Pimp My Cold Frame

While the climate here in Los Angeles is exceedingly mild–it rarely gets much below freezing–springtime can, some years, be too cold to get good germination of summer vegetables such as tomatoes and peppers. This was the case in 2010 when I was not able to get a single tomato seed to germinate until late May. To head off another seedling crisis I built a simple cold frame. In order to prevent the cold frame from becoming a solar...

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Advances in Gardening Series: The Perennial Herb Bed, Patience and Plant Spacing and Breaking Your Own Rules

No, this is not a pile of weeds. Someday it’s going to look good. Mrs. Homegrown here: One of the big lessons of gardening is patience. One way gardening patience is expressed is in planting perennials: buying leeetle teeny plants and planting them vast distances apart and then waiting with your hands politely folded until they grow to full size. A very common landscaping mistake is to go out and buy a bunch of gallon-sized land...

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Bare Root Fruit Tree Season is Here!

Yet another Internet “un-boxing.” This time fruit trees. Our bare root fruit tree order just arrived from Bay Laurel Nursery. We ordered: Tropic Snow Peach on Nemaguard rootstock Panamint Nectarine on Citation rootstock CoffeeCake (Nishimura Wase) Persimmon Saijo Persimmon (pollinator for CoffeeCake) Flavor Finale Pluot on Myrobalan 29C rootstock Santa Rosa Plum on Citation rootstock (pollinator for the Flavor Finale Pluot...

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Dumpster Herb Score

Mrs. Homegrown here: Scored big at Trader Joes yesterday. Love a good dumpster find, almost as much as finding good feral fruit.  It looks like they were clearing out their plants and flowers for Valentines Day, because out by the cardboard piles we found a grocery cart heaped full of wilted flowers and random potted mums. (Joes really needs to start a composting program, don’t you think?) We sorted through the cart and found fou...

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Why Did We Change Our Name?

The answer is simple. To those of you who have ever tried to find an available url, you know. It’s tough. Everything is taken. When I began this blog on a whim one afternoon in 2006, I registered “survivela.com.” Our first publisher, correctly, thought that was too Los Angeles-centric and asked that we make it more universal so that we could expand our readership. Thus began the second painful search for an unused URL, followe...

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Hugo, humanure and nettles

One of the original illustrations to Les Misérables (1862) Mrs. Homegrown here: Anne, our neighbor with the pea-ravaging Chihuahua, brings to our attention the fact that Victor Hugo was a humanure enthusiast, and in fact dedicates long passages of Les Misérables to it. This is taken from Volume V, Book 2 (The Intestine of the Leviathan), Chapter One, provided by Project Gutenberg: Paris casts twenty-five millions yearly into the wate...

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Avocados

Green gold! We’re very lucky that when we purchased our house 13 years ago it came with a mature, and delicious avocado tree. Wanting to know more about how to care for that tree I attended a remarkable lecture at the Huntington given by avocado experts Carl Stucky and Julie Frink. From the Huntington lecture I gleaned the following factoids: Avocados varieties are divided into three “races”: Mexican, Guatemalan, and...

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Strange brew: herbal steam for a chest cold and sinus pain

...rd to replace. Fortunately, I had some eucalyptus essential oil and would add one drop of it to the water each time I went into the tent. From now on I’m going to be sure to have eucalyptus essential oil on hand at all times. On steam round two, I wanted to freshen the mix and had no more dried sage or juniper, so I added a big spray of fresh pine (baby cone and all) from the neighbor’s yard. Pine is considered a good substitute for...

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My Sooper Seekrit Compost Pile

Welcome to the Lucy and Ricky show! As some of you know, Erik is a complete and utter compost wonk. A heavy book about the science of decomposition is pleasure reading for him. He has a really, really big thermometer and knows how to use it. We’ve kept a compost pile for years and years, but only in the last two years has it become an obsession for him. One of his more recent projects has been to make an gigantic bin in our back yard. Thi...

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I like my chamomile stressed

This poor, abused little seedling is flowering like crazy. Mrs. Homegrown here: I made a mistake–I predicted a while ago that this would happen, and here it is. When we remodeled the yard and I set aside space for The Phan of Pharmacy ™ my goal was to maximize the production of herbs and flowers.  I prepped the ground in the fan like a fine flower or veg bed: double dug and richly amended. It was only aft...

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