Solar Garden Helper Thingy

From the always cool Build It Solar blog, a “garden helper machine” built by Randy, aka “PD-Riverman”. I really Love gardening but I have a bad back and when it comes to staying bent over in the garden it gets rough. So I built this Helper Machine. I  call it My P-Machine. Planting/Picking/Pulling weeds/Putting around the garden machine.  It’s powered by two 12 volt 80 watt solar panels that charge some golf c...

Continue reading…

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...

Continue reading…

Meet the Gophinator

The Gophinator Thankfully, we don’t have gophers, but dealing with them is one of the first questions we get when teaching vegetable gardening classes.  You can use raised beds lined with hardware cloth. But, other than target practice (a no-no in urban areas), most people I know with gopher problems end up using traps or zealous cats. Several sources have told me about the Cadillac of gopher traps, the aptly named “Gophina...

Continue reading…

How To Design a Garden Step I: Identifying Goals

Food, beauty and habitat. Garden design does not come naturally to me. I’ve made plenty of mistakes and continue to make them. One of the biggest of those mistakes is thinking of a garden as a collection of plants. Designing this way leads to lots of money wasted at the nursery and a garden that looks like a hoarder’s living room. Trust me, after years of misguided gardening design, your first step should be to identify goal...

Continue reading…

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...

Continue reading…

Lucius Annaeus Seneca on Living Within Limits

...ots 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 happens as empires trend towards the decadent and live beyond their means. It’s hard not to see modern parallels. Witness what happened when an upscale hair salon planted a ve...

Continue reading…

Peat-free Planting Mix Recipe With Coconut Coir

...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 part garden soil–soil dug from the same beds the seedlings will be going into. This way the seedlings are already accustomed to the loca...

Continue reading…

The Barrier Method

...rticularly problem-prone situations. Nowadays 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 ar...

Continue reading…

Vote Yes on 37!

rved up by mainstream media. That being said, I’m going to break my own rules.  I want to urge all California residents to vote yes on proposition 37. Proposition 37 will require genetically modified food products to be labelled. And that’s all–it’s not a ban on GMOs. If you like GMOs in your food you’ll still be able to get them in your hot Cheetos. All I’m asking is to be given a choice, through labeling, as...

Continue reading…