Least Favorite Plant: Tree of Heaven

Detroit Tree of Heaven Woodshop’s new ghetto palm farm. Photos from the Detroit Tree of Heaven Woodshop. Riding on the Amtrak San Joaquin train two weeks ago I discovered a new metric: the economic health of a city can be judged by the size of its trees of heaven (aka Ailanthus altissima, aka “ghetto palm”). The higher the ghetto palms, the more likely a city is to be in the crapper. Tree of heaven is a super weed much revile...

Continue reading…

Root Knot Nematodes, Meliodogyne spp.

...nds of nematodes and not all are garden pests. However, the root knot nematode is a very annoying pest indeed. Above ground, plants are stunted. Below ground, the little guys are sucking on the plant’s roots and robbing it of nutrients. This weakens the overall root system, starves the plant and allows entry points for fungus and disease. Bad stuff. I have had plants that mysteriously won’t grow. No amount of fertilizer, water or sunl...

Continue reading…

How to Cook Perfect Scrambled Eggs

How do you make perfect scrambled eggs? Two words for you: double boiler. It’s a method I learned from a book I had out from the library, Ruhlman’s Twenty: 20 Techniques 100 Recipes A Cook’s Manifesto . I can’t say that I read the rest of the book, but the double boiler egg method sure works well. You melt some butter in a double boiler first to help keep the eggs from sticking. You can also use a pan held over (but not...

Continue reading…

How to Cook Broadleaf Plantain

visit to Urban Outdoor Skills, I was very excited to find he’d developed a cooking technique for broadleaf plantain (Plantago major, the common weed, not the banana relative). Though I know plantain is very nutritious, it is also bitter and heavily veined, so I prefer to collect it as a medicinal herb. I infuse it into oil that I put into salves and creams and I use it as a fresh poultice on itchy bites and hives. But eating it? Meh. IR...

Continue reading…

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…

Warning: This Blog is Based in a Mediterranean Climate

...ardening in the Northern Hemisphere’s winter months. I imagine that most of the readers of this blog are either taking some time off from gardening or gardening under a hoop house. But for us here in Southern California it’s the prime agricultural season, when rain falls and the hills are green. It’s my favorite time of year. But I imagine most of you are puzzled by discussions of picking veggies in the middle of January. As puz...

Continue reading…

My Favorite Lettuce Mix

ding in the photo above, we need to eat some more salads soon. There’s never been pest problems save for the edible, and aggressive, fennel seedlings you can see amongst the lettuce (memo to self: cut down fennel before it goes to seed this year!). And, at the risk of repeating myself, I pretty much grow Franchi seeds exclusively. It’s a family run Italian company that dates back to 1783. This year I grew their “Misticanza All...

Continue reading…

Straw Bale Garden Part III: Adding Fertilizer

After watering our straw bales for three days our next step is to apply 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 water...

Continue reading…

How to Keep Squirrels and Birds From Eating Your Fruit

...ors and friends to save them for me and in a short time amassed a large collection. They snap shut over most fruit like these mangos and this helps to control fruit damage. Since they have vent holes, they don’t collect water inside. They can be washed and stored and are durable enough to last several seasons. After they serve their duty, they can be put in the recycling bin. Noel is the person who sent the picture of all the winter fruit h...

Continue reading…

A New and Improved Self Irrigating Pot System

A very cool improvement on the self irrigating pot (SIP) idea from Larry Hall of Minnesota. Rather than the two bucket system we’ve blogged about in the past (see a roundup of our SIP resources here), Hall uses one long rain gutter to supply water. He’s even got a clever double rain gutter system for growing strawberries that I’m tempted to try on our back patio. I spotted this video on Inside Urban Green always a good sourc...

Continue reading…