Growcology is an inland Southern California based public benefit organization dedicated to sharing resources on gardening, edible landscaping, sustainable living, and empowerment with our community. We also seek to provide high quality, affordable, hands on workshops on all of the above.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Growcology International

One of the main motivations for founding Growcology was to learn as much as we can about how things grow, and to share that knowledge with our hometowns, our home country, and the rest of the world. We've been learning so much about how plants grow, how our own ideas grow, and how organizations and human systems grow, we're finally getting to the level where our projects have grown beyond our home base of Riverside.
This month, two of our founding board members, Nick and Bianca, are visiting South America. They've been given a great opportunity to link up with a Peruvian organization named ANIA, Tierra de los Ninos, and ImagineThisTV. Bianca will be speaking at an international conference in Puerto Maldonado on plants and plant medicine, and Nick will be reunited with his friends from ANIA who he worked with for 7 months and connecting them with documentary film crew to highlight the work they're doing.

Tierra de los Ninos
is a truly amazing organization. Their philosophy is that children need to be empowered in their formative years, so they do a form of Asset Based Community Development with 7-12 year old children and then donate a parcel of land to the kids themselves and have them and their families fix it up. They create beautiful community gardens and playgrounds in a wide range of environments, using almost only the local resources and planned almost exclusively by the children.
At Growcology we're interested in learning from the best, and Tierra de los Ninos is one of the best non-profits around. They've got a proven track record for over 10 years, and a whole curriculum that will be invaluable for our own children's garden.

We're also working on a project called Global Gratitude Gardens, where we'll be encouraging people around the world to find out what their heritage is for food and farming techniques, then link up with local organizations and farmers to create living seed banks and social enterprise incubators. More on that later!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Growcology's New Partners

The last month has been a blur of activity and exciting new partnerships. The Growcology Learning Center has built over a dozen new gardens in collaboration with various organizations, and have embarked on several ambitious ventures for the coming year.

Our Chef's du Potager program is gaining steam, as seedlings break through the soil and the contest's participants salivate in anticipation of delicious their bounty of home-grown produce. Twenty tow students from RCC's Culinary Academy have broken into teams of two to test their mettle and see who can create the tastiest treats from their gardens at the Growcology Learning Center.

We're also excited to announce a partnership with the Master Gardener program through the UC Cooperative Extension. We've donated a section of our garden to the current crop of Master Gardener trainees to develop a "Grow Lab", where they can try out different vegetable growing techniques that they're learning. The Master Gardener phone squad will also employ the "Grow Lab" for their community outreach. An added benefit will be a whole slew of knowledgeable Master Gardeners on site at the Growcology Learning Center to help our volunteers and partners with their projects.

Stay tuned for more developments as we announce some exciting new programs! We're going to be teaming up with some international non-profits to roll out a "Global Gratitude Garden" project that will pay homage to our ancestors and fore-fathers by creating living seed banks world-wide.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Spring Vegetable Workshop

We've got a workshop this weekend at the Growcology Learning Center to help people plan their spring and summer vegetable gardens. Whether you want to plant some tomatoes on your patio or deck out your whole yard with delicious veggies, we've got the knowledge to share with you to get the job done.

Master Gardener Lucy Heyming will be teaching the workshop, with extensive hands on instructions on vegetable guilds, companion planting, pest management, plant selection, watering, and more.

Cost is $35. Tickets at

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Meeting the Authors of "The Urban Homestead"

Last Tuesday, Nick and I were invited to attend a special evening at Project Butterfly in Los Angeles. Apparently, my wishing upon stars finally payed off! Guest speakers that night were Kelly Coyne and Erik Knutzen, authors of The Urban Homestead. Being face to face with the authors of a book that inspired me to take life to the next level, left me feeling almost like a child in a candy store. :)

The evening topics included:
1. Sharing their home and homestead ideas along with photographs.
2. Building self irrigating containers for tomatoes and other large edibles.
3. Preparing sauerkraut! Yummy!

After their talk Nick and I told them all about! We also invited them to come to the Growcology Learning Center. We hope to have them come by soon, and we have higher hopes that they will do an event for all of us to enjoy. We'll keep you posted on the idea. In the meantime, I encourage you to take a look at their blog site

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Check out THIS Squash

Check out THIS Squash, originally uploaded by Mr. Nicolás.

We've got alot more where this came from. Actually, this Boston Marrow was picked TOO EARLY! Its supposed to be 5 pounds heavier and almost red... Oh well, its still delicious...

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Growcology Reviews

Growcology Reviews:

One of the goals of Growcology is to offer our community valuable information that they can apply directly into their lives. Valuable information can be desceminated through our workshops, events, our even our online community ( In addition to these options, Growcology plans to put "Green Products" to the test! We are beginning our side by side analysis and reviews of products companies are marketing to you daily. We expect to discover which products fulfill their promises, which companies are the most green, and furthermore which products are actually worth their cost. If there is something that you would like to have us test please send us an email at We'll do our best start a review on the products.


This blog is written for anyone interested in making a inexpensive purchase and saving a lot of money almost immediately. I will be offering a review on the "Kill A Watt," "Watts Up," and the "Smart Strip." Little devices you can purchase for your home and save money. :)

Recently Nick and I had some folks over to the Growcology Center for a garden walk. I always love having these walks because they are so casual and we get to really connect with community members. One of our community members shared how he purchased a little device for under $30 and was able to save himself lots of money by learning what household devices were sucking up energy without he even knowing it.


The "Kill A Watt" and the "Watts Up" are known as Energy Monitors. You plug the Energy Monitor into the wall and plug your appliances into the energy monitor. Immediately the devices will start counting how much energy your appliances are using and also provides calculations to determine how much money you are losing when keeping these devices plugged into the wall. Some users calculated that they save upwards of $15.00 per month! These are great tools to see just how much energy is being used by our refrigerators, microwaves, entertainment centers, etc.

So what is the difference between the two?
Cost: Kill A Watt $23.43, Watts Up $99.00
Conversions: Kill A Watt requires simple math (multiplication) to determine your energy cost. Watts Up calculates those numbers simply by punching them into the device.

Growcology believes that the Kill A Watt is the greatest return on investment. Granted it may not have all the high tech features offered by the Watts Up, but the deficiencies are really easy to remedy. Not to mention it is an investment that keeps giving. If you purchase one of these little devices you can lend it to your neighbors, family, friends, etc. Talk about stretching your money to have a greater environmental impact!


Once you determine which household items are costing you the most it is recommended to use a power strip. Basically a power strip not only protects your devices from power surges but also is saves money with a flip of switch. You can purchase a power strip for around $10.00 at most appliance stores.

However, I want to discuss the hand dandy "Smart Strip." Unlike most power strips this devices offers a "Control Outlet." To better understand this function imagine plugging your computer into the Control Outlet and your printer, fax, speakers, into the other outlets on the strip. Or another example would be to plug your television into the control, and your cable, speakers, DVD, into the others strip outlets. When you turn on the devices plugged into the control the other devices will automatically turn on. Vice versa, when you turn off the device in the control outlet all the other devices will turn off as well. This will save you time in unplugging all your devices when not in use.


To Purchase any of the reviewed devices visit the new Growcology Green Store:

Growcology has teamed up with Amazon. You spend the same exact amount if you were to make a traditional amazon purchase, the only difference is that Growcology makes a small commission when products are purchased out of our little store. Let us know if there is something you would like to see in our store, and we will do our best to make it available. We value every nickel and dime Growcology can make, and in return we provide services to our Riverside Community. Thanks for all your support!

For more reviews on the Kill A Watt and Watts Up please visit: Consumer Reports

Thursday, July 9, 2009

New Website and Article

The local newspaper, the Press Enterprise, just put an article out on our non-profit. Check it out here at this link.

Bianca has been busting her butt getting our new website up, and it was just in time because we finished it last night and the article aired today! Its at There is all kinds of information on there about what we're growing, the history of the property, and feedback forms for workshops.

We've been really hustling the past few weeks to keep our garden alive in these hot summer months. We had a huge break in June, as we were still planting up until the last week. Fortunately, Spring actually extended all the way until the summer solstice, so our seedlings got a break and were able to get strong roots developed before the harsh summer sun baked and killed them.

We've finished planting both of our three sisters demonstration gardens, the corn is growing fantastically and our melons and beans are peeking up. Our okra is growing strong, although there are alot of lamb's quarters and oats trying to grow in between them. We've also spotted some cheeseweed, filaree, and datura, and a volunteer tomato!

Our tabletops are transitioning from spring to summer crops. Almost all the greens have fried except for the montain spinach and amaranth, though the broccoli and chard are still doing ok. Our squash won't put out fruit for some reason, but our tomatoes and basil have taken over all the boxes except one, and we're going to be sundrying like crazy in a week. It was cool how we stacked the planting so that as soon as the spring crops dried up, the summer ones took over. We're going to keep playing around with that in the future...

Also, we have some sad news. Spencer and Sarah are moving back to LA, but they'll still be helping out on work weekends and harvesting their plot. Bianca and I will be moving onto the property to safeguard our little plant babies, and we're expanding Growcology's board with some exciting established and young leaders from the area. Stay tuned!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Growcology Takes To the Field

I am proud to present our latest milestone.  

The Growcology team headed out into a barren, sun baked, rock hard  field last week with the intent of making a fertile, productive, and long term drought tolerant garden to serve as our welcome area in front of the barn.  This evening we kick back with a few beers and enjoy the satisfaction of a day's end, having toiled together for a common cause.

What you see in the picture is the spirals halfway Lasagna Mulched.  

Following the recipe in Gaia's garden, we put down a thin layer of goat manure over the earth which we broke up with pick axes followed by a layer of newspaper about 5 sheets thick.  We then added another layer of goat manure followed by a foot thick layer of slightly decomposed horse bedding and manure.  The next step is to put down a good layer of compost and then a nice thick layer of straw over that.  

The principle of the lasagna mulch is not to have fertile soil right away.  It is actually to compost the way the forest builds soil, only in a highly expedited way.  The lasagna mulch will actually make nutrients like nitrogen unavailable for up to six months while it all breaks down, resulting in thick, rich, water retaining soil with a healthy microbial profile.  The way we plant it in the mean time is to carefully dig holes in through the mulch layers and fill them with finished compost or topsoil, plant our seeds or seedlings in them, and cover them back up with the straw layer.  

The lasagna mulch required quite a bit of water to get started.  We must have spent hours standing with hoses, hand watering every layer to make sure it was of the consistency of a damp, wrung out sponge.  Maintaining a proper moisture level is vital to the process, and it requires regular watering, especially in Riverside summer heat. Over the long run, however, the healthy soil with good mulch cover and shade from plant canopy will retain water extremely well and require much less than if done other ways.

I would like to take the chance to thank Frank and Lucy Heyming for allowing us this opportunity on the property, and providing us with most of our materials.  I would also like to acknowledge our rock star volunteer Twelve and his two children Ruby and Nova for showing up almost every day we've been in the field and putting in a few hours.  

Keep an eye out, as there is much more to come

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

A weekend in Paradise

Awesome Mizuna and Shungiku mustardy greens growing around some carrots, calendula, some really healthy tomatoes, some peppers, a forest of turnips, and some radishes.

SQUASH! Summer squash, or zucchini, the healthiest my mom has ever grown, with some volunteer onions popping up in between.

Spencer and Sarah's bed has a whole polyculture of spring and summer plants, with chard, mountain spinach, onions, tomatoes, squash, zucchini, yarrow, and arugula.

My nephew Owen and niece Addison helped plant the beans in this plot, which also has my transplanted tomatoes, tomatillos, purple mountain spinach, cucumbers (with their sweet bamboo pyramid), squash, and amaranth.

I designed a tree of life keyhole walkway in my mom's herb garden, where all different types of basil, thyme, oregano, marjoram, chamomile, lavender, agastache, savory, sorrel, geraniums, sage, rosemary, and more add spice to our garden and our meals.

Globe artichokes. Not quite as tender as the purple kind, but great producers!

Sarah designed this keyhole bed, where carrots share space with different chards, brussel sprouts, lettuce and mixed greens, arugula, tomatoes, and green onions.

Bianca pauses while she designs the three sisters' garden to take a breath and pose for the camera.

There is method to our madness. This will be the welcome area to our workshop space, with a variety of different warm and dry weather vegetable guilds as illustrated in Sarah's previous post.

Spencer irrigates.

Swinging a pickaxe all day in 100 degree weather is what my grandparents used to call a 'character building' experience.

Bianca and Rufus test out the new chicken tractor, as Sarah and Spencer attach the chicken wire. Our good friend Betty donated 5 more chickens to the flock, but when we introduced them to the old hens they nearly got pecked to death... hence, the new mobile chicken coop.

A finished three sisters garden bed. For now, the straw covered mounds have 4 corn seeds planted in each. Once the corn pops up, we'll plant the runner beans to climb up their natural 'trellis', and then we plant the squash in the other mounds to spread out and shade/protect the topsoil... All fertilized organically with goat and llama manure.

So thats what we were up to this past weekend at Growcology. We've also been developing an online resource that we'll mention in our upcoming newsletter, as well as some programs with the various community gardens in the city. More to come soon!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Stimulus Grant!

Great news! Growcology has been awarded a community stimulus check from BWB: here is the list of grant recipients. I'm so grateful and humbled to be among such great projects as Pisco Sin Fronteras, a group near and dear to my heart that arose from the rubble of the earthquake ravaged town in Pisco, Peru. There are fourteen total stimulus recipients, all of them are so inspirational.

We're going to be spending our grant on heirloom and organic seeds and materials for a localized plant guilds nursery and for building community gardens. We're working all tomorrow on our new welcome area for the learning center, hopefully we'll have all our planting done before it gets too hot...

We'll probably need to make a cooler structure for propagating our seedlings, as it can get ridiculously hot here in Riverside. Here is one of the designs we're looking at. We'd like to be able to grow more of all the great helper and useful plants already growing here and share them with the community.