The Wild Yard Project

Storyteller and native plant evangelist David Newsom’s Wild Yard Project seeks to transform the lawn wasteland of our built environment. According to the mission statement of the Wild Yard Project,

The World Wildlife Fund recently announced that the natural world is losing 10,000 species a year, due largely to habitat loss. At the same time, we here in the United States have displaced over 40 million acres of native-habitat with costly, lifeless lawns. Astonishingly, lawns are the biggest crop in the US, but we don’t eat them, and much of that acreage goes to waste when it could be inviting back in the tens of thousands of essential and threatened species we have pushed out. The Wild Yards Project combines a powerful team of award winning filmmakers with esteemed botanists, biologists and native plant landscapers to generate media and local projects aimed at inspiring and educating people to transform their lawns back into vibrant native plant and animal habitat. One yard can save a species, but many yards can transform the world.

We’ll have David on the podcast to talk more about this important project soon. In the meantime, take a look at the video, read an essay by Kim Radochia, “A Meadow Grows in West Gloucester” and sign up for the Wild Yards Project newsletter. Then get out there, wherever you are, and plant gardens that support life.

Getting Ourselves Back to the Garden

Image: Environmental Changemakers

Our cities and suburbs abound in underused, wasted space. What if we transformed those empty, never used lawns and parking lots into gardens and community spaces? This is exactly what the Environmental Changemakers did in collaboration with Holy Nativity Episcopal Church in Westchester, a suburb of Los Angeles near the airport.

This past weekend a 10th anniversary party was held to celebrate the collaboration and recognize the leaders of the two organizations, Joanne Poyourow, founder of Environmental Changemakers (and a guest on episode 33 of the podcast) and The Rev. Peter Rood, Rector of Holy Nativity.

The garden has since metastasized from the side of the church’s building to the front and worked its way into the fringes of the small parking lot. A large adobe oven was added and bread and pizza baking events and classes take place on the second Saturday of the month. Recently, part of the front lawn became a community playground.

Many church grounds sit idle during the week. Not Holy Nativity. As Rev. Rood put it to me once, “This is a community center that just happens to have a church attached to it.” While the word “community” gets overused in this case it manifests as a genuine openness to collaboration. Poyourow, not a member of the church, put many years of work into the garden as well as hosting lectures and events.

We have a lot of underutilized space in our communities. Congratulations to Poyourow and Rood for showing us what Charles Eisenstien speaks of, “the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible.” That possible world is right in front of us, here in the present waiting for us to put down our phones and get to work.

Luddite’s Moonshot: Dealing With Leafy Green Pests

In my post soliciting “Luddite moonshots” Kyle replied, “How to grow any sort of brassica or leafy green without having to constantly poison these jerks. I opted for none of the above this year because it is so demoralizing.” Then he linked to the Wikipedia article for the banana slug.

While we have no banana slugs down here in the southern reaches of California we have plenty of other brassica and leafy green pests, principally the cabbage leaf worm. I’ve come to much the same conclusion as Kyle and grow only arugula and lettuce during our cool winter season. I leave the kale cultivation to the professionals. There’s nothing wrong with growing the crops that do best in your climate and passing on the rest. The nicest brassicas I’ve ever seen were on a farm in perpetually foggy and cool Bolinas, California.

That said, I had one season of flawless leafy greens through the combination of rich compost and row cover, specifically Agribon 15. The row cover thickness you use will depend on your climate. I opted for the lightest available as we often have freak heat waves in the winter here.

But I haven’t deployed any row cover in years. It’s a pain to use. You have to be diligent in making sure the whole bed gets covered and it’s hard to see the plants under the cover without having to pull it on and off. And row cover won’t prevent slugs. Here’s UC Davis’ advice for dealing with slugs and snails. LA’s abundant mouse and rat population keep our snails and slugs in check. We can send you some if you’d like.

119 A Chat With the Gardenerd

Christy “Garden Nerd” Wilhelmi dropped by the Root Simple compound to talk to Kelly and I about everything from loquats to bees to climate change. You can find her blog posts, podcast, YouTube at Gardenerd.com. She is the author of two books, Gardening for Geeks: DIY Tests, Gadgets, and Techniques That Utilize Microbiology, Mathematics, and Ecology to Exponentially Maximize the Yield of Your Garden and 400+ Tips for Organic Gardening Success: A Decade of Tricks, Tools, Recipes, and Resources from Gardenerd.com. During the podcast we discuss:

If you’d like to leave a question for the Root Simple Podcast please call (213) 537-2591 or send an email to [email protected]. You can subscribe to our podcast in the iTunes store and on Stitcher. Closing theme music by Dr. Frankenstein. A downloadable version of this podcast is here.