Picture Sundays: Doberman Chariots

“Ready for the race! Brutus of Quintre and his charge are ready for the sulky races, a regular feature of some of the South African sporting events.” Photos via The Doberman Insider. Now that we are without a car, it’s time for us to figure out alternative forms of transportation. Our late dog was a Doberman and I remembered a book we used to have about the breed that showed some unusual events that used to be held in South Afr...

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Defining a Garden’s Purpose

Organic Mechanic’s Garden in San Francisco I’m an idiot when it comes to garden design. To up my skills in this department I attended the annual Garden Blogger’s Fling last week, which took place this year in San Francisco. Thankfully the Fling did not involve sitting in a sterile hotel conference room. Instead, we boarded two buses and took a look at fifteen spectacular gardens in the bay area over three days. I’ll share...

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Annie’s Annuals and Perennials

The artist Sandow Birk once did a show depicting a fictitious war between Northern and Southern California. If that war were to be fought by plant nurseries, the forces of Northern California would have us, down here in the Southland, badly beat. There’s a few good native plant nurseries here, but that’s about it. There’s nothing quite as spectacular as Annie’s Annuals and Perennials, located in Richmond on the eastern s...

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Karp’s Sweet Quince Update

Several years ago I planted a variety of quince called Karp’s Sweet Quince, named after local pomologist and writer David Karp. This variety comes from Peru and is unusual in that it can be eaten fresh. But my quince tree has struggled a bit. The soil it occupies is not the best and it’s been plagued with fungal issues. But I can report that you can, indeed, eat the fruit fresh. The texture was not the best, but the fruit I ate was...

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What is Killing the Bees?

What’s the cause of colony collapse disorder (CCD)? We may be getting closer with the release of a study from the University of Maryland about fungicides and other chemicals used in agriculture. This study is more interesting than many others I’ve seen. It looked at how pesticides interfere with honeybee’s resistance to a common parasite Nosema ceranae. Bees exposed to a widely used agricultural fungicide, chlorothonatil, were...

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Planetwalker John Francis

Check out this interview in Grist with Dr. John Francis, the man who not only did not own a car, but opted to not ride in motorized vehicles at all for twenty-two years–and spent seventeen of those years in silence. He crossed America on foot, completed two college degrees in silence, and became an ambassador for the U.N. You may have heard of him already–his story made the rounds years ago–but if you haven’t heard the d...

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Saturday Linkages: Poison, Pee and Plagiarism

Birdhouse shaped like a Google Map icon. Via Dornob. For the birds Avian Accommodations: Google Map Pin-Shaped Birdhouses | Designs & Ideas on Dornob http://dornob.com/avian-accommodations-google-map-pin-shaped-birdhouses/ … Thar she blows . . . Here’s to No-Blow Gardens | Garden Rant http://gardenrant.com/2013/03/heres-to-no-blow-gardens.html … DIY Pure Salvage: 10 Eclectic Tiny Homes Built with 99% Scrap | Designs & Ideas on Dornob...

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Straw Bale Gardens

Tasha Via’s straw bale garden. Michael Tortorello (who profiled us when Making It came out) is one of my favorite writers covering the home ec/gardening subjects we discuss on this blog. He had an article last week in the New York Times, “Grasping at Straw” on straw bale gardening. We’ve very tempted to give the practice a try in our backyard. Why? We have lead and zinc contaminated soil so growing veggies in the ground...

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Sourdough Pancake Recipe

Yes, that’s a real children’s book from the 1970s. A question came in as to what to do with extra sourdough starter. First off, check out the new way we feed our starter, which wastes a lot less flour. But another answer is to use all that tangy delicious starter to make pancakes. For years we’ve used Nancy Silverton’s recipe. Basically, the starter fills in for the flour and milk used in standard pancake recipes. That...

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A Primitive Bow Workshop

...ithout breaking. A bow is actually a very complicated tool, something that should inspire respect for our distant ancestors. Paul Campbell author of an excellent book Survival Skills of Native California was along to co-teach the class and help us all shape our bows. The first step was to find some suitable wood. We used willow, a wood used by Native Americans in our region. It’s plentiful and makes an acceptable if short lived bow. Ash an...

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