Saturday, December 28, 2013

Lots going on!

I hope all of you had a beautiful holiday.

Here, the weather has been kind of crazy: 50F weather, then an ice storm, then 60F weather the last couple of days, then it's supposed to be below freezing tomorrow. My poor plants must be so confused!

Here are some photos from the ice storm:

It was gorgeous out, especially when the sun peeked through the clouds. Then the whole landscape looked like diamonds!

We're coming up on the last few days of my introductory pricing for the Tasteful Yard Design mentorship program, which takes you from where you are now to a beautiful, tasteful yard. The price goes to $250 on January 1st, so if you're interested, click here to find out more.

We just had an impromptu pre-Christmas photo contest over on Facebook, and we got some really nice pictures. Even if you're not on Facebook, you should be able to see them here.

I do apologize for not keeping this updated. I have so many photos to show you! So I might have to do a "what I did last summer" sort of series. That should keep you with things to read as you wait for your yards to thaw out ;)

But what I'm thinking of right now is what to plant for next year. What are you planting next year? Anything interesting?

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Introducing the Tasteful Yard Design class ....

The Tasteful Yard Design class is a group edible garden mentorship program, with 12 modules designed to take you from ordinary yard to edible landscaping.

Registration closes Sept. 20 and is limited to 20 students.

Click here to learn more!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

My visit with Ron Finley (part 1)

I first heard about fashion designer Ron Finley through an article in the LA Times back in 2011 that described his fight with City Hall over his parkway vegetable garden. You can see some of the progression of his work over on the LA Green Grounds site, as well as on the petition at

Well, I thought, this is really interesting.

You see, I grew up in the LA area (Pasadena, to be precise), and since my dad worked in LA and my aunt and uncle lived in Compton, we were in LA itself all the time growing up.

So when I saw Ron's TED talk, I knew I had to write him to offer encouragement -- and he invited me out to visit. A few minor things like tornadoes and two sons graduating high school delayed me a bit, but finally I drove out to meet with him in June.

If you've ever been in LA, the first thing that strikes you about the place is how gray it is. The sun always shines, and the weather is great, but the sky is gray, the buildings are gray, the signs are gray with years of smog on them. Driving down Crenshaw from the 10, I saw the assortment of grayish shop signs in every language imaginable, fast food joints, heavy traffic, and smog that you see on every other main street in LA.

Then I turned onto Exposition and I could tell where Ron's house was the minute I turned onto his street.

On a street full of older homes with postage stamp lawns, along Ron's home was a botanical garden.

I made my way through the gate and knocked on the door. His assistant ushered me into a small room packed full of his impressive collection of international movie posters, some almost as tall as I am.

Ron is a soft-spoken man with a big smile who greets you with a hug. He showed me all around, picking off dead leaves and snacking on herbs and carrots as we went.

I asked him about his TED talk and how he got there.

After the LA Times article, Films For Action made a short film about his work, and after that he was asked to speak TED Vancouver about his garden and the organization he's founded to help others install edible gardens.

"At the time, I didn't know it was their first contest for the big one," Ron said. 

So what was the "big" TED conference like?

"It was nirvana," Ron said. "Everyone was so positive -- a whole conference full of people who wanted you to do well."

"I had only used Power Point once before," he said about his talk that day, "I felt like it was another person speaking." 

Since then, he's had many requests to do the speech again, and he feels as if his new-found popularity is "a blessing and a curse."

"I can't get to my garden as much as I'd like to these days," he says, "but it's good to see people planting."

In part 2: Ron's gardens, inside and out

While you're waiting:  Visit Ron's website

Saturday, July 20, 2013

A lot has happened since my last post ...!

A few hours after I posted last time, Moore, Oklahoma was hit with an F5 tornado (which came within two blocks of my home!).

While my home wasn't damaged and no one in my family was hurt, we've had a LOT of debris to clean up, which we've almost finished doing.

Just imagine if someone took a home, put it in a shredder, then threw it all over the place. I've never seen anything like it before -- it's been like something out of a movie.

Then, on May 31st, another tornado came to call ... it went a few miles north of us, but ended up knocking down our back fence ... on top of all my garlic and asparagus plants ...!

I had already scheduled a trip out to California to visit with edible landscape artist Ron Finley (as well as most of my family, who live in southern California) ... I almost didn't go, but my daughter (who drove out with me) persuaded me to ... and I'm glad she did! I had fun.

More to come on my adventures there.

I was out there for a couple of weeks, then of course when I got home the garden was a mess, and then the holiday, and then July is always busy as we have three birthdays and an anniversary ....

So now I've caught my breath and hopefully we can get back to business!

Oh, here's a bit of news I almost forgot to mention: Edible Landscape Design got on another list! :)

Hope you all are well. How are your gardens doing?

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

My apple tree bloomed today!

This is the first tree I planted in the front yard back in 2007 -- it has survived ice storms, gale force winds and two severe droughts (with water restriction). And today it bloomed for the first time!

Now if I can get another apple tree to survive ... I've planted three others nearby and none have so far. I've ordered tree #4 -- keep your fingers crossed. ;)

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Look what I have ....

The second annual Edible Front Yard contest is coming up in June, so I went and got this for the winner to display in their gorgeous front yard!

(click to view larger size)

What do you think?

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Improving a bad morning ...

I drove home in what could be politely called a grumpy mood.

Overslept, school was NOT canceled after the winter storm, and on the way to bring my boys to school come to find out that one of my son's teachers is treating him poorly, the last in a long string of bad events from teachers he's had his senior year.

So actually, I was downright angry.

Then I drive up to the house to find this:

I planted these when we first moved here seven years ago, long before I learned about edible landscaping.

They aren't edible (in fact, they'd probably make you sick if you ate one), and I've never done anything to or for them such as dividing or even watering, but they faithfully come up every spring.

And they make me happy.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Re-potting a pineapple plant

Today I decided to re-pot all the plants I've been overwintering in my garage ... which, while unheated, is only at most about ten degrees F cooler than the house because of fairly good insulation and two huge double pane windows that sit on the east side. So it's a great place to keep plants that can't stand freezing.

My favorite plants of all the ones that I keep here over the winter are my pineapples. I start them from pineapple tops that I cut from ripe pineapples that I buy at the grocery store once in a while.

It's been a while since I re-potted them ... and after being somewhere which probably hasn't been their favorite temperature (being tropical and all) ... and since sometimes I forget to water them as often as they would like ... they're looking a bit bedraggled. Here is my biggest one:

This looks menacing, and everyone I've asked on how to re-pot it has said, "be careful!" and "wear gloves!" and so of course I ignored them. The leaves turn out to be not that sharp at all, but do be careful as the edges are serrated.

The first thing to do is to take off any dead leaves that have come loose and are just sitting in the pot. I give them to my rabbits, but you can compost them or do whatever with them.

Then dump out the plant, shake off all the dirt, and trim off the dead leaves. Try not to cut anything that's still green. Clippers are fine, but if your clippers aren't sharp enough regular scissors will work as well. 

It should end up looking like this: 

See all those lovely roots?

If your plant has green leaves on top but you don't see any roots, it's okay. If it's making new leaves it should be fine.

Pick a bigger pot than the one you had it in, fill the pot with dirt, and plant your pineapple plant, keeping the plant up near the top of the pot.

I don't use any special dirt for my plants. I keep a big washbasin (you can see the edge of it in the picture above) where I put a variety of dirt-like stuff like the dust sweepings from the garage and driveway (don't do this if your garage floor is oily -- ours is pretty clean dirt that constantly gets blown into the garage), old leaves, worm castings, potting mix from dead plants, dried pulverized eggshells, and so on.

Now I know someone is going to have what my mother-in-law calls a "conniption fit" because I don't use special pineapple soil or something. Oh, well.

This works for me I think because I dump all my dead plants and old potting soil in here (except the really thorny stuff), so if there were germs from a dead tomato it wouldn't bother a pineapple, or germs from a dead basil won't bother a tomato plant, and so on. I wait until any added old soil is completely dry before using it.

And since I use this up pretty fast, it doesn't have time to get a lot of salt in it, which can be a big problem in old potting soil.

In any case, this is how my pineapple looks now!

Yes, my garage is full of stuff. It gets a lot of use. ;)