Gift Suggestions, from the Other Half

...inated with this book’s thesis: that California Indians actively managed the California landscape, shaping it into the verdant paradise that awed the first European settlers to arrive here. They were practicing food forestry in it’s most advanced form, as well as wild life management. This book also introduced me to a concept I’m also still trying to wrap my head around: the idea that plants need us as much as we need them. Our...

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City of LA Shakes Down Community Gardens

...space will go from $25 to $120 a year. In the midst of an economic crisis, when the city should doing everything it can to encourage growing food in the city, we get this. The good news is that, unlike national politics, we can make a difference by getting involved at a local level. I was alerted to this shortsighted fee increase by my friend Stephen Box who is running for city council in district 4. It’s about time that we got rid of the m...

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Return of Bean Friday! Chickpea, Pasta and Tomato Soup

...hole and pureed to make a rich, surprisingly creamy soup flavored with tomato and the faint perfume of rosemary. It also is a very simple recipe, requiring only 3 major ingredients, no stock, and not much in the way of prep. It does take a while to cook, but very little of your time is spent in the kitchen. I found this recipe in the very useful The Silver Spoon cookbook, where it’s called Pasta e Ceci alla Toscana. The quantity made by th...

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Geoff Lawton Soils Video

Help, I’m turning into a soil geek. I just spent an evening viewing a video entitled Soils featuring permaculturalist Geoff Lawton. What I like about this video is that it’s not just about soil, but Lawton actually shows you what you can do to improve your soil. In the DVD he demonstrates how to build a compost pile (lots of carbon material), contoured vegetable beds, a compost pile heated shower and a simple vermiculture system usi...

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Meet us this weekend in the Bay Area

...s Friday, April 29, we’ll be talking and signing at Book Passage in Corte Madera: 7:00 PM Saturday, April 30th, we’re gathering for a forage at Sutro Heights Park, San Francisco. It’s supposed to be a pretty day. Bring drinks, and we’ll gather a salad to share. Feel free to bring more food, your guide books, gathering implements, things to sit upon, and most especially, any local knowledge you have. Very casual. Meet up a...

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Our favorite way to cook zucchini

...ransforms the zukes into a savory, glossy, succulent mush. Maybe that’s not the most elegant way to phrase it, but it’s the best I can do. Yes, it does have a baby food texture, but it’s really, really good, so you don’t care. I can’t begin to tell you quantities–we’ve never measured. Just guesstimate. It will work. The one rule of thumb I can offer you is that you will lose about half the volume of the z...

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Free Postmortem Exams for Backyard Flocks in California

It’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...

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Loofah Sponges

...#8211;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 is a beautiful vine, and the flowe...

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Cat Litter Composting

...that link for more info on Jenkins’ good work in that area–research, technique, message boards, etc. It’s all there. Human, cat and dog waste are all more tricky to work with than your more benign chicken and bunny waste. This isn’t something one should do in a half-assed way, but it is possible. The plan I’m going to follow is the basic humanure model, which is classic composting, but with lots of attention and care...

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Growing Artichokes on the Sly

...a wall, between some permanent shrubs. It flourished through our wet winter–she says she didn’t give it any care at all. Now it’s way too big to weedwack, and covered with fat artichokes. It’s also such a magnificent plant that it looks like it belongs there. She’s harvested over forty chokes so far–that’s a lot of good eating! We realize artichokes don’t grow everywhere, but investigate perennial f...

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