Category Archives: Gardening

Is it Reasonable to Expect that Southern Californians Keep a Green Lawn?

In Orange, CA, there’s a couple who has been charged for not having at least 40% of their yard covered by live landscaping. They had taken the lawn out and replaced it with wood chips to save on water. Many would consider this to be a brilliant move in a drought prone area.

Not the city of Orange, however. They’re charging the homeowner with a misdemeanor. City codes require that 40% coverage. Even his attempt at putting in drought tolerant plants after their first complaint hasn’t been enough to satisfy the city.

Frankly, I find this ridiculous. Southern California is highly prone to droughts, and the situation in recent years has been bad enough for many areas to institute rules about when you can and cannot water your yards. Anyone who finds something other than a lawn to put in is exhibiting good sense in such an area.

This is one city that needs to take a good look at what that requirement really means and if it is reasonable in this day and age. California has been suffering from years of drought, and even the occasional wet year isn’t enough to make up for the many dry ones.

Even the Rockies, where California gets much of its water has been having drought problems.

I wonder what Orange would think if instead of wood chips they had put in one of those artificial lawns. Odds are that no one would have noticed. The yard would have looked nice and green.

That doesn’t mean that artificial lawns are better than wood chips. It just point up the ridiculousness of assuming that you can tell right away.

It’s time for Californians in general, and especially southern Californians to recognize that they need to reconsider lawns. Cities need to figure out water saving landscaping guidelines, and scrap old ones that discourage people from putting in wood chips or other drought tolerant landscaping features.

The same goes for homeowner’s associations. Many neighborhoods have homeowner’s associations do much the same thing, where all homes must have a green lawn. It’s a poor requirement in this day and age for the area.

It would be better for cities to give classes on how to beautifully landscape a yard in ways that use less water. Encouraging homeowners to think beyond lawns would help with water shortages and encourage greater variety in how yards are landscaped.

I would love for this case to be the first step in challenging the law in Orange that requires a particular amount of live planting in yards. We Californians really need to think about our water use. It is not a reasonable expectation that we have green lawns here.

Composting in the Kitchen

One of the challenging parts to composting can be how to keep your scraps until you are ready to haul them out to the compost bin. You don’t want a stinky mess in your kitchen.

If you drink coffee, a simple solution is to save an empty coffee can and keep it under the sink. Throw your vegetable and fruit scraps in there, and when it’s full haul it out. Simple and it allows you to reuse the container.

I don’t drink coffee, so I had to get one from my mother. We’ve also done this using a bucket with a well sealing lid. You really don’t want the stink in your kitchen.

There are compost bins made for the kitchen. They may come with a charcoal filter to keep the smell under control. Many are small and really made to do the job I’ve always done with the bucket or coffee container… to hold the compost until you can get it to the garden. The filters do mean you may not need to empty them so often, though.

The key is simply to find what works to make composting easier for you so that you’ll do it regularly. If running scraps out daily isn’t a big deal to you, don’t buy anything. If looks matter or you can’t run the scraps out too often and smell is an issue, get a kitchen compost bin. If you just need something to tuck under the counter and will empty often enough that smell’s not a problem, find a container you can reuse.

Start Composting – Green Step By Step

A compost pile goes well with a vegetable garden, but that’s not the only reason to start one. You can use the compost anywhere in your yard as a fertilizer when it’s ready. And of course it’s a great use of your food and yard waste.

Most people prefer to have a compost bin rather than a compost pile. There are many great ones on the market that can help to speed up the process and keep the smell down.

It’s pretty amazing what you can put into a compost bin. Typical advice is to not throw any meat or cooked foods into the pile, but lots of other things can go in. Grass clippings, of course. Cardboard, although you need to tear it up some but even old pizza boxes are fine. Lint from your laundry. Hair. Paper towels and napkins, if you’re still using them. Some people even put urine in their compost. Others can’t stand the thought.

Plan and Plant a Garden – Green Step By Step

When it comes to being green, food miles is an important consideration. The further your food comes to reach your table, the less efficient it is. Eating organic food is nice too.

Gardening is a wonderful way to be green and to encourage the entire family to appreciate what it takes to bring food to the table. You may or may not save money gardening, but you can’t beat the food quality when it all works out.

Plan by what your family will eat and what grows well in your area. If you’re in an area with water shortages, do take that into consideration as well.

Especially for younger children there is nothing like seeing a plant go from seed to the table. It can even encourage some of the pickier ones to try vegetables they thought they didn’t like.

There are many ways to keep your garden organic. Delight younger children by getting lady bugs to help with pest control. Plant marigolds near tomatoes. Get a good organic gardening bookSquare Foot Gardening is a good choice for your typical, space limited yard as well as for larger properties.

Gardening also gives you a great excuse to make the most of your compost pile. Some cities do now take yard waste in special containers, which is a big help, but it’s better yet if you can use it yourself. Much better than using chemicals on your garden. There are plenty of compost bins and such that you can buy to keep the process running with a minimum of odor.

I Guess My Attitude Toward Watering Will Be Different from the Neighbors’ in Our New Home

According to the realtor managing the house we’re renting, there aren’t any watering restrictions in our new neighborhood. That surprised me, since it’s still southern California.

I could quickly see that many people there aren’t too worried about water. They were watering in the heat of the day, with lots of overspray onto sidewalks and the street.

The watering timer in our house was set to water twice a day, 15 minutes at each spot. Yikes! And the lawn still has brown spots because not all the sprinkler heads are adjusted right or working.

I’ve managed to fix the programming part at least. We don’t quite have the time yet to fix the broken heads.

Still, the idea that there aren’t any water restrictions amazes me. I still intend to limit our water use, no matter what the neighbors are doing. Even when you’re stuck with a lawn, there’s only so much watering needed.