Sonora Wheat at the Huasna Valley Farm

...wheat to create Sonora 64, an early green revolution wheat. Ironically, as we face an uncertain energy future, we may have to go back to the original Sonora wheat as it performs better in organic circumstances and needs less water than modern wheat varieties. Ron shows off the combine. One of the challenges the Skinners faced in farming just a few acres of wheat was figuring out how to harvest it. Large industrial farms use enormous and...

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The grape that ate the world

...ear our north side fence maybe five years ago now. While the rest of our grapes wilt and struggle, this one is completely the opposite. It is monstrously huge, cheerfully indestructible, and absolutely out of control. Without water or any encouragement whatsoever it has grown all along the side of the house, from the back yard to the front yard–some 50 feet. It long ago swamped the 6′ chain link fence and now entertains itself by maki...

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Why we love fennel

Fennel is an invasive plant, and there are plenty of fennel haters out there, many of them our friends, but every year we let a stand or two of wild fennel take root in our yard anyway. We just had to pause now, while the fennel is high, to say that we love it, because it is hardy and beautiful and grows with no water and no encouragement. Feral fennel bulbs aren’t as good as cultivated bulbs for eating, but we eat the flowers, the fronds...

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Vertical Garden Success!

Regular readers of the blog know that we’re dubious about vertical gardening, but this is a vertical garden we can really get behind. Here, a cherry tomato is growing out of a crack in a retaining wall in our neighbor’s yard. (It’s just off our front stairs, and is almost certainly an offspring of one of our tomatoes) It is thriving with no water whatsoever. You can’t see them in this picture, but there’s tons of f...

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Are Raised Beds a Good Idea?

...ng they look so poorly *only* because they are raised beds. That pair of beds has produced very well in the past, but has some sort of soil problem now–one which we can’t figure out. So I wouldn’t agree with labeling the picture “raised bed fail”– it’s more of a gardener fail. It may have something to do with the fact that they are raised, that the soil texture has deteriorated over time due to the elevat...

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Questions about cats

...room matters, will the flushing toilet always be a source of wonderment, or will she grow out of it? 6) Would it be a very bad idea to push the kitty into the bathtub? She’s always balancing on the sides, looking at the water. It’s very tempting to give her a closer acquaintance with wetness. 7) What is it with cats and bags??? Don’t kittens know that kittens and sacks have a very dark history? Ours not only loves a bag, she lik...

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Seed Mania

...t! Perpetual Spinach Chard, also from Bountiful Gardens. From their catalog description, “Rare, fine old European strain of Swiss Chard. Smaller smooth dark-green leaves, small mid-ribs. Frost and bolt resistant, needs water in a dry spell.” Sea Buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides) from Bountiful Gardens. The fruit of this berry producing shrub can be found in Armenian and Russian markets here in LA. I was introduced to it by my friends...

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Upcoming Classes: Edible Gardening and Vermicomposting

...;t been satisfied with their garden yields. Expected topics include seed starting, seasonality and what to do when, building raised beds, choosing containers, plant selection, transplanting, soil preparation, irrigation, wise water use, pest management (weeds, diseases, insects), beneficial insects, composting, harvesting, and seed saving. INTERMEDIATE ORGANIC GARDENING FOR SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA Hosted by Root Simple in Silver LakeTuesday and Thurs...

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Urban Homesteading Mistakes: Landscape Fabric

...bric you just add another piece of plastic to the landfill. I know some folks swear by cardboard, and in certain situations cardboard is probably OK, but I still prefer, when possible, just piling up the mulch. You get better water penetration with mulch and you don’t have the problem of bits of cardboard floating up to the surface. So, my two cents: don’t add landscape fabric to your landscape....

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Edible Landscaping and Gardening Classes With Darren Butler

...;t been satisfied with their garden yields. Expected topics include seed starting, seasonality and what to do when, building raised beds, choosing containers, plant selection, transplanting, soil preparation, irrigation, wise water use, pest management (weeds, diseases, insects), beneficial insects, composting, harvesting, and seed saving. INTERMEDIATE ORGANIC GARDENING FOR SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA Hosted by Root Simple in Silver LakeTuesday and Thurs...

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