Peat-free Planting Mix Recipe With Coconut Coir

...p Rock. Obviously, though its origins are natural, it is an industrial product, but it is very useful for making soil fluffy and light. You will recognize it as the “white stuff” that you see in the soil of nursery plants. As it is essentially a rock, it is a neutral player in the mix. It simply keeps things light. Note: you should avoid breathing perlite dust when working with it. Store-bought worm castings. Homegrown, of cours...

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Gardening Mistakes: Six Ways We’ve Killed Plants

...quality largely due to almost a hundred years of construction projects (decks, foundation work terracing, etc.). The same plant that might thrive in one spot will wither in another. This is where trial and error comes in. Sometimes the only way to find out if what will grow is to plant stuff and see what takes off. 2. Soil compaction This is a big problem in urban areas and our yard is no exception. The parkway, which gets a lot of foot traffic,...

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Urban Chicken Enthusiasts Unite!

Creating community is a vital part of the urban homesteading movement. For why should one make jam or grow zucchini without people to share it with? In a big, crazy city like L.A. there are lots of interesting people doing inspiring things, you just have to find them. I’m always excited to meet new people who are interested in all the things we write about here at Homegrown Evolution. I was lucky to move a block away from Mr. and Mrs. Home...

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What laundry detergent should I use for greywater applications?

When your laundry water is going to the soil instead of to the sewer (or a septic tank) you need to make sure that detergent is friendly to soil life. Your big brand detergents are a no-go. And even the various eco-detergents, even ones marked “biodegradable”, are not appropriate for the soil because they are essentially salt-based. They play well with aquatic life, bless them, and they’re a great alternativ...

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SoilWeb: An Online Soil Survey Resource

...even a SoilWeb iPhone app allowing you to use the GPS capabilities of your phone to assist in shopping for, say, the perfect vineyard location. SoilWeb maps cover most, but not all, areas of the US (Los Angeles isn’t included for some reason). While highly technical, terms are explained via hyperlinks. You click on the table to the right of the map for more detailed information including suitability for farming. Of course in urban areas y...

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Urban Homesteading Mistakes: Landscape Fabric

...er a few years Bermuda grass will inevitably poke up through it and you’ll end up with what you can see in the photo above. To repeat: landscape fabric doesn’t work and is a waste of money. My favorite alternative is a very thick (minimum 4-inch, but preferably more) layer of mulch. The added benefit with mulch is that you build soil over time. With landscape fabric you just add another piece of plastic to the landfill. I know some f...

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Roundin’ up the Summer Urban Homesteading Disasters

...spring so that I could get a head start on propagating my tomato seedlings. So guess which tomatoes did better: the ones I carefully propagated from seed and transplanted to richly amended vegetable beds, or the ones that sprouted randomly in compacted soil? You guessed it, the ones that grew on their own. Moral: nature knows best when to start seeds and where to plant them than us homo sapiens. Maybe there is something to that permaculture thin...

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Urban Farm Magazine

We have a article on urban farmers across America in the premiere issue of a magazine bound to appeal to readers of this blog, Urban Farm. Our article, Where Urban Meets Farm, profiles the efforts of our friends the Green Roof Growers of Chicago, Em Jacoby of Detroit and Kelly Yrarrazaval of Orange County. All of these fine folks have repurposed urban and suburban spaces to grow impressive amounts of food, a common sense trend popular enough to...

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SIPS and Kraut at Project Butterfly

...event tomorrow–that’s Tuesday August 25th at 7:30 p.m. in downtown Los Angeles at Project Butterfly. There will be a lecture followed by two demos: how to make a self irrigating pot and how to make sauerkraut. Cost is $20. RSVP to [email protected] Here’s the 411: Step into the 21st century by making your house, apartment and kitchen a center of production. This lecture/workshop by the authors of The Urban Homestead, Ke...

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Lead Update

This week I thought I’d do a series of posts about soil and heavy metals beginning with a few more details about the possible lead contamination situation in our backyard. Two weeks ago Darren Butler, who is teaching a vegetable gardening series at our house, led a class project where we took four samples from different locations in the backyard, mixed them together and sent them off to Wallace Laboratories, a local soil testing lab with...

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