Saturday, January 24, 2015

Sheet Mulching Ventura

Sheet Mulching is the best way to restore vitality and to build health in the soil. While putting to sleep traditional lawn landscapes, this permaculture tactic provides a kickstart to the "Soil Food Web" in which annual and perennial plants can thrive.  The foodweb helps conserve water, saves money, saves time and reconnects us to the living earth.

Paul Herzog and Robert Barnett use the burrito method along the edges of Paul's backyard

To begin, layer soil amendments, compost, mulch, straw, yard clippings and cardboard (see diagram above) on top of the exisiting sod and existing soil and water with compost tea.  The life and the nutrients in these layers decompose into rich soil. The richness leeches down into the lower layers and soon the land is rejuvenated.  The grass and the weeds are smothered by the layers above and become food for microbes and arthropods. Think of sheet mulching as a large horizontal compost bin.  There are many methods of sheet mulching, but the aims are basically the same-soil restoration and water conservation.

One way to keep unwanted plants from growing out along the edges, iis to use the "burrito method" which creates a double layer of material to suppress the weeds.  Paul Herzog and Robert Barnett are sheet mulch superheros using the burrito method in Paul's backyard.  See picture above.

Any time of year is good to sheet mulch, but the best time is in during the rainy season.  The rain soaks through the layers and stays in the yard.  Sheet mulching acts like a sponge, keeping the hydration where it's needed.

Soil restoration is a radical action in our current system of consumer based chemically driven quick fix answers.  Let's get to a deeper solution.  The word radical is derived from the latin word "radicis" meaning root or going to the origin or essential.  We can help you get down to the roots.  The radical roots.  The essential basics of healthy living begin in the soil.

Relevant links:
Surfrider Ocean Friendly Gardens
Urban Soil Summit
Soil Food Web

Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Many Benefits of Chayote

From root to fruit to shoot, Chayote is an edible that adds versatility to permaculture landscapes.  A native from mexico, and a member of the gourd family, Chayote is known by many names as it has migrated across the globe and into many diverse culinary dishes.  Some call it Cho-Cho, some Sayote, and some know it by the name Merleton just to name a few.  There are as many ways to cook it as there are names.

For a great selection of recipes, check out Chayote recipes at Pinterest.  Just recently we harvested some shoots from the Art City garden and used them freshly chopped in a green salad with purslane, mustard greens, arugula, and young endive leaves.  These greens were tossed in a yogurt garlic onion dressing with fresh cracked pepper and lemon juice.  Excellent and healthy!

Chayote is easy to grow in our local climate.  Perfect for trellising over border fences, the pear shaped fruit hangs from heart shaped leaves and curling shoots.  Grow Chayote!  It adds a tasty vertical element to your garden.

photo by: Bùi Thụy Đào Nguyên cc-by-sa

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Be Prepared for El Nino and the California Drought

Weather forecasters, NASA scientists, and the old time farmer's almanac are all saying the same thing--California should get more than average rainfall this winter.  Are you prepared?

Now is the time to install rainwater barrels, mulch existing garden beds, build compost piles, and plant your winter veggies.  All of these action steps help conserve water.  Simple and effective ways to help yourself and the environment.

You're not alone--We can help!  Ventura Cooperative is offering an "El Nino Winter Garden Package" which includes FREE Rainbarrel Installations with the purchase of:

  • 1 yard organic mulch
  • 5 cu. ft. VCoop's living soil amendments
  • 6 Six-packs seasonal veggie starts
  • 3 gallons VCoop's Actively Aerated Compost Tea
This $299.00 service is a great way to prepare for winter rains, grow your own food, and transition to organic and sustainable yard maintenance.

Call us now to schedule your "El Nino Winter Garden Package" before the next rain!

(805) 765-1892
or e-mail us at

Visit the Climate Prediction Center for more El Nino details.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

RRFMVTA Really Really Free Market Ventura

Ventura's 2nd Annual Really Really Free Market is happening November 1st in Plaza Park, Downtown Ventura, from Noon to 5pm.  The "bring what you can, take what you need" culture uses no cash uses no barter or trade.  Everything is free.  Skill sharing and workshops happen in a sort of self organized fashion.  Bike fixing repair shops, Time Banks, solar ovens, knitting, and monster jams are just a few of the activities you wander upon as folks mingle and mix around piles of clothes and other DIY type goodies.

See you There!

Leave no Trace Event--(pack it in, pack it out)

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Winter Garden Compost Tea and Soil Amendments

October is the time to plant for your winter garden, to prepare the soil for spring planting, and to build rainwater collection systems.  We can help you go green for your family and the planet.  Give us call and place your orders now.  We'll get you in the cue for organic supplements and hands on implementation!  Harvard University switched over, so the science is tested and true, organics rule!
Call us today for a quote.
(805) 765-1892

Friday, September 5, 2014

People's Climate March Ventura

Sunday, September 21, people of all ages will march in solidarity with the March in NYC calling on world leaders to take action against global warming. 

Schedule (Subject to Change)
8:00 AM Breakfast at Ventura City Corps
8:30 AM Live Telecast of NYC People's Climate March 
10:00 AM Rally at Ventura City Hall
11:00 AM March to ventura pier
1:00 PM March Back to Ventura City Corps for lunch
2:00 PM Free Film Screening: "Disruption"
3:00 Climate Workshop
5:00 Open Mic
6:00 Dinner
7:00 March to 101 overpass for Overpass Light Brigade

facebook event page event page:

Monday, August 25, 2014

Grow Your Own! A Wicking Bed Tutorial

Recently our friend Kate needed some worms for a worm farm she helped start with Todd at the Binkley Healing Center.  She messaged Ventura Cooperative on facebook, we connected, and we set up a time for her to come pick up a box of red wrigglers.  While she was with us, she talked about her project with Todd growing food on the balcony.  Sweet news!  More folks growing their own!  Even the news about how they're doing it.  They built and planted three wicking beds.

Wicking beds are a great way to save water and grow your own food! Check out the video above from activists feeding their community with food and knowledge.

Kate then invited us to a presentation Todd was doing the next day for his custom designed, handmade, water saving new raised beds.  Of course I went and was pleasantly surprised to see how intensely involved Kate and Todd are with growing their own food-- with sustainable and organic means.  They did a great job documenting the process.  The presentation was informative and inspiring.  Plus I like the color purple!  (they painted the beds purple ;-)

Our friend Jim Mangis came to the meet-up as well.  Come to find out, he helped Kate and Todd get started with plants and soil from his local business Good Tilth Organic Nursery.  Jim makes his own excellent compost mix.  He spoke about soil, I got the chance to practice a 30sec pitch for our Actively Aerated Compost Tea, and Todd talked about wicking beds.  Win-win-win!

So thanks to Kate and Todd for stepping up and implementing a program to grow their own food in a way that fits their needs and lifestyle.  Anybody can do it, and at Ventura Cooperative, we're here to help you out!

Related Links: