Thursday, September 11, 2014

Cash for Grass-Incentivizing Conservation

Municipalities across the country are offering cash incentives to homeowners to tear out their water-guzzling lawns. Here in California alone, there are dozens of programs to encourage homeowners to make the move to a grass-free yard. Cities like Sacramento, Los Angeles, Roseville, Palmdale, Victorville, and Napa have all implemented similar programs, and with rebates up to four dollars a square foot in some areas, it's easy to see why many are taking advantage of this opportunity. The money is intended to defray the cost of lawn removal and replacement with drought tolerant landscapes commonly known as xeriscapes. The results can be truly distinctive and beautiful.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Mycelium-An Underground Revolution!

Mycelium in the DripWorks Demo Garden

Recently I was reading an article in the Mother Earth News and came across one of those statements that forever change one’s world view: “A white fungal network called hyphae, not plant roots, is the principal structure for the uptake of many important nutrients in the plant kingdom.” If that hits you like it did me, take a moment for it to sink before reading on.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Supercharge Your Soil with Biochar!

As farmers and gardeners we are always searching for ways to make our soils better, richer, and more productive. Biochar is an inexpensive, lightweight, and readily available product that is easy to incorporate into vegetable beds, landscape areas, and orchards. Besides an amazing capacity to sequester up to three times its own weight in carbon (possibly for millennia), biochar helps the soil’s ability to retain water, improves the condition of hardsetting soils, increases microbial activity, stimulates mycorrhizal fungi, and enhances the absorption of nitrogen fertilizers. All of which means you can expect to drastically augment plant growth in your backyard while doing your bit to save the planet!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Pollinators Need Your Help

Photo Courtesy of Maria Steffen

Although a few plants rely on wind or water for pollination, most of the world's crop plants (75%) need pollinators to reproduce. Many people don't realize that a high percentage of the food we eat exists because of pollinators. Pollinators visit flowers in search of food (nectar and pollen) and during this visit often come in contact with a flower's reproductive parts, depositing pollen which is necessary to produce a seed for that plant.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Vertical Gardens

Vertical Wall Garden at Bay Meadows in San Mateo, CA
Whether you’ve run out of gardening space, or have seen one and just think they're plain cool, you may have toyed with the idea of creating some form of vertical gardening. Perform a web search on the term and you’ll find examples of all kinds of vertical gardening from across the country and around the world. That’s because vertical gardens are an ideal opportunity to think outside the planter box.  In other words, anything goes, so long as it goes up.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Growing Melons without Draining the Tank
(or Breaking the Bank!)

Watering Melons with Drip Tape at Lopez Island Kitchen Gardens

If you love melons (and who doesn't), you may be surprised to find out that growing them doesn't require as much water as you might think. While the young plants like plenty of water for the first month or so, cutting back to a deep watering once a week will keep the plant thriving and improve the flavor. On the other hand, excessive watering or poorly draining soil will quickly promote root rot, so don’t make the mistake of killing your melons with kindness.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Drip Irrigation on a Slope

Saracina Vineyards

There are many types of slopes, from gently undulating backyards and rolling hills to precipitous mountainsides. By necessity, many growers have to garden or farm on uneven terrain, forced to terrace their land or take advantage of natural benches. Fortunately, drip irrigation can provide an even flow in these situations through the use of pressure compensating drip emitters. Whether you have an orchard, a vineyard, a farm, a rural home, or a house in town, here are some DripWorks solutions to watering on uneven or sloping terrain.