Garden Design: Quantity vs. Quality

that he most talented creative folks I’ve met crank out lots of material. So how do we apply the quantity over quality principle to laying out a garden–especially since you often get only one chance a year to get it right? Above you see some of Kelly’s ideas for the parkway garden we planted in the fall. I think it is at this first point in the process–when you’re just sketching out ideas–when it’s best...

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Toilet Paper Roll Tower for Cats

Photo: FourWhitePaws At the risk of turning into one of those people who does nothing but post cute cat pictures to Facebook–oh wait a second, I’m already that person–here’s a tip from a friend Christine on how to keep cats busy with toilet paper rolls. Christine sent me a link to the FourWhitePaws blog on making a toilet paper tower that you put treats in. She also sent a link to a stock photo service that is, oddly, sel...

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My Big Fat Greek Squash

Every time I visit my mom, her Greek neighbor pops over the fence to offer me seeds and plants. He visits Greece each summer and comes back with seeds for plants whose names he can’t translate into English. As a result I always have a few mystery Greek vegetables growing in the garden. This spring he gave me a squash seedling he had propagated. It grew into a massive vine and produced two winter squashes whose weight exceeded the capacit...

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The Sundiner–A Groovy 1960s Era Solar Cooker

Backywards beekeeper Dennis of The Buzz in the Dale, was nice enough to gift me his vintage Sundiner solar cooker that he found at a garage sale a few years ago. Resembling a cross between a portable 1960s record player and a satellite, the Sundiner is compact, light and easy to carry. A built in thermometer lets you know when you have hit cooking temperatures. The unit is so efficient, that when I set it up at noon it hit 350° F within minut...

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Supper for a buck?

Recently someone asked me how much it cost us to make a loaf of no-knead bread. I had no idea, but was intrigued by the question, so I went home and did the math on the flour. We buy our flour in bulk from fine company called Central Milling through the Los Angeles Bread Baker’s Club. A 50lb bag of general purpose flour costs $30.00. This works out less per pound than the cheap-0 flour at the supermarket. We actually go through so much fl...

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Alternatives to the Funeral Industrial Complex

A casket made by the monks of Saint Joseph Abbey in Louisiana. If there’s one business I’d like to see shut down and rethought it would be the funeral industry. I’m not going to mince words. The funeral directors I’ve had to deal with just wanted to turn grief into dollars. When my dad passed on his pastor warned me about what would happen at the funeral home, telling me that they would try to up-sell my mom and I. He sa...

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Picture Sundays: US Postal Service Creates World’s Ugliest Stamp

I got some stamps out of a machine at the post office yesterday and this is what got barfed out. Is this a sign of the imminent collapse of the US empire or just evidence that the email thing is making the post office go broke? Either way, you’d think the Postal Service would be embarrassed by this graphic design nightmare. How do we get them to reissue this one? I may not be a big fan of the American Poultry Industry, but that sure is a...

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Prickly Pear Fruit Chips

Prickly pear fruit chip–some specimens are purple, our produces orange fruit It’s prickly pear fruit season. I know this both by the view out our front window and from the comments trickling in on an old post on how to make prickly pear fruit jelly. Thanks to a tip from Oliva Chumacero at the Farmlab, I now have another way of dealing with an over-abundance of this spiny fruit: slice it and dry it to make prickly pear fruit chips....

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Humanure Dry Toilet Made From a Milk Crate

gallon bucket but they have, in my opinion, an unacceptable wobble when you sit on them. For these reasons I designed a sturdy dry toilet making use of a scavenged milk crate. Even if the idea of humanure grosses you out (and it’s definitely the most controversial subject in our book), our milk crate toilet would be great for camping, emergencies or your remote cabin. Putting this toilet together takes just a few minutes. First, find a milk...

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Farm in a Box

ide fertilizer for the plants as well as removing nitrogen and ammonia from the water. From the Earth Solutions website: “By integrating fish with vegetables, naturally balanced aquatic ecosystems are established making it unnecessary to add fertilizer, chemicals or remove nitrogen rich water. As in nature, plants, fish and oxygen loving bacteria create a symbiotic relationship; Fish waste is converted by bacteria to a plant loving nutrient...

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