Escape of the Banana Plants

We thinned out so many fully grown banana plants that I thought they would overwhelm our compost systems.  Reluctantly I gave the order,  Prepare them for the green bins!

Bagged banana plants

Fortunately, the green bins were full,  so every time I passed the bags of plants, I sensed their plea: Don’t sent us away. We’ll help the compost. We’re full of water.

Water leaked from banana plants through the hole in the wheelbarrow until I positioned it over the compost. 

And so they changed my mind.  I’m chopping them up and adding them to the bottom 2 layers of both the in-ground-lasagna-style compost and the hot compost.  

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.

The Bioscan Project: An Interview with Brian Brown from the Natural History Museum

by Rebecca L.

New species found in L.A. Eco-Village

What is the Bioscan project?

The Bioscan project is an outgrowth of looking in my backyard and seeing what I found there that was so interesting and unexpectedly diverse, and we started looking at other people’s backyards and finding things that were crazy and diverse, species from different continents such as Africa, Europe and species that were new to science, that had never been described before. We say the need to survey, the need to record what’s in LA related to the density of housing, income level of an area, types of plants and whether or not there is watering, location, how close to other natural areas. We call these the variables of urbanization and these things effect the biodiversity that surrounds us. So as an outgrowth of looking into my backyard we decided to look into 30 backyards across a wide swath of Los Angeles from the Natural History Museum (NHM) north to the Verdugo Mountains and record plant life, hard scape, etc.

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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.

 

Job Opportunity at L.A. Eco-Village

Long time dedicated Eco-Villager and Buildings Manager Lara Morrison has decided to step down from this way-more-than-full-time position.  So we’re looking for a new Buildings Manager or possibly two (or 3) member team.  Go here to check out our Job Announcement:

http://laecovillage.org/urban-soil-tierra-urbana/job-opportunities/

Also, feel free to pass this Announcement along to others you think would be qualified and interested and make great neighbors to boot.

Thanks.

 

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.

Yastel Yamada’s talk on Fukushima now On-Line

Founder of the Skilled Veterans Corps in Japan, Yastel gave a series of talks in the LA area last summer on the Fukushima clean-up crisis. The Skilled Veterans Corps is an association of nearly 1,000 Japanese seniors committed to putting their own lives on the line for the clean-up effort to spare shortening the lives of younger people from the dangerous work that will need to continue for years to come. Here’s the link with subtitles: http://www.SocialUplift.org Please pass along to as many as you can. This is a wake-up call, too, for our own dangerous situation with nuclear power plants and earthquakes.

above ground composting

I started another above ground compost pile today. Inspired by Yuki’s  seed-saving blogpost, I decided to record the process.

protect walk-way with tiles & loosen soil,

sprinkle w/ compost

 

water added from my el-cheapo “grey water system” collected from kitchen, shower & compost

 

add breathing tubes: e.g. corn, sunflower, artichoke stalks

extend stalks beyond the pile/ facilitate aeration

cover w/ wet corrugated cardboard, leave spaces for water & worms. Worms are attracted to cardboard.

What not to do:bunch of carrots w/ twist-tie

What not to do: this garbage added from rogue piles; note brush, whole potato, bunch of carrots

Spread kitchen waste as evenly

At least at the end of the day, I cover with a layer of soil to discourage critters.  When dry leaves are not available to alternate with the “green” waste, I use another layer of wet cardboard.

Keep the pile moist.  For one thing, worms need moisture.

I plan to close this pile when it’s about 9 – 12″ high & let it decompose for a few months before planting directly into it.  I’m hoping that the pile I just closed will be ready for potato planting by Jan / Feb.

State Senator Leland Yee visits L.A. Eco-Village

State Senator Leland Yee inspects new art studio with Eco-Villager Ianne Lavigne

We were honored to give State Senator Leland Yee a tour of LA Eco-Village in early February. In this photo, Eco-Villager Ianne Lavigne shows him the nearly completed eco art studio she has been creating. The Senator was particularly interested in our integrated approach to permaculture and is considering holding a Senate hearing on the subject. Senator Yee represents the 8th District which includes San Francisco and San Mateo counties.

New Bike Lanes in East San Fernando Valley

New bike lanes on Chandler Boulevard in North Hollywood

For New Year’s Day I headed up to the San Fernando Valley to check out two new bike lane segments. Bike lanes striped recently:

  • Tuxford Street – 1.3 miles from Lankershim Blvd to Glenoaks Blvd – in Sun Valley
  • Chandler Boulevard – 0.9 miles from Woodman Ave to Leghorn Ave – in North Hollywood (near Van Nuys and Sherman Oaks)

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Thoughts on ThinkBike L.A.: 4 – Process

On September 22-23 2011, Dutch bicycle facility designers came to L.A. and worked with Angelenos to create great designs. The ThinkBike event was covered at LADOT, and L.A. Streetsblog, but the coverage didn’t include too much in the way of sharing actual designs, like S.F. Streetsblog coverage of their ThinkBike did. I figured that I would do a series of three posts (1 – Downtown, 2 – Pacoima, 3 – South L.A.) showing off more of the great work. The designs are posted at LADOT, but they’re big pdfs, difficult to search, find, and share. I’ve broken them out into place-specific entries and tried to run a lot of images and text, to make this excellent work more findable. In addition, I’ve done a fourth blog post about the overall process, which I did find a bit disappointing.

THINKBIKE 4 of 4 – OVERALL PROCESS

When a Dutch bicycle experts come to L.A. and preach the bike gospel, it’s a great thing. Orange 20, LADOT, LACBC and L.A. Streetsblog loved it. I loved it. The designs are awesome, and I hope that any and all of them get built. Then why did BikeSide, L.A. Weekly, CityWatch, and The Engaged Observer express concern over folks not being included in the process? Why wasn’t this an unqualified success that brought together L.A. bicyclists and inspired us all?

I think that some of ThinkBike’s critics  focusing a bit much on fairly small detail. Caltrans’ local bike point-person Dale Benson and Rock Miller (engineer who designed many of Long Beach‘s awesome bike facilities) were sent out of the room during the design sessions. The sending off is not a good thing, but I think it’s more of symptom. In my opinion, the more fundamental issue is that ThinkBike was done in a way that has been divisive to L.A. bike communities.

You're invited to ThinkBike, but go away while we experts do actual design work for your community

As soon as I read the ThinkBike announcement, I could see it was an exclusive event. The public was invited to the opening and closing sessions only. Immediately I antcipated that this would be a contentious event that would sow divisions in the bike community.

L.A. is a big place. There are lots of great bike groups. Not everyone can be in the room at the same time… so there should have been some sort of transparent, open process by which participants were selected/invited. To this day, I still don’t know who picked whom. Was it the Dutch? the Mayor? the LADOT? the LACBC? I don’t know.  Continue reading

Resolving Conflict Through Mediation

Mediation in progress

I am posting this article from Ron Milam Consulting who I will be collaborating with as their newest associate to offer mediation services for non-profits.

Are you tired of those same tensions playing out at every meeting? Is your organization or board loosing momentum?

Unresolved tension between co-workers, board members or board and staff gets in the way of productive meetings, wastes valuable time and energy and creates unpleasant office environments. These tensions often come from stress, misunderstanding, lack of communication or follow up, differences of perspectives, changes in leadership, and/or interpersonal resentments.

Oftentimes when facilitating retreats, some tension arises between participants. As a facilitator, one can manage any conflict that arises within a group but in order to truly transform the conflict, it is recommended that parties in conflict work to resolve their differences outside of a retreat during a mediation session.

Sometimes conflicts cannot be avoided. The challenge is how to transform them in an effective, creative and positive way to strengthen important relationships.

Mediation helps resolve disagreements or conflicts in a constructive and empowering way without having to go to court and before they become crises thus enhancing the productivity of your organization, generating more problem solving strategies, saving you money and time while also creating a more harmonious day-to-day work or meeting atmosphere. Mediation facilitates better communication and lasting resolution especially among parties with ongoing working relationships and where personal feelings may be getting in the way of a resolution.

How does mediation work?

The Mediation process is completely confidential and offers individuals an opportunity to work out acceptable solutions with the help of an unbiased third party or mediator. The mediator’s role is not to offer legal or professional advice or decide on outcome, but to provide guidance in identifying the issues and voicing negative feelings in a productive way. The mediator also helps to clarify misunderstandings and priorities, find points of agreement, explore new areas of compromise and collaboration, and negotiate an agreement.

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Spanglish for Bicicleta: Bika!

Fixie Bika!

I think that maybe bikes have finally arrived in Los Angeles! Of course, they’ve been here all along.

It’s not just that there are so many folks bicycling in our streets – especially Latino L.A. youth on fixies (fixed gear bicycles), but also all kinds of youth, working class immigrants, elderly Korean women, businessmen, environmentalists, moms, hipsters, y mas y mas.

It’s not just that the city is actually beginning to up its game on bike facility implementation and putting some bike lanes in some central city corridors where folks actually ride a lot.

Sometimes I think that bike culture has caught on here not in spite of, but, because of a lack of bike facilities. Maybe our youth look out at the sadly overly car-centric streets and rebel against them.

What I found this week was a new acknowledgement of bicycling in the street language of Los Angeles. It may have been out there for a long time, and I just finally got around to understanding it. It used to be that, in Spanish, bicycle was a four-syllable word: bicicleta (bee-see-CLET-uh.) When we use a word so much, four syllables is just too long. On the streets today, canvassing for CicLAvia (seek-law-VEE-uh), I’ve been hearing Spanish-speakers talk about bikas – singular bika (BUY-kuh.)  Continue reading