On why our vegetable garden is such a disaster this year . . .

One of the front beds–soil problems, I think, are causing the gap in the middle of the bed. I’m having my annual gardening-caused mental meltdown. When it comes to vegetables this winter (the best time to grow them here in Los Angeles) if it could go wrong it did. Vegetables are needy, fussy plants and we’ve not had much luck with them recently. So I thought I would list the factors, natural and human that went into this year&#...

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Get Off Your Ass and Plant a Survival Garden!

Tired of going to the market to buy crappy vegetables that taste out of season no matter what time of year it is? Tired of garlic from China and grapes from Chile? Why waste land, if you have it, on things you can’t eat? And why not have some fresh produce on hand in case of the inevitable zombie invasion. Now, vegetable gardening takes some practice and unfortunately very few books deal with the specifics of Los Angeles’ unique Medi...

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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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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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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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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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