Free Vermicomposting Workshop in Pasadena

...e, join us for a free brunch. We’ll have fresh cut greens grown from my worm castings and I’ll share about the Smokey Mountain Project. *** Sweat Equity & Community Learning. The workshop is free, BUT I will be putting you to work so come ready with work clothes. For your work, you will get a gallon of worm castings to feed your veggies and fruit trees. We’ll gather again in three months to share the results. Worm kits: If you want a...

Continue reading…

Why is My Squash Bitter?

...interesting hazard with bitter out-crossed Cucurbitaceae. According to Tony Glover, regional extension agent at the University of Alabama, The bitter taste of squash and cucumbers comes from a natural organic compound called cucurbitacin . . . which can cause severe stomach pains. If the fruit are extremely bitter you might as well pull the plant up and start again because they will not likely become un-bitter. Cross-pollinated freak seeds are...

Continue reading…

Sweet Potatoes for Breakfast

...keep them in the fridge, and then I make a new batch. I just eat them straight out of the fridge in the morning. They are surprisingly good cold. I eat them in this minimalist way, but of course you could heat them up. You could also toss them with nuts, or yogurt or raisins, or all three. I’ve thought about this, but never can be bothered to put in the extra effort. (ETA 9/27/13: I’ve been eating the sweet potatoes with yogurt, fruit...

Continue reading…

A Review of Masanobu Fukuoka’s Sowing Seeds in the Desert

...carpet bombing these areas with seed pellets (a how-to for making seed pellets is included in an appendix). And the content of those seed balls? Whatever will re-vegetate the landscape most effectively regardless of whether those plants are native or not in order to achieve what Fukuoka calls a “second Genesis.” As he puts it, I would mix the seeds of all plants–forest trees, fruit trees, perennials, vegetables, grasses and leg...

Continue reading…

Mutant Squash

...edictable. with accidental squash hybrids tending to get tough. But some hybrids are a crap shoot that pays off. The SurviveLA compound has wild cherry tomatoes that have self-seeded for years with excellent results–producing some of the best tomatoes we’ve ever eaten, with no work whatsoever on our part. But this summer they seem to have hybridized again and now yield less flavorful fruit. More information on the botany of pollinatio...

Continue reading…

What To Do With Old Vegetable Seeds

In short, throw them around. We’ve got a lot of expired seed packages sitting in a shoe box. And I’ve been reading a newly published translation of a book by the late, “natural farmer” Masanobu Fukuoka (review coming soon). Fukuoka inspired me to distribute those old seeds around our micro-orchard to see what comes up. Fukuoka has some tips in his book The Natural Way of Farming for creating a semi-wil...

Continue reading…

Straw Bale Garden Update: Success!

...ies and gentleman, straw bale gardening works. I left town for a week earlier this month and, during my absence, the vegetables in the straw bale garden exploded in size. The Tromboncino squash on the left, is threatening to envelop the entire yard.  The tomatoes are equally vigorous and covered in ripening fruit. Zucchini is on the menu. While it takes an input of outside resources in the form of straw and fertilizer, straw ba...

Continue reading…

Return of the Egg

...d eggs, two lay solid. Their eggs are this unusual, olive drab sort of color, which is difficult to capture with the camera. Our hens are hybrids: a Barnavelder/Americauna cross. We call them WinnetekaVelders. The olive eggs must have something to do with the blending of green egg and brown egg genes. Happy as I am about the eggs, their re-appearance means our too-short winter is closing fast, and that our fruit trees need to be pruned, asap. Whe...

Continue reading…

Hens in the Orchard for Pest Control

Photo: hencam.com Author Terry Golson, who blogs at HenCam.com, sent along a great pest control tip in response to our thrip post–chickens, of course! Chickens and orchards go together like gin and tonic. The hens take care of pests, clean up rotten fruit, add nitrogen to the soil and the canopy of the orchard protects the hens from hawks and heat. Plus you get eggs and meat. Permaculture in action. The 1920s era photo y...

Continue reading…

Saturday Linkages: Soils, Prickly Pear and the Case for Going Outside

Soil diagram from the Garden Professors. Let’s get (soil) physical… https://sharepoint.cahnrs.wsu.edu/blogs/urbanhort/Lists/Posts/ViewPost.aspx?ID=943 … The Science Behind Honey’s Eternal Shelf Life http://blogs.smithsonianmag.com/science/2013/08/the-science-behind-honeys-eternal-shelf-life/#.Uh0YB1lfCUw.twitter … Open Tech Forever: permaculture/open tech startup: http://boingboing.net/2013/08/21/open-tech-forever-...

Continue reading…