sadly, it was just a publicity stunt for a series of un-funny bathroom humor books and did not have the backing of our congress, senate or president. Nevertheless we thought we’d celebrate bathroom reading month anyways with a look at wh...

Continue reading…