Without Merit: poison in your compost

An image from Washington State University’s aminopyralid bioassay instructions. Another thing to worry about! In the past two years farmers and gardeners in the UK and US have experienced the unintended effects of a powerful herbicide called aminopyralid, sold by Dow Chemical under the brand names Merit and Forefront. This herbicide is used to control weeds such as thistle, knapweed and yellow starthistle. The problem is that aminopyral...

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A Primitive Bow Workshop

...ithout breaking. A bow is actually a very complicated tool, something that should inspire respect for our distant ancestors. Paul Campbell author of an excellent book Survival Skills of Native California was along to co-teach the class and help us all shape our bows. The first step was to find some suitable wood. We used willow, a wood used by Native Americans in our region. It’s plentiful and makes an acceptable if short lived bow. Ash an...

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DIY Christmas Trees

ctures. Two favorites: 1) The Mountain Dew Christmas tree.  On one hand, I’m appalled to think that somebody actually drank that much soda. On the other hand, the structure is really nice and it looks pretty all lit up: 2) And the hardback book tree, made out of a cut-up book. The cool thing about this one is that the cover stays intact, so you can close it up and store it on your book shelf until next season: Now, I know some people get...

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KRAUT FEST!!!!

Limited edition Kraut Fest poster–click to enlargulate There’s been way too many Los Angeles based event announcements this week and not enough blogging! So sorry–one last announcement and we’ll be back to our regular programming: Kraut Fest 2009! September 6, 2009 11am – 3pm Taught by Mark Frauenfelder, Erik Knutzen, Kelly Coyne, Jean-Paul Monsche, and the winner of Critter’s 2009 Kimchi Competition, Ogh...

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Vertical Micro-Farming

I was at Cal Poly Pomona the other day and saw this interesting display. The school has several small farm plots that demonstrate innovative or new practices, from hydroponic lettuce to intensive mini-orchards and now this strange setup. They sell the produce at the adjacent farm store. From looking at it I can tell that this setup is meant to utilize vertical space and grow vegetables in a small footprint. Water drips down from the top, irrigat...

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Farm in a Box

Farm in a Box ‘Little Tokyo‘ I never thought I’d see “permaculture” and “Home Depot” in the same sentence, but an article in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal (For a Green Thumb, Just Add Water) connects the dots between the two with a new product line called Farm in a Box Aquaponics from Earth Solutions. Farm in the Box is a combined fish tank/planter box. Waste from the fish circulates into the p...

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Shoemaking Advice?

If only my shoes will turn out this well. The oldest surviving leather shoe: 5,500 year-old shoe found in a cave in Armenia. Photo by Gregory Areshian. Via National Geographic My post about homemade mattresses turned out to be one of the most popular ever on this site. (By the way, I’m still putting up with our old mattress, but one day I will be letting you know what I’ve decided to do about the new mattress) Meanwhile, I’m wo...

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Prickly Pear Fruit Chips

Prickly pear fruit chip–some specimens are purple, our produces orange fruit It’s prickly pear fruit season. I know this both by the view out our front window and from the comments trickling in on an old post on how to make prickly pear fruit jelly. Thanks to a tip from Oliva Chumacero at the Farmlab, I now have another way of dealing with an over-abundance of this spiny fruit: slice it and dry it to make prickly pear fruit chips....

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Cat Litter Compost, Installment #3

No, our cats aren’t privileged or anything. A gentle reader reminds us that it’s been too long since we updated you all on the cat litter compost. For background, see Installment One and Installment Two Long story short, cat litter composting can work (under the care of an experienced composter, mind), especially in conjunction with a worm bin–but I’ve found a method I like better. On the composting experiment: In our las...

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