HOT compost system – now what?

Let’s resume  this cliff hanger from the previous post

TA-DA!
Words can’t begin to praise Kurt and Nils for how skillfully and amicably they work together. Their creation is so beautiful I don’t want to get it dirty!

Soak the earth-floor of each bin.

Finished compost left in the old hot compost system was spread on the bottom of each section and soaked to create moist conditions for composting critters.

Sort garden waste into green and brown piles, max. 1/4″ diameter & 18″ long.

Let greens dry before adding to compost because there’s enough green from kitchen scraps to make a 2:1 ratio of green to brown.


Add a layer of reedy stems – breathing tubes – if you have them.

Layer dry – brown – leaves & stems

Collect vegetarian food scraps

Add food scraps & spread them out.

Cover with another brown layer, rinse out the food bucket & add water around the pile.

If you made a mess when you added garden waste, please sweep it.

Now you have composting bragging rights.  When we left off composting last year, we were processing at least 2000 lbs – 1 ton – of food scraps per year.   We have more people living here now, so I bet our numbers increase.

Garden & Harvest party May, ’17

Adriana & Samantha train grape vine to arch over walkway.

Yolanda & Shaila tame shrubs along walkway.

We harvested garlic, onion flowers, greens,  basil, squash pumpkin, potatoes – rather early for several of these . Pumpkin began growing in December!

Hilarious veggies!

Sam models the pumpkin

Shaila demonstrate its dental application

We’re so hungry that we

trust Samantha with a dull knife

Consensus, finally! We’re going to eat.

Gardening with rain!

Water thrifty plants get

Water thrifty plants get “high” on 2017’s lusty rainfall.

img0638a  YAY! After thinning out banana suckers and composting, two trees promise bananas.

img0641a img0643a   img0640aWe’re trellising some thorny plants along the fence to deter fence-climbing.

img0631a  Pedestrians from many cultures stop to ask about plants and talk about the gardens they have or used to have in their native countries.  Along the fence I like to plant crops – like these peas – plus herbs and flowers that they can harvest from the sidewalk.

 

In the courtyard

Newly mulched path will help to conserve moisture - make the effects of this rain last longer - and eventually break down to feed the soil.

Newly mulched path will help to conserve moisture – make the effects of this rain last longer – and eventually break down to feed the soil.

Draught tolerant plants added to “small fruit” garden.   Experimenting with clover as a  living mulch

Jujube

Jujube

prickly pear

prickly pear

img0607a img0608a    Goji berries & weeping mulberry and their new signs.

img0616a img0618a Parsley and lettuce are easily accessible for community to harvest.

img0610a img0609a  Yolanda has planted papayas next to greywater outlets.

Lower level

potatoes & fava beans planted around olla to slowly water plants during dry season.

potatoes & fava beans planted around olla to slowly water plants during dry season.

img0620a img0629a Papaya, banana and new grape vine against south facing wall will also help shade this apartment.

I had the privilege of meeting with Mayor Garcetti this week

I was honored and delighted to have a personal meeting with the Mayor this week. The Mayor goes way back with LAEV to before he became our Councilman, and we only owned one property instead of four.  So it’s always a delight to see how far both he and LAEV have come in the past dozen years or so.  I asked if we could take a photo, so I could have bragging rights when he’s our President some day.

Here a few of the topics we got to talk about, each of which the Mayor was supportive of.  Still a ways to go on advocacy work.  But with the help of the “less cars” folks, the permaculture folks, Teresa  Baker and her LATCH Collective, Hans Johnson leading the Styrofoam ban, and LAUSD Superintendent Michelle King, and, of course, the passionate folks who live in/at the Los Angeles Eco-Village, it’s all within reach!

  • Return the original intent of AB 744 for car-free affordable housing
    Mayor Garcetti and Lois

    Mayor Garcetti and Lois

    developments near transit.   The City watered this bill down so that developers couldn’t go less than 0.5 spaces per unit.  LAEV could demonstrate this for our future developments.

  • Tiny House Villages, legalize them, even on wheels.
  • Hillside terracing, using permaculture techniques for catching rainwater.
  • Joint City/LAUSD use of playgrounds during off-school hours
  • Styrofoam ban.  Let’s do it.
  • Vision Zero.  A few additional ideas.
  • Potholes and buses.  Best cost/benefits.

Let me know if you want a copy of what I recommended about these items.

 

 

Garden Group Meeting and Work party, Aug 20

attending : shaila, sarah, samantha, carrie, dani, yolanda, bambi, jocelyn, lara, carol jessica, ely; cameo: bruce

succulent garden : samantha researched plants that might be suitable for the dry area next to loquat tree in front and possibly in the bulb-out raised bed. Contestants were: yucca, ornamental grass, indian mallow. we choose mallow which is perennial, blooms year round and has orange flowers. as a member of mallow family, may also be medicinal. samantha will check for sources.

clean chicken coop & prune adjacent lamb’s quarters & lemon verbena bambi & jocelyn overcame anxiety about not knowing what to do by expertly hauling bedding from chicken coop to compost and pruning around the coop entry path.

transplant goji berry from sandbox dani and yolanda located a good site for the goji berry & dug & prepared a hole for it’s new digs. Unfortunately, the goji berry had been cut down, but it’s roots were still in the sandbox, so they have been re-located to the bed with banana & papaya trees fed by greywater.

prune apple, pomegranate trees & wooly aphids shaila, sarah & carol pruned & carol and yolanda continued on sunday. Jessica researched the wooly white growths on the trees & diagnosed “wooly aphids”.
carol’s wooly aphids control plan spray with 1 TBSP dish soap dissolved in hot water. [1]

Pruning-at-large lara pruned plants surrounding entry to her apartment. Carrie pruned where needed.

After party sweet & juicy pomegranates from our pruning, and cold, sweet watermelon brought by bambi were our rewards while we chatted in the courtyard after working. Many of us went from there to sea dragon for supper & more lively conversations.

Next garden group planned for Sept. 17

Yay Rain!

I know there’s 5 more days until the new moon, but it’s really raining today, so i plugged some sweet peas & austrian field peas in the ground.  (probably should NOT have soaked them overnight, but when rain is predicted here, the drops can usually be counted, so i hope pre-soaking wasn’t overkill for today’s conditions. )  Will keep you  posted in 2-4 weeks.

Meanwhile, Angelinos, enjoy the moisture. on your dry skin.

look what the garden gave me for supper Jan 1!

  • 2 lbs sweet potatoes
  • collardsIMG_5176
  • chayote
  • oregano

all from a plot that gets no direct sun between Nov to Feb!  I harvested about 15 lbs of sweet potatoes from 3 plants.  I’m amazed that they grow in the shade and seem to mature in cool temperatures.  They don’t seem to need much water.

IMG_5072Their flowers were blooming Oct – Dec.

Check out the personality of this 4 pounder!  You can see that gramma is happy about it too!
IMG_5107

Lasagna compost is ready for planting

The magic begins here

Even though I do this several times a week, setting the conditions for kitchen waste to become fertile soil is still the most amazing transformation.

Jonas finishes this compost pit with a  layer of soil.

Jonas finishes this compost pit with a layer of soil.

We planted nightshades: tomatoes, peppers, tomatillos here last year, and it was cover-cropped with clover during the winter.  After another round of cover crops, how about some corn?  Will we get enough light? Not the best exposure, but let’s experiment

compost cover-cropped with flax & buckwheat

compost cover-cropped with flax & buckwheat

Now that I think about growing corn, i think i’ll toss in some lentils to boast the nitrogen in this cover-crop mix. I’m using “seeds” that we stock in the food lobby bulk room.

Visitors work in Ecovillage gardens

Visitors to the ecovillage are encouraged to help with our projects.

IMG_4506

ernesto (visitor) and irma (member) dug holes for potatoes in composted lower level site.  Potatoes will alternate with sunflowers for an interesting visual, and clover cover-crops will protect the ground while everything is growing.

IMG_4500

ellary planting fingerling potatoes (donated by george
IMG_4505

ernesto practiced hilling potatoes using un- composted straw from the hot compost bins. the large leaf pale green (fuzzy) plant is mullein.  It will send up a stalk with yellow flowers that bees love

IMG_4530

bulb out garden on Bimini.  revived by carol and irma last year; maintained by visitors: ellary, daniel, carla supervised by carol and watered by shaila.

 

Sunken garden construction courtyard, dec, 2014 – jan. 2015

This area of the courtyard gets scant sun from end of Nov., so what better time for garden construction? Motivated by recent draught and desire to conserve water, i’m experimenting with sinking the garden beds below the paths. i figure it’s like hair – if i don’t like the haircut, it’ll grow back in.

"<br

 

02. one of the 18" holes at the "U" end of a bed that has just been "lasagna" composted for 12", keeping it 6" below the path, which is built up with some of excavated hard pan.

02. one of the 18″ holes at the “U” end of a bed that has just been “lasagna” composted for 12″, keeping it 6″ below the path, which is built up with some of excavated hard pan.

 

03.  1st layer of kitchen scraps on top of some reedy plant material - the breathing tubes.  within 8 weeks, i expect these kitchen scraps to be converted to composted so il.

03. 1st layer of kitchen scraps on top of some reedy plant material – the breathing tubes. within 8 weeks, i expect these kitchen scraps to be converted to composted so
il.

 

04. lasagna style composting kitchen scraps covered with water, soil & corrugated cardboard; repeat x 12".

04. lasagna style composting kitchen scraps covered with water, soil & corrugated cardboard; repeat x 12″.

 

05. ready for next layer of kitchen scraps & a "worm transplant" from another active compost site. note border of nasturium transplants along outside

05. ready for next layer of kitchen scraps & a “worm transplant” from another active compost site. note border of nasturium transplants along outside

 

06. newly composted bed (right) , raised path (left). most of beds are cover-cropped with clover when they're finished, but i decided to plant some of the bulk room fava beans adjacent to the transplanted volunteers.

06. newly composted bed (right) , raised path (left).
most of beds are cover-cropped with clover when they’re finished, but i decided to plant some of the bulk room fava beans adjacent to the transplanted volunteers.

 

07. volunteer favas, tomato & lettuce rescued from this construction site

07. volunteer favas, tomato & lettuce rescued from this construction site

 

08.  fingerling potatoe patch couldn't resist planting fingerling potatoes from george in one of the trenches.  composted soil will be used to hill them up until bed is 6" below path.

08. fingerling potatoe patch
couldn’t resist planting fingerling potatoes from george in one of the trenches. composted soil will be used to hill them up until bed is 6″ below path.

 

09. site for circular herb bed which will not be connected to drip irrigation.  Lavenders, sages & rosemary - low water needs plants are planned.

09. site for circular herb bed which will not be connected to drip irrigation. Lavenders, sages & rosemary – low water needs plants are planned.

 

10. Queen comfrey continues to provide leaves for comfrey fertilizer tea.

10. Queen comfrey continues to provide leaves for comfrey fertilizer tea.

Edy learns to bake with solar oven

We use the recipe for Apple Pan Dowdy from my ancient Fannie Farmer cookbook.

Edy does the math to double the recipe and makes the cottage pudding topping.

4258 - edy makes batter

4260 Edy adds topping to fruit

Apples, raspberries and concord grapes from our gardens are baked in the solar oven with cinnamon, nutmeg & ginger and placed in the bottom of the pan.

It took about 1 1/2 hours to bake.

It took about 1 1/2 hours to bake.

Edy carries his creation to the art studio opening

Edy carries his creation to the art studio opening

 

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 1/4 cup flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 medium apples, peeled, if desired, and sliced
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

 

PREPARATION

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Arrange the sliced apples in a greased pie pan or 9-by-9-inch baking dish. cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar well. Add the egg, and beat until smooth. In a separate mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt, and add this to the butter-sugar-egg mix, alternating with the milk. Spoon this batter over the apple slices. Bake for about 30 minutes or until the cake is golden brown. Cool slightly before cutting.

 

working out the bugs

Our kitchen scraps have been converted into fantastic compost and I wanted to top dress some of our plants with it – but it’s  full of sow bugs & pill bugs who don’t care if their meal is kitchen scraps or live plants.  Yesterday, i picked them out & fed them to the chickens for about 45 min.  Today i got smarter & put several boxes of compost in the chicken coop.  It took them about 5 min. / box  to eat the bugs.

these girls are really into it!

these girls are really into it!

Large Apartment available in L.A. Eco-Village

Recent mulch delivery at 4-plex

Recent mulch delivery at 4-plex

This is a great opportunity for a household ready to take the big leap to live its dream for participating in the creation of a more sustainable city by example.  Take a look and see if your household qualifies:

Large two bedroom available in transit rich/bicycle friendly permaculture oriented neighborhood (about 3 miles west of downtown and 4 miles south of the Observatory as the crow flies).

The Beverly-Vermont Community Land Trust (BVCLT), a non-profit organization committed to securing permanently affordable, environmentally sensitive housing for low to moderate income households, owns a 4-plex in the L.A Eco-Village that it intends to convert from rental units to affordable condominiums in the next 3 years.  BVCLT is currently taking applications for a one-year lease with an option to purchase if the renter’s household meets purchaser qualifications and demonstrates timely rent payments. The building is located on the southeast corner of Bimini and White House Place. Opportunity to become a member of the LAEV Intentional Community. Approximately 1000 square feet, 2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, dining room, living room, kitchen, laundry room, shared front and back yards, extra closets.  Rent: $1200 per month plus gas and electric.  No parking. Car-free household or “on your way to car-free.”  Minimum of 2 people, not more than 4 people; families with children encouraged to apply. Length of lease: one year.  No pets. No smokers (residents or guests). Must be aligned with LA Eco-Village core values and BVCLT tenant guidelines

Move-in costs:  $3,000.  Includes 1st and last of  $1200 plus $600 cleaning deposit.

If you are interested, please email Kris Benjamin (140Bimini@gmail.com) to set up a time to view the unit and go over the application. Applications are due as soon as possible, and candidate selection will occur sometime in April.

Income restrictions:
Combined annual income of all people in the household
-Not less than $29,000
and
-Not more than $39,780 for a family of 2
-Not more than $44,760 for a family of 3
-Not more than $49,680 for a family of 4

Credit check and rental application fee:  $25. -4-year rental history check (provide addresses and contact information of previous residences)-Verification of employment and 2 months of pay stubs or comparable

2/23/13 walk through laev garden part 1

suzi, thiago, nichole, george, shaun - visitor fr. France and carol - begin walk through gardens in front of 117 Bimini.  George suggested more consistent watering for trees, plus prune apple, remove or graft onto olive.  Other suggestions: thin banana plantings; encourage more growth next to fence; more space between them and apple.

George noted that mango has begun to thrive after josh took over it's care.
George noted that mango has begun to thrive after josh took over it’s care.

Throughout the walk myrtle was observed encroaching on other plants and the building.Maybe that's why,   Greco-Romans used myrtle as an emblem of love. (wikipedia)

Throughout the walk myrtle was observed encroaching on other plants and the building.
Maybe that’s why Greco-Romans used myrtle as an emblem of love. (wikipedia)

pittosporum in clutches of myrtle The flowers are small, white and similar in shape to those of the Orange tree, so it is sometimes called mock orange.
pittosporum in clutches of myrtle The p. flowers are small, white and similar in shape to those of the Orange tree, so it is sometimes called mock orange.

George observed that quince needs pruning.

George observed that quince needs pruning.

IMG_3747

mexican “sage” one of several plants intruding on public sidewalk.  Prune, maybe re-locate.

peach - branches extend over fence; and lure passers-by into picking fruit and often breaking branches. Recommend prune back fr. fence; remove compost pile next to trunk; think about replacing tree as it's getting old.

peach – branches extend over fence; and lure passers-by into picking fruit and often breaking branches. Recommend prune back fr. fence; remove compost pile next to trunk; think about replacing tree as it’s getting old.

mandarin

mandarin

pomegranate

pomegranate

background: almond (pink flowers) -not bearing; foreground - fig

background: almond (pink flowers) -not bearing, bark split; foreground – fig.  There’s a smutty  orange tree in there someplace; oranges don’t ripen.

olive tree supports grape vine;olive tree supports grape vine;

North side 117 bimini

Agave in trash can area overflowing into path.

Myrtle encroaching on apricots, nectarines.

Watering challenge in this area due to run-off.

live oaks - proximity to bldg --> concern about effect of roots on foundation as it grows

potential planting space north wall.

potential planting space north wall.

more live oaks (& a dead one).  Large live oak in background is 8 feet from foundation.
more live oaks (& a dead one). Large live oak in background is 8 feet from foundation.

Courtyard

We were getting tired, so just noted that many plantings in need of systematic watering here; plantings in pomegranate area heavily infested with aphids; myrtle needs taming; plum needs re-evaluating – hope it perks up when greywater re-connected; 2 nectarines and apricot aren’t producing; may be able to graft onto apricot as it is very hardy stock. Peach seems to be OK.

The “nightshade tree” is rubbing against the roof tiles.

Many, many thanks to George for generously sharing his time, gardening and landscaping knowledge and familiarity with LAEV gardens.

potato & red wiggler compost update

IMG_3731Three potato plants in various growth stages that were planted in the first above ground compost site.  The site was ready for planting earlier than expected (6-8 weeks).  Potato seeds were then place at bottom of 9″ deep holes & barely covered with soil.  Lower left – new sprout.  Lower right – dirt filled in to ground level.  Background – hilled up.  For those not familiar with growing potatoes, covering the stem (hilling- up) with soil or organic material as the plant grows provides medium for roots to spread out, spuds to form and protects spuds from sunlight.

Re: composting.  Now that a significant red wiggler population has established itself in each of the above ground compost sites, I’ve begun transplanting some of the wigglers (and their composting allies) into the new compost sites.  Let’s see if that enhances the composting process.

Secrets of Seed Saving Workshop

On Saturday, fellow Eco-Villager Nichole and I trekked over to Whittier for the Secrets of Seed Saving workshop. It was held at the Strub Avenue Farm and Garden, a wonderful backyard farm which is part of a network of urban backyard farms called Whittier Backyard Farms.

We were lucky to have horticulturalist David King instruct the workshop (left). He is the garden master of The Learning Garden in Venice, CA, author of the LA Garden Blog, and chair of the Seed Library of Los Angeles, and gave a fun and informative workshop on how to save seeds and the importance of doing so.

David explained the nuts and bolts of how to save seeds for a variety of vegetables. This included how to allow plants to go to seed, and drying, harvesting and storing seeds. He also covered ways to minimize cross pollination between different species of  the same genus by practices such as hand pollination and covering crops with fabric.

The most compelling part of the workshop for me was the why. Why save seeds?

Traditionally, farmers and gardeners would harvest and save seeds for future growing. In the past several decades, there has been a major shift to purchasing seed annually from commercial seed suppliers, and seeds are commonly developed so that the plants you grow from them do not produce seed that will reproduce the same plant. This has dramatically increased the dependency on commercial seed companies.


There has also been a sharp decrease in the variety of seeds over the past century. This handout (right) David gave us shows that there were 408 varieties of tomato seeds available in 1903, and only 79 available in 1983. This is a pattern across many vegetables.  The reason this is dangerous, David explains, is that if we are commercially growing only a few varieties on a large scale, and a pest or disease attacks one variety, then we could  risk major food shortages. He gave the example of the Irish Potato Famine where there were only 2 varieties of potatoes being grown. A wider variety means more diverse traits, such as different vulnerabilities and strengths to different conditions.

After the workshop, the hosts provided a delicious lunch featuring food from the garden. The meal was followed by a seed swap where people shared seeds they either bought or saved. I happily came home with arugula, kale, poppy, calendula, dill and okra seeds.

I am newly inspired to continue to grow food, save seeds and share seeds. Thanks to Megan from Strub Family Farm and Garden for organizing the workshop.

Remembering the 1992 Uprisings and the start of LAEV

How LAEV came to be at Bimini and White House Place

First fruit tree planting on northeast corner of Bimini & White House Place,
Earth Day April 1993. Tree was named “Percy Persimmons.”

It was a Wednesday afternoon. I was sitting in my living room with Lottie Cohen working on the book we were co-authoring: Cooperative Housing Compendium. (Email me if you are interested in getting the on-line link to this book).

I lived in the four-plex across the street from the Bimini Apartments where the White House Place Learning Garden is going. Mine was the lower east unit. My front door was always open, weather permitting, and I didn’t use curtains or shades on the windows, so
there was a clear view out to White House, the intersection and Bimini Place. Lottie and I were sitting at a round glass table in the living room/library/office facing the windows and open door.

I had just returned two days before from Adelaide, Australia where I had been invited as a keynote speaker at the Second International Ecocities Conference and was full of enthusiasm for finishing the book and starting to focus more heavily on ecovillage planning.

There were always pedestrians on Bimini, and there were pedestrians that day. But suddenly, Lottie abruptly interrupted our work: “Lois, there’s rioting out there. We need to leave now. Grab what you need, I’m taking you home with me!” Continue reading

Earth Day 2012 at the L.A. Eco-Village

by Michelle Wong, cross posted from White House Gardens @ LA Eco-Village blog:

Bresee kids Astrid, Nichole & their little sisters enjoying Earth Day 2012 @ LAEV

Even though Earth Day is everyday at the LA Eco-Village, villagers celebrated the occasion with an open house last Sunday. Friends & neighbors came out to enjoy the beautiful day that kicked off with Cachao chickens crossing the street and the sounds of Zumba inspiring some fun booty-shaking. In addition to refreshing the Salamander Plaza painting, kids participated in pinata making, face painting/ glitter tattoos, and the Children of Paradise art workshop.

Allies from the Bus Riders Union set up their garage sale and raised funds for their work. And David from the Bresee T.O.K. Street Team sold tomato seedlings raised by Dana C, another long-time Bresee kid. Thanks to Jasmine D. who helped with face painting, and Gabriel who brought his family to help with the Food Lobby.     

  

Extra thanks to Julio  Sr. for leading tours, Lara  for organizing the street painting, Jimmy, Josey & Ianne who master-minded the children’s activities, Yuki for facilitating, and to Lois who organized the yummy organic food that nourish volunteers & visitors alike. We hope to include the White House Place Learning Garden in next years festivities.