LA’s Parkway Garden Dilemma: Not Fixed Yet

...to do the right thing, i.e. plant an attractive set of either edible or drought tolerant plants? There’s currently no permit fee to plant a water hungry lawn that needs to be “mowed and blowed” every week. It gets down to the simple fact that a human being has to decide what is a “nuisance.” Untended Bermuda grass with a couch and busted up bookcase: that’s a nuisance. But you can’t specify in the munic...

Continue reading…

DIY Solar Space Heating

Photo: Build It Solar. Mrs. Homegrown, who spent her formative years in the mountains of Colorado, made fun of me this morning as I noted the “cold” temperature . . . 60°F. It was the first ironic “brrrrrr” out of her mouth, letting me know that we’ve transitioned from the hot smoggy season to the the less hot smoggy season here in Los Angeles. In the northern hemisphere it’s time to consider heating. The alwa...

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…

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…

Straw Bale Garden Part IV: Almost Ready to Plant?

w that I did not let the bales compost long enough. One problem I had with the conditioning process is that the straw on most of my bales was oriented with the stem sides facing the wide (vertical) side of the bale. This made it difficult to get the blood meal into the bales. One or two of the bales had the straw oriented with the stems facing up and these bales seemed to heat up faster. Another problem was keeping the bales moist in our hot and...

Continue reading…

Root Simple Video Podcast Episode 3: A Tour of Our Straw Bale Garden

In the third episode of the Root Simple Video Podcast we’re taking you into the backyard for a tour of our straw bale garden. We started rotting the bales in late April by adding blood meal. In May we added a balanced fertilizer and started planting the bales. In the video you’ll see the veggies we planted in early June. The soaker hose you see comes from Home Depot. I’m pretty sure it is this stuff. Every other week I add so...

Continue reading…

Dramm’s Breaker Nozzle: My Favorite Watering Implement

ed with their Aluminum Shut-Off Valve . The breaker nozzle provides a gentle shower, much like a Haws Watering Can and would be appropriate to use on seedlings and vegetables. The shut-off valve is extremely durable. Neither item has plastic parts. They are sold separately. While a lot more expensive than those plastic watering wands at the big box store, I have a feeling that these two high quality Dramm components will last a lot longer....

Continue reading…

Bad Forager: Mistaking Hemlock for Fennel

...ook at them with squinted eyes. But fennel foliage is thready, whereas hemlock leaves are triangle shaped and lacy. And fennel has yellow flowers while hemlock has white flowers. If you bruise a hemlock leaf or sniff a flower it smells kinda nasty, whereas all parts of the fennel taste and smell deliciously like anise/licorice. Fennel (courtesy of Wikimedia) Really, all in all, it’s easy to tell them apart. Except when they are all dried ou...

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…

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…