Derek Jarman’s Garden

Photo by angusf Avant-garde filmmaker Derek Jarman spent the last years of his life, after an HIV diagnosis, tending a bleak, wind-swept patch of land opposite a nuclear power plant on the southern coast of England. 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 b...

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My Big Fat Worm Bin

...lon drum. When introduced the worms from our sad little kitchen bin into this pile of goodness, the worms thought they had landed in nirvana. Since then, Erik has built a giant wooden bin for us following Nancy’s plans. It’s a simple thing, very like a toy chest. Nancy’s plans called for it to be 4 feet long, but Erik built the chest 5 feet long because he was working with 10 foot boards (less waste that way, you see). The resul...

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Tomatoes in December

It ain’t pretty but I’m not complaining. Note to self: the tomatoes that sprout on their own are always the healthiest. The cherry tomato above has reseeded itself for at least 12 years. Sometimes its offspring survive the winter and grow as a perennial. Our climate sort of permits this but occasionally a cold night will kill tomatoes off. And each year the fruit declines in quality. This summer I transplanted two tomato se...

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Saturday’s Quote: Farmers, the Sexiest Men and Women Alive

Photo from the Library of Congress “When the next batch of huricanes hits and the oil wells run dry, whom do you want to wake up next to?  Someone who can program HTML or someone who can help a cow give birth?  Do you want someone with Bluetooth or someone with a tractor?  How can someone who makes food out of dirt not impress you?” -Lou Bendrick...

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Book Review: Attracting Native Pollinators: The Xerces Society Guide to Conserving North American Bees and Butterflies and Their Habitat

How can we save the world? Simple. Get everyone to read and understand the contents of a new book, Attracting Native Pollinators: The Xerces Society Guide to Conserving North American Bees and Butterflies and Their Habitat. Why? There’s the obvious–pollinating insects provide a huge amount of our food–but they also have a few unappreciated roles. Without pollinators, plant communities that stabilize river banks disappear. Ma...

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Finding an Urban Homestead on Craigslist

of your room. Your roommates will be as follows: a 31 y.o. park ranger who inhabits the upstairs and likes to identify birds by ear and spot clean the floors, a 34 y.o. medic and bike mechanic who likes to brew beer, drink it, and then go on 300-mile rides, and a 30 y.o. outdoor educator who likes to pet her cat and sew up organic undies from reclaimed t-shirts. The last two will be your downstairs co-inhabitants and bathroom buddies. We are...

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Rules for Eating Wheat

...ing at simpler forms of ancient wheat such as Einkorn to see if they have fewer allergens. So what can we do to prevent wheat based black swans? I think we need a wheat equivalent of Michael Pollan’s food rules, so here it goes: Acknowledge our ignorance in the face of the great complexity of nature. Thus, we should be conservative when it comes to plant breeding. Saving seed and developing local varieties are a good thing. Genetic modific...

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Is Modern Wheat Killing Us?

Wheat field, Froid, Montana, 1941. (Library of Congress image) It’s been a bad decade for grains. Between publicity about grain allergies and fads such as the Atkins and paleo diets, a lot of people are shunning wheat, rye and barley. At a panel discussion this weekend sponsored by Common Grains I heard Monica Spiller of the Whole Grain Connection and Glenn Roberts of Anson Mills make some compelling arguments that will forever c...

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Zombie Apocalypse Poll Results

2012—year of the goat? The poll results are in and a solid majority thinks that things will get worse in 2012. The results, with 617 votes: 187 30% things will get better 309 50% things will get worse 121 19% things will stay the same I had intended to editorialize about how I see 2012 going. But I can’t say it better than this anonymous comment: I could not answer the poll. My first thought was that things will get worse...

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The CDFA’s Pesticide Theater

In the fall of 2009 a citrus pest called the Asian Citrus Psylid showed up in our neighborhood. It’s a major concern to commercial citrus growers since the pest spreads an incurable and fatal plant disease called huanglongbing (HLB). The California Department of Food and Agriculture commenced a futile effort to suppress the psylid by hiring a contractor, TruGreen, to spray residential backyards in Southern California with a combination o...

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