Today is American Censorship Day

PROTECT IP Act Breaks The Internet from Fight for the Future on Vimeo. This sort of advocacy is unusual for this blog, but we believe a free Internet is essential for both cultural innovation and democracy. Sure, the Internet is mostly made of porn and kittens, but we like it as it is. What we don’t want to see is it being unduly controlled by either the government or corporate interests, so we’re participating in American Censorshi...

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USDA Zone Based Veggie Planting Schedule

Knowing when to plant vegetables is one of the big keys to edible gardening success. Unfortunately, many gardening books, websites and the back of seed packages assume you’re in a place with easily delineated seasons. What about those of us in Alaska, Southern California, Texas, Florida or Arizona? Wouldn’t it be nice to have a web-based vegetable planting calendar based on zip codes? While it’s not down to the zip code level,...

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Sonora Wheat at the Huasna Valley Farm

Ron Skinner I had the great privilege this week of visiting the Huasna Valley Farm in California’s central coast run by Ron and Jenn Skinner whose visible joy is infectious. The Skinners grow Sonora wheat, an heirloom variety brought to the Southwest by the Spanish. Sonora wheat is well suited to dry desert and Mediterranean climates. It produces a cream colored flour that was historically used for tortillas and posole. The Skinn...

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Chill Hour Calculator for California

Please excuse another California-centric post, but if you’re in the Golden State and like to geek out on keeping track of your chill hours here’s a handy tool bought to you by UC Davis: Cumulative Chilling Hours. Each year this page keeps track of chill hours between November 1 through end of February. If you know of a similar resource for other states/countries leave a link in the comments. As cool (so to speak) as this tool is, wh...

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Bees: Shown to the Children

...wonder why this has been lost, and then try not to despair for civilization. Take this passage about intruders to the hive, from the chapter called Workers in the City (in the book, the hive is conceptualized as a bee city). It’s poetic and morbid and violent fascinating–all things I would have loved as a child: Sometimes a mouse or a snail enters the hive, and then indeed there is great excitement. Imagine a great elephant-like crea...

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Self-watering terracotta seed-starters!

...ring container makes a whole lot of sense. These containers can go up to a week between waterings. Even better, Anne’s seed starters are made out of terracotta instead of plastic. We’ve tried out her 6-pack model. It’s really cute, and it worked like a charm. Now she’s doing a Kickstarter so she can move her business, Orta, out of the garage and produce a technically more complex 12-pack seed-starter.  So if you’re i...

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Aerated Compost Tea: Does it Work?

...ewed literature on the subject. Most of the studies show, at best, mixed results. And, honestly, my bias is against gardening techniques that require gadgets or novel techniques with no analog in nature. I’ve also tried it myself and found that a thick mulch of plain compost seems to work better. That being said, I want to present a balanced story. I’m interested in hearing from readers about their ACT experiences. Have you tried it?...

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Black Widow or False Black Widow?

...ort of marking on their abdomens. Adult male black widows are half the size of the females, and are usually gray or brown rather than black and red; while they may sometimes have an hourglass marking on their ventral abdomen, it is usually yellow or white, not red. Variation in specifics by species and by gender is great; any spider exhibiting a red hourglass or a pair of large red round spots on the ventral abdomen with an otherwise black shiny...

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How To Capture a Bee Swarm With Kirk Anderson

Swarm season is here in Southern California and will arrive elsewhere in North America with the coming of spring. In this video, beekeeper Kirk Anderson shows you how to catch a swarm. It’s the best way, in my opinion, to get bees to start your own hive. Why? Swarms, unlike packaged bees, are free. They are also local, meaning the bees know how to deal with your micro-climate. To capture a swarm you: Spray the swarm with a mixture of wh...

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No Need to Knead

The Los Angeles Bread Bakers held their debut demonstration today thanks to the folks at Good. As you can see from the picture above some serious bakers showed up. Teresa Sitz and Mark Stambler Teresa Sitz demonstrated her wild yeast no-knead bread. You can read her recipe over on the LABB Facebook page. Wild yeast breads have a number of advantages over breads made with commercial yeast. Due to higher acidity they keep longer and hav...

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