Building water-saving features with urbanite

Today was our first earth-building workshop.  Since I’m a little lean on earth-building handouts, here’s a substitute.  It’s not particularly about earth-building, but it is about earth-wise construction.  It’s about building with “urbanite,” which is a name for reused broken concrete. If you have even the slightest slope to your garden, creating flat terraces, using urbanite to

How to Build a Garden Sink

garden sink

how to make a garden sink

You pull a carrot from your garden and take it to your kitchen for dinner. Before you can put it on your kid’s dinner plate, you have to wash it. A mess of black dirt spatters all over your kitchen counter, through your sink, and oozes down the drain. Perhaps this particular carrot had creases and crevasses, so you have to scrub. Even if you scrub it underwater in a basin, you still have plenty of water and a lot of garden soil to dispose of.

Time for a garden sink.

Drought-tolerant food plants

amaranthVegetables and food plants that thrive in low water conditions in Southern California …

  • Amaranth
  • African basil (Ocimum kilimandscharicum)
  • Arugula sylvetta – the small-leafed, intensely-flavored perennial arugula
  • Arugula (W)
  • Chicory (W)
  • Grapes
  • Cowpea / blackeyed pea – especially the varieties developed by Native Americans in the desert southwest
  • Cumin (LX)
  • Fennel – perennial in our area.  Produces fennel seed under severe drought conditions.  Bulbing varieties needs some irrigation to form the succulent stems we call “fennel bulbs”
  • Garbanzo beans – need water supply turned off once the pods form (LX)
  • Italian dandelions / Catalogna chicory (Cichorium intybus) (W)
  • Lentils – need water supply turned off once the pods form
  • Mediterranean herbs such as oregano, sage, rosemary, thyme – all perennials in our area

8 Things you can do now, to prepare for summer heat

If you’re reading this and you live in L.A., California, or the U.S. Southwest, here are some simple things you can do now — as an individual or as a community group — to prepare for summer heat before the inevitable onslaught begins.

1. Install blinds and sun barriers. Look for thermal drapery lining fabric (available by the yard at many chain fabric stores) which will reduce the amount of heat that comes into your room. If you are a renter, get spring-tension-style curtain rods and there will be no holes for your landlord to complain about. If you own your own property, extend the overhang of your eaves with lattice or similar material so that it casts more shade. Or consider flying some of those triangle-shaped shade sails over patios and driveways that radiate heat.  (If you are able to take on a much bigger project, boost the insulation in your exterior walls and consider double-paned windows.)