Yes, we’re transplants from Northern California. (Sigh)…how we miss the mild climate all year round, the winter rains that bring about spring poppies (and then the dry summer that leads to brown hills). But those days are long gone.

One item in our garden plan that I insisted on was the inclusion of poppy flowers (the California state flower). After the fence was installed, the poppy seeds went into the ground in front of the fence. Although I started the plants later than I would have liked, they’ve finally started flowering a few weeks ago.

first poppy

Continue reading “California Dreamin’” »

Our lot is about 4400 square feet, roughly 1/10th of an acre. The house, porches and back parking spots take up 60% of that space, so we have less than 1/20th of an acre to work with.

The raised vegetable beds take up 100 square feet. We let our tenant use a 16 sf box. So we don’t have a lot of space devoted to food production, which is fine. If I had more land, I’d rather plant an orchard than have more raised beds.

A little vertical space helps us maximize our raised beds space, and makes it look like a real garden.

trellis system

Continue reading “Vertical Gardening” »

Tig had bought a 6 dollar plastic watering can from Home Depot a while back, and he complained that the water spray was coming down too hard on the seedlings. He had read about the Haws professional watering can - favored by bio-intensive farming icon John Jeavons - which has an upturned, brass oval rose that allows water to fall ever so gently like a light rainfall.

Naturally, I snickered when he told me this. Oh, and these watering cans are pretty pricy - a one gallon galvanized can costs between $90-130.

Continue reading “Haws Professional Versus Cheap Plastic Watering Can Smack Down” »

Third time’s a charm. At first, our network hub was literally in our chimney stack closet. Then I moved it into the office closet, thinking it was a more accessible/central location. However hot summer temperatures and no a/c brought an early demise to both our router and cable modem. At least that’s what I think happened.

So I decided to move the network equipment into the coolest spot in our house: the basement.

moved network equipment

Continue reading “Relocating Network Closet” »

“At some point you will be done with your house, done building, or repairing, or just done obsessing. Prepare to welcome that moment. The world will have waited for you, ready to feed you what you’ve been missing. If you have set yourself up with what David Omic calls a `thick margin of extra time, resources, and energy,’ you’ll have the power to create a wider, safer home in the world than you could have imagined in your own separate house.”

- Shay Salomon, Little House on a Small Planet

Have a Happy Fourth of July.

After taking notes on water conservation and permaculture, I convinced Tig to take a chance and put in fish scale swales by the nectarine and peach trees. Below is a picture of a semi circle-trench dug around the tree. We dug about 1 foot down and made sure the bottom was level all around. This nectarine tree isn’t doing so great. We have a 50-50 chance of either improving the situation or killing the poor tree.

Digging the swale

Continue reading “Putting in Fish Scale Swales” »

After ripping up our entire front lawn to put in garden beds, we still had a lot of unsightly brown dirt everywhere. Looking for ideas, we took a tour of a neighbor’s backyard and noticed that they had planted clover seeds in their garden paths and mulched with straw.

Later, I read in Gaia’s Garden that clover can serve as a perennial groundcover for garden paths: “The greenery suppresses weeds, the shade holds moisture in the soil, the blossoms attrach beneficial insects, and nitrogen fixed by the clover boosts the growth of other crops.” What a perfect solution, we thought. That way, we don’t have to plant and mow grass, and we’ll still get some greenery in our garden paths.

Continue reading “Cover Cropping and Mulching the Pathways” »

We had disconnected the outdoor spigot in fall of 2005. It wasn’t a big deal last year - we just ignored our dried out lawn and let our garden go to weeds. Aside from the occasional five gallon bucket of water hauled from the basement utility sink, we’ve been relying on on our 2-3 rain barrels for 95% of our outdoor watering. Now that we have little vegetable seedlings, Tig is carefully managing the rainwater use, trying to stretch it out and avoiding using municipal water as much as he can. He checks the weather constantly on the internet and reminds me how long it’s been between rains.

I originally thought that water conservation meant buying lots of rain barrels and installing a drip irrigation system. However, Tig stumbled upon a book called Gaia’s Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture. The book cites examples of lush gardens in New Mexico that require minimal watering. I was fascinated by the possibilities. Here are some notes on some of the techniques listed in the book. We’re going to try a few of them and see how it works.

Continue reading “Avoiding Municipal Water - Permaculture Notes” »

(This is post is mostly for ourselves - sometimes we need a motivational boost or a pat on the back.)

So the month-long project to set the groundwork for urban nano-farming and for better curb appeal is mostly done. A recap of the completed tasks:

And the hero of this story is Tig, who worked tirelessly to check off each item on the list.

After a long slumber, the IPR has awakened…


After spending hours making an infrared paint remover (IPR), and using it for about 5 minutes, it has spent the last year sitting in a corner of our basement. So when it came time to repaint the front porch floor, I revived the beast to remove the old peeling paint.

Continue reading “Using the IPR and Painting the Porch” »

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