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.

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.

Water Wise Home Book Event This Friday!

Eco-Villager Laura Allen signs her new book, The Water Wise Home: How to Conserve, Capture, and  Reuse Water in Your Home and Landscape. Details below!

New book! The Water-Wise Home by Laura Allen

New book! The Water-Wise Home by Laura Allen

Create Your Own Water-Wise Home and Landscape (book release event and presentation)

With simple plumbing alterations and smart landscape changes, every home has the potential to create a sustainable water supply with an ecologically productive landscape. From reusing greywater, to collecting rainwater, to installing waterless composting toilets, our collective efforts can transform our home water systems. Learn how you can transform your own home so it conserves and reuses our precious water resources, while growing a bountiful garden. This presentation will teach you how. It will also include national trends, codes and regulations, costs, health and safety considerations, and system examples.

Date: Friday, April 3rd

Time: 7:30pm book signing. You can bring or buy The Water-Wise Home: How to Conserve, Capture, and Reuse Water in Your Home and Landscape (Storey Press, 2015) $25 cash or check.

8:00pm Presentation
This event is free.

Venue: Los Angeles EcoVillage, 117 Bimini Place, Los Angeles, CA 90004

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.

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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.

DIY toilet top hand washing sink

toiletlidsink-bWhen you think of toilet water, you don’t necessarily associate it with clean hands, but the water flowing into the tank is not the same as the water sitting in your bowl. It’s much cleaner. In fact, it’s the same water that flows out of your sink faucets. So why not make use of this water before it gets dirty?

In Japan, most toilets are equipped with water saving features such as a little flush/big flush options and toilet lid sinks. This allows clean water to flow through a faucet before it fills your tank for your next flush.

Here in the states, you can buy a toilet lid sink, which is fairly pricey, or you can make one yourself for a small fraction of the cost. Here’s one that federico made with repurposed materials (see photo).

The Materials. We found the bowl at a local thrift store for $3.99. The wood for the lid was from a discarded piece of furniture donated by our friend Josh. The copper was harvested from an old broken refrigerator. We lined the bottom with rocks I had saved from an old lucky bamboo pot. The other parts (1/4″ plastic tubing, rubber rings, short pipe piece) were lying around from other projects. You can buy all of these parts fairly easily.

Because federico is pretty crafty, he didn’t follow any particular instructions to make this, but I did find a helpful how-to on Instructables here if you want to make your own.

Here are a few photos of the building process.

diy-toilet-lid-sink-drain

Federico drilled a hole at the bottom of the metal bowl and attached a short pipe.

diy-toilet-lid-sink-underlid

He cut a piece of wood into the same shape as the original lid, and attached a piece of plastic to hold the lid in place. He drilled 2 holes in the lid — one for the copper tube which serves as the faucet and the other in which to nest the metal washbasin’s drain.

diy-toilet-lid-sink-watertube

Here’s the inside of the toilet tank. Federico detached the beige tube that directed the incoming water into filling the bowl. He then attached a 1/4″ tube to divert the clean water and attached the other end of the tube to the copper faucet.


And here’s a video of the water saving device in action. Happy flushing!

Working on Eco-Village’s Outdoor Kitchen DG Floor Last Weekend

Thiago and Peter shoveling gravel into wheelbarrows to transport it into the LAEV courtyard.

Thiago and Peter shoveling gravel into wheelbarrows to transport it into the LAEV courtyard. All photos by Joe Linton

Here are some photos showing eco-villagers working on the new outdoor kitchen last weekend. Laura Allen has been the person who has really made this happen, and many of us lend a hand when we have time. Prior to these photos, Laura worked with other eco-villagers to build the deck, counter, sink, and washing machine. The sink and washing machine drain into greywater plumbing that waters the nearby garden.

Arlo took advantage of empty wheelbarrows

Arlo took advantage of empty wheelbarrows

Click on the jump for more photos.  Continue reading

KPCC Article about local graywater featuring Laura Allen

Gray water is waste water that can be easily reused on site, that would be most water that doesn’t flow through toilets or kitchen sinks.   Water from showers, baths and laundry is all fair game for the water recycler.   This KPCC article by Molly Peterson is an excellent primer on the state of greywater in Los Angeles.   And make sure you watch the embedded video on one of our laundry greywater systems:

Rain Garden Talk this Friday at LAEV

Creating Rain Gardens Cleo Woelfle-Erskine and Apryl Uncapher

This Friday, September 14, 2012 at 7:30 pm author/activist Cleo Woelfle-Erskine gives a public talk on his new book Creating Rain Gardens. The talk takes place at L.A. Eco-Village, 117 Bimini Place, LA 90004.  There’s a requested admission of $5 to $10, but no one turned away for lack of funds. Reservations recommended,  contact eco-village:  crsp [at] igc.org or 213/738-1254.

October Greywater and Composting Toilet Workshops at LAEV

Laura Allen lays it down - Photo: CSMonitor.com

Coming October 2011, Greywater Action are back! They’ll be teaching workshops at L.A. Eco-Village and elsewhere in Southern California. Greywater Action are the great folks formerly known as Greywater Guerillas, then they changed their names after the state of California went and made greywater legal. These are the folks who installed (and taught how to install) my home washing machine greywater system that I wrote about here.

Greywater Action teach an introductory (morning) and advanced (afternoon) greywater workshop at L.A. Eco-Village on Friday October 14th. That evening they give a presentation on humanure (composting toilets) on Friday October 14th at 7pm. There are also similar workshops in Santa Monica on Saturday October 8th and Sunday October 9th. More workshop details below and at Greywater Action website.   Continue reading

Diana Leafe Christian Ecovillage Talk Feb. 22

If you haven’t heard Diana’s talk before, don’t miss this one.  OR if you have heard it, you won’t want to miss this one either, because it’s new and better than ever!

Ecovillages: Where They Are, What They’re Doing, Why They’re Important
Diana Leafe Christian (in person)

Diana Leafe Christian

Tuesday, February 22, 2011 at 7:30 pm
at L.A. Eco-Village
117 Bimini Pl, LA 90004  directions

Fee: $10 to $5 (sliding scale)
Reservations required: crsp@igc.org or 213/738-1254

With over 400 photos, this slide show demonstrates how ecovillages worldwide integrate ecological, economic, and social/cultural/spiritual sustainability, through:

• Permaculture design
• International peace activism
• Natural building
• Service to populations in need
• Renewable energy/off-grid power
• Local currencies
• Alternative technology
• On-site cottage industries
• Sustainable agriculture
• Participatory decision-making
• Earth-restoraton projects
• Conflict resolution & communication skills

WHY people are devoted to developing ecological settlements.
HOW ecovillages are beneficially influencing the wider culture.
HOW ecovillages will probably affect patterns of human settlement in the near future.

Continue reading

Rain Flows through Bimini Park

Bimini Slough Ecology Park creek flow during rain on December 22nd 2010

The Bimini Slough Ecology Park was flowing mightily under this week’s rains. Federico wrote about this park earlier at the Eco-Village Blog, referencing my long piece about it at L.A. Creek Freak. It’s located at the end of the Los Angeles Eco-Village block at the corner of Bimini Place and 2nd Street. It was created and is maintained by the Bresee Foundation. Continue reading