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Peter Smith


Husband of Kristie. Father of Cohen and Hannah. Follower of Jesus. Pastor at Living Faith Anglican Church in Tempe, AZ. New homeowner. Noob steader.




Member since April 12, 2013

Chandler, AZ

Mushrooms in the desert

I've recently moved to Phoenix, Arizona: not the prime climate for mushroom cultivation. However, given the use of a greenhouse and the acquisition of the right kind and size of logs, any idea if the drill and wax or kerf techniques would be transferrable?

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Hi Peter! I've reached out to Tim to see what he says, but I'm confident that both methods will work. I did find a couple links from folks in Arizona:



Hey @jeremysmithco and @dan, thank's for the responses. That's exciting to hear. And @dan, I appreciate the links!

Replacing grass with groundcover

Our new home has grass in the front yard and in the back yard. First, it's not really grass, it's clover and weeds. Second, here's no way I'm doing that much mowing year round here in AL. I want to convert 50% of my yard to ground cover, shrubs, flowers and fruit trees.

Here's my question: what is the best way to replace grass with ground-cover? I'm sure Monsanto would love me to use Round-up then plant fresh, but is there a way to do it without chemically killing the grass or digging it all up?

Secondarily, any good ground covers for full sun, in zone 7b? I've thought about low clover, green carpet rupturewort, and pachysandra.

I'd start with either stale-bedding (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stale_seed_bed) or sheet mulching (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sheet_mulching) before planting a ground cover.

Not exactly sure what to recommend for ground cover, although green carpet rupturewort looks really cool! One problem you may run into with a monocrop is that that's just not how nature works. Your yard doesn't have the same properties throughout...it's varying in pH, minerals content, wetness/dryness, light/shade, heat/cold, etc. And different plants want to fill all those niches. No plant wants to do all the work, that's why monocrops are so human-labor intensive. Because you have to work hard to do something the plants don't really want to do on their own.

You might try putting in a ground cover, and then watch to see where it doesn't do well and try introducing new things to fill the gaps over time.

"Back to Eden" documentary

The first half is definitely worth watching. Watch it on a lunch break and get back to me. http://www.backtoedenfilm.com/

Back to Eden

I'm 10 minutes in to this documentary. Anyone seen it? I'm curious if it's worth watching. I've liked what I've watched so far.

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I'm halfway done with it and have really liked it so far. I don't agree with the film's theological method, but I do find that his theological conclusions are very compelling. I'll give you an updated synopsis soon! You can watch it free here: http://www.backtoedenfilm.com/

Awesome, thanks!


My tomato plants have been getting these bright green caterpillars with a big horn on their rear ends. They are vicious, and have completely devoured one of my plants. I cleaned the plants of them yesterday and killed them (interestingly enough, a wasp was eating one of them in half), but I wondered if there is anything I could do to prevent insects from eating my plants?

Sounds like it might be tomato hornworm caterpillars: http://www.tammysrecipes.com/tomato_hornworms Does that look right? Also, I think the wasps are predatory wasps and are great for the garden!

Dead right. Thanks!

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My landlord is doing some interesting "land-lording" around the property. For example, blueberries and grapes (zero upkeep). I'm taking notes.

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Do you get your grape vines from seed or did you purchase them?

I bought a small vine. It's trying to grow, stretching out through my blueberries and raspberries. I need to get it in the ground!

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The bane of my subsistence

I love cilantro. For three years now, I have struggled to grow it in the South. My plants are wimpy looking and in a few weeks they will likely turn yellow and brown and disintegrate.

Anyone have any tips?

I don't know...mine came up, but not very thick and some had already bolted when I took a look at it yesterday.

We did some from seed as well as some from a small plan this year. We've been abel to clip some from the plant several times already. My seeds are about as big as yours now but they look weak.

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Gotta start indoors next year

My plants are looking good, but too far behind.

I'm finding coffee grinds in the tomatoes to be a benefit.

That's about where most of my tomatoes are too! :) I have a couple that are bigger and one that's flowering, but most look like yours. I totally forgot to do basil...bummer. :)

Good to hear about the coffee grounds!

Everybody loves coffee

I've been wanting to try mixing some coffee grinds in with the soil for some of my more acidic-loving plants. Any body have any experience with this? Either that, or pouring diluted left-over coffee in their pots. Thoughts?

I've always just added my used grounds to my compost pile, but it sounds like some people have had success adding them to tomatoes, azaleas, blueberries, etc. I may try it on one of my tomatoes this year to see how it does.

i've been doing this on my tomato plants. we will see.

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Our small organic gardening effort...

...is underway. Cilantro, thyme, sweet basil, basil, green onion, cherry tomato, beefsteak tomato, bell pepper, marigold, and mix flowers.

Better than last year. After all, to be able to say that is the goal each year.

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The sweet basil Peter planted are the seeds we used last year... we bought some new plain old basil seeds this year, so we'll compare and see how they taste!

Cool, I'll be curious to know what happens.