Garden Amendments as Placebos

I just finished writing an article for Urban Farm Magazine on the subject of aerated compost tea (ACT for short). It proved to be one of the most contentious subjects on which I’ve ever tried to, as Mark Twain liked to say, “corral the truth.” It got me thinking about other controversial soil additives popular in organic gardening and farming circles right now such as rock dust, mycorrhizae additives, and bi...

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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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Piet Oudolf’s Enhanced Nature

...217;s an approach that’s more complex than it might seem at first glance. Oudolf walks a fine line between the public’s desire for “nature” and the untidiness of the real thing. Oudolf responds with what some have called “enhanced nature.” It’s an approach that’s pragmatic, recognizing both the need for natural ecosystems within an urban environment, while at the same time providing visual interest....

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On Living in Los Angeles Without a Car: A Debate

...re. I know it’s possible–we’ve been doing it. But it’s not pleasant. Have you ever heard the term “pole shade”? It’s the thin sliver of shadow thrown down by the pole of a street light. People waiting for buses in LA huddle in the pole shadows, trying to shelter from the insanely intense LA sun. There are very few bus shelters here. Bus stops are ill-marked afterthoughts in an already unlovely urban lands...

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Los Angeles Permaculture Design Course Certificate Series

...se for Design Professionals, Land Managers & Homeowners The Permaculture Design Course has truly transformed the lives and enhanced the careers of thousands of people around the world, including architects, developers, social workers, city planners, teachers, students, gardeners, landscapers, homeowners, business owners and others. • Modern Homesteading • Home & Garden Design • Natural Building & Property Development • Urban Gardens &...

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Filter Fail: How to Cure Internet Addiction

...I’m not alone. This year, according to the research firm eMarketer, internet use will surpass TV viewing. The average American will spend five hours and nine minutes online (much of that time using mobile devices) and four hours and 31 minutes watching television. I want to be careful not to come off as being anti-technology. The internet is an incredibly useful research tool and a great way to reach out to the urban homesteading community...

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Apartment Parking Lot Gardening in East Hollywood

...#8217;s post proves that you can start a garden even if you don’t own a house and how an otherwise useless urban space can be put to good use. R.J. says: I wanted to be able to give my granddaughter the experience of gardening while she was growing up but as both my daughter and I live in apartments, and have no space for gardens I needed to come up with a solution . So based on the “Square Foot Gardening Book by Mel Bartholomew I bui...

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How Much Can You Carry on a Bicycle?

...t and transport home just as many items as we used to in the car. Longtail bikes handle just like regular bikes. Their long wheel base, in fact, makes them more stable. And I’m always surprised at how easy it is to climb hills even with heavy groceries. One need not be car-free to enjoy a cargo bike. For many years Kelly and I shared a car. The Xtracycle was a big part of making that car-light arrangement work. When people ask if urban home...

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Climate Change and Personal Responsibility

...eem like such a hard choice to make. It may indeed be politically unfeasible. I’ve long stopped looking to the national level for meaningful action or leadership. But we can do a lot on a personal level. We can start a people’s revolution. A Revolution of Reasonableness. It’s already happening. There’s been so much positive change on this front, even just in the last few years. Urban homesteading, slow food, organics, bike...

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Bee Fever in Los Angeles

...y has an article, “Could LA Become a Honeybee Mecca” detailing efforts by two groups, Honey Love and the Backwards Beekeepers, to legalize beekeeping in Los Angeles. The process, while slow, looks promising thanks to the hard work of Honey Love and sympathetic city councilman Bill Rosendahl. The article also neatly sums up the radical “backwards” approach to beekeeping advocated by LA’s maverick urban beekeeper Kirk...

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