A Question About Gophers

...s to use galvanized hardware cloth or gopher wire as an underground barrier. We even mentioned this in our first book. The main problem I have with this advice is that the galvanized metal used for hardware cloth and gopher wire leaches significant amounts of zinc as it breaks down. Zinc, in high quantities, is toxic to plants. And, when using cages for trees, I’d worry that the cages would not break down soon enough, causing the roots to c...

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How To Dry Food With the Sun

...60% humidity. If you live in a desert, humidity isn’t a problem. But in most other places in North America it’s simply too moist to set food out under the sun. It will rot before it dries. In Los Angeles, due to the influence of the ocean, it’s slightly too humid most of the year for sun drying to work well. But there’s an easy way to overcome humidity: convection, i.e. hot air rises. Most solar dehydrators take advantage...

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Deadly Nightshade vs. Black Nightshade

..., Solanum nigrum is eaten and used as animal fodder all over the world, though many sources continue to describe it as toxic. As with all members of the Solanum family there’s still a great deal of superstition when it comes to toxicity. Remember that many Europeans considered tomatoes to be poisonous well into the 18th century. Even today tomato leaves, used by my Filipino neighbors as a seasoning, are still labeled by many as poisonous. A...

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Derek Jarman’s Garden

...nd. With just a few hardy plants and some scavenged pieces of wood he put together a stunning garden. He wrote a book about it called, simply, Derek Jarman’s Garden. You can also view a flikr photo set here. Photo by angusf Jarman’s friend Howard Sooley, writing in the Guardian, described the garden and cottage: Prospect Cottage sits more or less in the middle, parched by baking sun and drying winds in summer, with no shade...

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Meet us this weekend in the Bay Area

This Friday, April 29, we’ll be talking and signing at Book Passage in Corte Madera: 7:00 PM Saturday, April 30th, we’re gathering for a forage at Sutro Heights Park, San Francisco. It’s supposed to be a pretty day. Bring drinks, and we’ll gather a salad to share. Feel free to bring more food, your guide books, gathering implements, things to sit upon, and most especially, any local knowledge you have. Very casual. Meet...

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Till vs. No Till Poll Results

US Department of Energy Our highly unscientific till vs. no-till poll results are in: 17% of you said you till43% of you don’t till23% of you double-dig15% are undecided Looks like most of you fall into the permacultural no-till camp. For more information on no-till ag see the no-till section of our publisher Rodale’s website. Meanwhile, we’re on our book tour of Northern California and the Pacific Northwest. Check out...

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Gathering in Portland: Looking for ideas

Hey all, We’re visiting in Portland on Tuesday, May 3rd and Wednesday, May 4th as part of our book tour. On the Tuesday we arrive, we’re going to be on KGW’s “Live at 7″ program. We’ll be done by 7:15 and have nothing to do afterward. Would anybody like to meet us downtown? Our idea is that we could settle ourselves at a pub or cafe, and anybody who feels like it could come and hang out with us. We’ll ta...

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Dry Farming

...vegetables. Most modern vegetables are adapted to copious watering. But this was not always the case. A classic book Dry Farming by John Andreas Widtsoe, first published in 1911 and available as a free download in Google Books, describes how many farmers got along without the modern conveniences of supplemental irrigation. A dry farmed wheat and alfalfa field in Wyoming from Dry Farming Other than the advice to till frequently (tilli...

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Self-Watering Containers in Mother Earth News

We’re proud to announce that Mother Earth News online is excerpting the project, How to Build a Self-Watering Container from our book, The Urban Homestead . We heart Mother Earth News. If you haven’t visited their site, do so. You’ll find a treasure trove of homesteady-type information to peruse. (Here’s a hint about that article: there are illustrations, but they’re not embedded in the text. Look for the link to...

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