Whiteflies

The upside to garden pests and diseases is getting to do a little amateur backyard science. Any excuse to mix up a martini, pull out the microscope and take a close look at things and we’re all over it. This week’s happy hour entomology comes thanks to a infestation of white flies living on the underside of our tree collards. I believe the specific culprit pictured above is the greenhouse whitefly, Trialeurodes vaporariorum which, de...

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Gardening in an Apartment Windowsill

Photo courtesy of Helen Kim Without exaggeration, this is the most amazing garden I have ever seen. It’s easy if you’re the king of France to create the gardens of Versailles, but a much greater achievement to bring nature’s abundance to an apartment windowsill in Los Angeles. It’s the handiwork of a talented photographer named Helen Kim who, in this tiny space, grows cucumber, basil, lemon verbena, alfalfa sprou...

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How To Design a Garden Step IV: Clues to Care

...eds and paths (vs. bare soil) Artwork Trellises and other attractive supports Birdbaths Benches While the above items fall under the category of hardscape, clues to care also include aesthetic choices in planting and arranging the yard. For instance, it’s never a bad idea to plant lots of flowers, even if you’re more interested in food, and place them toward the front of the yard to appease the neighbors. Choose your flowers well and...

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Problems Part I

The road to urban homesteading ain’t smooth and involves more than a few potholes along the way. Some of those potholes will swallow a bike tire while others are big enough for a Hummer. But with persistence it becomes easier to deal with the occasional bump, lessons can be learned and future mistakes avoided. With the popularity of our earlier blunders post, I’d like to begin regularly sharing problems as they develop. Here’s...

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The High Cost of Golf

...gh I’m partial to my Xtracycle cargo bike, once in a while I’ll rent a pickup truck to haul some big items. Yesterday it was time to get a bunch of straw bales to use as bedding for the chickens. While driving by a public golf course on the way to the feed store, the windshield suddenly shattered startling me and my passenger, Ari of Islands of LA, who had come along to help out. Instictively, we ducked thinking that someone was shoo...

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Erik’s New Years Resolutions

...lutions. This year my resolution is . . . lots of resolutions. Here’s the list. I expect you to hold me to it: get HAM technician’s license learn Morse code attend CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) classes build cob oven in the backyard organize messy office so it doesn’t look like an episode of Hoarders organize supplies in garage into labeled boxes turn the garage into the ultimate man cave fix bad knees return to th...

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Mistakes we have made . . .

...e growing in terrible alkaline soil with no added water or fertilizer. The problem with the prickly pear is that it is too prodigious, and that’s the kind of problem you can hope for as an urban homesteader. 3. Newspaper seed pots Those newspaper seed starting pots we linked to earlier this year . . . well, there seems to be a problem with them. I think the newspaper is wicking the water away from the soil. While in Houston recently, I took...

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Salsa Dancing in a World Without Oil

For those of you in the Los Angeles area here’s some events to mark on the calendar: SALSA SALSA What: Salsa Salsa, a Celebration of Love Apples Type: Public Art Event in which we make salsa while dancing to salsa music together. When: Sunday, August 17th, 3 to 7 p.m. Where: Farmlab, 1745 N. Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012 Free to the public SALSA SALSA is a harvest festival inviting the citizens of Los Angeles to come make and taste...

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Bisphenol-A

...s and the lining of fermentation tanks) and the lining in metal cans. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says it’s safe, a viewpoint contradicted by at least 100 studies. The problem: BPA is a endocrine disruptor linked to a host of problems, according to some researchers, including cancer, obesity, childhood hyperactivity and the early onset of puberty in girls. We’ve done our best around our little urban homestead to eliminate p...

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Heavy-duty disinfecting the non-toxic way with hydrogen peroxide and vinegar

...board, where you might want something stronger. Here’s a safe, super-strong way to disinfect. We covered it in The Urban Homestead, and it floats around the interwebs, too, so it may be review for some of you. 1) Take a bottle of hydrogen peroxide (3% solution, the kind you buy in the drugstore). Leave it in the  brown bottle it comes in because hydrogen peroxide is light sensitive. Screw a spray bottle nozzle onto the brown bottle. 2) Fi...

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