Two Vegetable Gardening Commandments

...ntime, I’ll share two of the commandments: 1. Thou shalt not have more vegetable beds than thou canst maintain in a worthy condition. We’ve already reduced the amount of vegetable space in our garden and replaced it with native perennials. I’m considering cutting more vegetable space. Having a lot of poorly maintained vegetable beds sends out a big invitation to the sorts of insect visitors we don’t want in our gardens. 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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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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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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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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Joshua Tree Earthen Finishes Class – March 2nd, 3rd & 4th

...class will be conducted about 12 miles outside of Joshua Tree National Park in Landers, California, some 40 miles from Palm Springs. Joshua Tree and the surrounding area have a wealth of great hiking, climbing, lodging and food options. Directions to the workshop site will be provided to attendees prior to the class. Registration: The cost for the three day workshop is $190/person. Coffee and nibbles will be provided at the beginning of the...

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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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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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