Loquat Season

For some mysterious reason our corner of Los Angeles has an abundance of loquat trees (Eriobotrya japonica) that, at this time of year, produce prodigious amounts of fruit that mostly goes to waste. Many of these trees live in public spaces, the parkway and people’s front yards making them prime candidates for urban foraging i.e. free food. The tree itself has a vaguely tropical appearance with waxy leaves that look like the sort of plasti...

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Novella Carpenter Harassed by City of Oakland

Urban farmer and author Novella Carpenter is getting harassed by city of Oakland employees. From her blog Ghost Town Farm: Here’s the deal: After getting off the plane from Salt Lake City and making my way home to a cup of tea, I sit down at my kitchen table and I see this guy in a City of Oakland car taking photos of my garden. I go down and he said I’m out of compliance for “agricultural activities”. I’m supposed to get a Conditional Use...

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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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Advances in Gardening: The Trough of Garlic

Remember a while back I posted a picture of Erik in a manly pose, whomping our patio with his sledgehammer? He took out a strip of concrete and built this over the hole: a new planting bed.  That’s the Germinator on the right, butting up to it and my Fan behind it.  When we’re done with all this redoing, we’ll clean everything up and take some wider shots so it all begins to make sense. For now–believe me–it’...

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Vegetable Garden Update: Too Much Salad

It’s amazing what you can grow in just a 4 foot by 8 foot area. From top to bottom in the picture above: Escarole mix: Misticanza Di Indivie E ScaroleLettuce: Lattuga Quattro StagioniChicory: Cicoria Variegata Di CastelfrancoDandelion GreensSwiss Chard: Verde Da Taglio Approximately half the bed is devoted to salad makings. Combined with another 2 foot by 4 foot area of arugula elsewhere in our yard, we’ve had a whole lot of salads...

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Cleaning the Sink with Baking Soda and Lemons

   Our sink, freshly cleaned and so darn photogenic!This is because you can’t see all the clutter just out of view.   A little green cleaning review here. It is possible to keep a sink white and shiny without bleach or other toxic cleansers. I took pictures this week while I was cleaning to prove it. Below is our grungy sink. A photo can’t quite capture that particularly scuzzy quality a dirty sink has, th...

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Return of Bean Friday: Bean Broth or “Tuscan Crazy Water”

Yep, Bean Friday rears its head again–or is it Frugal Friday? Whatever it is, I’ve got this thrifty idea for you. I read about in The Italian Country Table , by Lynn Rossetto Casper. We’ve had this book for years and years, and it has some really good recipes in it that have become standards in our house, along just with a couple of duds. I’d not paid attention to her entry on “Crazy Water” before, but by her...

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Barefoot Running Update

I’ve been running barefoot three times a week for six months with no relapse of the knee or heel pain I used to suffer from when I ran in shoes. I have stubbornly refused to spend any money for minimal footwear (largely because I’m a cheap bastard), but I really don’t feel like I need to. I’ve run all of my barefoot miles on a decomposed granite path and have not had a single injury of any kind, not even a scratch. Dann...

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Vertical Vegetables

Frederick Law Olmstead’s office has a 19th century “vertical garden.” Vines! I was somewhat dismayed to see a local newspaper article touting a company that sells a $1,000 vertical vegetable garden system to schools. The company has a plan to sell this system nationwide. The problem is that I have serious doubts about the long term viability of vertical garden walls for a number of reasons: irrigation, maintenance and start u...

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All is Fire

Photo by Olivier Ffrench Scholar, former Wall Street trader and author Nassim Nicholas Taleb is in his native Lebanon this week shopping for olive groves, according to an article in today’s Wall Street Journal (enter “Taleb’s Pessimism Lures CIC” in Google to get around the pay wall). Taleb explains, “Healthy investments are those that produce goods that humans need to consume, not flat-screen TVs. Sto...

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