Our Winter Vegetable Garden

Favas n’ peas It’s a blessing and a curse to live in a year round growing climate. Winter here in Southern California is the most productive time for most vegetables. It also means that there’s no time off for the gardener or the soil. In the interest of better note keeping, what follows is a list of what we’re growing this winter in the vegetable garden. We’ll do an update in the spring to let you know how...

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Tracking the Mood of the Gardener

Swiss chard from the winter of 2010 A Root Simple reader I ran into this weekend took issue with my assertion that fall is the best time to start a vegetable garden in Southern California. Thinking about it some more I think she may have a point. Some of you may have noticed that we have a new feature on the blog–if you click on an individual blog post you’ll see a list of related posts at the bottom. Looking at some of those older p...

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A Bustle In Your Hedgerow: California Natives for your Vegetable Garden

...or randomly throughout) may increase the dispersal of small-bodied insect natural enemies through the fields. Scott Kleinrock, who is in charge of the new Ranch project at the Huntington, tipped me off to this research and is making use of a lot of California natives to create the urban residential equivalent of a hedgerow. In short, a hedgerow in our yards and urban spaces means making sure to include lots of natives and flowering plants that ca...

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Saturday Linkages: Naked Gardening, Ticks, Walking in LA and Eating Giant Rats

Couple gets booted out of the first world naked gardening day. Watch out for the nettles . . . World naked gardening day–May 4: http://www.wngd.org [Editors note: NSFW and no we won't be participating in WNGD, but I once saw a neighbor doing so while I was walking our dog a few years ago.] Making Things Paul Elkin, Maker of Many Things http://lloydkahn-ongoing.blogspot.com/2013/04/paul-elkin-maker-of-many-things.html#.UYSMGz1dyX8.twitter...

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Straw Bale Gardens

Tasha Via’s straw bale garden. Michael Tortorello (who profiled us when Making It came out) is one of my favorite writers covering the home ec/gardening subjects we discuss on this blog. He had an article last week in the New York Times, “Grasping at Straw” on straw bale gardening. We’ve very tempted to give the practice a try in our backyard. Why? We have lead and zinc contaminated soil so growing veggies in the ground...

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Vegetable Garden Update: Too Much Salad

It’s amazing what you can grow in just a 4 foot by 8 foot area. From top to bottom in the picture above: Escarole mix: Misticanza Di Indivie E ScaroleLettuce: Lattuga Quattro StagioniChicory: Cicoria Variegata Di CastelfrancoDandelion GreensSwiss Chard: Verde Da Taglio Approximately half the bed is devoted to salad makings. Combined with another 2 foot by 4 foot area of arugula elsewhere in our yard, we’ve had a whole lot of salads...

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Straw Bale Garden: What I Learned

Straw bale garden–April on the left, November on the right. The straw bale garden I started this spring has been one of the most successful vegetable gardens I’ve ever planted. In fact it’s still producing well into November. Here’s what I learned from the experiment: Plants that suck up a lot of nitrogen, like squash, do well in a straw bale garden. My tomatoes flourished but, due to the high nitrogen, made more leaves...

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Self Irrigating Planter Resources

Homegrown Evolution is up in San Francisco this weekend to do a talk about the world of self-irrigating planters (also known as SIPs or self-watering planters or a couple of other variations on that general verbiage). In our opinion SIPs are the food growing tool of the aspiring urban agriculturalist. Make or buy one of these things and vegetable container gardening is a breeze. No need to water your pots three times a day during the summer! For...

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Lasagna Gardening Simplified

r penetration (I know this from experience) and the kitchen scraps create a plant nutrient overload. Instead Chalker-Scott suggests simply a very thick layer of mulch–12 inches. Mulch is often free, as many cities give it away, and it does wonders for the soil. Mulch, in fact, breaks down into soil, retains moisture and creates habitat for earthworms. Read more in Chalker-Scott’s post, “Is lasagna gardening really worth the ef...

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