Why You Should Avoid Staking Trees

The correct way to stake a tree. Image from the Vacaville Tree Foundation To answer the question of why tree staking should be avoided, one can turn to the latest Extension Service advice or to the nearly 2000 year old words of Seneca: No tree becomes rooted and sturdy unless many a wind assails it. For by its very tossing it tightens its grip and plants its roots more securely; the fragile trees are those that have grown in a sunny valley. It...

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How to Bake a Traditional German Rye Bread

In the interest of health, I’ve focused my bread baking obsession of late on 100% or near 100% whole rye sourdough loaves. I’ve used as my guide a nicely illustrated book How to Make Bread by Emmanuel Hadjiandreou. His specialty is just the sort of rustic German style breads I’ve always wanted to learn to bake. What I love in particular about his caraway rye sourdough loaf (pictured above) is the crust. Unlike most other bread...

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SIP Improvement

Watermelon SIPs on the Chicago rooftop of the Green Roof Growers We’ve featured self-irrigating pots (SIPs) in our first book and have done a lot of experiments with them over the years. One of the problems with growing tomatoes in SIPs is that the roots can get into the water chamber and cause problems and diseases. I found a nice workaround to this problem via an anonymous tip on a BoingBoing tomato post: With tomatoes, you need...

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Notes on Mark Bittman’s “Behind the Scenes of What We Eat”

Last week Erik and I went to see well-known food writer Mark Bittman speak on food policy. He spoke in a huge room in The California Endowment–and it was a full house. Afterward, Erik and I compared it to being in church. We were surrounded by people of the same faith, being told things we already know, and being reminded to be good. And I don’t mean that in a bad way! It never hurts to meditate on how to be better, to do more. Bitt...

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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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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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Of Makers and Bowyers

Film One: Harry (Archer & Bowyer) from Dylan Ryan Byrne on Vimeo. I had a great time yesterday as a guest on a panel discussion at the LA Times Book Festival with Mark Frauenfelder and David Rees (thanks to Alisa Walker for being the best moderator ever). We talked about DIY culture and the ethos of being a “maker”. I think it’s safe to say that all of us on that panel have great admiration for talented “makers̶...

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Introducing the Dehydrated Kimchi Chip

Our focus this week has been all things Japanese, but now we’re taking a detour to Korea…or at least to kimchi: What would be the fermentation equivalent of finding a new planet in our solar system, cold fusion and a unified field theory all wrapped into one new discovery? That tasty snack breakthrough could very well be the dehydrated kimchi chip. Oghee Choe and Connie Choe-Harikul of Granny Choe’s Kimchi Co.’s just won...

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Getting my Ham Radio License

I often find myself doing a kind of cultural dumpster diving, searching for forgotten activities waiting to be rediscovered. Most of this scavenging takes place at Los Angeles’ massive central library on lower level two, where all the how-to books are shelved.  This month I’m finally acting on something I’ve contemplated for years: getting my amateur radio (i.e. Ham) technician’s license. I’ll be taking the test in...

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Saturday Linkages: Speedos, Blue Eggs and the Rise of Rye

A rancher of the future according to the 1981 children’s book Tomorrow’s Home. Trojan Horses, Recipes, and Permaculture http://www.patternliteracy.com/770-trojan-horses-recipes-and-permaculture … How bad for the environment are gas-powered leaf blowers? http://wapo.st/14bgqIQ  In Pursuit of Tastier Chickens, a Strict Diet of Four-Star Scraps http://nyti.ms/15yN8EY  Rye’s Rise: New Loaves That Are More Than a Vehicle for Pastrami http...

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