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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No garden space? Check this out

Follow this link to the Eastsider blog for a little profile piece on a man raising crops in a median strip. This is exactly what we should all be doing. Well, except maybe standing in traffic to water–if at all avoidable–but I do tip my hat to this intrepid fellow gardener. There’s so much wasted space in this city. Yesterday Erik and I were walking down the sidewalk, admiring a flat stretch of dry, weedy ground betwixt sidewal...

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Advances in Gardening Series: The Fan

Yet another heat wave slowed our backyard redesign project, but the weather is looking more cooperative at last and things are coming along. What we thought we might do over the next few days is share some of the new things we’ve put in, and how/why we built them, just in case any of it might be useful to you. Everything is pretty rough and ragged right now, but it will be fun to report back in a couple months and do a compare/contrast. T...

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Ridiculous New Parkway Planting Rules for Los Angeles

Neatly mowed bermuda grass and weeds–no permit required! The city of Los Angeles just announced new guidelines for parkway plantings. The new rules allow residents can plant ten different species of drought tolerant turf alternatives in addition to approved street trees and drought tolerant turf species. It sounds great . . . until you read the fine print. Those drought tolerant turf alternatives, which include chamomile, yarrow...

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Learn How to Compost Via the Humanure Handbook

Composting ain’t rocket science but it does require some finesse. Following up on an earlier post which contained a comparison of different composters, I thought I’d mention my favorite written resource on how to compost. In my opinion, the best writing on the subject comes from a surprising source, the Humanure Handbook by Joeseph Jenkins. Best of all, an edition of this book is available online for free. Even if you have no intenti...

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Volvo Camper by John Ross

e tank with polyisocyanurate foam-board and covered the whole thing with a $70 tent to block out light. You access the tank through a hole in the roof of the Volvo. A vented heater doubles as a stove. Ross told me how easily it went together–just two hours to secure the tank to the car–much faster than building something from scratch.And no mortgage! You can watch the Volvo camper in action here....

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LA Times Calls Vertical Gardens in a Dry Climate a Bad Idea

...8220;The concrete wall behind the bagged-and-hung garden is wet with runoff from an automated drip system. The sacks are calcified with irrigation scale. Even in an open-air setting, get close and there is a whiff of mold. It’s hard to imagine a less savory or more whimsically destructive system for a region in a water crisis.” Amen. We need more critical thinking like this, especially when it comes to schemes with “eco” or...

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Bean Fest Begins!

Photograph by Luisfi Mrs. Homegrown here: I’ve never figured out why sometimes the body craves junk food (e.g. salt and pepper ruffle chips dipped in sour cream with a side of home baked brownies) and other times it craves good food. But fortunately for my system, I’m craving good food now. I dream about fresh cooked beans, succulent greens and garlic laden pickles. The image above makes me salivate. Yet…dried beans are also...

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Urban Homesteading Mistakes: Landscape Fabric

Since you all seem to enjoy accounts of our many failures around the Root Simple compound, I thought I’d share what must be one of the worst mistakes I’ve made. It’s a error up in our great chandelier of failures along with buying a 91 year old house on a hill with a bad foundation. Two words for you: landscape fabric–that plastic stuff sold in rolls at big box stores that allegedly blocks out weeds. Just after we bough...

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Urine as a Fertilizer

available (at least after a night of beer drinking) alternative to organic nitrogen fertilizers such as blood meal. We’ve got a perpetual nitrogen deficiency in our vegetable beds and I hate buying industrial ag sourced items like blood meal. Urine is a great alternative. To use urine in the garden you’ve got to dilute it with water, at least ten to one. Straight urine will burn your plants. Thankfully we don’t worry about our s...

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