The key to being zero waste is finding all the little ways to avoid throwing things out. And sometimes that means taking things in too. Which is exactly what I do with coffee grinds. The little bit I create at home gets added to the garden, but it’s never enough. Every month I make a run to Starbucks for a commercial-size bag of coffee grinds. And that allows me to skip buying fertilizer at the store.
And that’s perfect for me. I can avoid throwing away coffee grinds, avoid buying fertilizer at the store, and take in trash from other places. The local coffee shops throw away their grinds unless someone asks for them. And the baristas love handing them over because it means they don’t have to take out the trash.
It’s just one part of zero waste but it shows how easy it can be. Not to mention money saving – no more fertilizer – and helpful for the community. Can you believe I’m reducing the trash that Starbucks creates?
Summer is coming to an end and it’s time to pick all that basil. Don’t forget or you might find all the leaves fallen off. And thanks to some friends and HomeGrown.org for this easy recipe – drying basil in the microwave:
Wash and dry basil.
Place leaves on a paper towel in microwave and cover with another paper towel.
Let the microwave run for 30 seconds. Turn leaves over and run for another 30 seconds.
Repeat as necessary (can take 1.5 minutes).
Before storing (whole or crushed), make sure all moisture is gone (option: place in plastic wrap overnight to get rid of moisture).
Let’s say your house sits on a one-half acre lot. And let’s say you get a storm that drops 1 inch of rain. You’ve just received 13,577 gallons of water on your yard. A big bath holds about 40 gallons of water, so if you could save that inch of water you could take a daily bath for 339 days!
A great reason to get a rain barrel and collect all that water. Place it underneath your gutters and you’ll have an endless supply of water for your garden. Be a water warrior!
Is it possible to turn a passion for home gardening into a career growing for farmers markets? Such is the hope of Jennifer Little and James Imhoff, who gave up successful jobs to start Little Farm Fresh in their San Gabriel yard. They have gained a cult following for their unusual heirloom produce, including cape gooseberries, Black Cobra chiles and Richmond Green Apple cucumbers, and believe that their goal — “spending time together doing what we love” — is within sight.
They met as high school sweethearts in Palmdale 19 years ago and stuck together after he was injured in a car accident. A decade ago they bought a home a few blocks from the San Gabriel Mission, and Little attended Los Angeles Trade Technical College. She became a pattern maker for a local wedding dress designer, Camille DePedrini, while he worked his way up to be lead stage manager for Sunset Bronson Studios.
But his health suffered as the job forced him to work up to 100 hours a week, and she longed to spend more time outside in the garden. Two years ago they started offering their garden’s bounty with a small delivery service. Still, it was only after a stroke of luck — a horse in which they had just bought a share, TJ’s Passion, won its first race at Golden Gate Fields — that they felt inspired to take a risk.
Keep reading to learn how they finally arrived - “Two years ago we were digging up the lawn in our San Gabriel yard, and now we’re selling in Beverly Hills”
Placed under a down spout, rain barrels conveniently collect rainwater that can be used to water gardens and lawns, wash cars or even fill birdbaths and ponds. A 1000 square foot roof yields about 600 gallons per inch of rainfall – that’s a lot of water (and money) to be saved. Rain barrels can also be hooked up to a soaker hose for easy and free garden watering.
In coastal areas, additional benefits include diverting of water from municipal storm drain systems and protecting the ocean from storm runoff pollution.
Installation can be very easy, placing the barrel under your gutter’s down spout. Conversion kits also offer a diverter system which eliminates the need for cutting off gutter downspouts or installing over-flow valves, and eliminates potential for mosquito breeding.
Most cities offer rain barrels for sale at a discount. Check out your local city website to see if they offer a similar program.
All across America you can find beautiful front lawns with green grass and sprinklers. Even in places where water is scarce, like Southern California and Arizona. Those areas import water at a great expense and in some cases dry up the source.
In response, many living in these areas have developed new ideas about front lawns. There are many plants that require a fraction of the water that grass does, and can still be as green. Or, in some cases provide a variety of colors, shapes, and designs.
Most of these plants are called drought resistant, meaning they don’t want to be watered. I have a few of them growing in pots and they wilt when I water them. So far, the occasional rain that comes has satisfied their needs.
Here are a few photos of these new types of lawns:
Ranunculus, with their layered, crepe-like petals that explode in blooms of red, yellow, orange, white and pink, are cheery in the Fall and equally festive in the Spring. The bright beauties spread their rainbow happiness in small pots on tables, as part of larger plant containers and along the front of home borders. They are also a favorite among Spring brides.
Those available during bulb season in October and November are sold as dormant tubers, and grow into the beautiful, tall plants that make excellent cut flowers. These start their lives right here in Southern California in the famous “Flower Fields’ of Carlsbad. When planting these “bulb” varieties, known as Tecolote ranunculus, in flower beds, it’s best to place them in the middle so other plants can conceal their shaggy bases.
In England, the common name for Ranunculus is “Buttercup,” apparently because of various legends linking it to dairy cows and butter. There’s also supposed to be a Native American myth associated with the varieties that grow in the Pacific Northwest: Coyote was tossing his eyeballs in the air for fun, and either Eagle or Buzzard swooped by and took them. So Coyote took Ranunculus to use as his new eyes. Hence, the common name in that region, “Coyote Eyes.”
It’s springtime and I’ll be out doing some planting today. Yesterday, at the farmers market, I picked up four seedlings: Pepper, Heirloom Tomato, Thai Basil, and Mexican Squash.
Before getting started I looked up what a ‘raised bed’ was. I had been hearing a lot about them and was wondering why they’re so popular. Turns out they have several endearing features:
Extend the planting season
Reduce the need to use poor native soil
Serve as a barrier to pests such as slugs and snails
Can be planted earlier in the season because the soil is warmer when it is above ground level.
Raised bed gardening is a form of gardening in which the soil is formed in 3 – 4 foot wide beds, which can be of any length or shape. The soil is raised above the surrounding soil (approximately 6 inches to waist-high), is sometimes enclosed by a frame generally made of wood, rock, or concrete blocks, and may be enriched with compost.
The vegetable plants are spaced in geometric patterns, much closer together than conventional row gardening. The spacing is such that when the vegetables are fully grown, their leaves just barely touch each other, creating a microclimate in which weed growth is suppressed and moisture is conserved.
Additionally, waist-high raised beds enable the elderly and handicapped to grow vegetables without having to bend-over to tend them.