May 212012
Edible landscaping at its finest
Edible landscaping at its finest

Take out the lawn and put in fruit trees, vegetables, flowers, bees and rabbits and you may just have the garden of eden.

By Avis Licht – What do you imagine when you hear the term “urban farm” ?  To me it sounds big with rows of vegetables and possibly a barn with animals. But that’s not the reality of urban farms that I visited in Berkeley, California last week.  Over the next few weeks I’ll be high lighting a variety of gardens/farms in the city.  Some are backyards, some are vacant properties on loan to non profit organizations and some are community gardens.

Today I want to show you how one woman, Ruby Blume turned her backyard into a fully functioning mini farm, providing her with most of her food needs, including meat, honey, fruits and vegetables, mushrooms and plenty of beauty.

She co wrote the book Urban Homesteading with Rachel Kaplan and runs the Institute of Urban Homesteading in Oakland, California. They offer many classes in gardening, animal husbandry, kitchen skills, food preparation, handcrafts, permaculture and much more.

On Saturday, June 9th, 2012, they will be hosting an Urban Farm Tour from 11am – 5 pm in Oakland and  Berkeley. Details and descriptions at

vegetables in the backyard

A small backyard can produce a lot of food. Grow what you love to eat.


When you raise your own animals, you know how they've been treated

Rabbits - 8 weeks old
Rabbits are ready to eat after 8 weeks
Honey Bees

A few hives can be safely put in a backyard for honey and pollination


Quails for eggs

Quails -They don't take up much room, are beautiful to look at and apparently lay good eggs for eating. Lovely quail house.












Oak logs for growing mushrooms

You can grow mushrooms at home by buying spores and inserting them into the logs


Oak logs for mushroom growing

Ruby had her logs at the side of the house where nothing else would grow










Flowers for beauty and food

Edible flowers add to the diversity and beauty of the garden


Mar 022012
Spring Garden Made Easy

Finally! Here at last! A streamlined, easy to follow e-book on how to start your spring garden. It covers climate, choosing your site, soil types, what to plant,  compost and irrigation.  After forty years of gardening it’s hard to know what not to share.  In this book I’ve winnowed down the information for novice gardeners to encourage and guide them to successful food growing at home.

Alan Chadwick was a visionary: eccentric, knowledgeable and formidable. He was also my gardening teacher.  He was a master and we were the apprentices, in the old fashioned sense of the word.  We worked long hours, from before the sun rose to sunset.  We learned about seeds, soil, flowers, herbs, fruit and service.  Service to the earth.  Following the laws of nature to ensure healthy, beautiful and bountiful gardens. Always organic, but much more than that, Alan looked deep into the relationships between plants, animals and humans.  My blog and this e-book is the culmination of years of gardening.

Robert Kourik author of  “Your Edible Landscape – Naturally” has this to say:

Avis has condensed over four decades of gardening skill into one information-packed handbook. This is important reading for the beginning gardener. You will skip making many mistakes by reading this attractive handbook first.”

You can buy “The Spring Garden Made Easy” now for only $10, by clicking on the button!

Buy this e-book for the price of a movie. It will be just as entertaining, only without the popcorn.

Those of us who had the privilege of working and studying with Alan now have the obligation to share what we’ve learned.  I hope in this blog, to do just that.  Each topic, a window into a way of working in the garden, simply, carefully and with intention to do no harm. I hope in the e-books that I write, that you can begin to see a little into that world. Of course, the most important part, is the teachings of the gardens themselves.  Open your eyes, ears, nose and mind and learn something new everyday in the garden.

Spring Garden Table of ContentsThe first book, The Spring Garden Made Easy, is aimed at helping you start out, one step at a time to be successful and inspire you to keep going. There will be set backs – snails, earwigs, gophers, deer, they all want a part of your garden. We learn to how to keep them from getting too much and even how to share. Click on the Buy Now button above or on the right side of the web page and you can download it immediately.My hourly consultation is definitely more than $10, which is the cost of the book.  Since I can’t be with all of you in your garden, take this opportunity to pick my brain by buying the book.  Be sure to sign up for the blog as well, it’s free and it’s got lots of information.  I always love to hear from my readers.  Leave me a comment and let me know how your garden grows.In the joy of gardening, Avis

P.S. If you’re reading this in your email, you won’t see the website.  So click on the title and it will take you to all my posts.

Sep 142011

What is a pest?  In a garden an animal can be a pest one day and not the next.  One of our most beloved members of the garden is the Bird. They’re beautiful, they sing, the eat insects, we NEED birds in the garden. BUT… they can also be incredibly damaging to our crops.

In the Spring song birds come flocking into the garden.   They can absolutely devastate your early crops by pecking at the leaves and pulling them out of the ground.  One way you can tell the difference between snail and slug damage and bird damage, is that a bird will leave a triangular peck in the leaf, like this > from its beak. A slug or snail will have an uneven  edge eaten. The easiest and most effective way I have found to deal with birds is to cover the beds.  I do this by putting a wire cover over the bed and lay bird netting over that. It allows the plants room to grow and keeps out all the birds.

Edible Landscapes need protection

Wire and netting over beds for protection from birds

The wire is cut to the size of the bed.  It is then gently put over the bed like a hoop.  I peg in the bottoms with wire staples  or a stick.  After the wire is in place, I put bird netting over it and tuck in all the corners.  I don’t recommend chicken wire, because it has many sharp edges, gets rusty and you can get caught on it too easily. This green coated wire is not expensive and easy to use.  The coating keeps it looking good and prevents it from rusting.

Bird netting works very well

Bird netting over wire hoop keeps the birds away from your vegetables

The next photo shows how I put the bird netting over the wire. It’s important to keep it pegged in at the edges so that birds don’t get caught inside the netting.

When the plants are up to the top of the wire I take it off and by then, the plants are no longer of interest to the birds.  They want something more tender.

Simple Dog Barrier

How can a bamboo stick keep a large dog out of the strawberries

How can bamboo sticks keep a large dog out of the strawberries?

I know this may seem ridiculous, but in the photo above I used small bamboo sticks to create a little fence around my strawberries.  I found that my large Black Labrador Retriever would walk through the strawberries and do his stuff right in the middle.  Big Yuck.  Once I put up this little barrier, he walked around the bed and we never had a problem.  My point here, is that sometimes you can find very simple and easy solutions to a vexing problem.

It’s also the case that a beloved member of the family can be a pest as well.


Ask Avis


Your question has been sent!

Ask Avis any questions about your garden.

Name *
Email *
URL (include http://)
Subject *
Question *
* Required Field

© 2011-2018 Edible Landscaping Made Easy With Avis Licht All Rights Reserved