The Organic Minefield: How organic are your organic eggs, soy and dairy?

I wish the label “organic” meant all that I mean when I use the term, but unfortunately organic is not a a guarantee of sustainable agricultural practice, much less humane treatment of livestock. The Cornucopia Institute promotes sustainable organic agriculture and family farms, and helps consumers parse the difference between greenwashed and genuine organic farms and suppliers. They release quick reference charts on various subject...

Continue reading…

How To Freeze Fruits and Vegetables

Photo by Flickr user leibolmai Freezing foods is just about the most boring food preservation method. It’s also the easiest and best way to preserve nutrients. But, when it comes to freezing fresh vegetables from the garden there is one important step: blanching. Blanching slows down enzymatic activity that can deteriorate the quality of what you freeze. How much to blanch depends on the vegetable in question. Thankfully there’s a ha...

Continue reading…

Plum Lemon Tomato Power’s Heirloom Tomato

Congressional hearings today revealed that the FDA inspects fewer than 1% of food imports, yet another reason among many to grow your own food. While we have a less than lush vegetable garden this summer, we do have a decent crop of tomatoes thanks to a trip out to Encino a few months ago for Tomato Mania the Lollapalooza of tomato seedling sales. Unfortunately, to add to the ignominy of our white trash gardening efforts, we somehow mislaid the...

Continue reading…

Stickers for the Organic Gardener

Via BoingBoing a clever re-purposing: “Evil Mad Scientist Labs wants you to proudly label your organic garden with these handsome “Now Slower and with More Bugs!” stickers, originally produced to adorn software products. The influence of the Slow Food movement is increasing, and gardening is getting ever more popular. Even the tech bloggers are posting about local pollinators and getting beehives. In this environment, it is fi...

Continue reading…

Quince: the “Poster Child of Slowness”

arp discusses varieties that can be eaten raw as well as how our Southern California climate is an ideal place to grow quince. Karp asked how my tree is doing and I had to say that it’s not doing all that well. In a fit of mad, rare fruit tree planting fever, I put it in a crappy location, in bad soil too close to a large prickly pear cactus that is probably competing with it. We’ll hope it does better in the next season. Filling in f...

Continue reading…

How to save tomato seed

Seeds fermenting in water. Not pretty, but pretty important! The jar got shaken up while walking it outside for its photo op., so it looks a little cloudy and messy. In your jar, you should see a layer of scum on top of the water. I can’t believe we haven’t posted about this before–it seems like we have, but I can’t find the post if this is so. Perhaps we wrote about it in one of our books…the old brain is getting f...

Continue reading…

When the Crate’s Better Than the Chair

Steve Badgett of the design/art/architecture collective Simparch tipped me off to Dutch furniture designer and architect Gerrit Rietveld’s set of chairs built out of crates, done back in the 1930s. As Rietveld put it, “A piece of furniture made of high-grade wood and manufactured completely according to traditional production methods is transported in a crate to avoid damage…no one has ever ascertained that such a chest embodi...

Continue reading…

A Warning About Straw

Claude Monet used straw (or is that hay?) for art. We use straw to catch chicken droppings! Straw is a very inexpensive and useful material for composting, mulching and animal bedding (we use it for all of these purposes). If you use it for mulch you’ll probably get some seeds that will germinate, but I’ve never found it to be a big problem in a small vegetable garden. I get my straw from the feed store, but you can often get it fo...

Continue reading…

Apron Contest Winner

Homegrown Neighbor here: We have a winner for our apron giveaway . I received a lot of great entries. It was fun to hear what each of you would do in an apron. I’m happy to say that we have a lot of interesting, witty and crafty readers. I even received some international entries. I wish we could give you all aprons. But Katie Presley made me laugh, so I had to choose her as our winner. Lots of people cook and craft, but Katie cooks and...

Continue reading…

Joshua Tree Earthen Oven Class

Kurt Gardella, who led an earth oven workshop in our backyard is teaching another class in November. Our oven turned out great and was amazingly inexpensive (just the cost of sand). Kurt is a great teacher and if you’d like to build your own oven while learning the art of adobe, this class is not to be missed. Here’s info on the class: Joshua Tree Earthen Oven Class November 2–4, 2012 Earthen ovens are inexpensive to build, fun to...

Continue reading…