Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Salad Greens - This Weekend's Project

I was browsing through the current issue of Sunset Magazine this morning over coffee and came across a gorgeous picture of a small but prodigious salad garden (above). It inspired me. This weekend, I'm going to use the create the perfect little raised bed in the front yard for our salad greens. And I'm even going to use our first batch of homemade compost!

Everything I've been reading suggests that I can sow the seeds now for our winter greens. I know greens don't do well in the heat and it tends to be very hot in September and October in Los Angeles. I'm concerned I'm launching it all too early but, hey, I learn best from my mistakes!!

Do you have any advice for a novice gardener?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

What to Compost?

I came across an article on PlanetGreen.Discovery.com called "75 Things You Can Compost, But Thought You Couldn't". It's a fantastic list. Here are some of the things I didn't know about (and there are alot of them!):

  • Used paper napkins
  • Pizza boxes, ripped into smaller pieces
  • Paper bags, either ripped or balled up
  • Paper towel rolls
  • Used paper plates (as long as they don't have a waxy coating)
  • Cellophane bags (be sure it's really Cellophane and not just clear plastic—there's a difference.)
  • Nut shells (except for walnut shells, which can be toxic to plants)
  • Pizza crusts
  • Cereal boxes (tear them into smaller pieces first)
  • Wine corks
  • Moldy cheese
  • Melted ice cream
  • Old jelly, jam, or preserves
  • Stale beer and wine
  • Toothpicks
  • Bamboo skewers
  • Paper cupcake or muffin cups
  • Used facial tissues
  • Hair from your hairbrush
  • Toilet paper rolls
  • Old loofahs
  • Nail clippings
  • Urine
  • 100% Cotton cotton balls
  • Cotton swabs made from 100% cotton and cardboard (not plastic) sticks
  • Latex condoms
  • Cardboard Tampon Applicators
Random Stuff:
  • Dryer lint
  • Old/stained cotton clothing—rip or cut it into smaller pieces
  • Old wool clothing—rip or cut it into smaller pieces
  • Pencil shavings
  • Sticky notes
  • Contents of your vacuum cleaner bag or canister
  • Used matches
  • Fur from the dog or cat brush
  • Droppings and bedding from your rabbit/gerbil/hamsters, etc.
  • Newspaper/droppings from the bottom of the bird cage
  • Feathers
  • Alfalfa hay or pellets (usually fed to rabbits)
  • Rawhide dog chews
  • Fish food
  • Dry dog or cat food
Our pile is going to get so much bigger now!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Pill Bugs - An Update on the War

In an earlier post I talked about our pill bug/ sow bug / rollie-pollie / Charlie bug problem and how to get rid of them without using chemicals. Nearly two months later we are (obviously) through the seedling phase and still at battle with these little buggers. We have managed to find an equitable balance. Or at least I think so. They get to have a squash or two every few weeks and I toss them some tomatoes the birds have left behind.

Here's what helped us significantly reduce their population:
  • Reducing the moisture in the garden.
  • Setting the traps with wet rolled up newspaper and fruit (specifically using half a cantaloupe turned upside down in the garden).
  • Protecting the seedlings by cutting the bottom off some plastic pots or old yogurt containers. We put the plastic containers around the seedlings, twisting them into the soil to dig them in. This helped to keep the bugs out.
Also, it seems they've found their way to my compost pile. I don't mind them being over there, happily working turning our old food and yard waste into soil. And I know I have to be prepared because they're over there, amassing, like an army, just waiting for the next planting season. My hope is I can keep them happily working over there, in the compost heap. But if they should get curious and wander over to the garden...I now have some handy tricks to employ!