Getting Hardscaping Right

...signer Keeyla Meadows about the large stones in her garden she told me that they were craned in above the house. It was clear that at some point in the evolution of her small backyard garden, she bit the bullet and got bold with the hardscaping. While there will be no craning at our house, the point is a good one. Get the hardscaping done first, do it right and be bold. Putting plants in first and then building things like decks and seating areas...

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Growing and Preparing Cardoons (Cynara cardunculus)

It’s the ultimate pain in the ass vegetable to prepare and I’ll probably get in big trouble in native plant circles for even mentioning it, but just last night I fried up my first successful plate of homegrown cardoons (Cynara cardunculus). Not the most attractive blanching job, admittedly. All ready to prepare The cardoon is a close relative of artichoke, identical in appearance, except that the flowers are much smaller and t...

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Growing Your Own Food is Like Printing Your Own Money: Ron Finley’s TED Talk

Please take a moment and watch gangster/guerrilla gardener Ron Finley’s inspiring Ted talk. I first heard about Ron after he got busted for planting a vegetable garden in what used to be a weed strewn parkway. He’s gone on to plant many more gardens around Los Angeles. The end of this talk really hit home for me, “Don’t call me if you want to sit around and have meetings. If you want to meet with me come to the gard...

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Matt’s Wild Cherry Tomato

Matt’s Wild Cherry image from Johnny’s Select Seeds. Permaculturalist Paul Wheaton was in our neck of the woods this weekend to give a couple of lectures. In his talk on “Irrigation Free Foodscapes” he mentioned a variety of tomato called “Matt’s Wild Cherry” that, as the name implies, is a wild-type tomato that grows without supplemental irrigation. Many avid vegetable gardeners have...

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Roasted Asparagus

...it for company tonight. It’s so easy to make perfect cooked asparagus that I forget that some people find it intimidating. Maybe that’s because of those dedicated asparagus cookers they sell, and associations with silver tongs and Hollandaise sauce and hotel brunches. Yet the truth is all you have to do is roast it. Here’s a universal rule: everything tastes better roasted. Even vegetables. I can’t think of one vegetable...

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Edible and Tasty Arugula Flowers

Our winter vegetable garden is just about finished. This week I’m going to tear out most of it and plant tomatoes and a few other summer veggies. I may keep some of the arugula that has gone to flower a little longer. Why? arugula flower taste great in salads bees love them arugula self seeds readily The flowers, which taste like the leaves, are a reminder of my favorite time of year: arugula season. Each year I curse...

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Cornmeal Zucchini Pancakes

...r yellow zucchini or summer squash, but we used green zucchini. Cornmeal Zucchini Pancakes 1 1/4 cup cornmeal 3/4 cup all purpose flour 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder 1 tablespoon of sugar 3/4 teaspoon salt 1 egg 1 cup of milk 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil 1 cup of grated zucchini, yellow or green, or yellow summer squash 3 tablespoons yellow bell pepper, diced fine (we skipped this) 3 tablespoons finely chopped onion Salsa for serving, home...

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Urban Homesteading and Homeowners Associations

Photo: Wikimedia. Homeowners associations are notoriously intolerant when it comes to many of the activities discussed on this blog. HOA covenants and deed restrictions tend to forbid things like keeping chickens and front yard vegetable gardens. You can even get in trouble for a laundry line. I’m curious to hear from readers who live in an HOAs. Did you get into urban homesteading before or after moving to an HOA? Have...

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Have We Reached Peak Kale? Franchi’s Cavolo Laciniato “Galega De Folhas Lisas”

...1/2 to 2 feet apart is my guess for spacing. This variety caught my eye when I overheard a farmer talking about it in the Heirloom Seed Store’s booth. He liked it a lot but complained that his customers would not buy it because of its unusual appearance. I do think there’s an opportunity for an enterprising young farmer to raid the Franchi catalog and grow a farmers market booth full of Italian (and in this case Galacian) vegetables....

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The World’s Most Beautiful Okra

If you live in a warm climate, okra is easy to grow and both beautiful and tasty. I spotted this variety growing at the Huntington Ranch: Burgundy Okra from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.The stems and seed pods are a deep and vibrant burgundy–a very stunning plant for your vegetable garden. While not as striking, this year I grew Clemson Spineless okra from seeds I saved. And thanks to a tip (can’t remember where I heard this) I’...

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