Ocean of Love (the Video)


Here is the video of my latest song “Ocean of Love”

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Native Bees


Native Bees

Many folks around the USA are concerned about and are watching the Honey Bees. They are wondering why they are dying off (colony collapse ) and what will pollinate their crops? Yes, Honey Bees have been our main pollinators but they are not the only pollinators around. Honey Bees didn’t make it to here until the early 1600’s, so what happened to flowers before then?

Enter Native Bees.

There are apprx. 4,000 species of Native Bees in the USA alone. They range in color from dark brown or black to metallic green or blue, some have stripes. Many have  common names that describe the way they build nests: plasterer bees, leafcutter bees, mason bees, wool carder bees, digger bees, carpenter bees.

Others are named after certain traits, such as cuckoo bees that lay eggs in the nests of other bee species (like the cuckoo bird), sweat bees that like to drink salty perspiration, or bumble bees, who got their name from the loud humming noise they make while flying.

They have been doing the job of pollination for a long time and they only need for us to be a bit more careful in our use of pesticides, chemicals fertilizers, etc. all of which harm and or kill them; including the chemicals we spray on the cut flowers and we must also include GEO products. GEO is by the way, in my opinion why bees are dying in large amounts.

We must not only provide a natural clean environment for these natives bees but we must also provide for them plants that they can pollinate as well. They do not need a bee hive because they make their own homes and are completely invisible to most humans. You would be surprised where you can find these native bees, especially around the city. City living for native bees is not an easy task since they get all types of pollution, and their homes are constantly being destroyed.

We are lucky that we live in a country environment and that we can easily provide native bees a safe place to live in. Farmers should learn how to incorporate native bees into their farming methods.. It works much better if they are organic farmers, but a conventional farmer can have native bees, they just have to not use chemicals and learn to control the conditions that cause pests and diseases.

Cities should become  leaders in Native Bees and instead of allowing folks to have just bee hives (thats ok too) they should encourage folks to plant more flowers plants and host plants so that it encourages native bees to stay in our beautiful Malibu. You can actually have both European Honey Bees (we do so love Honey!) as well as Native Bees. Both can live together  without any problems. The native bees do not need you to do anything special, just make sure you have enough variety of flowers for them, and do not use any chemicals at all. Native Bees are perfect for vegetable gardens as well as for fruit trees. They will happily live off what ever water source is available for them. They love the fog, since that is a great source of water for them, too. They usually do not sing or bite so that is another plus. Next time you see a Big  Fuzzy Black and Yellow  California Bumblebee , leave it alone and watch it work its magic. Even better if you see more then one, that means your place has been found to be good for them! You are Lucky!

Andy Lopez

Invisible Gardener

Any questions? Email me andy@invisiblegardener.com

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In Love with You 329.628 Hz Song with Video


enjoy my latest song and video!

The song is available on my Music Store and also on Sound Cloud

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Serious Questions from Reader


Listen to Radio show on this article here

Serious questions:

If homeowners continue to pull out grass and replace it with pebbles, rocks and mulch, plus some natives,won’t the area become hotter, because of removal of the greenery surrounding homes which act as nature’s coolant?

Also, scaffolding trees was touted in a recent article in the Star (I believe) as a method of reducing water needs by trees, but can trees survive such drastic cutting in height without being more subject to diseases?

Susie T

I don’t live in Malibu but I read your column.

Hi Susie,

You are correct on both counts.

First off, many, or I would say almost everyone, have the wrong idea about lawns. It is true that folks with lawns over water their lawns (they also over  water every thing else too), but you can have a low water use lawn. Your lawn doesn’t have to be the main water use on your property. A lot depends on the  type of soil you have and the type of grass you grow. The newer types of lawns are really water hogs but they too can be trained to do well on less water if folks (gardeners especially) were taught some basic cultural practices that will allow them to reduce 25% of their lawns water use. There is no reason why you cannot plant native grasses with the knowledge of what type(s) to plant. I would plant a variety of native grass ,mixed, to allow the lawn to be green year round as some natives go to sleep during harsh dry times or cold weather. Here in Malibu, our winters are mild enough to allow a variety of native grass to continue (really warm this last winter, huh).

Without our lawns, you will be hotter and what about the trees that are that lawn area? What will happen to them if their source of water is removed and replaced with natives that require very little water? You will kill the tree. Trees are very important against global warming. We need more trees, not less.

Also, scaffolding trees is a very bad idea. Shows that many folks do not know what they are talking about. It not only reduces the water the trees get, it also increases diseases and pests, because the tree is in a weakened state. You would be too, if your main source of energy is removed, and then you had far less water. Remember, they no longer have ground water to reach into.

It would be far better to let a professional take a look at your water use, see where it is being wasted and correct the problem. You can have a lawn, trees , everything you have now , simply by not over reacting , by looking first for water leaks. Sprinklers break on a regular bases and that is a main source of water waste with home owners. So have your gardener turn on the system once a month and look for leaks and repair them.

Here is a simple way to reduce your water yourself. Go to the timer. Look for “Seasonal adjustment button “ on the timer. Most have that. Reduce it over all by 10%. Thats it! You now have reduced your water use by 10%.

Tell the gardener to look out for any stressed plants due to the water change. No problems? Wait a few months to see if temp raise, especially during summer and fall ( fall being the hottest in Malibu), if no problems arise reduce it another 10%. Now you are using 20% less water.

Andy Lopez

Invisible Gardener

Any questions? Email me andy@invisiblegardener.com

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No Difference between Organic Food and Chemically Grown Food? Part 2


Listen to this article on my radio show: Invisible Gardener Radio

No Difference between Organic Food and Chemically  Grown Food? Part 2

Last week, I wrote about a recent study that concluded that there is no difference between Organically Grown Food and Conventionally Grown Food, here is part 2.

This “study” looked at around 300 “studies”. It should be mentioned that these “studies” where mostly studies of other studies and that very few actually grew anything themselves.  Those that did grow the food themselves, were flawed (in my opinion).

Here’s why-

First off, the studies that did grow their own. These researchers were not farmers, let alone organic farmers. They assumed that by merely picking a plot, dividing it up into two sections, one organic and one conventional: and then buying plants from one source, and then growing them according to each system.

Sounds simple right?

Wrong!

Problem #1

The Plants. Perhaps someone should have told them that there is a big difference between plants grown via different systems and that the plants they bought in the nursery were not the same quality plants that you get when you start them from organic heirloom seeds that plants have been grown organically for centuries. These plants will act differently if grown in dead soil, and will not get any nutrients from these types of soil. Same is true for the chemically grown plants. They will start off weak and will never get the proper nutrients and therefore will not show any nutrients difference, other then what was given to them.

Problem #2

The soil. If these researchers did not amend the soil with compost , the food grown in it will be different then the food grown in a living soil environment.

Lets say the soil was in good shape, lets say that they picked a piece of land that has plenty of good rich soil. If they planted in that, then the results of both will almost be the same, they both will have what ever nutrients are in the soil (actually the organic side will be able to uptake more of the nutrients then the conventional side) but lets assume that they just planted in each plot, gave one side chemical fertilizers, etc ., and the other side organic fertilizers , etc.. The results will favor the conventional side because on the organic side, organic seeds or organic plants where not used (after all there really is no different between organic seed and conventional seed now is there?).

In the organic system, one practices sustainability while on the conventional side one cannot be sustainable . In the conventional method, soil depletion is a big factor in diminishing food quality and farmers have to use more chemicals and do more damage to the soil then if they were organic which is sustainable and one can grow more and more and better quality food while doing less and less damage to the environment.

Problem #3

None of the studies mention GMO(GEO) foods. Most conventional farmers are using more and more GEO foods while organic farmers cannot use GEO if they want to be certified organic. We were never meant to eat Round Up , 24-d or whatever pesticide. Simple as that.

Yes, I feel that Organic farmers are keeping prices higher then they should be, but as the public wants more organic food, these prices will go down because a good organic farmer can compete with conventional farmers in prices,  just look at Death Smith Valley (over 40 organic acres).

Want to do a proper study? Grow each method for 10 years. Get real farmers on both sides. We will see then.

Andy Lopez

Invisible Gardener

Any questions? Email andy@invisiblegardener.com

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No Difference between Organic Food and Chemically Grown Food?


No Difference between Organic Food and Chemically  Grown Food?

Here is the Radio show of this article

In a recent LA Times article, a columnist wrote that there is no difference between Organically grown food and Conventionally grown food. He cites several studies that prove that there is no difference between the nutritional levels and he cites doctors and they all say the same thing “Eating Conventionally grown produce is not only safe but just as nutritional”. 

  It is besides that fact that it totally ignores environmental issues, health issues of not just the consumer but the workers that pick it as well as the fact that powerful business forces are at work here to keep the public confused.

  Lets ignore these issues (for now) and lets take a look at what is wrong with this idea that organic food and conventionally grown food is equal.

First off, not every organic farmer knows what they are doing just like not every one that makes compost knows what they are doing.

You are only as good a gardener (farmer) as the compost you make. Not all compost are equal just like not all organic farmers are equal. Some are actual organic farmers while others are in name only.

Many farmers have decided to “Go Organic” because they will then be able to sell their “products” for more but if I were to ask them just one question and if they failed that question then they will have not only the same problems as the conventionally grown but their “produce” will not be any more nutritional than them; especially if the conventional farmer either does not make or use compost but also does not apply rock dust .

There is a basic law of nature that says,“You get out what you put in”. You want trace minerals? Then put that into the soil; however you cannot just throw rock dust every where and expect the minerals to then become available to the plants.

Even Rock Dust. All rock dusts are not the same, some are rich in calcium but low in iron; it all depends from what part of the world and how it was made that determines what minerals it has.

The article as well as the studies do not even mention soil depletion, I wonder why? If your soil is depleted of minerals then the produce grown on it will also depleted in minerals.

There is a key to this problem, in the article which mentions taste.  The better the taste the more minerals it has (i.e. see Brix levels Vs Mineral levels in past article).

Taste tells us we should eat it or not. We have developed over the years to eat what tastes sweet and not eat what taste bitter. Pests have developed along the same lines except that nature in her wisdom made it such that when a plant has high Brix, it will have higher sugar, which in turn means higher mineral content, which in turn means higher complex carbohydrates (insects cannot eat simple carbohydrates and it is this simple carbo that plants get if they are fed high nitrogen fertilizers, they grow fast but are weak and deficient in minerals).

When I started my business back in  1956, I heard the same (from the forces) that chemical and organic produce are equal in nutritional value and whats a little pesticide? That has not changed over the many years. You really want to know, then test real organic farmers like Death Smith Valley , Rodale or The Bio-Dynamic Institute and compare that! All of the studies, including the most recent study (which really just studied all the studies) are flawed in that they were not asking the right questions so they all found the same results and just passed that along. Did any study actually grow the different types of food and see for themselves?  That takes knowledge of growing which most do not have and so there whole study is based on a false assumption.

Please read http://www.soilandhealth.org/06clipfile/nutritional%20quality%20of%20organically-grown%20food.html

to get you started. I will write more next week!

Andy Lopez

Invisible Gardener

Any questions? Email andy@invisiblegardener.com

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How to Control Tree Diseases Organically


How to Control Tree Diseases Organically

listen to the radio show version of this article here

Many Tree diseases are fatal and many trees die from these diseases. You might say this is perfectly natural for trees to die from diseases (just like you have been telling me that we do not need to feed trees!), but I do not agree  entirely.

Yes, if you take all humans out of the picture, then I would say, sure diseases and pests are natures way of removing the weak and the sick and that is perfectly natural: but throw in we humans and you have a different story.

Humans have not been good gardeners of the earth. They have been destroying everything they touch. Everything in nature depends on everything else. What we do affects all living beings sooner or later and trees are living beings, too, and what we do to the environment directly affects these trees in their ability to stay healthy, and pest and disease free.

We spread diseases by not properly cleaning our tools. We spread diseases by ridding the soil of all beneficial micro organisms, which then allows diseases to take hold in the soil (all tree diseases start in the soil first). We apply chemical fertilizers either directly onto the tree or onto the soil, chemicals cause stress in the tree, imbalance in the soil and helps to spread diseases and pests thru the use of high nitrogen fertilizers.

High nitrogen fertilizers makes for rapid growth but also stresses out the plants making them a perfect “food source” for insects.

When a plant is food for insects, it is not food for humans. Sure we don’t eat trees but the point here is that if the insects think its food for them then the tree or plant is weak and mineral deficient.

We eat for only one real reason- trace minerals which our bodies need for proper health. Try to eat rocks and you will see why we have to eat something that ate something that ate something else (food chain).

Ok, Ok, to the main subject of this article:

In order to keep your trees from getting diseases you first must control your gardener or tree company. You must keep them from passing a disease to your tree thru them not properly cleaning their cutting tools in between trees. This is the number one way tree diseases are spread in the garden (maybe even in nature).

The next thing you need to pay attention to is the health of the soil.

The good guys and the bad guys do not live in the same place in the soil! Really, its that simple. So if you apply rock dust, a good live compost (most compost sold in market is dead (especially if sealed in plastic) and it is live with microbes ) and then you apply a nice acid mulch (like azalea/gardenia mix). An acid mulch is important since our soil is clay and very alkaline.

Beneficial microbes only live within a small ph range of 6.4 to 6.8. Outside that zone, they will slowly die off. Chemicals destroy the natural balance of the soil and it is thru this imbalance that the bad bacteria will thrive.

It is also important to provide the tree will proper mineral sources such as regular foliar spraying . This will help to keep the Brix level of the tree high, and reduce stress, and allow the tree to handle any environmental stress. The foliar must be organic and not chemical. I use Superseaweed as my foliar spray.

Some Basic tips:

Control water. Allow trees to dry in between watering. Better to under water then over water.

Control gardener or whom ever is cutting. Must clean tool between each cutting and especially between trees and customers.

Live Soil provides you with the needed soil microbes.

Compost applications will keep your soil alive (ask if rock dust is added to compost during production, if so, you wont have to add it yourself).

Rock Dust applications once or twice per year provides the minerals.

Acid Mulch protects the soil and holds water longer so less water less often.

Foliar sprayings provide the trees with the minerals needed to stay healthy and fight off any diseases.

Use only Organic Fertilizers. Avoid high nitrogen .

Andy Lopez

Invisible Gardener

Any questions? Email me andy@invisiblegardener.com

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