Daikon Radish!

We’ve had a crappy vegetable harvest around the Homegrown Evolution compound this winter though, as you can see from the picture above, the artichokes and rosemary in the background are thriving as they always do. Here in Los Angeles, winter is usually the best season for growing things, as perverse as that may sound to folks in the rest of the US. But for us, some combination of bad timing (not getting stuff in early enough), depleted soil and cold temperatures have contributed to a less than stellar garden.

But in the midst of this failure we’ve had a few successes. Last year we made daikon radish pickles from radishes we picked up at our local farmer’s market. (see here for our post and a recipe). This year we grew our own daikon radishes. Like all radishes, daikons grow fast and are as hardy as weeds. Radishes are defiantly the “gateway drug” of vegetable gardening. Grow them, and you’ll be on your way to tougher to grow things like broccoli and cauliflower. Like all root vegetables loose soil is a plus, especially for daikons, so it’s best to grow them in a raised bed.

We’ve also discovered that all radish greens are edible, as they are members of the cruciferous vegetable family, which includes broccoli, cabbage, kale and many others. With many of the root vegetables we’ve grown, especially beets, we’re actually more fond of the greens.

Now if we had the money for a contest, we’d offer a free Homegrown Evolution branded thong (we’re working on that so be patient) for the first person to find the grazing chickens in the picture.

Homegrown REvolution

Due to a set of circumstances too ridiculous to describe, we’ve got to change the name of our website yet again. We’re dropping the “R” and the overused and no longer meaningful word “Revolution” to become Homegrown Evolution. In short we’re evolving and we feel this word better describes the gestalt of our eclectic activities and our desire to move things forward as best we can.

This humble blog began as a sort of diary, a way to keep track of and integrate many disparate activities that all together are what used to be called “home economics”. A publisher, the bold and creative Process Media, spotted us and asked us to write a book, The Urban Homestead, thus beginning an unexpected course, which has forced us to consider things such as branding and marketing.

Like all children of the late 20th century we’re inescapably linked to a “mediated” culture, to a world of appearances defined by mass media in all its many forms. In the midst of having to figure out a new name for ourselves, along with the incredibly frustrating task of finding a matching domain name not already being squatted on by speculators in Turkey, we discovered a remarkable book, Mediated by Thomas de Zengotita. Zengotita argues that the media surrounding us is oriented towards what he calls a “flattered self”, thus things like blogs, Facebook, even the weather channel are all ultimately all about “me”. Furthermore the sheer volume of media we are exposed to, compared with the past, changes the way we relate to each other and the world, resulting in a pervasive mediascape, which Zengotita refers to as the “blob”, that is impossible to escape. For us the lesson of Mediated is the inescapable nature of the “blob” was liberating rather than depressing. It’s our job to navigate, not try to escape, this post-modern house of mirrors.

In this spirit of blobby navigation, we present the new and improved homegrownevolution.com. The old url will still work, as will homegrownevolution.org (take that squatters!). We’ve added the Homegrown Evolution Store which will feature items we find useful. Purchases will help defray our mortgage. Please be patient as we make the changeover. And remember to update your links!

A Bicyclist’s Bill of Rights

Thomas Jefferson, founding father and fixed gear gallery addict.

Biking back from downtown this morning in the poorly designed bike lane on the high speed/high volume traffic sewer that is Sunset Boulevard, I came upon a treacherous bend in the road that I’ve navigated a million times before. Over the past few months our city has seen fit to erase the bike lane markings, dig up the road and then apply asphalt the way a five year old would spread meringue on a pie. Months have gone by and they haven’t bothered to reapply the stripping. The city crew also left gouges of a size perfect for catching bike wheels, and a few slick metal plates to give us two-wheeled fanatics some extra challenges. Despite occasionally losing my temper, I try to view these challenges as a skateboarder would view a bleak modernist office plaza full of railings, concrete benches and staircases–as an opportunity for fun, while keeping in mind Robert Hurst’s, author of the excellent book The Art of Cycling, admonition to “ride with fear and joy.”

But occasionally the indignities tip the balance and my ego makes an ugly appearance. Today, coming around that bend, in addition to the amateur street repair work, I came upon two semi-trucks, one parked the wrong way, with both taking up most of the bike lane. Adding the proverbial cherry on the shit sundae, the film crew these trucks belonged to had placed an unoccupied folding chair in the bike lane, blocking the narrow strip of rough asphalt separating me from all the cell phone wielding SUV monkeys barreling westbound towards their cubicles.

In a moment I’m not particularly proud of, I picked up said folding chair and threw it forcefully on to the sidewalk. Had I been wittier this morning I might have launched into a critique of Hollywood’s inability to make a decent movie, but instead unimaginative expletives were exchanged between me and the craft services chefs disgorging the wrong-way parked semi. If all Hollywood films were directed by Werner Herzog or Goddard I might put up with the occasional dangerous inconvenience, but instead this long winded introduction gives me a chance to push a bold new way to end these indignities: the Bicyclist’s Bill of Rights.

Alex Thompson, over at WestsideBikeSIDE lays out some excellent reasons for this badly needed set of principles. Later this week we’ll put up the complete bill of rights, which we hope will spread beyond the auto-clogged dystopia that is the City of the Angels. In the meantime, wherever you are, take back the streets–they belong to all of us, not just General Motors!

Tolosna Bean


The beautiful beans pictured above are some sort of Spanish bean called “Tolosna”. Our occasional houseguest, Nance Klehm, gave us these beans from her personal seed archive, along with a few other remarkable seeds we’ll profile as we plant them over the next few months. We’ve promised to save some of the seeds we harvest to return to her archive.

Unfortunately we’ve been unable to find any information on this variety of bean other than a brief mention on a crappy ad-packed website:

“Introduced in the late 1920′s, a beautiful wine red and cinnamon in color. Similar in flavor to the White Aztec bean. A favorite with Chefs in a 1998 taste test.”

What 1998 taste test? Clearly the internet isn’t the place to sort out the many varieties of Spanish beans, so dear readers, if you have any info on these seeds, please let us know. Thankfully the internet does provide us with disco dancing instructions in Finnish, so until we figure out more about these beans you all can work on your moves:

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