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.

Fresh food in your ‘hood. (organic)

People seem to think because we live in downtown Los Angeles we have little to no access to fresh foods and produce. Which, I think is silly. Sure we have no Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Co-Op, Sprouts, Erewhon or even VP Discount Health and Food Mart (though I must say, I trek it here every now and then for amazing deals, they truely are discounted from their competitors), but we have MANY farmers markets that offer an amazing spread of fresh produce and meats. And to top it off, we have organic markets located in the heart of our community. Two Bits, Om Nom Organics, The Artisan and soon to be Urban Radish opening in a couple of months. Plus, Ralph’s actually offers a huge variety of organic produce and pre-packaged foods.

Two Bits Market located on 5th street (the nickel) is small, but offers fresh local organic foods, produce and organic packaged foods as well as organic coffee, cheeses, and made to order sandwiches. I am always finding my way to Two Bits for more avocados and day old bread for half the price. It’s a bargain!

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Two Bits Market~ Fresh. Local. Organic. on 5th between Broadway and Spring.

Om Nom Organics is a convenient mini market that offers all organic pre-packaged foods that are free of pesticides and toxins. Think mini Whole Foods. Everything for every meal. From pancake mix to pasta and sauces. They have a large assortment of organic teas, toddler goodies and needs, household cleaning products and needs, and even carry Babycakes! In addition to the market they have fresh foods to go! Conveniently located under the Eastern Columbia Building on 8th Street. Plus, they deliver! what? yes, they deliver in DTLA, so really there is no excuse for not eating healthy. click here for the menu.

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Om Nom Organics on 8th near Broadway.

The Artisan House located on Main Street and 6th is another mini market that offers only in-season local organic produce. As well as a variety of organic pre-packaged foods and local cheeses and meats. In addition, they house a mini liquor store of beer, wine and liquors. Plus, it’s attached to their restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating. Perfection! I say.

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Artisan House on Main and 5th.

Urban Radish is coming soon. Follow their story on facebook here. But with 8,200 sq.ft. of space, this is fantastic news. Said to be slated to open May 29th. Fingers crossed! This is going to be a great addition to the organic local fresh food movement.

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Designs of Urban Radish on Mateo

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Urban Radish on Mateo.

Ralph’s located on 9th between Flower and Hope Street is the largest of markets in the area. I am happy to say they offer a huge variety of organic fresh local produce as well as organic prepackaged foods. So if you find yourself in this gigantic market fear not, they have organic foods, too.

Grand Central Market located on Broadway has fresh local produce as well, though I am not sure about organic. I ask and ask, and every time I go I get a different answer. Oh well, at least it’s local right? Though it is heading into a revival with many retailers selling organic and free range foods like Sticky Rice.

Then we have our Farmer’s Markets!!!!!!

Monday~ Visit the mini markets 😉

Tuesday~ Grand Park 10am-2pm.

Wednesday~ Pershing Square 11:30am-2pm (my personal favorite).

Thursday~ Fig at 7th  9am- 3pm (Above Target) & City Hall 10am-2pm (on 1st and Spring St.).

Friday~ Bank of America Plaza 11:30am- 3pm

Saturday~ trek up to Echo Park‘s Farmer’s Market 3pm-7pm.

Sunday~ Historic Core on 5th street between Spring and Broadway. This is another treasure of farmer’s markets. 9am-1pm.

Beat the heat!

How are you finding ways to beat this heat? I have all my windows open and homemade ginger lemonade in the fridge to keep me going. I know in this heat our body just wants to lay around and be lazy. However, there are so many places to enjoy here in downtown Los Angeles especially now that summer is here and kiddies are out of school. It reminds of Alice Cooper’s song “Schools Out.” Though I haven’t been in school for ages it just seems fitting seeing more kids around town.

Here are a few ideas to get you out and about.

1. Go splash around in the big fountain at Grand Park. Be a kid again, roll up your pants and splash around side by side the chillin’s that are already there. They know what’s up. Follow their lead! There is nothing more fun then splashing in a giant fountain in the middle of a city. Remember Silvia from La Dolce Vita? Great movie.

Silvia in the fountain

Silvia in the fountain

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Grand Park Fountain of Fun

2. Find a friend with a roof top pool! Take advantage of your friends and neighbors. There are so many buildings with pools and most residents don’t make use of them. So start asking everyone you know if they have a pool and if they don’t mind lending it to you.

Here are few I know that have pools. Do you have friends that reside in them?

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Eastern Columbia on Broadway.

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SB Properties along Spring St. and 6th Street

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Pegasus Apartments on Flower

3. Museums! I am always looking for excuses to head to a museum. Though I probably don’t need any excuses since I absolutely love museums. But museums have air conditioning and in this crazy heat you may want to escape the sun’s rays for a few hours. There is no better way than with culture indoors. In downtown, we are lucky to have a few in walking distance. For example: Museum of Contemporary Art, The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, Japanese American National Museum, California Science Center, Natural History Museum, California African American Museum, and come next year, the Broad.

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MOCA

4. Go find a restaurant you haven’t tried yet and order only desserts! Or better yet, go straight for dessert and skip the lunch altogether! You could always grab a veggie juice later so you still get some nutrients and then head on over to dessert land. Peddler’s Creamery opened on Main st. Made with organic, fair trade, local & exotic ingredients. They have ice cream, sorbet and even vegan desserts. YUMMM! Plus, 5% of their profits goes to social and environmental causes. Win win!

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Peddler’s Creamery

5. Head to the beach (much like everyone else) via the METRO 720.~ Everybody seems to have the same idea when the weather obliges. Getting caught in beach traffic is never fun, so get out earlier. Pack a lunch and picnic out under the sun. Of course, you will have your sunscreen and sun hats, right? Sun burns are never fun to deal with. So lather up! Nobody likes lobster skin.

vintage-beach

 

6. Go see a movie, but that’s a given right? I put this last since I’d rather do the prior 3 on my days off.

Enjoy and stay hydrated.

¡Viva CicLAvia!

Today is the day where cyclists unite and ride car(e)free from DTLA to the beach. 15 miles one way. Starting at Union Station in downtown Los Angeles and ending in Venice Beach. How awesome is that?! It’s a gorgeous day out so get your bike and ride on! Wether you ride for a mile or the full trek, today is your day to take advantage of a bike path through the city, without cars trying to run you off the road. They are estimating 100,00 people will participate in today’s largest bike ride yet. So, come take part in this fun-filled carfree sunny southern California bike ride.

Check the map for road crossings for cars and the direct path for “bikes only” straight to the beach!

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To The Sea Map

 

You can always come out in support of riders throughout the route, cheering them on, taking photos, offering waters or riding with your kids a few blocks in participation. This event is for everyone. Start in DTLA or even in Venice Beach to ride back to DTLA. Many public transportation systems are available to help out in your trek. There will be hubs all throughout the route. Click here for hub locations. In Venice Beach there will be a kids zone to partake in a bike skills workshop and hone in on their biking skills complete with obstacle course and helmet giveaway from 11am-1pm. Thanks to Walk’n’Rollers.

Click here for safety tips. Especially if your children are joining you. There will be a lot of people out today, so stay safe people!

For those of you without a bike, take your scooter, skateboard, roller skates or even walk along with everyone. Click here for a few places to rent a bike along the route.

DowntownMuse loves her bike!

DowntownMuse loves her bike!

 

P.S. Rumor has it DTLA is starting a BIKE NIGHT… hint hint… DowntownMuse.

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

“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.

A room with a view

Waking up in a loft with windows that face the morning light is magical. Though at first I was not a fan of such early rising, I have now adapted to the light and learned to love it. My loft faces east with giant windows that take up our entire eastern facing wall. And to my luck, we only have a short building across the street that blocks half the view otherwise I can see Mt. Baldy on a clear day. myview

Today on the other hand is quite gloomy and cold. I can see the hills just barely as the fog is blanketing their grounds. I can see the cars in the distance chugging along the freeway trying to get somewhere in la. Not many birds out today, probably huddled together under a tree waiting out this weather. Normally I see a hawk flying around looking for its next meal. As for me, I am cuddled up in a blanket drinking tea, reading and watching my cat sitting on the ledge of our window seal watch all the people hurrying below. All bustled in their coats, hats and scarfs. You would think it’s going to snow, but it’s only California rain. The city always looks so crisp and clean after a good rain. I smile in anticipation for the rain to end when I get to see the city buildings in their glory of the sunshine. I always love a good rainy day. The sound of the drops on the window is beautiful, the smells are wonderful and the aftermath is even better.

What are you doing today? Where ever you are, if you are outside (if you aren’t, go outside) stop, close your eyes and breathe in to remind yourself that today is just one day of many. Make it a good one. Enjoy the cold Angelenos, summer will be here before you know it.

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
 
 
 

It’s not “that” kind of Juicing.

My boyfriend and I have been juicing for a couple of months here and there. Nothing extreme, but definitely a change to our everyday habit. Mind you, we were already pretty healthy. I am one to prefer my foods to be all organic, local, sustainable, fair trade, seasonal, etc. You know, all the buzz words. We try to be eco-conscience, but nothing like the skit out of Portlandia.

So, when my boyfriend introduced me to this movie called Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead (don’t freak out over the title), we ended up buying a juicer. Now, we juice all the time! It’s super easy, tastes great, we feel great, and we are losing weight.

For the days we are too lazy or havn’t gone out to buy fresh produce we walk to our favorite spot, Sustain Juicery. Conveniently located within a block of our loft, it is the best Juicery in DTLA. All their juices are certified locally organic and seasonally farm fresh. They also have some exotic ingredients, like the maca root.

As you walk in you will see all the vegetables in large wooden crates up against the wall filled with fruits roots and other colorful produce I am still learning the names to. Their menu is rather long and I have to say I haven’t tried all of them yet, but we are working our way through them happily.sustain juicery produce wall

My personal favorite is Koko which includes coconut water, kale, lemon and apple. It’s perfect for staying hydrated. Of course, one can never go wrong with The Classic Green which is made up of kale, spinach, apple, celery, cucumber and parsley. They also have shots, wellness cocktails, and smoothies if you so desire. Each 16oz cup is about $7 and their shots are about $2. It’s a great deal!

P.S. For $1 more they will give you your juice in a reusable glass jar!

Next time you are looking to grab a meal try out Sustain Juicery. Check out their yummy selections and enjoy! They have a bar to sit at and ask questions if you are clueless to the juicing routine, much like I was. They even have meal plans to inquire about if you want to go that extra step and juice strictly for an allotted time period. It’s perfect for detoxing, loosing weight, or just getting back to a healthier body.

Sustain Juicery
548 S. Spring Street
 
Hours:
m-f: 8am – 6pm
sat: 10am – 6pm
sun:10am – 4pm
Follow them on Twitter & like them on Facebook.
And for my Foursquare lovers… click here.

I know you will not be disappointed. I never am. Happy Juicing.

Did you say 50¢ ?

Living in downtown is great because you can more or less get anywhere within DTLA on foot or by bike. However, if you are in need of a ride take the DASHDASH sign

I normally can walk most everywhere within downtown. I live in the historic core which is in the middle of things, so walking around is easy peasy. For days where I am exhausted, it’s raining or way too damn hot DASH is the way to go.

Like say for instance… you want to head up to Chinatown and eat dim sum. Take bus/route B that circles the financial district (which is more or less on Grand Ave at 6th Street), it heads up Grand Ave to Alemeda St where you can get your picture taken with the Tijuana donkey on Olvera St, timeless! Then it zig zags through the eastern part of Chinatown near the Gold line station, Chinese Cultural Center and adjacent to the Los Angeles Historic State Park. A huge park located on Alemeda St. and my favorite, Nick’s! Bring your frisbee or go for a run, then back again to the Financial district. Easy!

Now let us say that you aren’t the best walker. The D bus/route is the best! It runs almost the entire “downtown”. DASH D is my friend when I just can’t walk anymore. It starts at Union Station (This train station hasn’t changed its interior since the 40’s!) and meanders through to City Hall where the new Grand Park is located. Definitely check it out! Then south on Spring St through the historic core past South Park close to LA Live and the Staples Center to Figueroa Street near Mount Saint Mary’s college and the expo line (USC route).

DASH D

Ok, now you know a few routes to get you by, but there are more! Routes A, B, D, E & F. Most routes run from 6- 6:30am or 7pm every 6-10 minutes Monday through Friday. Weekend E and F routes are slightly altered. E runs every 6 minutes from 6:30am-5pm on Saturday. However, on Sunday it runs every 15 minutes from 10am-5pm. Route F runs every 20 minutes both Saturday and Sunday from 10am-5pm.

And did I mention it’s only 50¢? Yeah, that is a deal! With comfy seats and A/C, too. Be sure to pick up a brochure when you get on the bus to ensure you have the map and route schedules. It’s very helpful until you learn the routes by memory which I still haven’t, sigh. Of course, you can also be eco-friendly and just look it up via the world wide web. GTS, yo! And, please have exact change the bus driver isn’t your banker.

You can check out their schedules and maps more closely by visiting~  http://www.ladottransit.com/dash/

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