Natural Products Expo West: The Good and the Ugly

The Natural Products Expo West, which took place this past week, is one of the largest conventions in the US. It’s a high stakes dating game between retailers and food, cosmetic and supplement producers. This year I promised myself that I would not sample every power bar and gluten free pizza thrust into my hands. I failed and paid unmentionable consequences later. Imagine the center snack aisles of Whole Foods dumped into a funnel and sh...

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Direct Seeding vs. Transplants

How I used to plant my veggies. An 8 inch spacing guide and some seedlings back in 2009. To direct sow or transplant, that is the question. I’m as indecisive as Hamlet when it comes to this question. Some caveats here: we live in a warm climate where you can direct sow almost anything unless you want to get an early start on tomatoes and peppers. And we don’t have to start seedlings indoors. Another thing to note–I fell under...

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Saturday Linkages: Independence Day Weekend Edition

Fireless cooker via Low Tech Magazine. We insulate our houses, why not our cooking pots? http://www.lowtechmagazine.com/2014/07/cooking-pot-insulation-key-to-sustainable-cooking.html … GIF Gardens: How to (Easily) Animate Your Plant Photos http://disq.us/8j1m1y Never Buy A Rotten Avocado Again http://www.nwedible.com/2012/05/never-buy-a-rotten-avocado-again.html … Why Do We Refrigerate Eggs in the United States? http://www.kcet.org/living/food/t...

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Induced Demand

...e miles since you don’t pay as much for gas. Build a four lane highway instead of a two lane one and so many more people end up driving that you end up with worse gridlock. I’d never thought of induced demand when it comes to greywater, but it’s a good point. Did I plant more fruit trees because I had a greywater system? Has this caused more water consumption in our current drought? Honestly, I think the answer is yes. You could...

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How to Deal With Cabbage Worms

It happens every year. I forget the gardening lessons of the year before. Take my many failed attempts to grow cabbage, for instance. It always gets decimated by the imported cabbage worm (Pieris rapae), a creature as abundant in Los Angeles as aspiring actors. There are several strategies I could use to deal with this pest (cabbage worms, that is–I have no problem with actors). I could spray Bacillus thuringiensis but I don’t like...

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Why is My Squash Bitter?

“Long of Naples” squash growing in our backyard. It’s the bees. Squash is a member of the Cucurbitaceae family, one of the most difficult vegetables to save seeds from. Cucurbitaceae have both male and female flowers and lots of wild, inedible relatives. Cross pollination is what Cucurbitaceae want to do. If you want to save seed and you take the precaution of taping up the flowers, bumblebees and solitary bees can chew their w...

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Grubs in your acorns? Meet Curcuio, or the Acorn Weevil

I’m pretty fascinated with acorn weevils these days, since I’m seeing a lot of them while processing my acorns. I finally looked them up, and it turns out they have a fascinating life cycle. There are two types of acorn weevils (beetles), long snouted and short snouted, Curculio and Conotrachelus, respectively. They both plant their eggs in acorns, but the short snouted one seems to do this in cracked acorns once they are on the g...

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Have We Reached Peak Kale? Franchi’s Cavolo Laciniato “Galega De Folhas Lisas”

...ile longer. I propose a Franchi kale “Galega De Folhas Lisas” as the new big thing. Translated, the variety name is something like “Galacian smooth leaf.” To add to the confusion I get the feeling that Italians don’t distinguish between kale and collards—what we call collards they consider just a smooth leafed and lighter colored version of kale. This makes sense as they are both just primitive forms of cabbage...

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Straw Bale Garden: What I Learned

Straw bale garden–April on the left, November on the right. The straw bale garden I started this spring has been one of the most successful vegetable gardens I’ve ever planted. In fact it’s still producing well into November. Here’s what I learned from the experiment: Plants that suck up a lot of nitrogen, like squash, do well in a straw bale garden. My tomatoes flourished but, due to the high nitrogen, made more leaves...

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