Alejandro, Ianne, Alejandra and Yuki re-shaping the garden bed. Photo by Somerset Waters

Over the past weekend, Eco-Villagers re-shaped an existing neglected raised bed. For a few years, this area behind the Bimini Terrace building has had a large triangle-shaped raised bed.  The bed was a little too big to garden easily; one would have to lean over and stretch out to reach things, or step in the garden. Lately some mint had been spreading its way through the triangle… not an entirely bad thing, but mint can spread and take over if it’s not contained.  (more…)

Las Trincheras - level terraces designed to get rainwater to slow down and soak in

I’ve been telling myself that I needed to get back into the regular tending of my garden… truth is that it’s been seriously neglected since around the April 2011 CicLAvia. I spotted California poppies blooming already yesterday… which tells me that I do need to get plants going. In this part of Southern California, it’s easy to garden year round… other than it being difficult to get stuff started during the heat of the summer. Winter and Fall gardening work well… and late Winter and Early Spring are the best time to get plants going for a productive Summer.  (more…)

Map Guide to Water Harvesting at Los Angeles Eco-Village, 2008 - written and drawn by me, Joe Linton - click for larger image, link below for pdf of full booklet

Here’s a slightly out of date, but still mostly ok, map/guide to some water harvesting features at Los Angeles Eco-Village. This is part of an 8-page booklet (pdf) I made for the Landscape Rainwater Harvesting workshop where we started building las trincheras. The booklet owes a great deal to lessons I’ve learned from Brad Lancaster’s Rainwater Harvesting books.


Three mulberries in my hand. The lower left one is whitish- not ripe at all. The upper left one is red - almost ripe, but not quite. The one on the right, nearly black with a little red, is about 98 percent ripe and very much ready to eat.

Ms. Eum in front of the Bbong Namu

I was riding home today and ran into a Korean woman named Tae Sook Eum who was checking out my garden. I’d spoken with her a couple of times before. She attends the Mijoo Peace Church across the street, so now and then on a late Sunday afternoon, I come across her happily exploring the front yard garden. I enjoy running into folks in garden, which a front yard garden is condusive to (see my musings on this here and here.) When we run into each other, Ms. Eum and I converse a bit – though my Korean is more limited than her English.

Today she was standing underneath the mulberry tree. This tree is right outside my front door. Like me, it used to live across the street. It was initially planted on the east side of Bimini Place, just south of White House Place, next to the fourplex that L.A. Eco-Village recently acquired. During a street project in 2007 or 2008, the city decided to remove the tree; it was getting big and making it difficult for drivers to see the stop sign. Instead of just destroying the tree, LAEV worked with the city to relocate it. We trimmed a lot of tree branches, and about a dozen folks helped carry the tree across the street, where we re-planted it in a large hole we had dug. Despite how large that hole seemed, it was still too small – and we had to further trim some roots. The tree is really tough and has grown gangbusters in the front yard. Mulberry trees grow to be huge.

Tae Sook Eum spotted the ripening mulberries. She said she was happy to see trees that she was familiar with from her time spent in Korea. She was referring to the mulberry, persimmon, and jujube trees. She told me (and wrote out) the Korean names, respectively:

  • Mulberry Tree: 뽕나무 ‘bbong namu’
  • Persimmon Tree: 감나무  ‘gam namu’
  • Jujube Tree: 대추 나무 ‘dae chu namu’

(Namu meaning tree – or plant – or maybe larger plant – which I vaguely remember from studying Korean briefly when I moved to L.A. I also remember ‘gam namu’ from talking with Mr. Lee when I used to live on White House Place. We planted a persimmon tree there, but it was later removed by the landlord, Mr. Lee’s brother.)

Mulberries, the fruit, start out fairly light – a sort of white-ish green. As they ripen the fruits redden then become nearly black: black with a hint of red. They’re not all that sweet until they get dark. I’ve heard (from a guy at the Papaya Tree Nursery) that there also are really wonderful Persian mulberries that are white when ripe… I am not sure of what specific type of mulberry is in the front yard here.

The fruit actually falls from the tree when fully ripe… but that’s somewhat uncommon for this tree. It’s more likely that the squirrels and birds will eat these berries before I get to them. They’re just ripe this week… so Ms. Eum shared a few ripe berries. I gave her an artichoke and explained how to cook it, and I rushed off to help teach a consensus workshop for new eco-villagers.

jujube tree leafing out, sapote in the background

One of the simple pleasures of Spring is seeing the fruit trees go from barren to leafy. Here’re two pretty uninspired photos of early leafing out. Both photos were taken Sunday March 13th 2011. I like to date stuff on this blog, because, in future years, it can help me look up what was happening when in the past. Above is the jujube tree planted in January 2009. I think the tree got a little stressed the first year… it’s never thrived, never fruited, but it’s certainly alive. I am hoping it gets its bearing and gets going soon. I noticed its tiny leafing out about a month ago… and this past week, it’s taking off nicely.

Below is the persimmon tree along the alley – which was transplanted 3-4 years ago. It fruits a lot… but it’s along a heavy pedestrian traffic alley… which means most of the fruit gets picked before I get a chance. The new leaves really shoot out – a bright light-yellow-green surprise! Both of these trees leaf a bit later than other fruit trees (for examples: peach, apricot, etc.) with the persimmon later than the jujube.

bright yellow-green persimmon leaves that it seems like weren't there a week ago

small artichoke, big hand

Last weekend, I finally spotted baby artichokes on the way. It’s been a wet season for the artichokes – the love all the rain, interspersed with sunny days like this great La Niña winter has given us. The perennial artichoke plants, which die back each summer then re-grow from the roots, seem bigger than ever. The tiny chokes in the center of the plants – they’re, of course, the flower – should grow into yummy full-sized delicacies in a little over a month. I can hardly wait!

Local horse manure piled up in an open dumpster

My good friend Paul is in town, and he has a truck. We made our usual pilgrimage to the local horse stables located in North Atwater Village. We took our forks and shovels and loaded up a truckfull of stable waste. It’s free, and there’s plenty… and it’s great for the garden.

The trick is that, like cheese or wine (well… maybe not), you have to wait. The stuff we pick up locally is about 4/5ths wood-shavings and about 1/5th poop. The woody stuff has been urinated on… so it’s all very rich in nitrogen. It’s too strong to be spread directly in the garden – supposedly it can hurt plants – though I am not entirely sure just how. So, it has to cook first. (more…)

Yarrow plants I propagated just before the last series of rainstorms. They're doing really well. It's for a project that I will write about soon.

With more wonderful rain on the forecast for tomorrow, I was out in the garden weeding today. One of the very nicest problems we have in the Southern California garden is that there’s a huge amount of flexibility in what seasons we can grow various plants. My friend Erik at Homegrown Evolution, in a post about Stella Natura calendar planting, alluded to this:

But here in Los Angeles, where we have a four month time span to plant most things, following the Stella Natura calendar is a good way of avoiding procrastination.

I call this sort of strategy “punctuation.” To belabor the analogy, in the run-on sentence that is L.A. gardening, we need to find places to put in commas and periods. Some use an external calendar like Stella Natura, I’ve never tried it though. My favorite garden-anti-procrastination strategy to garden in advance of forecasted rain.

When there’s rain predicted, that’s a great time to go out and get something done in the garden. These are kind of obvious, but here are my suggestions:


Persimmon tree leaves turning a wonderful shocking orange-red - photo taken December 9th 2010

Well… nothing serious or profound here in this post… but I walked out into the garden a couple of days ago and was struck by the beautiful deep oranges and reds in the leaves of Eco-Village’s persimmon tree. (more…)

Check out these videos about an apparently controversial Australian farmer who uses weeds and leaky contour check-dams to restore water to parched landscapes. Peter Andrews’ technique is called Natural Sequence Farming.


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