Book Review: The New Sunset Western Garden Book

...and beneficial insects. And Hawaii, Alaska southern British Columbia and Alberta residents will be happy to find their states and provinces included.  I also find Sunset’s zone system more useful than USDA zones. I have a few minor quibbles with some of the advice. Adding compost when planting trees is not a good idea. Neither is solarizing. And, speaking as a beekeeper, I would never recommend using imidacloprid under any circumstances. I...

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Lucius Annaeus Seneca on Living Within Limits

Writing in the 1st century AD, Seneca makes a good case for common sense limits: Is it not living unnaturally to hanker after roses during the winter, and to force lilies in midwinter by taking the requisite steps to change their environment and keeping up the temperature with hot water heating? Is it not living unnaturally to plant orchards on top of towers, or to have a forest of trees waving in the wind on the roofs and ridges of one’s...

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Greywater Precautions

Before we continue our greywater series, we have a few precautions to lay down. The dangers of greywater have been exaggerated in the past and it’s important to remember that nobody in the US has ever gotten sick from exposure to greywater. The plumbing codes in this country are overly cautious in their restrictions on greywater use, as the Man, quite simply, wants you to throw perfectly good water down the sewer. On the other hand, a lot...

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Laundry to Landscape 2.0

...for you). The calculator basically gives a range of outlet sizes and numbers so that you can get an even flow to the outlets but not risk burning out the washing machine’s pump. With nine outlets Ludwig suggests a 3/8-inch hole. We simply drilled 3/8-inch holes in the bottom of the PVC pipe that we ran out into the garden. The outlets flow into mini-mulch basins along the side of some perennial shrubs and a few small fruit trees. Altogeth...

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Ridiculous New Parkway Planting Rules for Los Angeles

Neatly mowed bermuda grass and weeds–no permit required! The city of Los Angeles just announced new guidelines for parkway plantings. The new rules allow residents can plant ten different species of drought tolerant turf alternatives in addition to approved street trees and drought tolerant turf species. It sounds great . . . until you read the fine print. Those drought tolerant turf alternatives, which include chamomile, yarrow...

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Advances in Gardening Series: The Fan

...gger it will become invisible. The mainline tubing is visible at the bottom of the photo–this is where all the little tubes plug in. That will also be obscured later. The final step is to protect newly planted seeds and seedling from marauding critters. We do this by stretching bird netting over wire hoops. Bird netting, also called aviary netting, is a super light, fine plastic netting that can be bought at most nurseries. You can drape t...

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Sunflowers and Squirrels

...he used the adjacent tomato cage for extra leverage. Maybe this bag worked because the Whole Foods logo scared the squirrels away with the thought of high prices and angry Pruis drivers. I thought I had solved the problem by putting one of those ubiquitous and annoying cloth eco bags over the sunflower. Not even the City of LA logo on that eco bag scared them off. So what to do about the squirrels? Tight bird netting on fruit trees works bu...

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Spigarello: Nature’s way of saying that broccoli is so over

...oli sprouts. Or a cross between broccoli and kale. Let’s just put it this way–I fell in love with it the first time I took a bite of it a Winnetka Farms. The texture of the leaves is sturdy but tender. It’s very easy to grow. If you don’t give in to temptation and eat it prematurely, each seedling will grow into a big, sturdy plant. I think of them as broccoli trees. You harvest the leaves as you need them, leaving the pla...

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Book Review: Attracting Native Pollinators: The Xerces Society Guide to Conserving North American Bees and Butterflies and Their Habitat

...pear. Mammals and birds that eat pollinated fruits perish. But perhaps most importantly, by raising awareness of the needs of pollinating insects we can better appreciate the damage we cause through the use of pesticides. Do we really want to live in a toxic world? A world, like China’s Sichuan Province, so choked with poison that apple farmers have to climb ladders to hand pollinate trees? And we’re not just talking about honeybees....

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