Cheap and Natural Handsoap–and a rant

...ut as needful as evening wear for hogs accessorized with a doomsday device. 3) And finally, the wastefulness of it all makes me cry. Note the the cheap plastic shell and electronic innards assembled in Chinese factories–not to mention the big-ass clamshell package it all comes in. How long will the average unit be employed? A year? If does last more than a year, how long will Lysol keep making those plastic cartridges?  Oh, and joy! WeR...

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Kent’s Composting Tips and Secret Weapon

...the new pile. I’m not fastidious about what goes in, so the occasional fish and chicken scraps and leftover cat food gets into the mix, even oily stuff, but mostly it’s the usual veggies, fruits, paper napkins, etc. Though experts say no fats should go in, I’ve yet to see (or smell) a problem. Each time I add new kitchen scraps, I add 1-2 shovels-full of dry leaves and some water if needed, turning and mixing the old and new stuff with a cultiva...

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Cleaning the Sink with Baking Soda and Lemons

...onger than scrubbing with a toxic scouring powder, and you’re spared 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, tr...

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Compost Rebuttal

...e information on Ingham’s work read, Teaming with Microbes: The Organic Gardener’s Guide to the Soil Food Web, Revised Edition by Jeff Lowenfels and Wayne Lewis. Mrs. Homegrown here: Just rebutting the rebuttal. I don’t disagree with anything Erik says above, and Ingham’s work is fascinating.  But to be clear about my post, the “sooper seekrit” pile was not about producing compost, it was about disposing of wa...

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Build a Worm Tower

...dia.) pipe sunk halfway into the ground, with access holes on the lower half to allow the worms to come and go. Food and bedding is dropped in the top, which is kept capped. We happen to have worm & compost expert Nancy Klehm staying with us this weekend, and she explained to us that this particular technology makes a lot of sense for hot, dry climates (note the video comes from Australia), because it’s sunken and it allows the worms...

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You’ve probably never met a soup like this

Mushroom and Fruit Soup. Yep. I don’t know if you’re going to like this recipe. I did. Erik made it, which shocked me, because he has a general prejudice against savory fruit preparations. In fact, he has a general prejudice against soup, seeing it somehow as being a substandard food form. Nonetheless, he cooked this soup.  I smelled it first, as it was cooking, and it smelled really good. Then I saw it in the pot, and said, “...

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Medlar: The Best Fruit You’ve Never Heard Of

...medlars, and these neighbors agreed to sell them to Craig and Tara, provided Craig and Tara picked them. For us, it was a great excuse for a trip to the mountains with a bunch of friends for some laughs, fresh air and gorgeous fall scenery. Also along for the medlar hunt were Joseph Shuldiner and Graham Keegan. As a group we gathered 100 lbs of medlars in a couple of hours of easy work, which are going to be sold to foodies, rare fruit enthusiast...

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Accidental Garden Design: Pomegranate and Prickly Pear

Can good garden design be taught or is it something you’re born with? If it’s inherited I didn’t get that gene, unfortunately. But at least a garden can sometimes put on a good show despite the gardener’s lack of design sense. Above, the view out our front window of our pomegranate tree (Punica granatum ‘Wondeful’) against our overgrown prickly pear cactus (Opuntia ficus-indica). These two plants have a lot...

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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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