Bird Netting as a Cabbage Leaf Caterpillar Barrier

UPDATE: This idea is a complete failure–see the ugly details here. Last month I sang the praises of floating row cover as an insect barrier. The only problem is that floating row cover retains heat, and so when our fall and winter days turn hot, as they so often do, it gets way too hot and humid inside the “tent.” So as Marshall McLuhan was fond of saying, “If you don’t like that idea, I’ve got others.”...

Continue reading…

Radish Surprise

A volunteer radish–I think it is a daikon–sprouted up in a little clear pocket of our yard. We let it go, ignored it. It grew bigger, and bigger, and bigger. Usually a radish is harvested early, so we never see how big they can get. This one got huge, then burst out into hundreds of tiny purple flowers. Hummingbirds, honey bees and all sorts of flying insects visit it all day, every day. It has become one of the queens of the garden...

Continue reading…

Smurfs Team Up With US Forest Service

When I saw this ad at a bus stop I thought I had fallen into some kinds of post-modern hall of mirrors. At first I could not believe that it was real. Is the Forest Service really pushing our magnificent National Forests with an ad depicting a simulated forest populated by the Belgian version of Hobbits*? How could I begin to write about this? A look at the website reveals that the Forest Service has entered into a co-branding arrangement with...

Continue reading…

Dudley brittonii “Giant Chalk Dudleya”

y brittonii requires excellent drainage, can be grown in pots and is suited to USDA zones 9 to 11. Given our Arrakis like conditions here in California, an excellent bonus is that this plant does well with only monthly water. It also thrives in a pot. Mature, it’s around 18 inches across. Annie’s does mail order and we’ve had a lot of luck with their plants. I visited the nursery on a blogger junket last year and was very impres...

Continue reading…

Advantages and Disadvantages of Raised Bed Vegetable Gardening

...is free. Roots dry out quicker in a hot climate. Lack of mineral content in bagged soils. Use of peat moss in bagged products. Unable to truly embrace the “no dig” philosophy: despite best efforts to the contrary, it seems the soil needs to be swapped out every few years. It’s container gardening, really. Going through that list of pros and cons, if it weren’t for our contaminated soil it would be better for us to grow in...

Continue reading…

The tale of the tub scrubber

I’ve used the purple bath puff on the left in the photo above to scrub my bathroom sink and tub for eight years. Eight years! It’s a little shocking now that I count back. (Puff n’ me, we’ve done a lot of scrubbing. Good times.) I received this puff has part of a gift set of bath items. I don’t enjoy using puffs in the bath, personally, so decided to try it out on the shower scum instead, and found it worked amazin...

Continue reading…

Easter Lessons

So, facing an overabundance of eggs, and having hard boiled a dozed out of desperation and having espied a charming post on naturally dyed Easter eggs, I decided to have a go at dyeing eggs on Saturday night.  The eggs our ladies deliver are all shades of beige to brown, so I worried that they’d not take dye as well as white eggs, but the post promised good results with brown eggs, and the dyes were deep and earthy enough that it seemed i...

Continue reading…

Gardening Mistakes: Six Ways We’ve Killed Plants

...our yard is no exception. The parkway, which gets a lot of foot traffic, is very compacted. Very few plants do well with compacted soil, including natives. The best way to break up compacted soil is with a broadfork, a spendy item. We use a garden fork instead. 3. Soil fertility When it comes to growing vegetables, in particular, you need rich soil. Get a soil test first. But soil fertility is a lot more than chemistry–it’s about life...

Continue reading…

Adopt an Indigo Plant in Los Angeles

Artist Graham Keegan is crowd sourcing an indigo project here in Los Angeles. You can help out by adopting indigo seedlings and growing them out–then harvesting the leaves and joining the other growers for a couple of indigo dyeing fiestas. We realize this is a highly local post, but it’s a great idea, and we hope it might inspire some of you to do group growing/harvesting projects in your hometowns. Here’s the 411 from his we...

Continue reading…

Pakistan Mulberry Fever

Let me just say Pakistan mulberries. Now let me say it again. Pakistan Mulberries.  Let’s all repeat that as a mantra. What are they? The tastiest fruit in the know universe. Imagine a longish, very sweet but ever so slightly exotic tasting berry. The problem: they go bad so fast that you practically have to eat them off the tree. The other problem: we have no more room left to grow a Pakistan mulberry tree. Thankfully fruit tree guru Ste...

Continue reading…