landscaping "improvement" projects

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Submitted by phaster on April 1, 2018 - 3:35pm

Surprised no mention of landscaping "improvement" projects given "drought," the trend away from a manicured lawn to xeriscaping AND the interest toward "urban farming" (because of an interest and awareness in organic "food")

I'd be the first to admit I'm not any kind of expert in gardening, but over the years I've slowly make progress toward landscaping that uses lots less water than a traditional manicured lawn, actually is productive (in terms of growing stuff that can be can consumed), and is low maintenance

Actually started off by re-thinking the idea of raised beds for vegetables,... basically looked and liked the concept of pre-fab planters that are sold at big box stores, which are shown being quickly setup and used on decks or patios BUT IMHO the stuff being sold in stores seemed "delicate"

...So took the basic concept of a "delicate" patio planter and came up w/ a setup that was "robust" and made to last for a long run

As I got into kitchen-gardening, noticed some of my produce like strawberries, were not uniform or all "pretty" like the stuff you can buy in a store (but have very little taste),... found out strawberry plants will pollinate themselves, but they usually need the assistance of wind or pollinators, such as bees, to do the work of transferring the pollen from the stamens, the male parts of the flowers, to the stigma, the female part of the flower

Now that I have some basic gardening experience, I'm kinda taking the next step(s) of trying to rethink the idea of urban landscaping in terms of having a space that not only grows "produce" to one that also encourages bio-diversity of pollinators,... is pretty simple to build from a DYI aspect (i.e. no power tools needed)

AND is a personal hedge of sorts that tries to do something "positive" about some arcane knowledge I stumbled upon,...


The great nutrient collapse

The atmosphere is literally changing the food we eat, for the worse. And almost nobody is paying attention.

...Goldenrod, a wildflower many consider a weed, is extremely important to bees. It flowers late in the season, and its pollen provides an important source of protein for bees as they head into the harshness of winter. Since goldenrod is wild and humans haven’t bred it into new strains, it hasn’t changed over time as much as, say, corn or wheat. And the Smithsonian Institution also happens to have hundreds of samples of goldenrod, dating back to 1842, in its massive historical archive—which gave Ziska and his colleagues a chance to figure out how one plant has changed over time.

They found that the protein content of goldenrod pollen has declined by a third since the industrial revolution—and the change closely tracks with the rise in CO2. Scientists have been trying to figure out why bee populations around the world have been in decline, which threatens many crops that rely on bees for pollination. Ziska’s paper suggested that a decline in protein prior to winter could be an additional factor making it hard for bees to survive other stressors.

Submitted by gzz on April 2, 2018 - 5:44pm.

Milkweed will attract Monarch butterflies and grows well in all soils and lights with pretty orange flowers. Once a month I have to remove aphids from them by hand, takes 10 minutes to do 20 plants. It feels great to help preserve them as they are endangered, population in California is down 95% from the 1980s.

For edible plants, insects can be a major problem, so I change things up. Broccoli and chard grow well and fast enough you can consume them before pests become a problem. Melons and squash grow well here, but take up a lot of space for the yield and don't look too attractive. But if you have a big canyon lot, they would be a good choice.

Cherry tomatoes are great. With full size, 6 worms in a plant might ruin 6/10 tomatoes, but with cherries just 6/200.

Guava trees grow faster than citrus and produce multiple rounds a fruit per year.

Kiwis grow well in NZ which has a California type climate, I am thinking of trying that out.

I've always failed at grapes and berries, a lot of effort for a tiny yield.

Tomatillos immediately got insects really badly.

Basil, mint, dill, oregano, thyme, and rosemary are the herbs the grow most easily. Parsley and cilantro get eaten by pests.

Submitted by moneymaker on April 2, 2018 - 8:19pm.

I've got Blackberries that seem to just take off after watering them with the swap water from our fountain. The tricky part is picking them before they fall off the vine. Half my rain barrels are full, not sure if the other half will get filled, hope so!

Submitted by phaster on April 6, 2018 - 8:49am.

looked into rain barrels myself, BUT due to the spanish revival architecture of my own home (w/ an old school clay tile roof), could not think of a way to install gutters to redirect rain fall into rain barrels

anyone else have a 1920s era spanish revival "tile roof" AND figure out a way to install a rain fall collection system?

anyway since I don't have rain barrels I'm doing the next best thing,... basically I've observed where the rain fall "ground flows" so built small landscape features to allow water to soak into the ground AND threw native wild flower seeds (like california poppy) in those areas,... the goal being to provide habitat for native pollinators

Submitted by moneymaker on April 6, 2018 - 11:36am.

Last time I was at Home Depot I noticed they are selling new WIFI sprinkler timers that you can get basically for free after the rebates (on the 6 zone ones). Didn't buy it at the time but next time I go plan on buying one. It will adjust watering due to weather forecasts and comes with an app. They also had 12 zone ones where it was basically $30 after rebate.

Submitted by FlyerInHi on April 11, 2018 - 11:16am.

Really glad to see all the innovative landscaping these days. So much nicer than the lawns and tropical plants of the past.

I used to do landscaping when I owned a house. And now I have help my dad. It’s a labor of love for sure but it seems like a lot of time to care for plants that only you see. I think I’m a pretty good at it.... but I’d rather do other things.

Submitted by phaster on April 20, 2018 - 8:46pm.

FWIW an alternative to the commercial earth day celebration in balboa park is

where there is a sustainable urban farm run by City Heights high school students. A commercial kitchen training refugee women. And a flexible outdoor cafe and cultural arts space that brings the food they grow and prepare for you to enjoy!

or learn about composting (in south east SD)

I checked out both the places (listed above) this past week AND got my hands "dirty"

weird fact,... found this past week from someone who has a urban farm in national city, that its against the law to compost (in national city city), but was told in SD that composting is kosher

ah, one last idea for earth day is wild willow farm in IB

anyway on "official earth day" (since I'm pretty "green" minded a majority of the time) the plan is movies at the LOT where I can order fish tacos and a beer,...

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