Roots in Downtown LA--2015

March 3, 2015

This is my son, Tim’s third winter garden. He grows vegetables and herbs on the roof of his 100 year-old warehouse loft in the Arts District of Downtown LA.

Though he’s grown carrots, radishes and other winter veggies he prefers and does best with the greens—arugula, lettuce, mustard greens, kale. Oh, and for kicks he planted corn in January as you can see in the photos above.

This is how the garden started in late January. Tim was contending with temps in the 80’s and birds. 

This was my contribution to his garden but he made it happen in Downtown LA.

Read about his first rooftop garden in 2013 and the how to here.

And here’s last year’s garden. See more pictures from 2014 .

So if Tim can grow vegetables on his rooftop in Downtown LA, think what you could do with your patch of dirt or patio containers.


We get snow. And rain. And flooding.
The apple trees get buried in snow piles.

We received 3.63 inches of rain plus 15 inches of snow during this storm, which isn’t technically over until maybe tomorrow. The rain is totally weird for this time of year. Because of the snow, the rain has not been able to drain into the soil and is pooling and causing flooding.

The two middle photos show what my apple tree garden plots looked like yesterday near dusk after the snowplow driver cleared the townhome complex roads and I went outside and shoveled the driveway and side pathway. In a dense urban area like this, there is no good place to put the snow. When the trees were little, we built wire cages around them to try to prevent the compacted snow piles from breaking off branches. As you can see, the snowplow driver pushed a lot of snow up against the large boulder and electrical box protecting one of the trees; I’m glad the tree is protected from snowplow damage.

The scary thing is, the barberries are in full flower buried underneath the snow piles; the plants don’t know what to do with the spring-winter weather whiplash we’ve been experiencing. I expect climate change to continue creating weird weather patterns and causing garden havoc.

You can see the graywater hose coming out from under the garage door in the third photo; before this storm occurred, we had been watering the apple trees and poplar trees with graywater because there had been almost no precipitation for two months. Now the soil is saturated and there was flooding underneath the back of our house (bottom photo, taken yesterday morning), which sits on stilts because it backs up to to a creek (also visible in the photo). Most of the year, the creek bed is dry.

Adapted from Growing Food in the Southwest Mountains: A guide to high-altitude, semi-arid home permaculture gardens.


The Olive tree (Olea europaea) has leafed out, and it desperate for water after a bone-dry winter.

We have an enclosed balcony that is perfect for over-wintering my semi-tender Mediterranean plants. Though it could probably tolerate living outdoors here with proper winter-wrapping, this species prefers dry calcareous soil, and my soil is mostly quite acidic and boggy. My tree should fruit this year, and Olive trees are self-fertile.

I have a number related trees out in the garden: lilac, privet jasmine, forsythia, and ash trees among them, but this species is by far my favourite of the Oleaceae family.