Bugs Ate My Garden

A letter from one of our readers: “I just read the article on growing your own food. I have tried this but have had great difficulty with insect damage. I have tried some of the “natural” insecticides but they don’t seem to work very well. Two of the major problems I have are cutworms that snip off seedlings before they can get started, and a plague of small white snails which invade later in summer and devastate everyt...

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Planting a Mini-Orchard

...suffice to allow greywater to infiltrate. Also, the new generation of washing machines use a lot less water than the old one that I still have. Other than the unnecessary bucket and the persimmon tree (died, for some unknown reason) this greywater application has worked very well. Our fruit trees are lush and happy. With the news that Lake Mead could go dry by 2013 we figured it was about time to figure out how to grow food with very little wate...

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Nopales Season

...ut 1/3 cup whole wheat flour, 2/3 cup cornmeal, 1 teaspoon chili powder, salt and pepper in a bag and shake with the boiled chopped nopales. Fry up in a pan and you’ve got a delicious side dish. One of the charms of the prickly pear cactus, in addition to the food it provides, is its ability to survive drought and fend off pests. Sadly, it’s not as indestructible as it seems. The cactus moth, Cactoblastis cactorum was introduced into...

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An open letter to Trader Joes

...or are we even vegetarians. We’re just people who like honesty in packaging. So let’s take a look at the carton for your Grade AA Cage Free eggs and assess the truthfulness of the illustration on its cover. Now conventional wisdom says that you are to be congratulated for selling only cage free eggs in contrast to many other food retailers who continue to sell eggs produced by hens living in cramped “battery cages“. Batter...

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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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Tree Spinach – Chenopodium giganteum

...ch is a tall, hardy annual that easily reseeds itself and can become invasive–but we give extra points for the combination of invasive and edible. Tree spinach contains saponins and oxalic acid, substances which the Plants for a Future database notes can cause nutritional and medical problems. Note to all the raw food fetishists out there–cooking takes care of both oxalic acid and saponins. We ordered our tree spinach from Trade Winds...

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Damned Figs!

...oey masses that would drop to the ground to provide rotting fig feasts to visiting rats and possums. We replaced the fig tree with the Valencia orange tree in the photo above. One of the most important lessons we’ve learned in our ten years at this address is that if you’re going to plant a tree to choose varieties carefully and, when space is at a premium, plant trees that yield food or medicine. We’ve also never regretted cutt...

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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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Cutting a Beehive Out of a Wall

...view that feral bees have more robust immune systems than the pedigreed bees that most beekeepers order through the mail. So with good intentions we got about to, as Kirk puts it, “save the world.” Here’s how we did it: Kirk told us to smoke the hive when we got there and smoke again when needed. Smoke makes the bees think their house is on fire and they rush to stock up on honey. Preoccupied with their sweet food stockpile t...

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Supper for a buck?

...ently someone asked me how much it cost us to make a loaf of no-knead bread. I had no idea, but was intrigued by the question, so I went home and did the math on the flour. We buy our flour in bulk from fine company called Central Milling through the Los Angeles Bread Baker’s Club. A 50lb bag of general purpose flour costs $30.00. This works out less per pound than the cheap-0 flour at the supermarket. We actually go through so much flour t...

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