Erik’s 2012 New Year’s Resolutions in Review

plan out the garden but nature had her own plans including a destructive series of skunk attacks. I’ve switched to a hands-off approach to veggie gardening inspired by Masanobu Fukuoka. Start a podcast (decided to make it a video podcast). You can subscribe in the iTunes store here (it’s freeeeee!). Clean up the graphic design on the blog and organize information better: Thank you to our book designer Roman Jaster for doing this for...

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Bicycles and GPS

So at a time when the whole hipster stripped-down fixed-gear bike phenomenon has just passed its inevitable pop cultural zenith, this post will come across as impossibly nerdy. Yesterday I finally got around to strapping my small handheld GPS unit to the handlebars of my road bike and I can say that this particular combination of 19th century technology and 20th century electronics rocks. The only sane way to get around Los Angeles and most lar...

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Native Plant Workshop

Vitus californica covering our ugly chain link fence There’s a couple of common misconceptions amongst novice gardeners about native plants: 1. If you use native plants the whole garden has to be natives. In fact, it’s great to mix natives with non-native plants. The natives bring in beneficial wildlife, are hardy and are efficient in terms of water use. Flexibility is key here–go ahead and mix natives with vegetables, fruit...

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Make a Rain Barrel

There’s a lot of advice floating around the internets about how to make a rain barrel. Most barrel pundits suggest drilling a hole in the bottom of a barrel and installing a faucet, a kind of connection called a “bulkhead fitting”. Unfortunately such improvised fittings have a tendency to leak. My favorite way to make a rain barrel is to take a 55 gallon drum, use the preexisting fittings on the top and turn it upside down, a p...

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We Vote With Our Gas Pedals

Photo by sanbeiji It’s been my good luck to travel on business to many great cities in Northern Europe. And these cities–Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Brugge, Dusseldorf, and Hamburg–have one thing in common: people come first, cars come second. It’s a hassle to drive but a pleasure to walk, bike and take public transit. As a direct result they are desirable places to live and be a tourist. While we could throw many American...

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Real Estate Bubble Bananas

prinkler head creates a nightly fountain as the houses’ infrastructure lapses into a timer operated zombification. We knew the nice young family that used to live here and I hope that they were able to sell somehow, but it doesn’t look good. I started picking up the junk mail to make the place looked lived in. I also remembered that the backyard had both figs and bananas, and ventured beyond the gate to see how the fruit was developin...

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On the Many Frustrations of Gardening: Pierce’s Disease

la fastidiosa) spread by an insect called the sharpshooter. Pierce’s was discovered in 1892 in Anaheim and is basically the reason we no longer have many vineyards in Southern California. Once a vine gets Pierce’s it will die within a few years. You have to admit failure and rip it out, which I plan to do soon. “Wood on new canes matures irregularly, producing patches of green, surrounded by mature brown bark.” To confir...

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Washing Machine Greywater Resources

#8217;s open source Laundry to Landscape system. 1″ polyethylene tubing–an alternative to PVC pipe. Oasis Biocompatible detergent, the only laundry detergent we can find that’s appropriate for greywater use. It works great and, again, click through the link and we get a little support. A selection of three way diverter valves. Note the 1″ brass model for laundry systems. Use these diverters to shift between sending your...

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Least Favorite Plant: Yellow Oleander (Thevetia peruviana)

Thumbing through a book of toxic and hallucinogenic plants, I finally manged to i.d. the neighbor’s shrub that looms over the staircase to our front door. The popular name given for this plant in the book was “suicide tree”, so named for its use in Sri Lanka, though I’ve found other plants with this same moniker. The scientific name is Thevetia peruviana, and it’s also known as “lucky nut” (can we chang...

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