Healthy garden soil is ALIVE.

One teaspoon of compost may contain: 1 billion invisible bacteria(20,000 to 30,000 species of them),400 to 900 feet of fungal hyphae (thread-like structures), 10,000 to 50,000 protozoa, and 30 to 300 nematodes. Then there are algaes and slime molds, and arthropods (“insects” or “bugs”),both visible and microscopic. Paraphrased from Jeff Lowenfels and Wayne Lewis, Teaming

Soil building

Feed your soil. Your soil feeds your plants and your plants feed you. — Paraphrased from John Jeavons When I teach the soil-building session at my class series at the Community Garden at Holy Nativity, I always bring along my little friends – a trio of oversized, gooey brown jelly-plastic earthworms left over from a

There’s too much to learn!

I’ve been hearing this line lately, as Transition Los Angeles works with people to help them adapt toward post-petroleum lifestyles. “There’s too much to learn!” But look at what you already know. Look at the massive amount of knowledge you have acquired in the past 3 to 5 years to learn to effectively use that

Rediscovering Production

To consume means to destroy. That’s why “consumption” was the name given to tuberculosis. – Vandana Shiva[i] Producing food. For the most part, people alive today have lost touch with this most basic of human activities. Instead, we have become consumers. We acquire things. We accumulate things. We value ourselves and others based upon the

The Evolving Question

My personal garden has been a grand experiment. For the first 15 or so years I dabbled at growing vegetables. At first it was about novelty: How could I stretch the tomato season? Tangy mesclun, nutty Christmas limas, and smoky salsify – what unique tastes could I bring to table? Quinoa, cassava, favas – what

High-yield vegetable gardens

How to obtain incredible yields from a small urban square footage, and make it all look beautiful, too! 1. Plant edibles. It sounds really obvious, but Americans tend to plant way too many flowers. Fill your space with food plants and then add a few flowers in the left-over spaces. Learn which food plants are

Nourishing with Compost

When we broke ground at the Community Garden at Holy Nativity, the site was old grass and junipers. Not the nice kind of grass, but the scratchy stuff that kids won’t even romp on. Photographic records showed that the space had probably been grass and junipers for over 30 years. You can imagine what our

How Much Mulch

Emilia Hazelip, gardening near the fields of France, used straw — about 10 inches of it! A local homestead project once stated on their blog that they use 4 to 6 inches of mulch. Lowenfels and Lewis are far more conservative, specifying 2 to 3 inches, however they are in a cooler, moister climate. Regardless,

A Thick Quilt of Mulch

“Nature abhors bare soil,” said French Permaculturist Emilia Hazelip. When you take a hike in the mountains, have you ever noticed how the shrubs drop a thick layer of leaves? In their natural state, shrubs make their own mulch. Peel back a thick layer of garden mulch, particularly in the springtime when everything is still

Smooth or Chunky

In the gardens of my youth, the soil texture was definitely chunky. Chunky then meant sandstone and shale rock pieces – chunks so hard you could not break them with a pick, let alone with the tender root of a seedling. Smooth was what was left over when the chunks of rock were removed and

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