Tomato Report: Franchi Red Cherry

I don’t have much to say about this variety from Franchi named, somewhat generically, “Red Cherry”. It grew well and is very productive considering the compact size of the vine. The taste, however, was acceptable but not exciting. This could be because of over-watering on my part. I could find very little information about this tomato on the interwebs other than that it is an indeterminate, early variety that grows well in pot...

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Favorite Plants- New Zealand Spinach

New Zealand Spinach, Tetragonia tetragonioides. When the lettuce wilts in the heat, caterpillars and aphids destroy the kale and your swiss chard is plagued by powdery mildew…. there is New Zealand spinach. It is not a true spinach but is in a genus all its own. The leaves are triangular in shape, and very succulent. They grow on long, rambling stalks. The seeds are triangular as well and the plant will reseed if you let it. It tends to...

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Can our landscapes model a vibrant future? Not according to the LA DWP.

California is suffering from drought. In Los Angeles, we’ve experienced back to back two of the driest winters on record (winter is our rainy season). Last year’s rainfall total was under 6 inches. The governor has asked California residents to cut their water use by 20%.  Apparently, we’ve only managed to cut it by 5%. There’s a strange sense of unreality about the drought. I think that’s becaus...

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Dry Farming

Jethro Tull–the agriculturalist not the rock flutist According to a 2010 report by Ceres “Water Risk in the Municipal Bond Market,” Los Angeles ranks number one in water supply risk. But we’re not alone. Many other US cities including Atlanta, Phoenix and Dallas also face a future of water insecurity. Due to these water risks we’d all do well to consider ways to grow edibles without supplemental irrigation....

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Rain Barrels

Constructing a cistern large enough to supply potable indoor water is an ambitious project involving pumps, filters, UV purifiers, and very large and expensive tanks. We don’t want to discourage anyone from making an attempt at it, but for most urban homesteaders it won’t be economical or practical given the space requirements and weight of thousands of gallons of stored water. Thankfully, there are simpler strategies for harvesting...

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More Washing Machine Greywater Fun

One of the problems with the washing machine surge tank greywater strategy is that what you are watering has to be downhill of the machine. This is a common problem with greywater systems, and trying to use pumps to get the water uphill is simply not economical, nor is it environmentally hip since those pumps have a lot of plastic and other icky industrial materials in them. Fortunately washing machines have a pump built-in and it’s possib...

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Weeds into Fertilizer

Homegrown Neighbor here: Nettlemania continues here at Homegrown Evolution. It is raining which means even more nettles are on their way! My plants have set seed and there are tiny nettle plants popping up all over the place. But I want to tell you about my latest nettle experiment. I am going to ferment nettles into a liquid fertilizer. I placed a bunch of whole nettle plants into a large plastic trash can. I am going to stir the mixture eve...

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Arduino Homesteading Projects

An Arduino-based chicken coop controller on Instructables. At the risk of putting high tech in our low tech, I just took an introductory Arduino class at Crash Space along with the folks at Zapf Architectural Renderings. An Arduino is a simple, low cost microcontroller thingy. It’s got a bunch of digital outputs, analog and digital inputs and a programmable microchip. You download a program onto the chip (either one you&...

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California’s Drought and What To Do About It

By this summer, due to the worst drought in memory, California will resemble the desert planet Arakis in Frank Herbert’s novel Dune. Not only will we be watering our lawns less, we’ll be drinking our own urine. Knife fights with a bikini clad Sting will break out and we’ll be trading our bikes for rides on the over-sized worms emerging from our compost bins. But I digress. Let’s cover what we’re...

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Make a Garden Work Table from a Pallet

Pallets are a ubiquitous building material, your free lumber yard in tough times. Homegrown Evolution patched together the garden work table above for use with seedlings and storing pots and watering cans. Hopefully the picture is all you need to put one together yourself. Some tips for working with pallets: 1. We prefer projects that don’t involve disassembling the pallet. The nails in pallets aren’t meant to be removed. Trying to t...

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