Bean Fest Begins!

Photograph by Luisfi Mrs. Homegrown here: I’ve never figured out why sometimes the body craves junk food (e.g. salt and pepper ruffle chips dipped in sour cream with a side of home baked brownies) and other times it craves good food. But fortunately for my system, I’m craving good food now. I dream about fresh cooked beans, succulent greens and garlic laden pickles. The image above makes me salivate. Yet…dried beans are also...

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Acanthoscelides obtectus- A seed saver’s lament

beans. Turns out the culprit is the bean weevil, Acanthoscelides obtectus. Their larvae make swiss cheese out of dried beans. While they can be a pest in the garden apparently they usually are a problem in stored beans. And it turns out they love our mild California winters which allow them to reproduce year round. I also looked them up on the handy dandy University of California Integrated Pest Management site. Turns out not having dried bean...

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Laundry to Landscape 2.0

I just installed a “laundry to landscape” greywater system at the house of Lora “Homegrown Neighbor” Hall using greywater guru Art Ludwig’s free open-source plans. It was a cinch. And, thanks to a revision in the California plumbing code last year, it’s legal with no permit required. I started in the laundry room by rigging up a three way diverter valve so that Lora can route the greywater back to the sew...

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Chicken Coop Complete

Homegrown Neighbor here: As you may recall, I volunteer at a local high school where we have been working on building a chicken coop. Last fall we started taking apart the remnants of the old coop. It has been a long, slow process, but I am proud to announce that we are finally finished. The students did a lot of the work themselves and many had no building experience when we started. It was pretty great to watch them figure out how to use a dri...

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Growing and Preparing Cardoons (Cynara cardunculus)

It’s the ultimate pain in the ass vegetable to prepare and I’ll probably get in big trouble in native plant circles for even mentioning it, but just last night I fried up my first successful plate of homegrown cardoons (Cynara cardunculus). Not the most attractive blanching job, admittedly. All ready to prepare The cardoon is a close relative of artichoke, identical in appearance, except that the flowers are much smaller and t...

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Picture Sunday: Chicken Coop Art Cars

Artist Benedetto Bufalino re-purposed a vintage police car for his piece, “la voiture de police poulailler.” Back in 1999 Atelier van Lieshout reused an Alfa Romeo for an installation called “Alfa Alfa.” I should note that the art school damaged Mrs. Homegrown gets queasy when livestock end up in art projects. I’ll just ask if these two examples mean we’re witnessing an entire new genre of chicken art?...

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Ordo Ab Chao

...n of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders turned into gardening advice.Got attention deficit disorder? Well, here’s how ya mix up your own potting mix. Face it, we’re all in the diagnostic manual somewhere. I suffer from a chronic lack of organizational ability. Square foot gardening has never worked for me–I just can’t keep up with the schedule. For some folks...

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Nasturtium Powder

Around this time of year Nasturtium becomes a kind of massive monocrop in our yard. We’re always trying to figure out uses for it. Of course it does well in salads, both the greens and the flowers, and we’ve made capers of the pods. Also, the flowers make a particularly beautiful pesto. But this year, inspired by the culinary experiments of forager Pascal Baudar and his partner Mia Wasilevich (friend them in Facebook if you want a d...

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The tale of the worm bin celery

This is related to my recent post about our flowering radish. It’s a tale of botanic dumpster diving and another reason why you should let your food plants go to flower when you can. Last year I threw the crown (which is to say, the bottom) of a celery plant in my worm bin. I probably should have chopped it up for the worms’ sake, but I didn’t. Later, sometime in the fall,  I rediscovered the celery crown. Instead of rotting...

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