Homegrown Evolution Visits the Los Angeles County Fair

...the return of draft horses to Los Angeles. To preview that possibility and experience the fading agricultural glory of Los Angeles County we headed to the Los Angeles County Fair this past week. Here’s a pictorial tour: It was a real pleasure to view the elegant moves of the draft horses and their handlers. The competition we watched involved maneuvering a carriage around obstacles, backing up into a tight space, stopping at a mail box and...

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Recipe for the World’s Best Whole Wheat Pancake

...a grain revolution. Here’s the secret: Use heirloom grains. Mill your own flour. Ferment for a long time with a sourdough starter. The heirloom grain I used is Sonora wheat, probably the oldest wheat in the Americas. It’s a soft, winter wheat traditionally used for tortillas. Recipe (based on Nancy Silverton’s pancakes) 210 grams starter 2 tablespoons maple syrup 3 tablespoons safflower or corn oil 2 eggs 1/2 teaspoon sea sa...

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Online Adobe Classes With Kurt Gardella

Kurt Gardella, who built our adobe oven, will be teaching a few online classes. More information after the jump. Dear adobe friends, I wanted to remind you that I am teaching 2 Adobe in Action online classes beginning next Monday, March 17th. The History & Basics class will give you all of the skills you need to find and test soils for use in adobe construction and also take you through the process of making your own adobe bricks: Class: Hi...

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How to Keep Skunks Out of the Yard

Skunks love to dig up our vegetables in search of grubs. Our late Doberman used to enjoy late night backyard skunk hunting expeditions which never ended well for him. For years I’ve used bird netting to keep them out of my vegetable beds. The problem with bird netting is that it’s a pain to work with–it catches on things, tangles up, and occasionally traps a bird. I hate the stuff. It took me 16 years to realize that I could ex...

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The Theme of a Great Garden

Today we toured one of the finest gardens in California, the new garden at the Los Angeles Natural History Museum. The occasion was the opening of the new pollinator habitat. Head gardener Richard Hayden showed us around, taking us to the edible area as well as the new pollinator and Nature Gardens. This garden gave us so many ideas that we’re going to do several posts about it. One important design lesson I learned today is that great ga...

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How to Deal with Extremely Root Bound Plants

First off, don’t buy root bound plants. It’s just a bad business, trouble and tears. In general, you should always try to buy the youngest plants you can find. They are healthier than plants which have spent more time in a pot, and will quickly grow to match the size of older, more expensive–and more likely than not–root bound plants. How do you know if the plant is root bound? Look at the bottom of the pot and see if ro...

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Ten Uses for Palm Fronds

...t. 3. Make a low quality mulch. Using palm fronds as mulch is somewhat controversial. The stuff takes forever to break down. Our arborist told me that some conventional citrus growers use palm frond mulch specifically because it takes forever to break down. 4. Paint stirrer. I’m proud of this Root Simple innovation. While I was painting the garage recently, I couldn’t find my paint stirrers. Watching the fronds fall as I was up on th...

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What the Internet Will Look Like After the Zombie Apocalypse

Enterprising amateur radio operators in Texas, over the past several years, have created a wireless high speed data network, called HSMM-MESH or Broadband-Hamnet, completely independent of the internet. The map above is the network built by HAMs in Austin, Texas. Basically it’s a bunch of hacked Linksys routers connecting wirelessly over a wide area. Plug a laptop into any of the routers and you can trade messages, files and live video ba...

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My Brand New Homebrew Soda Carbonator

Erik won the good husband award this Valentine’s Day. He surprised me with my very own soda making machine. This is not a SodaStream–it’s better. It’s an industrial strength CO2 tank topped with sturdy dials and valves and whatnot, all sourced from the local homebrew shop. He’s going to do a how-to post soon (tomorrow maybe?) on how to put together the parts, and how to use it. So hold on for those details! Right n...

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Does Sourdough Offer Hope for the Gluten Intolerant?

Lactobacillus sanfranciscensis. In the last 20 years bakers around the world have revived the art of baking with a sourdough culture. At first this revival was related to flavor, but increasingly bakers are turning to sourdough cultures in the interest of health. It’s possible that the unique qualities of sourdough cultures may offer hope to those who think they are gluten intolerant or have an allergy to wheat.  A very short history of br...

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