Friday, August 24, 2007

4 simple steps to become 22% greener.

Its hard to do a major overhaul of the way you do things but luckily for you, being green is easy as banana creme pie. Plus, it will save you lots of money that you could use for a vegetable garden.

1. Gas is expensive. Find other means of transportation.
Get a bike to travel locally. You don't have to give up your car, just use it less. Plus, you will be more healthy, maybe loose a little weight, eat less, buy less, look better. Public trans is green. Green is cheap. Green is sexy. Be green, get laid.

2. Food is expensive. Opt for fresh vegetables and fruits in season.
Vegetables are cheap- Way cheaper than those microwave boxes, cheaper than eating out. Vegetables are healthy. In the long run, if you eat five a day, you will save on health costs. Think towards the future. Instant gratification is way overrated. If you eat more veggies, you will be more healthy, you will have more energy, your body will become more efficient. Become a green machine. You will want to walk more, or ride your bike with greater ease. With vegetables, there is also little waste. No big boxes, no plastic packaging. Easy as pie. Rhubarb pie.
Want to know whats in season and when? Check out these links. Or find your own.
Food Network's seasonal chart
Nutritiously Gormet Seasonal Calander

3. Bottled Water is expensive. and stupid. Stop buying bottled water.
Tap water is extremely underrated. Trust me. Add some ice, maybe a lemon, try a few mint leaves- it's fantastic! But if you are finicky, opt for a Brita or other kind of water purifier. Re-fill and re-use your plastic bottles. Not only is plastic a huge landfill problem, it is also ridiculously expensive. People used to make fun of buying water. But clever advertising has programed us to think its not stupid at all. Trust me, it's stupid.

4. Ephemeral fashion is expensive. Instead of buying shoes and clothes every other day, spend money on an urban garden.
Grow mint, basil, eggplants, tomatoes, cucumbers, green onions, peppers, squash, etc. Not only are they pretty and tasty, think of it as an investment. Home grown foods taste so much better than your large-chain-grocer's because they are fresh. There's no scary chemicals in them either. The supermarkets also make a lot of emissions from transporting the produce from far away. Think it's a waste of water? What about your lavish lawns? Get rid of it and grow a veggie garden. Click this to go to the Edible Estates website to see how it's done. If you can eat what you grow, you spend less on food. See number 2 above. With all the excess money from not shopping a lot, plan fun pot luck with all your friends. Become happy so you don't have to fill the void with shopping all time. Opt for the thrift stores and cheap vintage stores. By doing so, you won't be supporting exploitative labor either.


If you don't think these are awesome as hell, you're not human.

These are tomatillo plants. I'm still expecting them to light up any moment now.

Guerilla Gardening: Seed Bombs

Have you seen me?

Hello, I am an empty lot. I exist in your neighborhood. I'm just a big patch of dirt and some trash. I make my neighbors feel uneasy and sad. No one likes me and it makes me sad too. All over, it is a lose-lose situation.

But maybe you can help me? All I need are some seed bombs. They're cheap and easy to make. And if you do it right, they are completely self automated and great for the environment. They will be a sight for sore eyes and they will make everyone happy. Especially the butterflies.

Seed Bombs Ingredients
1) powdered clay
2) worm castings
3) wildflower seeds indigenous to the area
4) water
5) mixing container
6) stick

How to Make a Seed Bomb
1) mix 5pt powder clay, 5pt worm castings, 1pt seeds in a mixing container.
2) add just enough water to make a nice muddy clay consistency
3) roll up the mixture into little balls like gum balls
4) let dry in a cool dry place for like 3 days
5) throw them in empty fields.

The middle bomb is a great size.

How they Work
A seed bomb is a little capsule with everything you need to grow a plant all bundled up. The clay has lots of root-encouraging nutrients. The Worm Castings will give the seeds a nice fertilizer, good for land that hasn't been cultivated or worked on for a while. The indigenous seeds are custom made for your area. They will know how to grow given the conditions.

Now all they need is a nice rain. The perfect time to throw these is right before a light rainy season. The rain will melt the clay to expose the seeds, and your seed bombs will grow.

We had a seed bomb workshop in November. We used California Poppy seeds. Unfortunately there was no rain this year, so we have a whole bunch saved for this fall.

Now it's your turn. Make seed bombs. Invite your friends. Make your city greener.


Check out these awesome people!

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I've got a bike you can try it if you like

I usually ride my bike around town. Its the most efficient way to get around, and it's sooooooo much fun.
Look smart as you steer those streets.

The biggest argument about riding you bike is that it's too hot. Not true. Because the bicycle is so efficient, you are using up less energy than walking. With the steady stream of wind in your locks, it is as if mother nature has her AC on.

Go to the market. Go to the library. Go to work. Go throw your seed bombs into empty lots. Go get drunk. Yes, you can also ride your bike to the local pub. It's fun to bike tipsy, I swear. Fun time happy time.

Oh, so you want a bike? Very well. Here are your options:

Mountain Bike

These bikes are super fancy. They have nice breaks, nice shocks (do you need crazy shocks like these?), super fatty tires with which you can over-run a mole with sharp teeth. If you're commuting around town, this might not be so necessary.

Hybrid Bike

These bikes are a hybrid of the mountain bike and the road bike. This is very suitable for commuting around for the local grocer, etc. They are comfy, have gears for city slopes, and are very practical. The best thing about these is the upright seating position.

Road Bike

These bikes are the ones with the super skinny tires. This bike will zip you to your destination. They are fun, fast, sleek and wonderful. But careful when you see glass on the street. And road bikes are just for roads. No dirt, bumpy terrain, especially no gravel. Stick a rack on the back, and you're set to go. Zoom past cars on the street, smooth riding to the bar. Con: you better know how to fix a flat, you're going to be bent over while you ride.

Little BMX bikes

These bikes look like your 8 year old little brother's bike. They take 50 pedal rotations to move a wheel 3.14 feet. Not so awesome, but your street cred will skyrocket with the 14 year olds down the block.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

No End In Sight

I strongly recommend everyone to seek out this documentary.

It is not fun. It is enraging, shocking, devastating and heart wrenching. But I feel it is necessary to watch.

I just watched it tonight and I am deeply disturbed and thankful to have seen it.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Attack of the Cute Adorable Crunchy Yummy Babies!

Look at these cute crunchy yummy babies!!!

E.Fong Tomato

Baby Burpless Cucumber

and here's the money shot:

Faces of Evil #2- Red Spider Mites >:(

Red Spider Mites: The Enemy.

Although these things are hard to see with the naked eye (but they are visible if you look close!) these things are my number one enemy. They are a menace and they drive me nuts. In order to conquer these, you must know them. Know their habits, know their environment, know where they come from. Know them. Be them. KILL them... in five easy steps.

Without chemicals or pesticides

These jerk-faces are a big problem to patio/balcony growers for many reasons.
-There is little space, so plants are often crowded.
-There is little natural humidity (esp if you are above ground level) due to the absence of a soil bed that can trap in a lot of moisture for all day timed release action.
-Because of the arid conditions, there is a small presence of beneficial bugs such as ladybugs and praying mantises.
-There might be another amateur gardener somewhere near you who doesn't take good care of his/her own infested plants and the creepies float on in by the wind currents.

The Spider Mite

(about 1,000x actual size, artist's exaggerated rendering)

-Very small tiny spider like creatures that make webs and suck the nutrients out of plants
-Loves dry climates
-Loathes wet things and humidity
-Is an equal opportunity plant eater/killer
-Is terrified of ladybugs

What to look for

-Webbing with little reddish spots that move around.
-White spots covering leaf
-Some wilting

How to kill them

Ok, so I know that a lot of people don't have much time. Don't worry. Depending on the level of infestation, it shouldn't take you over an hour.

If you have a potted plant, take them to the sink and wash them off. But if you have your plants growing in a heavy box with other plants, it will be a little more complicated. Especially if you live in an apartment with no garden hose available.

1. Get rid of the webs. Use a piece of toilet paper, Q-tip, napkin, stick, or anything. A lot of the little jerks will be on the webbings, so if you get rid of the webs, you get rid of them.

2. Dampen a Q-tip and get rid of all the other Spider Mites on the plants. Try a big bowl of water with 1-2 drops of dishwashing liquid. That's what I used. A very mild solution of soapy water.

Don't forget the nooks and crannies. The idea is to get rid of ALL the spider mites.

Look how disgusting this is.

3.Cut off the leaves that can't be saved.

Why waste a plant's energy storage on leaves that have no hope? Cut off the ones that can't be saved. But don't go crazy and cut off all the leaves.

4. Use that big bowl of soapy water and give your plant a good bath. This will leave a nice damp surface that Spider Mites hate. This will also get rid of any stubborn mites that you've missed.

5. My favorite step: Dump the water in the sink.

The bowl of soapy water will probably be a little brownish due to all the spider mites that are drowning in it. You can turn on the garbage disposal for added effect.

If you have really good hearing, the spider mites' dissension will be audible. Just shoot some expletives back at them. Don't worry. At this point there is no way they can beat you up.

Tomorrow, and every other extremely hot&dry day after that, spritz the plants with plain old water. Don't forget, most leaves like water too. This will also discourage new mites from coming back.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Amazing Things Are Afoot! Vienna Vegetable Orchestra

The Vienna Vegetable Orchestra

These people take themselves very seriously. They've been around since 1997. I hope they don't just throw away the carvings. That would be a shame.

Please visit their website by clicking here.
This website features many sound clips, photos of their instruments, and an intensive FAQ section.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Attack of the Clones! When Plants Propagate THEMSELVES!

When people think of clones they often think of weird freak mutations a la that dumb Michael Keaton comedy from way back when.
But this is not always the case. Sometimes these "freaks" become way better than the originals:

But in the plant world, clones are exactly the same as it's mother. The DNA of a plant clone is a carbon copy (exact replica) from the plant it came from.

This post is about plants that clone and propagate themselves. Awesome. Here is a list of all the self-cloning plants I have. There are far more different kinds of plants that clone themselves, cacti being the most well known self-cloner. Sansevieria plants have leaves that will self root in a sandy soil. Begonia leaves also do the trick.

The reason why I'm amazed by these plants is because they do all the work. They produce, sever, and root themselves with no chemicals, no cutting, no nothing.

Aeonium Arboreum



This little guy started growing from the trunk. It developed aerial roots, fell off, and started growing.


The genus Kalanchoe is actually known for it's cloning. Is it a surprise that I have 2 different examples of Kalanchoe? Two examples of Kalanchoe Crassulaceae to be exact.




What I love about this plant is it's beautiful scalloped leaves. There are touches of pink, red, and orange. These leaves also drop themselves and form little clones!




I have never seen a more prolific plant in my life. This thing copy&pastes itself faster than a highschool plagiarist on Wikipedia.

I know there are so many other plants that clone themselves, such as the pineapple plant Ananas Bromeliaceae (When you eat a pineapple, you actually eat the clone), the spider plant, and many others.

Do you know of any? Send me some pictures and I'll post them up.

Monday, August 13, 2007

dear cucumber, I will eat you.

Taste test number 1.

Actually, it's really taste test number two because we already sampled our cherry tomato and our yellow E.Fong tomato. But anyway,

Remember the cucumber that kind of puffed up and never puffed out? It was our semi-deflated animal balloon until we were sick of waiting for it to fully develop. I mean, we waited for like 2 months. So while making coleslaw tortas, I asked Ryan to go ahead and bring it.

And he brought it.

Yes, good cucumber. We're ready to eat you.

At this point, I sliced off two pieces and gave Ryan one. We had been waiting for such a long time, we regarded this little cucumber as if it was our own crunchy baby.

We have no photos documenting the precise moment of eating. Ryan had the camera ready, but once I raised my slice to my mouth, Ryan was overcome by a wave of jealousy because he didn't want me to enjoy the cucumber without him. He wanted to be the first to try.

Everything then became a big struggle, things knocking over the countertops as we each tried to hinder the other while trying to consume our own.

At some point, I don't know how, but we each happened to get a taste at the very same time. We stared at each other crunching and then it hit us.

The cucumber was nasty as hell.

Bad, Cucumber, BAD! But it was no use. No amount of screaming and chastising could relieve the bitter taste of betrayal in our mouths.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

When bad people happen to good plants. How to save your plant.

It happens to the best of us. It happens for many different reasons. It could be due to a cataclysmic change to your life such as a car accident, a new busy job, a trip to the emergency room, having to go somewhere for a prolonged visit somewhere. Maybe you've been paying too much attention to some plants and neglected another. By accident. It wasn't intentional, you love all your plants equally. You're a great plant person, you've got the greenest thumb within 3 consecutive counties. But sometimes it happens. One of your plants is dying.

Sound your alarm, Red Alert!

No, it's not because a naked man falls out of thin air! One of the most common problem of dying plants is lack of water.

Thristy Plants Symptoms
a) leaves are yellow or brown, and very brittle. Some green is still present in some leaves and stems. This is fixable.

b) you try to water the plant but the water just leaks through the drainage holes immediately. This is because your soil is so dry it cannot retain any water. Think of it like a dry sponge, or a dry cloth dinner napkin. You will not be able to soak up a spill because the air holes are constricted shut, and will not allow water to take rest in these small caves.

But this problem is easily fixable! As easy as 1-2-3.

1. Cut off dead leaves. Anything brown must go. This can even include stems. Why let the plant use up valuable resources to try to save parts that have no hope? Focus on what you've got.

2. Bring the plant to your kitchen sink. If it is a large plant in a large pot, take it to your bathtub. Douse the pot in water. Let the pot fill up with running water for five seconds. Let it drain by itself and let it sit for about 10 minutes.

3. Repeat step 2 until the soil is completely hydrated and can retain water itself. Once this is done, leave it alone for at least 3 days. This also depends of whether the plant is an outdoor or indoor plant. If it is an indoor plant, you may want to wait a whole week to a week-and-a-half before watering it again.

If you are afraid the water has washed away important nitrates and other fertilizer, sprinkle a little bit of worm castings into the plant. One to three tablespoons per square foot should do the trick.

Worm castings is Worm poo! It's my favorite kind of fertilizer because there is no odor, does not invite swarmy flies, is nicer to touch than other kinds of fertilizers, and is made from earth worms! All the stuff the earthworm eats is vegetarian, and the worms seem pretty happy.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Interesting Plant or Garden Related Videos

Master Glass artist Dale Chihuly shows at NY Botanical Gardens
I can never take him seriously however, after watching a filmed interview in which Chihuly was clothed in only an eyepatch in a bathtub full of water. His forms are all inspired by organic designs. I think he is worth knowing about.

From youtube user nullgel.
"This is a plant that I rescued from an abandoned office back in 1998. It's become like a pet to me over the years and seems to "reach out" to me when I sit at my desk. No one believed me until I captured this time-lapse video. It slows down after the start, but be patient!"

Did you know mushrooms breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide like humans? Opposite from green plants.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Penis Plants Revisited

Exhibit A:

My penis plants have disappeared. They lasted for about a week, the height being little caps sprouting throughout the bed and then abruptly disappearing.

I have been thinking much about these plants, and why they strike me as something curious. I am not interested in them being curious in of themselves, but more so why I consider them strange.

1. These penis plants came up without any notion that this could happen. They seem to be a perfectly random occurrence. It was something I didn't even know had the possibility of happening.

2. I have never seen this kind of plant before, therefore it is not cataloged in my database of information of natural occurring instances. I have no name for these...things, and so it is questionable to my matrix of language/definition.

3. The idea of luck seems to have a place in this specimen. How lucky it is that a random instance has occurred? Not only is it something I never even thought about, let alone the random penis structure, coupled with the random bright yellow color.

4. Random occurrences give way to humor, or more so a sense of euphoria. It was funny. And magical.

Let us explore:

In gardening, cause and effect are pretty clearly laid out.


Too much water=dead plant.

Not enough water=dead plant.

The same can be said about sun, fertilizer, and many other variables. I always considered gardening to be a healthy balance between different elements, much like health in eastern medicine is applied to the human body. Zen of gardening, if you will. This characteristic is welcomed by so many and is enjoyed because of its ease to visualize the future outcome while posing enough of a challenge to cultivate one's art of gardening.

So for simplicity's sake, let us define gardening as:
Result=(Dedication)x(Expectable Outcome)
(or R=DE)

Here we can see that the result is very straight forward.

However, the penis plants pose a dilemma since it seems to exist without any context, furthermore, without a foundation of understanding outside of given parameters such as language or experience.

Thus the penis plant seems to hover without a function, without any establishment or function of its own. This encapsulates a randomness, uneasiness, and finally, the brain's surrender to the preposterous, leading to humor.