Ways to rid your organic garden of Fungus Gnats.

I have for a while been trying to rid my garden of tiny flies without success. I read somewhere that apple cider vinegar in water sprayed on these “flies” will kill them, alas that has not happened. In fact, today I have more flies than 2 weeks ago and now I have white larvae living underneath my cilantro leaves. After a days worth of research I discovered the names of these new unwanted roommates, Fungus Gnats. These guys have been burrowing in my soil for weeks regardless of my shooing hand. I need more than just an apple cider mist bath, I need real propellants! In my research of various blogs and rants online, this is what I discovered.

*First things first… dry out the soil! These buggers LOVE moist soil. So, if you are able to dry out the soil without killing your plants do it! This ensures imminent death, but if you can’t… try these options:

(All these options are chemical free as I promote organic non-toxic gardening. Even the dish soap is made of all natural non-toxic chemicals.)

~A mixture of 1 tsp of 100% Neem oil in a quart of water (the oil can be found at many natural health food stores). Also, you can try a mixture of 1 tbsp dish soap in a gallon of water and flush it through the soil of the plant till the gallon is empty. This seems to drown and kill the larvae. And the flies can’t come back as the oil and or soap mixture is unattractive to them. However, this only works if your pots can be drained. If you can’t drain your plant, then just keep spraying the soil and plants with the mixture.

~Sprinkle a generous amount of cinnamon all over the top soil or you can even add cinnamon sticks to the water you feed your plants.

~Place small pebbles on the top soil of your plants so the gnats won’t be able to burrow and therefore they won’t lay their eggs.

~Chamomile tea bags and tea after it has cooled seems to work well. I would cook up a pot of tea and steep it appropriately, let it cool and add that to your watering can.

~Create your own flies traps by cutting strips of construction paper and gluing corn syrup or sugar-water (more sugar than water) to the paper. Place these strips in your garden all throughout. These attract the flies they get stuck and die. Though it doesn’t stop reproduction of more flies. However useful in ridding the adult flies you already have.

~Another option I heard, some people actually use the hose part of their vacuum to suck up the adult flies so they diminish and therefore lessen the chances of breeding. Sounds easy to me.

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I sprinkled a ton of cinnamon on my soil.

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Try these options and let me know what works for you. Good luck.

I have, since writing this post, dusted my plants with cinnamon, watered less often to dry out the soil, sprayed neem oil and water as well as a rinse of dish soap and water. Plus, I scooped out the top layer of soil and replaced with new soil and added rocks to rid my plants of these pests. In addition, I took out the eaten cilantro plants since they were too far infected. I have very few, if any, gnats left. I’ve noticed, that they don’t care for basil and have planted basil amoungst my other plants.
Tell me how your plants are doing and what worked for you.

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Spring is in the air… continued…

2 weeks later and here is my window sill garden. I am now looking into containers to transplant into organic non-toxic soil. Surprisingly my walk to Home Depot amazed me with such options. They now offer Non-GMO seeds and no pesticide, non-toxic, organic soil for seedlings and more mature plants. Phewww… In addition to Home Depot, since it is a giant corporation and I’d prefer to support more eco-conscious, Lassens the natural food and vitamin store in Los Feliz (only a small metro ride away) offers a large variety of Non-GMO organic seeds for about $2.50 a packet on average.

They've sprouted

They’ve sprouted

My grandmother has been helping me plant indoors via the telephone and old fashioned letters. Grams says any deep container will work if placed in the sun near a window. Look at thrift stores in your area for unwanted trash bins, buckets, etc. You can always save your food containers such coconut water cartons, nut milk cartons, larger yogurt containers, to-go containers, etc. My boyfriend laughs at me taking home “trash” as he calls it, while I say I am “UP”cycling which is way better than “RE”cycling, yes? All these work great for transplanting unless you have larger containers already that you can use right away.Once the sprouts reach a healthy 3-5 inches and the stems seem strong enough to move, go ahead and get your soil, containers and gently transplant them into your containers.

If you are planting tomatoes, they need deep containers to root and only one stem in each container. Tomatoes need a lot of room to spread their roots. Eventually they will need a good stick to keep them upright. A bamboo skewer works great or find a stick outside and give it a good rinse from the grime of the outdoors.

As for my avocado plant, I found out that I have to mate the seed. Otherwise my plant will only be that, a plant. No fruit will grow unless I find a male to my female seed or vice verses since I have no idea what sex my avocado seed is. More on this later. Avocado plants take a very long time to root, so if you don’t see anything happening for weeks, it’s normal.

Also, lavender takes a very long time to sprout too, so if you have planted lavender, don’t fret, they are growing slowly, but surely.

*Side note* Since I have direct morning sun, I covered my sprouts with either left over clear food containers that fit over the egg containers and snack size plastic zip lock bags over the tiny terra cotta planters to keep the warmth and moisture inside while the seeds are growing. I also water each container of seeds with about 1 TBSP every morning if the soil seemed dry. Lately the weather has been cold and drizzly, so the soil has stayed moist on it’s own.

Herbs and veggies

Herbs and veggies

top view of more herbs sprouting.

top view of more herbs sprouting.

They are about 2 inches tall.

They are about 2 inches tall.

herbs and veggies

herbs and veggies

The pit of my avocado has split to make room for the root.

The pit of my avocado has split to make room for the root.

Tell me how you are doing in your garden. As for the flies that a few of you experienced; it might be due to an abundance of water in your containers. Maybe try covering the seeds as well, this may help. I haven’t had any small flies in my house. Let me know how it goes.

Happy planting

Spring is in the air…

And I bet your allergies are in full bloom, huh? It’s time for the bees (what’s left of them) to do their job and pollinate the land with beautiful flowers, fruits, veggies and more. Too bad we can’t tell them to stay on organic plants. Shameful Monsanto is ruining everything and killing our hardworking honeybees! Without them we are all done for. 60+ other countries recognize this issue of systemic herbicide, GMO, and altering our foods… but I digress. That is a hot issue for me. I just watched Vanishing of the Bees and remembered why I only shop organic EVERYTHING.

So, Spring is here and things are growing. I am fortunate to live in an apartment that gets flooded with morning sunlight. I frequent the farmers market at least 3x a week if not more and thought to myself, why not grow the food in my 11th floor loft? So this is what I have done.

Can you see the sprouts?

Can you see the sprouts?

I am growing herbs like Italian large leaf basil, thyme, oregano, and cilantro. I am also growing Big and Delicious tomatoes, chili peppers and an avocado plant along side flowers like, Love Lies-Bleeding, English Lavender and Forget-Me-Nots. It’s very easy to do, especially if you have egg cartons around and lots of good lighting. I cut the top off my egg carton. You can use both the top and bottom to fill with seed soil to start planting. It’s good to start with the soil moist for seeds to grow, but not too wet. After filling the carton with soil, place about 5 seeds in each mound, spray gently with a mister if you have one nearby and cover with a container for a greenhouse like enclosure. I turned my glass “tupperware” containers upside-down to make a greenhouse. Seeds should start to sprout in a few days to a week depending on the sunlight hitting them and water consumption. They need to have warmth and lots of sunlight. Check the soil everyday to make sure they have enough water. I use my tablespoon to apply more water to each dish almost every day and mist the container tops every night. I would suggest labeling your dishes so you don’t forget what you planted where. I always forget. “) Paper taped to toothpicks work great for labeling. Click here for a guide to help you grow from seed indoors.

6-12-08-avocado

Now, avocados are different since it contains a pit. Take a few toothpicks and insert them into the pit in order to have it rest in a glass cup or jar full of water keeping the top inch dry. Place the jar out of direct sunlight and in a few weeks you should see the plant start to sprout from the top and roots underneath. Replace the water when it gets low. Click here for more info on growing avocado plants. It’s super easy and great for teaching kids to grow plants indoors.

I am itching to grow more. Can’t wait to get organic heirloom tomatoes, organic yellow pear heirloom tomatoes, and more organic seed flowers. Remember Chia plants? They’re super easy to grow with kids or beginners. Tell me what you are growing and your experiences. I am so curious.

*I heard through the grapevine, DTLA is looking into a community garden. Hal Bastian has the land, he just needs experienced people to help run it. “I have been offered a plot of land in Downtown to start a community garden and need someone with community garden experience to volunteer to run it. If you know how to set-up a garden, decide who gets the plots and all the business aspects, please email me to hbastian@downtownla.com” quotes Hal. Let’s figure this out and be gardeners together. I need somewhere to put my compost bin goods.

“Nothing but blue skies do I see…”

The weather is warming up Angelenos. How do you spend your sunny SoCal days? Are you an early morning riser or a late night owl? My loft has huge windows that let in an insane amount of early morning light which has me waking earlier than I ever would have on my own. I used to consider myself a late night owl, but now a days I think I am swaying towards the early risers. Watching the sunrise or at least catching a glimpse of the sun just after it peaks the horizon is magical! The sky looks as if someone painted it with watercolors. As soon as I get up the first thing I do is open the windows wide and let in the morning air, so crisp and cool before the day takes over with its blanket of heat.

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Today is Pershing Square’s Farmers Market. Nearly ever day somewhere in the city there is a farmer’s market. Pershing Square is close by and has a large assortment of fresh produce with some farmers selling goods without pesticides, or so they claim. I noticed lots of people taking advantage of the weather, lunching at the tables near the center of the square. I was pleased to see a brand new plot of grass in the center, though I am not sure how long it will last. I filled my reusable bag with as many veggies to last a few days of juicing and a quick lunch with my cousin. As I was walking home, the song Blue Skies was drifting through my head… “Blue Skies… Smiling at me… Nothing but blue skies… Do I see… ”

Here is Ella Fitzgerald singing her version…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=epRXoS_P0lk

Enjoy the sun in whatever way you can. Even if it’s only for a moment to close your eyes and soak up the rays, take that moment for yourself, your soul will thank you. Happy Blue Skies to you all… enjoy the California sunshine.

Pershing Square of yesteryear.

Pershing Square of yesteryear.

Pershing Square today

Pershing Square’s only grassy area.

Pershing Square today.

Pershing Square today. What happened to all the greenery? It will be nice when they finally redesign the park. Too much is concrete.

Weekend Wonderland

Are you looking for something to do this weekend? A few great places to start would be the LA Art Book Fair at the The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA. 36499_385407698219233_966874203_nHundreds of art books on display from oldies to goodies, prints to catalogs. A delight for your artistic side. Take a friend and wander the isles of art literature from all over the world. Pick up pretty prints for your sweetie or rocking awesome zines, Valentines day is on it’s way. They even have a few book signings, so check their schedule to not miss out.

 
 
 
 
Hours and Location:
The LA ART BOOK FAIR is free and open to the public.
Saturday, February 2, 11 am–6 pm
Sunday, February 3, 12 pm–6 pm
 
The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA152 North Central Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 626-6222
moca.org
 
 
 
 
 

Saturday night at Space 727 Art will be all over the walls in the newest group exhibition  entitled LINES featuring artists, Matt Maust, Cody Comrie, and Harley Cortez. From floor to ceiling drawings, paintings and prints are on view for the art (and music *hint hint*)LINES lover in you. These are very talented men showing off their creative side off stage. I wouldn’t miss it if I were you. It’s only up for a week, so join the reception Saturday night February 2nd from 6:30-9:30pm. Space 727 Spring Street, DTLA.

And if that’s not enough…

PicnicGo for a walk in the city. Go for a long walk up to Vista Hermosa park. It might be a bit of a distance, but it proves to be such a gem. With views only wishes are made of. It’s 10 and half acres of walking trails, streams, kids playground, and hidden away picnic areas. Gorgeous meadows and the perfect city bench overlooking a vast meadow and the best view of DTLA! Scope out the perfect spot for your Valentines Day picnic. Romance is not lost in LA, certainly not DTLA. This park is really a treat. So much thought and heart went into creating such a beautiful retreat.

Vista Hermosa ParkBench
100 N Toluca St
Hours: Dawn to Dusk
 
 
 

A Secret Garden

I came upon a secret garden today right in the middle of the creative block consisting of the Walt Disney Concert Hall, MOCA, REDCAT, and the new (under construction) Broad Museum. Sandwiched between the Walt Disney Concert Hall and REDCAT is a beautiful, quiet garden consisting of plants from all over the world, like the Pink Ball Tree (Dombeya wallichii) from Madagascar. They look like upside down Hydrangeas.

The Blue Ribbon Garden is a gift from an organization of women devoted to the support of the music center and its resident companies. A large fountain that resembles a lotus flower with Mosaic Delft Blue Pottery with the inscription that reads “A Rose for Lilly. Frank Gehry’s tribute to Lillian Disney. A gift of her grandchildren and her great grandchildren” sits at the heart of the garden.Rose garden lotus flower

With a few tables and chairs dispersed throughout the garden, you can bring your lunch and a book or sketch book for my artist friends, and enjoy seclusion in the city. You can enter through the gates at the top of the stairs to the left of Walt Disney Concert Hall on Grand Ave. This way you can walk through the small outdoor amphitheater that not too many people know about either. Or walk through some of the sculpted exterior of the Walt Disney Concert Hall which can give you the feeling of walking through a maze. Either way, at the end of both paths, you come upon the garden that feels a little like the entrance into The Secret Garden. There is also an entrance off W. 1st Street that leads straight to the garden, which has an elevator for wheelchair access.

The Rose Garden

Happy discovering…

Once you find it smile, feel special because you now know a secret in the city of angels.

Hint if you have foursquare… click here.

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