Loquat season is here!

...I highly encourage you to get to know the humble yet mysterious loquat. Loquat trees abound in our neighborhood, and I don’t know if this is a purely local phenomenon or not. Loquats are hardy evergreen trees with thick, glossy leaves that remind me of citrus leaves and magnolia leaves and avocado leaves all at the same time, meaning it’s vaguely tropical looking. They don’t seem to require much water or pruning–so they do...

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Medlar: The Best Fruit You’ve Never Heard Of

...Is this bletted? Tara giving the medlar an evaluating eye Medlars have beautiful fall foliage, and the fruit remains on the tree after the leaves fall, which is quite striking There’s me. I’m shaking a branch. We picked up good looking ground fall, gathered what would fall when the branches were given a gentle shake, and picked any fully bletted fruits off the tree. The rest wait for a second harvest....

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Los Angeles Fruit Tree Pruning Workshops

...rees has obvious rewards. You can eat the fruit at its peak, straight off of the tree, full of flavor, aromatic and juicy. And the sight of an apple, peach or other deciduous tree in bloom is an ephemeral yet breathtakingly beautiful sight. But many of these trees will not bear good fruit without proper pruning. Good pruning encourages stronger limbs able to hold heavy fruits, prevents limb breakage, improves air circulation and light penetratio...

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Don’t store your cucumbers in the fridge

...more than 3 days at temperatures lower than 50F/10C. Signs of cold injury are wateriness, pitting on the outside and accelerated decay Another factoid: Cucumbers are sensitive to ethylene gas, which is put off by some ripening fruits and vegetables. So for longest storage, don’t keep your cukes near melons, tomatoes or bananas. Tomatoes, peppers and eggplants are also damaged by cold, so keep these on your counter as well.  I’ve highl...

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I like my chamomile stressed

...Mrs. Homegrown here: I made a mistake–I predicted a while ago that this would happen, and here it is. When we remodeled the yard and I set aside space for The Phan of Pharmacy ™ my goal was to maximize the production of herbs and flowers.  I prepped the ground in the fan like a fine flower or veg bed: double dug and richly amended. It was only after I planted my chamomile starts in it that I realized the soil was...

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The Barrier Method

...old up aviary netting. The netting is held down around the edges with a variety of anchors, anything from bricks and boards to U shaped wire stakes. This keeps critters like digging skunks and birds out–but not insects. Sometimes we cover our veg beds with a very light floating row cover (Agribon 15) instead of aviary netting. This not only keeps out critters, but also blocks many insects, particularly the cabbage worms tha...

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Bean Fest, Episode 3: Bastardized Puerto Rican Beans

...much? When does the sofrito go in? Is pork truly optional? Last night I set aside my Cuban plans in frustration and opened up Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian–a generally solid cooking resource. He had a recipe for black beans and rice cooked together in a pot in the oven. Intrigued, I gave it a try. I won’t disect the recipe here, but suffice it to say the results were perilously close to hippie slop. Erik thou...

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Beans 101 (Return of Bean Friday!)

...you’ve got cooked beans in the fridge: Tacos, of course. Keep a big pack of corn tortillas in the fridge and deploy for fast, cheap eating. Cheapo corn tortillas taste best if they’re toasted in skillet before serving. Fancy them up by chopping up whatever fresh vegetables and herbs you happen to have on hand (radish, cabbage, carrot, green onion, parsley, cilantro etc.) and sprinkling that on top. Add cheese and hot sauce and you a...

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Deep Bedding for Chickens

...op, and the ladies will do all the work of distributing it for you. Scouts honor. Go away, come back in an hour, and it will be so level and even, it will look like you spread it yourself. Start to think about your chicken coop/run as a compost pile rather than as an animal enclosure. That is what it will become. The chickens break down the bedding material, all the veg scraps you give them, and their own manure, through their constant scratching...

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Goat Worship: A Halloween Exclusive!

...if you’re not so into that, I’ll take an apple instead. This Saturday our friends Gloria Putnam and Steve Rudicel at the Mariposa Creamery in Altadena gave a free, two-hour class on the basics of goat keeping. I was there with bells on. I’ve always wanted goats. It was a wonderful afternoon–about forty “goat curious” people like me showed up. Gloria and Steve’s goal in this, as in many of their activ...

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