Radish Surprise

...ignored it. It grew bigger, and bigger, and bigger. Usually a radish is harvested early, so we never see how big they can get. This one got huge, then burst out into hundreds of tiny purple flowers. Hummingbirds, honey bees and all sorts of flying insects visit it all day, every day. It has become one of the queens of the garden. The picture below is horrible. The radish plant really is quite pretty,  the equal of any ornamental flowering shrub&#...

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Saturday Linkages: Tall Bikes, Za’atar and So Much More

...ells 5 Kinds of Apples http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2013/04/heritage-apples-john-bunker-maine … Taming the Wild Thyme: A Visit to a Za’atar Farm in Lebanon http://ow.ly/kqeoi  New Farmer’s Almanac for 2013: http://boingboing.net/2013/04/21/new-farmers-almanac-for-2013.html … Plants as Education: Kit Brings Gardening Back to the Masses http://dornob.com/37885/  Fortrait #4 “Subterranean Breakfast Nook” http://lloy...

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Pierce Disease Resistant Grape Vines for Southern California

...fence. One of my garden duties at this time of year is beating it back, otherwise it would swallow our house and the neighbor’s. For some reason it has never produced any fruit (I think it may be male). From the Las Pilitas Nursery website: California grape is a deciduous vine to 30′. If this grape has no support it will make a nice groundcover and can cover a large greenhouse in 4-5 years. It has clusters of small edible grapes. Bees...

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Bean Fest, Episode 7: The Home-Ec Supper Club

...programmed anxiety about hostessing that transforms me from my usually lazy self into a Martha Stewart demon at the mere mention of a dinner party. (Ask Erik.) Well, good-bye to that and hello Home-Ec Supper Club, also called the Beans and Rice Party. This is the deal that Ari, Erik and I came up with. We’d invite over a mixed group of friends with similar interests in home-ec, home arts, bikes, brewing, bees, homesteading, whatever you wa...

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Eight Things to Consider When Saving Vegetable Seeds

...al outcrossing in order to create a new variety that produces true to type. [I'll note that I'm not anti-hybrid. The increased vigor of hybrids can be advantageous if you're having trouble in your garden.] 2. Know how the vegetable is pollinated It’s much easier to save the seeds of self-pollinating vegetables such as beans, peas and tomatoes. Remember that bees can fly for miles–anything pollinated by insects have to be isolated or...

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This Is Why Mint Is Invasive

...with basil in a nut pesto; fresh mint sprinkled over yogurt drinks, mint infused honey for colds; dried mint in the bath; mint simple syrup; mojitos; and I’m sure there are more…and the tiny native bees like it a lot. Should you plant spearmint or peppermint? Both are good. Peppermint is stronger, but I consider them interchangeable. (If you’re trying to figure out which you’ve got in your yard, spearmint has matte, bumpy...

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Bean Fest, Episode 5: Black-Eyed Pea Salad (Lubyi Msallat)

We still haven’t learned to take the picture before we start to eat–and were too impatient to keep eating to take a close-up! Chick pea salad, pita and sheep’s cheese. Mrs. Homestead here: This week’s Bean Fest installment comes from a cookbook we’ve been trying out over the last week called Vegetarian Dishes from Across the Middle East, by Arto der Haroutunian. These recipes really fit well with our kitch...

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A New Fitness Craze: The Kayak Balance Stool

...r than moving your legs. According to Cunningham Inuit children in Greenland got a meaty bone to nibble on while they practiced on one of these things. I’m going to skip the bone for some reading material and slowly increase my time on the board. For a fancy kayak balance board tip yourself over here. Note from Mrs. Homestead: Came home last night to find Erik had made this highly attractive new toy on the porch. I was actually somewhat in...

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Chickens in the House!

Mrs. Homestead here: I’d planned to give you all a progress report on the backyard redesign, which features such wonders as the Germinator ™, the Trough of Garlic ™, the Fan of Pharmacy ™ and the Screens of Discretion (also tm). But the camera crapped out on me. So, until I figure it out (Which means until Erik gets home and I can shove the darn thing at him and say, “Fix your camera!”),  I’m offering u...

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Disconnect to Reconnect: Ditching the “Flushie” for a Composting Toilet

...pairs nicely with my composting obsession and food growing habit. I stayed at Erik and Kelly’s back in February. Their low flush toilet and antique piping can’t seem to handle even the most modest bodily donation. Once a flushing attempt proves unsuccessful, and immediately following the ‘oh no…’ guilty grimace, a light-hearted blame game plays out and then according to homestead rules, Erik snakes the toilet. The closet augur is kept on the fron...

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