So-So Tomatoes Become Excellent When Dried

...nvolving a pantry moth, its many offspring, and one big jar of dried tomatoes. For this reason I’m storing the dried tomatoes in a series of small jars, to offset the risk. Another good tip for fending off moths is to freeze any food stuff which you suspect might be at risk for 4 days to kill moths and their larvae. How did we dry our tomatoes, you ask? Usually we use our homemade solar dehydrator, but this year we’ve got a friendR...

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Derek Jarman’s Garden

...ade to be had for miles in any direction. In winter, sea storms rage, while biting Siberian winds push through the shingle and up through the floorboards of the fisherman’s cottages strung out along the road to the lighthouse. You can’t take life for granted in Dungeness: every bloom that flowers through the shingle is a miracle, a triumph of nature. Derek knew this more than anyone. Gardens give us food, medicine, solace, and t...

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Seed Mania

...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 globe artichoke seeds from the Bountiful Gardens folks. Desert Chia from Native Seed Search. Yes it is that chia, of Chia Pet fame. Chia is an ancient herb used by Native Americans for medicine and food. Cha...

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Loofah Sponges

...if they’re happy, and the fruits form on big yellow flowers. They are so prolific and easy to grow (given the right conditions) that you only need a crop every few years to keep you in sponges. We’ve never tried to eat loofah, mostly because we’ve been too greedy for sponges. But we’re going to chill on that next time around and eat a few.  The only catch with loofah is that they need a long growing season: 4 months f...

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How to start a chicken retirement community

...could do it if we needed to–but we never really sat down and decided what would happen to our ladies when they stopped laying. We’re very good at procrastinating that way. What happened is sort of surprising, looking back. I’ve not eaten chicken since high school (or other meat, except rarely, fish). My objections have never centered around the morality of killing animals for food, but rather a long-standing objection to how th...

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Free Postmortem Exams for Backyard Flocks in California

...217;s too late for us now, but if I had another two chickens die in close succession, I’d consider rushing the bodies off to one of the California Animal Health and Food Safety’s labs run by the University of California Davis’ School of Veterinary Medicine. A Root Simple reader who is a veterinarian tipped us off to this service. You don’t need a veterinarian (though you might need one to help interpret the results) and t...

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Compost Rebuttal

...oo. It’s not difficult to achieve the conditions Ingham specifies. You just need enough mass combined with the use of a compost thermometer to figure out when to turn the pile.  O.K., so now I’m headed out into the garden to combine that tiny and ugly tire pile to the new pile I’m building. For more information on Ingham’s work read, Teaming with Microbes: The Organic Gardener’s Guide to the Soil Food Web, Revised E...

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Cleaning the Sink with Baking Soda and Lemons

...d from breathing that junk in, getting it on your hands, and adding it to our water supply–not to mention the danger of having it around the house. The lemon bleaching is an extra step, but one I always enjoy. Maybe it’s the scent, or maybe because I like playing with my food. Extra tough situations: If the baking soda isn’t cutting it as a scrubber, try scrubbing with table salt or Borax, or a combo of baking soda and salt o...

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Changing Egg Habits

photo by Buzz Carter Got the last word in an Associated Press article on the egg recall: Egg recall has some changing buying, eating habits. Basically, I said small is beautiful–better to have lots of  people with four hens each rather than a few people with hundreds of thousands. Too bad food safety laws winding their way through Washington are being crafted to favor the big guys who caused this recent outbreak. More on that anon...

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Citron

The Citron (Etrog) and its anatomy. I just attended a fascinating lecture by fruit expert David Karp on the history of the citron (Citrus medica) or etrog in Aramaic. I’ve only encountered citron in a candied form buried deep within a fruit cake. I’ve also seen the bizarre Buddha’s Hand, another kind of citron popular in Asia as both food and medicine. What I did not know is the significance of citron in Jewish history...

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