Altadena Heritage of Abundance

Our backyard last week (some ugly stuff framed out of the picture!) We’ll be doing a talk tomorrow morning as part of a sustainability series in Altadena, CA. We’re going to talk about self irrigating planters, chickens, bees and vegetable gardening. Here’s the 411: Saturday, May 30 from 9 to 11 a.m at the Altadena Community Center First in a series of events, workshops, and home tours on sustainable living. Reserve your plac...

Continue reading…

Permaculture Design Course at the Ecology Center in San Juan Capistrano

I can’t think of a better place to earn a permaculture design certification than the Ecology Center in San Juan Capistrano. Their PDC course starts up soon . . .  Dive deeper into hands-on ecological design with this 3-month certification course in Orange County exploring food, water, waste, energy, and shelter, and become an eco-advocate! Read on for details and download the application. ECO-APPRENTICES / PERMACULTURE DESIGN CERTIFICATIO...

Continue reading…

Beekeeping Class at the Ecology Center in San Juan Capistrano

I’ll be teaching a two hour introduction to natural no-treatment beekeeping at the Ecology Center in San Juan Capistrano this Saturday at 1 pm. To sign up buzz over here. Here’s the class description: Become a backyard beekeeper and enjoy a healthy garden full of pollinators. Understand beekeeping tools, materials, and techniques to get started. Beekeeping, or apiculture, is said to have begun with the Egyptians who used logs, boxes...

Continue reading…

Los Angeles Fruit Tree Pruning Workshops

Homegrown Neighbor here: Growing fruit trees has obvious rewards. You can eat the fruit at its peak, straight off of the tree, full of flavor, aromatic and juicy. And the sight of an apple, peach or other deciduous tree in bloom is an ephemeral yet breathtakingly beautiful sight. But many of these trees will not bear good fruit without proper pruning. Good pruning encourages stronger limbs able to hold heavy fruits, prevents limb breakage, imp...

Continue reading…

Analysis Paralysis

If you’re reading this blog, there’s no doubt that you’ve suffered from analysis paralysis. You’ve got to build that chicken coop, but you’re spending hours pouring over books, Pinterest boards and how-to websites. Add endless debates with your spouse and you’ve got a recipe for inaction. “Sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought” is the way Shakespeare describes this condition in Hamlet....

Continue reading…

Michael Thiele and the Love of Bees

On Saturday, September 21st, Erik and I will be attending a day-long Biodynamic Apiculture Workshop with Michael Thiele, sponsored by the fine folks at Honey Love. We hear there are still some open spaces, so please join us if you can. Erik has seen Michael Thiele speak, and says he is mesmerizing. Michael Thiele is the founder of Gaia Bees, and co-founder of The Melissa Garden (a honey bee sanctuary and resource center). His approach toward b...

Continue reading…

The Homegrown Mailbox: How and Where Do I Get My Soil Tested?

When you write a book you get questions. In our case, due to the sinking economy in California, they are delivered by Kevin Costner on horseback rather than by email or regular federal postal trucks. No problem, we like questions. A caveat here: like Nancy Klehm, the Green Roof Growers and Black Swan author Nassim Taleb, we prefer the term “practitioner” to describe what we do as opposed to “expert”. We favor experience o...

Continue reading…

The High Cost of Golf

Though I’m partial to my Xtracycle cargo bike, once in a while I’ll rent a pickup truck to haul some big items. Yesterday it was time to get a bunch of straw bales to use as bedding for the chickens. While driving by a public golf course on the way to the feed store, the windshield suddenly shattered startling me and my passenger, Ari of Islands of LA, who had come along to help out. Instictively, we ducked thinking that someone was...

Continue reading…

City Farm Chicago

Chicago’s City Farm is a stunning bit of green smack in the middle of the concrete jungle, sandwiched between the remnants of the controversial Cabrini-Green housing project and the Gold Coast. A program of the non-profit Resource Center, City Farm sells produce to chefs, operates a vegetable stand and provides opportunities for economically under-developed neighborhoods. City Farm is a mobile endeavor. The basic idea is to take advantage...

Continue reading…

California Agriculture Journal Online

The University of California has put 63 years worth of its journal California Agriculture online for convenient downloading at californiaagriculture.ucanr.org. There’s plenty of detailed (peer reviewed!) nuggets for the home gardener between the pages of this scientific journal. Make sure to check out the article and video of UC Berkeley entomologist Gordon Frankie explaining what kinds of plants are best for attracting bees in your urban...

Continue reading…