Sunday, May 31, 2009

Organic Pest Control (How to control those Cabbage Moths!!)

Hola and Great Morning to Everyone!!  Today's blog is about Organic Pest Control and the many ways we could apply them to our gardens :)  100% Natural, Biodegradable, Earth Friendly, and Non Toxic.

I'm sure you guessed that our entire garden is 100% organic which means we don't use any pesticides or chemicals to kill pests! We don't even think about using the organic bottled stuff!  Why should we? There are plenty of ways to control your pests naturally and inexpensively.  Keep in mind when using natural repellants that you won't get instant results!  Organic gardening takes a lot of patience and a little bit more baby sitting than normal.  When you begin to get frustrated, think about the benefits you'll be doing for your family in the long run!!   You certainly won't be introducing poisons at the dinner table! 

Some Examples: 
  • Placing cardboard around young tomatoes, cabbage, or other transplants to exclude cutworms
  • Handpicking tomato hornworm or cabbage worms from plants
  • Rotating your crops year to year
  • Interplanting crops
  • Introducing beneficial insects
  • Home made Herbal Sprays
A few weeks ago we introduced for the first time a Praying Mantids egg case :)  ohhhh I can't wait to see these guys eat some pests!

And today I made a home grown herbal spray.  This is the first time we've applied this pesky rid potion to our lovely veggies!  And to my surprise, many worms curled up (which made it easier to grab and throw into our pond) and plenty of grasshoppers also jumped out and away (making it also easier for me to catch!)  oooo I hope this works!  Its all trial and error in everyone's garden!

Below are the instructions:

Herbal Sprays:

Many organic farmers are familiar with using sprays made from aromatic herbs to repel pests from the garden plants. Several recent studies confirm the repellent effect of such sprays. The essential oil of Sage and Thyme and the alcohol extracts such as Hyssop, Rosemary, Sage, Thyme, and White Clover can be used in this manner. They have been shown to reduce the number of eggs laid and the amount of feeding damage to cabbage by caterpillars of Diamond back moths and large white butterflies. Sprays made from Tansy have demonstrated a repellent effect on imported cabbageworm on cabbage, reducing the number of eggs laid on the plants. Teas made from Wormwood or Nasturtiums are reputed to repel aphids from fruit trees, and sprays made from ground or blended Catnip, Chives, Feverfew, Marigolds, or Rue have also been used by gardeners against pests that feed on leaves.

  • Protection Offered: Try herbal sprays against any leaf-eating pests and make note of what works for future reference. 
  • How to Make: In General, herbal sprays are made by mashing or blending 1 to 2 cups of fresh leaves with 2 to 4 cups of water and leaving them to soak overnight. Oor you can make a herbal tea by pouring the same amount of boiling water over 2 to 4 cups fresh or 1 to 2 cups dry leaves and leaving them to steep until cool. Strain the water through a cheesecloth before spraying and dilute further with 2 to 4 cups water. Add a very small amount of nondetergent liquid soap (1/4 teaspoon in 1 to 2 quarts of water) to help spray stick to leaves and spread better. You can also buy commercial essential herbal oils and dilute with water to make a spray. Experiment with proportions, starting with a few drops of oil per cup of water. 
  • How to Use: Spray plants thoroughly, especially undersides of leaves, and repeat at weekly intervals if neccessary.

Let there be light?

So today, like the last few days, the weather was overcast through the whole morning and clearing mid afternoon. When the sun broke through the clouds, the garden was already in the shade from the big mulberry trees. The picture up on top was taken at 4:57pm and over 90% of our yard is no longer getting sunlight. We went to the farmers market in Alhambra and on the way there we stopped at the El Sereno community garden.   They open the garden to the public on the weekends.  So we stopped to see the plots and were taken back on the sizes of some of the vegges that are growing. Made me really ponder about what's happening in the garden, and that's how I realized it's a big deal not having more that 5-6 hours of sun.
The good news conclusion is everything looks great.  It will just probably take 4-6 weeks longer to harvest. We'll see how the tomatoes turn out.
Note: most plants require 6-8 hours of direct sunlight.

-- Posted from the field

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Peaceful Elements is now OPEN!!

Yes the shop is now open and several fine pieces will be debuted at todays UC Davis Master Gardener's silent auction! Got to get some zzzzzz! Visit my store at:

Yay yay yay!!

Loaded from the studio...

Friday, May 29, 2009

The War Against the Ants

First a little background on my beliefs living with the vast amount of Earthlings which are not human. All uninvited creatures in the house get personally escorted out to the best of our ability. This includes spiders, flys, moths (sometimes, even though they are sent from the devil himself.) opossums (yes we did have a baby one in the house, he was a cute guy though), dragonflys, mostly everything with certain exceptions. Mosquitos gotta go, period. I find it interesting the it's only the female that are blood suckers, hmm. The little fruit nat things that come in the warm weather and hang out near and on any fruit or vegges in the kitchen. If they dissapear by themselves when we finally take out the apple rine that was left from yesterday, cool but if they try to make home then it the vinegar with water and a little dish soap the lure them into a irresistable resting place. Then there's ants. We're pretty tolerent of ants espically considerind my upbringing. I grew up battling ants. They would sent millions into the kitchen in the dark for a grain of dry cat food, or a billion would show up in my room if I left a bowl of cereal. My mom would spray Raid and I would ask her why spray that toxic stuff when we breath it in and all it does is drown the ants, so we switched to 409 or Lysol and had to clean up many little bodies. I always felt a little bad but communication wasn't happening. Anyway, many battles with ants later, I've tried to make a certain peace with them. Even if they somehow are crawling on me I try to
Blow them off unless they bite or are near a sensitive area.... Like my ears. Forgot to mention that Mom got some of this Chinese ant chalk which is the best stuff in the world to battle ants. You just draw lines where they are walking or circle what they came for and just leave. 10 minutes later they're gone, like left the building gone. It's the best. We tried to investigate the possible toxisity to us but it seems safe to all but ants and roaches. Anyway all that background to explain that today I had to engage the ants. It wasn't in the house but the garden. There have been more and more mealybugs and all the aphids have ant buddies helping them so we have to do something. I don't know of a natural way to balance the ants. I've never seen any benificial ant eating, garden friendly predator. So I topically deep watered where I see lots of ant activity and they came out in the gazillions! They were carring the larva egg things so I felt twice as bad. After the first battle we'll see if the harvesting of mealybug and aphids by the ants stops. Every creature is just trying to live, wish it didn't have come to this.

-- Posted from the field

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Compost pretty in pink ;)

This morning was compost time! I'll be giving instructions later sometime...
It's lovely to get a sweat when turning the compost & making it look pretty too!
Ladies be sure to top off ur compost with some fallen bougainvillea or vibrant fallen flowers alike...

Posting from composting living area...

Fruit garden

Summer is what gardening is all about. Think that has been said before. Swore I've heard that before. When we plan to plant for summer, I always feel like there's not as much veggies to plant compared to spring and fall. Summer is probaly comparable to winter (at least here in southern CA) with the amount of veggies that like that season. Of course you have some of the favorites; tomatoes, cucumber, squash, peppers, herbs, and others that love the heat but most veggies don't like too much hot. What makes summer so great is fruit.
When we first moved here almost 4 years ago (August) we were blessed with some well developed fruit trees. There were a cluster of mulberry trees, one other mulberry tree across the yard and a loquat tree. With some love and water they ended up being good producers. Two plus years ago we planted two grapevines. Earlier this year we planted 11 fruit trees and have 5 more in pots. We also have little banana trees (but I don't really count them cause I don't know of there the fruiting type). These trees don't produce much the first years but by the third, should be supplying us fruit. We have a few pieces this year, enough to excite us about the future. Last year we had grapes grow which was the most fantastic suprise last year. We harvested about 20 pounds of grapes who's were undescribingly delicious. I'm smiling just thinking about them. :). So this year it looks like we might get more. As Milli would say "so exciting!", indeed. So here's to summer and the fruit. Plan what fruit you and your family enjoy and don't worry about the size cause you can keep mostly all fruit trees pruned small and still yeilds fruit. We're hoping for 50 pieces per tree which would be over 500 pieces of fruit. That should hold us over! We'll blog more about the trees and there progress.

-- Posted from the field

Examples on How to be Sustainable...

Example One on how to be sustainable...
  • milli y eric get contracted to design and e-market
  • Patricia Bankins owns The Crystal Matrix
  • eric y milli are happy to barter 50% with The Crystal Matrix :)
  • milli uses some of bartering to get crystals and tools
  • milli uses crystals to design her personal jewelry
  • strangers, friends, and family demand milli's jewelry to be available for sale :)
  • milli will donate and debut her jewelry at a silent auction this sat
  • sat silent auction will raise funds to teach others how to grow their own food
  • End result = milli, eric, patricia, and people who are taught to grow their own food HAPPY PEOPLE :)
sneak preview of milli's peaceful line...

Turquoise Ring wrapped in Copper Wire

Example Two on how to be sustainable...

  • milli desires not to purchase but to recycle/reuse/barter
  • milli needs bamboo or Arundo for Bingwa's 55+ tomato plants!!
  • milli gets another call from Patricia about having more invasive bamboo and arundo
  • milli drives truck to Patricia's to clean and pickup bamboo and arundo
  • Patricia ends up with bamboo and arundo mulch and sticks for her beautiful veggie garden :)
  • milli has plenty of sticks for Bingwa's 55+ tomatoes
  • End result = milli helps to remove invasive plants (preventing spreading and fires), patricia uses her own bamboo/arundo mulch (saving money and benefits her soil), milli has invaluable sticks for homemade trellises and Bingwa plus Mother Earth = Happy :)
Patricia, thanks for playing outside with me today !

Monday, May 25, 2009

The youngsters

One of the things we're still learning and trying to practice is using what we grow. The biggest challenge seems to be when everything starts to grow in, it looks so beautiful that you don't want to mess it up. It might sound crazy but perhaps that's some of the suttle differences between farming and growing edible landscapes. When you take time & energy assisting this living plant to grow to it's potential and you love helping it just a much as you love eating it, then you can reach a 'fork in the road' so to speak about your garden. When you pull or harvest a plant, there's a blank spot left and if you harvest a lot you could end up with a bunch of holes. We do practice harvesting off of the plants while they grow but there are mostly annuals and have a much shorter lifespan that trees & shrubs so eventually they will have to go. Here's the solution we've come up with so far- have some up and coming youngsters ready to fill in. If we're going to maximize our efficency of the garden and our yeild, then it works to always have a 'bench' of veggies. It does mean more planing, this is the 3rd season we've been attempting to get this really working and were getting better. The picture above is part of the next round for summer. Not shown is about 200 or more starting plugs of herbs you'll see later but these are enough to start this segment of the blog.
Knowing what grows in the upcoming season and what you'll have room for are some of the things to brainstorm. The great news is as soon a you learn to balance it all, it comes together smoothly. Its like learning how to ride a bicycle for the first time.

-- Posted from the field

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Beets & Carrots Progress Photos

Yesterday's Beautiful Harvest :)

Feb. 1, 2009

Feb. 3, 2009

March 21, 2009
Few days ago...

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Carrot & Beet harvest

Yesterday we decided to pull up our beets & carrots from the garden. We germinated them from seed in January and planted them in the yard I think in early March. I'm checkin' with Milli... hold on, we're debating the dates, lemme go check the garden journal. OK, thank the universe for the garden journal and dated pictures. We suggest you record as much as you can in a book journal and take a gazillion pictures. We germinated the seeds on Dec. 10th 2008 and transplanted them into the ground on Feb. 3rd this year. So it being 3 1/2 months since planting in the ground and the area getting more shade from the Mulberry tree plus a couple of test pulls showed aphids at the top or the beet or carrot where the tops connect. That part was in the mulch so I guess watch out for that. We also had some shady-er vegetables to plant too so it was time to get all of them out. The harvest was decent but not enough to sustain us for long. Lots of little ones but some good sized ones too. Need to figure how to produce about 20 carrots a week. That's about what we go through eating & juicing. Milli has pictures showing the progress. She'll load them up next. Lesson of this experience - more sunny places, find out why aphids were in mulch, plan how to plant sucessively to have a sustainable enough harvest. The carrots were delicious, crunchy and they got eaten with some hummus today. We also had some big white carrot looking things that we don't know what they were about. Don't think it was parsnip so if anyone has any ideas please let us know. Look for the progress pictures in a minute. Peace

-- Post From My iPhone

Peppers for lunch

Harvested a few peppers. Great to have a few plants to pick at.

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Don't Buy twine GROW it!

When the morning glory becomes invasive we are thrilled ;) We use the vine as twine to hold up tomato poles, growing cucumbers, wrap a fresh bouquet of herbs, and to dry our seeds in a paper bags ;)

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Nothing like freshly picked stawberries!!

Yes Organic Strawberries!! Yummy yummy fill my tummy! They are super sweet and juicy too...
It's so nice to be able to harvest every other day without feeling worried about pesticides and hormones!

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Purslane/Verdologa (Spanish)

Buenos Diaz!!
Have you ever tried purslane?? If not look it up, it's filled with nutritious vitamins & minerals!! Very common In Latin America and we are so happy to have been able to get some from lora and her partner at the highland park farmers market!

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Monday, May 18, 2009

Garden shoppin'

Peaceful Valley catalog to order some seeds and other cool things. One of the best places we found for everything garden related. I'll list our purchases and wishlist soon.

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No starters to replace Harvest in time :(

Photos: Jan...Feb...Early May...

We did great back in January...
Started hundreds of veggies by seed (didn't realize all seeds were going to sprout! 
Converted our bedroom into a green house (which was pretty cool and surreal!)

By March we had hundreds, I mean hundreds of organic baby veggies ready for separation and transplanting! (we don't believe in thinning, can't get around to killing little beings!) 
b/t/w want to give a Big GRACIAS to everyone who stopped by to give those little guys a great home :) don't be shy, send ova some pictures :)

Now in mid May...  We find ourselves without many starters :(  The bingwa keeps asking "What you got for me to plant this week?"  Ummm, I'm wondering if he realizes that we have almost 50 tomatoes growing plus another 28 different varieties of organic veggies that are currently thriving ??? Then again I should really consider... Most of the valentine mesclun has been harvested almost daily, all turnips/radishes/kohlrabi have been eaten and cabbages will soon need to be removed due to those pesky cabbage worms ARGHHHHH.  

I can't believe we haven't purchased any starters since December!!!  Way to be sustainable, eh?If only we hadn't taken a month and half break from starting our own seeds we'd be planting right now :(  So tomorrow we'll stop by the Highland Park Farmer's Market to grab some starters such as purslane (verdolagas), parsley, and cilantro from our buddy Lora Hall.  She's pretty cool and very knowledgeable about fruit trees and veggies :) 

You could read her temporary posts @:

Positive Love & Vibes,
Peaceful Petal :)

Super excited about possible highland park co-op!!

The Turnout was more than anyone anticipated :) Several Community Activist and Master Gardeners were there sharing their ideas :)  Thanks Katie, Matthew, and Noah for starting up the Co-Op for all to benefit :)

We can't wait to fill our jars with Highland Park's co-op grain ;) yay!!

For more info. please contact:

Positive vibes!
Peaceful Petal :) Milli 

Transplanting starters

These are some starters we planted last month and now going to transplant most into 4in. containers.

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Sunday, May 17, 2009

More Highland Park co-op pictures

Rebels among rebels in action.

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Moved the co-op meeting outside

So many people showed up that we moved the meeting outside. Great turn out from the neighborhood.

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Co-op signup

New co-op site on 58th Ave in Highland Park

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Harvest for salad. Feeding people at tonights CO-OP meeting.

This is the harvest this afternoon to take to tonights first co-op meeting for Highland Park which is about 10 minutes away. I'll find out how far and blog from there.

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Message of the Day. When to harvest most sustainably

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This seems to slow things down

Clean working space

Nothing seems to slow things down more than a messy workspace. Trying to make it a priority to keep organized.