Pedagogy of the Plants

Archive for the ‘DIY & Urban Gardening’ Category

Medusa Head Cases

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Tillandsia caput-medusae and Baby

Tillandsia caput-medusae Planter

Written by Cameron Brooks

June 17, 2015 at 7:14 pm

Summer Succulents

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Skateboard Deck Succulent Planter

One of this planter’s weathered sides is an old shop deck from Feral Skate Shop (circa 2005). The one opposite was made by a local company called Boulevard Skateboards. The former residents were left outside and didn’t survive last year’s coldest temperatures, so these drought resistant fatties will overwinter indoors.

Skateboard Deck Succulent Planter On the Porch

Written by Cameron Brooks

June 4, 2015 at 1:47 pm

Mama Wolves in the Strawberries

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Strawberry Bud

“Too late and too hot to plant strawberries,” says the man at the nursery. Back home though, last year’s plants are making a comeback, despite an invading army of weeds.

Wolf Spider With Egg Sac

While using a small trowel to dig up the roots, a wolf spider appears with a perfectly round, marble-sized egg sac.

Wolf Spider Protecting Egg Sac

Shielding the sac from whatever a lanky biped might do, she gently climbs on top, waiting for the novice gardener’s next move.

Wolf Spider Dragging Egg Sac

The human steps out of sight (not easy with eight eyes watching), so mama crawls over the sphere and attaches it to her spinneret. Next, she drags it to the side of the bed, then begins digging face-first into the soil.

Egg Sac Spot

Unbeknownst to the submerged, the human returns with small reeds, marking the area like an endangered piping plover or loggerhead nest on the beach.

Wolf Spider Carrying Egg Sac

Another wolf spider (family?) stealthily emerges from the underground towing respective luggage,

Wolf Spider With Egg Sac

then skitters across the topsoil looking for an undisclosed locale,

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and finally gets to digging.

Secret Egg Sac Spot

With her precious orb safely buried, she emerges to find four curious sticks poking out of the dirt.

Written by Cameron Brooks

June 28, 2013 at 5:41 pm

Okra Leaf Squatter

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Young Praying Mantis on Okra Leaf 2

 

While watering the garden, this little neighbor crawls out from under an okra leaf.

 

Young Praying Mantis on Okra Leaf

Written by Cameron Brooks

June 24, 2013 at 12:52 pm

Boulevard Community Garden

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IMG_5278

 

Stone Pile With Wheelbarrow

So much depends upon a red wheelbarrow (with this soil).

Boulevard Garden Plot 1

 

Boulevard Garden Plot 2

 

Herb Garden Path

 

Boulevard Blueberries

 

Pink Flower

 

Garlic Flower

 

Purple Thistle

 

Author Matt Hern is the founder of The Purple Thistle Centre in Vancouver, Canada. According to his website, “We run a 2500 sq/ft resource centre that has a ton of supplies, tools, materials, classes and workshops,  and its all free.  There’s a library, bike fixing shop, computer lab, silkscreening room, animation facility and lots else.  And maybe best of all, the whole thing is run by a youth collective that controls all the day-to-day operations and really runs the place.” Matt’s latest guidebook for teens is Stay Solid!

 

Wandering Onions

 

Wooden Chair

Estival Starts

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Sunflower Start

Sprouted from fallen kernels, two young sunflowers occupy the southwest corner of the vegetable bed among okra and Thai red pepper comrades. Welcome.

Solanum Starts

The first tomatoes appear mid-June amidst hopes of an extended growing season (likely, if this winter’s as mild as last).

Written by Cameron Brooks

June 20, 2013 at 5:27 pm

Last Tomato

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Written by Cameron Brooks

November 3, 2012 at 8:35 am

Honeydew Trampolines

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Last year’s melons were suspended in the air, each wrapped in pantyhose hammocks hung from the bamboo trellis.  This year, they’ll stay on the ground, slightly elevated on improvised hosiery trampolines.

Six wicker baskets cost a dollar at the Habitat Re-Store down the street, and the queen size hose are less than two bucks.  Family Dollar didn’t have large sizes, but the lady was kind enough to pull a pair out to get a better idea of how to stretch them, then she recommended the beauty supply place (Joy Joy) around the corner.

First, cut the feet.

Next, cut lengths that’ll suit the basket’s diameter.

Pull the length of hosiery around as shown.

Stretch taught, then tie both ends.

Some don’t need to be tied, yet remain tight.

The original plan was to use ceramic bowls, but baskets let water through, preventing pooling (and mosquitoes).  The heavier fruit sags pretty close to the bottom of the basket, so as they swell in size, they might need an additional layer of support to remain resting mid air.

Written by Cameron Brooks

July 6, 2012 at 4:03 pm

More Orbs!

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Twice as many melons swell on the vine this summer, and they need support before the all-you-can-eat buffet opens for insects on the ground.  Click here to see last year’s crop, and stay tuned for a new and improved hosiery hammock/trampoline design…

Written by Cameron Brooks

June 25, 2012 at 9:42 am

Army Helmet Planter on the Porch

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The planter is inspired by an SOA Watch logo (¡Ya Basta!).  Click here to see photos of a ghost plant that used to occupy this helmet.

Written by Cameron Brooks

June 25, 2012 at 8:52 am

Moss and Maple Syrup

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Written by Cameron Brooks

June 18, 2012 at 7:58 pm

Woody Okra and Catnip

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Okra quickly crosses that fine line between signature viscous crunch and woodiness.  Large, stiff seed pods dry above kitty crack in the kitchen window.

Written by Cameron Brooks

June 18, 2012 at 7:47 pm

2012 Summer School Veggies

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After a trip down to the coast, I biked to school this evening to check out our class vegetable bed.  Titian tomatoes split from rain, and the pepperocini weigh heavy on stalks.

Written by Cameron Brooks

June 11, 2012 at 8:09 pm

Displaced Pairing

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The small dendritic heap’s former home was a sandy path winding through pirate, French Huguenot, and Confederate soldier graves in the Oak Grove Cemetery.

In our classroom, kids can’t resist the urge to touch and squeeze succulent leaves.  Now and then I’ll get a worried glance from a curious student who accidentally bumped leaf from stem, but the experience becomes favorably memorable when they discover a displaced life slowly taking root from a harmless accident.

Click here for more posts featuring Spanish moss and other peculiar epiphytes.

Written by Cameron Brooks

June 11, 2012 at 2:50 pm

2012 Miniature Space Odyssey

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Slinkachu meets Arthur C. Clarke in this (belated) DIY Valentines Day gift.

“Monoliths are fictional advanced machines built by an unseen extraterrestrial species that appear in Arthur C. Clarke’s Space Odyssey series of novels and films. During the series, three monoliths are discovered in the solar system by humans and it is revealed that thousands if not more were created throughout the solar system, although none are seen. The subsequent response of the characters to their discovery drives the plot of the series. It also influences the fictional history of the series, particularly by encouraging humankind to progress with technological development and space travel.

The first monolith appears in the beginning of the story, set in prehistoric times. It is discovered by a group of hominids, and somehow triggers a considerable shift in evolution, starting with the ability to use tools.” (read more on Wikipedia)

Written by Cameron Brooks

February 25, 2012 at 8:26 am

4 Moss Terrarium

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Written by Cameron Brooks

February 24, 2012 at 8:07 pm

Tiger’s Eye Terrarium

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Written by Cameron Brooks

February 24, 2012 at 8:03 pm

Cubic Moss Terrarium

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The reflective mica suggests a pool of water.

Written by Cameron Brooks

February 23, 2012 at 8:06 pm

Mini Moss Terrarium

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Written by Cameron Brooks

February 23, 2012 at 7:58 pm

Moss Terrariums

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This first go at moss terrariums follows a tutorial by a Brooklyn based terrarium store.  Inspired, I hiked along a stretch of railroad that runs through Whitehall Forest, harvesting verdant rugs, small chunks of pink and greyscale granite,  and parched epiphytic aliens.

The simple tutorial fails to include instructions and tips for anyone interested in creating lasting enclosed microenvironments.  After a week, the apothecary terrarium above is growing a white, moldy beard from the sphagnum layer.  While troubleshooting, I discovered some comprehensive websites dedicated to the natural art beyond home decor trends.  These are the best so far:

The Fern and Mossery

The Terrarium Man

The next batch will include a layer of activated charcoal to absorb any toxins, cleanse the water as it travels up and down, and (hopefully) stem mold growth.

Written by Cameron Brooks

February 4, 2012 at 3:22 pm