Mallow (Malva parviflora) an Edible Friend

In late February, towards the end of our winter rains, it’s high weed season here in Los Angeles–folks in other parts of the country will have to wait a few more months. We await this season with anticipation, since it’s the best time of year to forage for wild edible weeds. We’ll highlight a few of these edible weeds in the next few months beginning today with Mallow (Malva parviflora also known as cheeseweed because the...

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Rooftop Garden Classes

Homegrown Neighbor here: Los Angeles has sprouted a very cool rooftop garden. Here where January temperatures are often in the 70′s, buildings aren’t designed to hold snow, meaning that our roofs usually can’t hold much weight. So rooftop gardens are rare. But on the border of Little Tokyo, skid row, and a warehouse district, an old seafood warehouse rooftop has been turned into a gourmet garden atop the home of artisan food p...

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Interview With Apartment Gardener Helen Kim

We got a lot of emails after posting the image above of Los Angeles based photographer Helen Kim’s astonishing windowsill garden. It’s a great example of what you can do with a small amount of space, and brings to mind William Morris’ advice, “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful”. Helen graciously sat down for an email interview to talk about her beautiful and useful garden...

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Holy Crap! What a Nice Rooftop Garden!

Photo by antifa123 Check out how these enterprising Chicagoans responded to the “but I don’t have room for a garden” argument via antifa173′s informative rooftop gardening Flickr set. Not only do you get to see their beautifully designed self-watering container system, but they tell you how to do it with detailed instructions!...

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All is Fire

Photo by Olivier Ffrench Scholar, former Wall Street trader and author Nassim Nicholas Taleb is in his native Lebanon this week shopping for olive groves, according to an article in today’s Wall Street Journal (enter “Taleb’s Pessimism Lures CIC” in Google to get around the pay wall). Taleb explains, “Healthy investments are those that produce goods that humans need to consume, not flat-screen TVs. Sto...

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In Defense of the Paper Wasp

Paper wasp building a nest. Image: Wikimedia. I really don’t like gardening advice that divides the natural world into lists of good and bad bugs. From nature’s perspective all creatures have a role, even the much despised paper wasp. Paper Wasp Biology 101 Wasps perform important duties: some wasps eat other insects, other wasps are scavengers, acting as nature’s garbage disposers. That’s not to say that wasps don’...

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Country Wisdom

Thanks to a tip from the Soapboxers, SurviveLA augmented our homesteading library with a copy of the extremely useful book, Country Wisdom & Know-How by the editors of Storey Books. Country Wisdom is a compendium of tips culled from the Country Wisdom Bulletin published in the 1970s and oriented to the “back to the land” movement of that time. While geared to country living there is plenty in here for city dwellers such as ourse...

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Stella Natura: Planting by the Signs

Judging from the hostile reaction the last time I posted about Biodyamamics, we need some kind of woo-woo alert for this type of post. Perhaps an animated flash animation, like those mortgage ads, of Stevie Nicks dancing to Rhiannon . I’ll get the Homegrown Evolution IT department on it right away. On to the post: Timing planting according to moon, sun and zodiacal cycles is a very old tradition. Farmers and gardeners have consulted mys...

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Least Favorite Plant: Asparagus Fern (Asparagus setaceus)

Today, a new feature on the blog: least favorite plants. I’ve always thought that it’s more fun to read a bad review than a glowing one, so why not extend the concept to the plant world? But we’re not going to rant about “weeds”, which Ralph Waldo Emerson defined as, “a plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered.” As active foragers we’ve found virtues in what most people think of as weeds,...

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Shiitake Happens

Well, actually, shiitake doesn’t happen. It’s back to the drawing board for our first experiment in mushroom growing. We ordered a kit and dutifully followed the directions, but a combination of high temperatures and too much or too little water resulted in the result you see above, what looks like a cake with a skin disease. And even if we got a crop the cost of the kit was too high to make the process economical. The kit came pre-...

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