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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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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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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Two Vegetable Gardening Commandments

...ve one well maintained and productive vegetable bed than ten poorly maintained beds. And right now I’ve got a few less than optimal beds. Light row cover stretched over hoops protects the bed from cabbage moths 2. Thou shalt secure thy vegetable beds with bird netting or row cover material even if thou thinkest “I’ll get lucky this time.” I do this every year even though I know that if I leave a newly planted be...

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Picture Sundays: Good News and Dog Carts

First off, Governor Brown signed the California Homemade Food Act, AB 1616, into law this past week. So Californians will soon be able to make and sell “non-hazardous” foods in a home kitchen and sell them. But how will those goods get delivered? Above, a bakery in Holland using that long lost mode of transport, the dog cart. Picture via Terrierman’s Daily Dose....

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Urban Chickens and Lead

From the One More Thing To Worry About department, the New York Times has an article on lead levels in eggs laid by urban chickens “Worries About Lead for New York City’s Garden-Fresh Eggs.” According to the article, the lead levels found in New York City’s home grown eggs ranged from none to over a 100 parts per billion. Since the FDA does not have an acceptable lead level in eggs it’s difficult to interpret the results...

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Urine as a Fertilizer

...available (at least after a night of beer drinking) alternative to organic nitrogen fertilizers such as blood meal. We’ve got a perpetual nitrogen deficiency in our vegetable beds and I hate buying industrial ag sourced items like blood meal. Urine is a great alternative. To use urine in the garden you’ve got to dilute it with water, at least ten to one. Straight urine will burn your plants. Thankfully we don’t worry about our s...

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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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Root Simple and Edendale Farm on ABC-7

A local ABC affiliate did a nice, short piece on growing food in the city featuring us and our friend David Kahn of Edendale Farm. I’ll note that David runs a real city farm (he sells eggs) while I call what we do simply gardening, as we don’t grow/raise enough to sell. It’s good to see vegetable gardening and keeping chickens going mainstream–it’s the bright side of the “great recession”....

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