Least Favorite Plant: Ficus benjamina

...e removed by the city. In colder climates Ficus benjamina is strictly a houseplant. Here in Southern California it can leave the 1950s era office buildings and public access TV sets that are its normal habitat and wander the great outdoors. Once outside Ficus goes about lifting sidewalks with its massive roots and creating canopies so dense that the public space beneath them is as dark as the depths of the Amazonian jungle. Ficus also seems to...

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The Kingdom of Bolinas

...road. When we visited they had some nice looking beets: And a quirky mobile facility: Bolinas also has a free store: With its own unique signage: And a multi-denominational alter thingy on the main drag: With yet more creative signage: The list of former residents reads like a who’s who of American art and poetry. It’s easy to see why. Bolinas has natural beauty, a good set of small businesses and all that fresh produce. It...

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Bringing Blossoms Inside

It’s such a simple thing to do, and so beautiful. If you’re trimming your fruit trees while they’re in bud, as they are now here in SoCal, keep all those twigs and bring them indoors. Stubby little ones can go in jam jars. Long thin whips in a vase make for instant elegance. They’ll keep blooming for a while. For me, no store-bought cut flower can compare....

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The Construction of Secret Hiding Places

I love alternate views of our normal notions of domesticity and home economics. On a recent trip to the book section of a large surplus store I noticed our first book The Urban Homestead right alongside books on burying weapons caches, wiring solar panels, acting as your own dentist and assembling SKS rifles. We certainly have exciting company on this journey. One book in particular caught my eye, The Construction of Secret Hiding Places by Cha...

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Make a Brigid’s Cross

...used some broom corn*, which didn’t result in a symmetrical effect that reeds give, but is sort of cute in its own way.  (FYI for you southerners: I tried palm fronds first, but they were too slippery. And seeing me trying to weave with them gave Erik flashbacks to Sunday school!) *No, I haven’t made my broom yet! I’m hung-up on getting some nylon cordage in a decent color. For some reason our hardware store only stocks it in fl...

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U-Dig-It Folding Shovel

I came across this nice little folding hand shovel called the “U-Dig-it” at a surplus store. It measures 5 3/4 inches when folded and weighs six ounces with the convenient belt holster. I used it this morning to transplant some okra seedlings and I can also see taking this tool camping. I dig the U-Dig-It design, and I already prefer it to the hand shovel that got buried in the yard somewhere a few months ago. I can see this tool b...

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Mongolian Giant Sunflower

Nothing much to say about the Mongolian Giant Sunflower other than, “wow”. I got these seeds from Seed Savers Exchange and they have lived up to the “giant” in the name. I’m going to have to climb a ladder to harvest the seeds. Though I don’t see the need to get competitive with my sunflowers, Renee’s Garden has some good harvesting advice, As the petals fall off, the center florets dry up and the seed...

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Dry Farming

Jethro Tull–the agriculturalist not the rock flutist According to a 2010 report by Ceres “Water Risk in the Municipal Bond Market,” Los Angeles ranks number one in water supply risk. But we’re not alone. Many other US cities including Atlanta, Phoenix and Dallas also face a future of water insecurity. Due to these water risks we’d all do well to consider ways to grow edibles without supplemental irrigation....

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