Loofah Sponges

We talk about the joy of loofah–or luffa– (Luffa aegyptiaca) all the time, but I don’t believe we’ve every blogged about it here. I was reminded of it when we received a letter from Candace, who heard us on a podcast talking about how much fun it was to grow loofah sponges. She said: I wanted to thank you for that part of the interview in particular.  I decided to grow some this summer and it has been a great joy.  It i...

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Seed Mania

...resistant, needs water in a dry spell.” Sea Buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides) from Bountiful Gardens. The fruit of this berry producing shrub can be found in Armenian and Russian markets here in LA. I was introduced to it by my friends at Tularosa Farms. It’s difficult to germinate so that plan is to gift the seeds to the TF folks and hope that they give us seedlings (an evil plan, I admit). I also picked up some crimson clover and...

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Eating In: The Biosphere Cookbook

from the backyard and make use of the bare-bones recipes in this book. And don’t worry about having to grow your own cooking oils–the Biospherians had trouble with that and have thoughtfully skipped any deep fried items. The Biosphere’s kitchen. But let’s get to those recipes! For relaxing next the the shore of the Biosphere’s simulated ocean there’s “Beach Blanket Bean Burgers,” “Bea...

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The Ecology Center of San Juan Capistrano

Kelly and I had the privilege of doing a short talk this weekend at the Ecology Center in San Juan Capistrano. If you’re interested in Southern California food forestry, greywater, chickens, you name it, this is the place to visit. They have an amazing garden, classes and a well curated gift store. When people ask us how to design garden and house systems in SoCal, we’re going to send them to the Ecology Center....

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Tree Tobacco as a Stinging Nettle Cure

...n there– and the sting goes away. So if you plan to harvest nettles, I’d recommend you keep a tree tobacco leaf in your pocket. The classic herbal antidote to nettle stings is Jewelweed, but I don’t believe it grows in the southwest–at least I’ve never seen it. Tree tobacco is a good substitute for folks in our region Native Americans smoked Nicotiana glauca and used it as a topical medicine. It is poisonous if tak...

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Secrets In Your Pantry?

...dusted cornmeal snacks. The truth is that we don’t often have them on hand more than a couple times a year (largely because I would go through them like a crack addict). But we do have plenty of other dodgy convenience foods picked up at Trader Joes and consumed on those evenings we’re too tired to cook. While the image of the urban homesteader is one who dines on nothing but wholesome veggies, backyard eggs and artisinal canning pr...

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Homemade Cat Toys

...hing else. And I don’t mean genuine novelty–they don’t need newer and stranger toys all the time. Rather, individual toys seem to get stale for them. A fresh paper bag is thrilling, but by the end of the day it’s old news. However, if you put another paper bag down, even the exact same kind of bag, the thrills will start all over again. If you try to fulfill their whims by buying them new toys all the time, soon your pocke...

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Saturday Linkages: Mules, Turfgrass, Foraging and the End of Backyard Citrus

Emily Ho, a fellow Master Food Preserver trainee, foraged a Silver Lake salad. (Photo by Emily Ho) A Silver Lake Salad http://sustainablefoodworks.com/2012/04/09/a-silver-lake-salad/ via @ misschiffonade   Mule-based bookmobiles for remote Venezuelan communities: http://boingboing.net/2012/04/20/mule-based-bookmobiles-for-rem.html   Dismiss Cyclists At Your Own Peril: The Jackson Huang Lesson – Eagle Rock, CA Patch http://eagleroc...

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Disconnect to Reconnect: Ditching the “Flushie” for a Composting Toilet

...most of the time, but at least once a week I’ve got to deploy that damn snake. Here’s Nancy: I don’t use a flushie often, I made the decision to ‘go dry’ years ago, adopting the bucket toilet + sawdust system as it pairs nicely with my composting obsession and food growing habit. I stayed at Erik and Kelly’s back in February. Their low flush toilet and antique piping can’t seem to handle even the most modest bodily donation. Once a...

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