Seeds are from Mars

You gotta be a modern day Pythagoras to parse out the moral geometry of our complex food system. Our hasty blog post on growing Dragon Carrots from Seeds of Change prompted a few comments and a phone call alerting us to ethical concerns about the seed company. Knowing the diversity of readers of this blog, we’re simply going to toss out the issues and let you all make up your own minds. Seeds of Change began as a small New Mexico based com...

Continue reading…

Looking for Tough, Drought Tollerant Plants?

For Californians, you need look no further than UC Davis Arboretum’s searchable list of All-Stars. The horticultural staff of the UC Davis Arboretum have identified 100 tough, reliable plants that have been tested in the Arboretum, are easy to grow, don’t need a lot of water, have few problems with pests or diseases, and have outstanding qualities in the garden. Many of them are California native plants and support nati...

Continue reading…

Can our landscapes model a vibrant future? Not according to the LA DWP.

...ernor has asked California residents to cut their water use by 20%.  Apparently, we’ve only managed to cut it by 5%. There’s a strange sense of unreality about the drought. I think that’s because we’re just not feeling it in the cities. Our water is cheap, the taps are running, food prices aren’t terribly affected– yet.  So we keep washing our cars and hosing off the sidewalks and topping off our swimming pools...

Continue reading…

The Other Kind of Fencing

...d into my first lesson with Amy, many years ago, she said that if she were to build a fencing robot from scratch it would look like me: tall and gangly. Unfortunately, what Amy did not know is that I lacked even a shred of natural athletic talent. Which is precisely why I’ve become obsessed with this sport. It offers me a chance to work on things I’m terrible at: strategy, mindfulness, flexibility, speed and endurance....

Continue reading…

Journal of the New Alchemists

...year was 1969 and the Todds along with Bill McLarney went on to found the New Alchemy Institute. History repeats itself. What the New Alchemists did, in response to the 1970s era energy crisis and political instability, sounds a lot like what people have been up to since the 2008 economic bubble: aquaculture, organic gardening, earth building, market gardens, no-till agriculture, old timey music, wind power, four season growing, permaculture, non...

Continue reading…

Decomposed Granite as Mulch: A very bad idea

...ling decaying bits of plastic out of their garden for evermore. What’s a better approach? Wood chips. Pile it on thick. Skip the plastic liner. Eventually your new plantings will cover any bare areas if you space them correctly. It looks good,  and the mulch breaks down and turns into soil. You will still need to weed but that’s called gardening. Save the DG for walkways. Or use mulch on your walkways too. Mulch is free or low cost. J...

Continue reading…

Saturday Linkages: Rocket Stoves, Big Cargo Bikes and Shopping for the Apocalypse

Image: BoingBoing. The Flying Tortoise: A Very Gorgeous Little Rocket Mass Type Terracotta… http://theflyingtortoise.blogspot.com/2014/05/a-very-gorgeous-little-rocket-mass-type.html?spref=tw … How to mount staghorn ferns in your garden http://bit.ly/1nosn5W  #diy Getting to the root of gardening’s role in mental wellness | Victory Gardens Blog | http://buff.ly/1o3lIkd  Darrel Morrison’s Addition to the Brooklyn Bo...

Continue reading…

Straw Bale Garden Part III: Adding Fertilizer

...a high nitrogen fertilizer. We’re following West Virginia University Extension Service’s Straw Bale Gardening advice. They suggest a 1/2 cup of urea per bale or “bone meal, fish meal, or compost for a more organic approach.” (I think they mean blood meal as bone meal does not have much nitrogen in it.) Choosing the organic approach, we’re watering in two cups of blood meal a day to each bale for days four to six. Da...

Continue reading…

How to Deal With Cabbage Worms

It happens every year. I forget the gardening lessons of the year before. Take my many failed attempts to grow cabbage, for instance. It always gets decimated by the imported cabbage worm (Pieris rapae), a creature as abundant in Los Angeles as aspiring actors. There are several strategies I could use to deal with this pest (cabbage worms, that is–I have no problem with actors). I could spray Bacillus thuringiensis but...

Continue reading…

Let’s Democratize Permaculture

...culture save us from this petrochemical fueled Miley Cyrus soundtracked nightmare? Don’t hold your breath. It might be awhile before everyone’s front yard is full of perennial vegetables and Merle Haggard is back on FM radio. Over at Club Orlov some controversy over permaculture has broken out in the comments. One poster, Morgan Emrich says, “Thank you, thank you, thank you, for at least hinting that there might be a problem wit...

Continue reading…