My Favorite Lettuce Mix

Earlier this week when I decried the sorry state of our winter vegetable garden, I neglected to mention the one big success: lettuce. We grow lettuce mixes almost every year and we’ve never been disappointed. Homegrown salad greens are much better than store bought. Plus, at least where we live, they are easy to grow. We just sow the seed directly and water them in. We thin by eating the seedlings. Judging from the crowding in the photo a...

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Least Favorite Plant: Yellow Oleander (Thevetia peruviana)

Thumbing through a book of toxic and hallucinogenic plants, I finally manged to i.d. the neighbor’s shrub that looms over the staircase to our front door. The popular name given for this plant in the book was “suicide tree”, so named for its use in Sri Lanka, though I’ve found other plants with this same moniker. The scientific name is Thevetia peruviana, and it’s also known as “lucky nut” (can we chang...

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The kids are all bikin’

Image via Bikeblog We’ll close out bike to work week with a roundup of the week’s hijinks before we get back to our other obsessions–vegetables and booze. Mr. Homegrown Evolution delivered a PowerPoint on behalf of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition at the Los Angeles Neighborhood Initiative conference. We talked about the pragmatic details of biking in L.A. (hint–route choice!) and pitched the notion of changing...

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Jujube and Goji Fever

Jujube Photo from the Papaya Tree Nursery Tucked into a residential neighborhood in a corner of Los Angeles’ vast San Fernando valley, the Papaya Tee Nursery, sells a dazzling array of exotic fruit trees, countless species and varieties you’ve never heard of. Papaya Tree’s proprietor Alex Silber, with his encyclopedic knowledge and stream of consciousness delivery, comes across at first as, well, unusual, until you realize that it&...

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Interview With Apartment Gardener Helen Kim

We got a lot of emails after posting the image above of Los Angeles based photographer Helen Kim’s astonishing windowsill garden. It’s a great example of what you can do with a small amount of space, and brings to mind William Morris’ advice, “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful”. Helen graciously sat down for an email interview to talk about her beautiful and useful garden...

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Shiitake Happens

Well, actually, shiitake doesn’t happen. It’s back to the drawing board for our first experiment in mushroom growing. We ordered a kit and dutifully followed the directions, but a combination of high temperatures and too much or too little water resulted in the result you see above, what looks like a cake with a skin disease. And even if we got a crop the cost of the kit was too high to make the process economical. The kit came pre-...

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Hops in Southern California

From hop rhizome to young vine Several people have asked a question we were curious about: what varieties of hops are best to grow in warm climates such as Southern California? We asked around and the consensus seems to be Cascade and Nugget among others. Greg Beron, one of the co-owners of Culver City Homebrewing Supply Co., has a couple of different hops rhizomes for sale that he says grow well here in Los Angeles. The shop’s parking...

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Edible and Tasty Arugula Flowers

Our winter vegetable garden is just about finished. This week I’m going to tear out most of it and plant tomatoes and a few other summer veggies. I may keep some of the arugula that has gone to flower a little longer. Why? arugula flower taste great in salads bees love them arugula self seeds readily The flowers, which taste like the leaves, are a reminder of my favorite time of year: arugula season. Each year I curse myself for not pla...

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A Primitive Bow Workshop

ithout breaking. A bow is actually a very complicated tool, something that should inspire respect for our distant ancestors. Paul Campbell author of an excellent book Survival Skills of Native California was along to co-teach the class and help us all shape our bows. The first step was to find some suitable wood. We used willow, a wood used by Native Americans in our region. It’s plentiful and makes an acceptable if short lived bow. Ash an...

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Saturday Linkages: Tall Bikes, Za’atar and So Much More

Growin’ Why Your Supermarket Only Sells 5 Kinds of Apples http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2013/04/heritage-apples-john-bunker-maine … Taming the Wild Thyme: A Visit to a Za’atar Farm in Lebanon http://ow.ly/kqeoi  New Farmer’s Almanac for 2013: http://boingboing.net/2013/04/21/new-farmers-almanac-for-2013.html … Plants as Education: Kit Brings Gardening Back to the Masses http://dornob.com/37885/  Fortrait #4 “Su...

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