John Lyons
United States

As a child my family's menu consisted of two choices: take it or leave it. ~Buddy Hackett


Have not posted in while but I have been somewhat busy getting various gardens “in”. A large number of people have opted to have winter gardens installed and that is a lot of fun. Winter is a wonderful time to garden in Southern CA. Cool temps and you get to grow all those early to mid Spring veg that do well in out mild winter. Brassicas, lettuces, onions/garlic, peas, sweetpeas, all the Asian greens and choi, celery, artichoke, asparagus, and finally roots crops(beets, carrots, turnips etc).

So think about planting a few winter items in your yard within the next few weeks


Some of my latest photos from my gardens.

And these plants need watering only one a week even though they are in the full California sun. It’s all in the soil!

Love to see vegetables and flowers growing beautifully in good soil.

My latest creation in the Palisades…3 weeks old today…plants are thriving


Now is the time to grow your own. Have you seen the prices in Whole Foods?

John, your business is inspirational and timely!

Congratulations John on the Los Angeles Times article covering your many great achievements in organic landscape design.

We all can eat tastier and cheaper by following a few of your simple kitchen garden guidelines.


Wendell Berry on the “industrial eater”

“The industrial eater is, in fact, one who does not know that eating is an agricultural act, who no longer knows or imagines the connections between eating and the land, and who is therefore necessarily passive and uncritical… We still (sometimes) remember that we cannot be free if our minds and voices are controlled by someone else. But we have neglected to understand that we cannot be free if our food and its sources are controlled by someone else. The condition of the passive consumer of food is not a democratic condition. One reason to eat responsibly is to live free.” - Wendell Berry

Some winter salad greens from my veg garden, former lawn.

Growing a Kitchen Garden instead of grass…

My front yard is now totally transformed into a food and flower garden. The grass still peeks through at times and I vigourously dig it out. Because so much manure was used the soil has become very deep and friable making weeding easy peasey. Grass is tenacious but so am I!

At the moment I have planted various lettuces, onions, garlic, celery, strawberries, cabbages, brussell sprouts, peas, raddichio, black Italian kale (divine!), and all sorts of herbs. I have rescued many shrubs and plants from clients gardens as well as throwing seeds all over the place..just to see what emerges. this year i have fallen in love with sages and have a slew planted in the garden. Some I started from cuttings taken from friends gardens and i am very excited to see how they will look when fully grown out. One is paticular is spectacular, Salvia mexicana “Limelight”..a wonderful full green habit with deep purple flowers with a lime green calyx. The combination is stunning.

I went to Malibu beach last Sunday and collected a few 15 gallon buckets of seaweed. I use the seaweed with worm castings and compost to make a fermented tea (one day steeping in a large bucket). The tea is then diluted , one part tea to 4 parts water. I drench all and sundry with this tea. It serves both as a light fertilizer for the plants as well as a medium to add valuable micronutients and microbes to the soil itself.

Enjoy the photos taken yesterday Nov 19th.

Bye for now.


Lawn update:

My madcap front yard after mulching to allay the fears of the natives…

“The garden that is finished is dead.”— H. E. Bates

Newsflash…Lawn Update

Arrived home today to an ominous looking letter from the local Health Authority. It appears my terribly neurotic next door newly weds reported my yard to the authorities as a health hazard. My other neighbours and friends have had eggplants, corn, tomatoes, basil, beans, melons and watermelons all summer from this “bad” lawn and they are all still alive! Meanwhile, they (the newlyweds) spray every known chemical known to man to keep themsleves bug free and I am demonised for a little horse shit?. I will cover the lot with mulch tomorrow and hopefully suburban order shall be restored. I cannot wait to be able to afford a few acres in the country behind a gate away from the “frightened masses”.


You bring up an excellent point. Why have we sacrificed so much taste for the sake of convenience? I suspect half the time we do not know what we have lost — at least until we taste some fresh picked and in season produce.


Today my Sicilian neighbour Dominic delivered a bunch of vine ripened and warm red grapes. They were so delicious, so sweet, so everything! It got me thinking about what we have settled for in store bought produce. Everything is picked way before it’s prime and only when you get something that is allowed to fully ripen are you reminded of how things should taste.

..and then there was no lawn.

I have a huge backyard but I simply cannot decide how to design it so after a year in my new home it remains fallow. The front lawn however asked me to let it go so I stopped watering it ten months ago. Then, in the Spring I placed cardboard on the dry grass and began heaping fresh manure from my friend Angies horses who live down the street. After about a month I sowed a slew of Heirloom tomatoes from the Tomatomania sale and various other things such as Ichiban eggplants, Ronde de Nice squash, musk melons, watermelons, ornamental corn and chinese asparagus beans, herbs and lots of flowers. Everything is growing wonderfully and it has been a really interesting horticultural education seeing how well plants grew in this undisturbed “lawn” earth.

My neighbours are more than amused and now very happy to share in the produce.

Can we tawk eggs?

I snuck in 4 hens into my urban backyard under cover of darkness, last Fall. I built a modest little coop from the remnants of my friends large rabbit hutch and lo fresh eggs! One of the four is a Marans that my son and I hatched out four years ago. When I moved I gave my flock to a friend. When I bought my new little house I repatriated one of the girls. She lays the intensely dark brown eggs but because she is French she only lays every other day….in between she smokes Gauloises and has the cackle to prove it. My Russian Orlov has organised a union in the coop and the other two, a Barred Rock and a Buff Orpington just go with the flow.

They are fed Swiss Chard and regular lay mash. Soon I hope to turn them out into my reclaimed lawn-flower veg patch so they can go on bug patrol. The neighbours love them and I keep everyone happy with free eggs.

Start thinking about a few hens in your yard…not that difficult to do.

Grilled Figs with Rosemary and Honey (Serves two)

6 fresh, whole figs, trimmed and halved (I used Kadota, but Mission would be great, too) 2 Tbsp. honey..I used New Zealand that my sister sends me. 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary

Grill the figs over medium-high heat for 6 to 8 minutes, turning once midway through. Divide between two plates. Drizzle one Tbsp. of honey over each plate of figs, then top each with a Tbsp. of the chopped rosemary. Serve. Eat. Ahhhh.


What will it take to convince you to share your version of that recipe? I happen to have some fresh figs from the Santa Monica Farmers’ Market in my possession.



Raw usually..but I just came across a great recipe for grilled figs with fresh honey and rosemary..how about that!