How to make a Calendula oil infusion

...en press the dried matter to squeeze out the remaining oil as best you can. You’ll never get it all back. Label it  Make sure you label it with the type of oil and the date it was made. Believe me, even if you only make one jar, you’ll forget what it is and when you made it, and a year later you’ll be standing at your cupboard, puzzling over it. Store Store the oil in a dark place. Use it up within a year, the sooner the be...

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Teflon Coated Light Bulbs Deadly to Chickens

...go, Dupont was unsuccessfully sued over the toxicity of Teflon in cookware. Sylvania, apparently, has a warning label on their Teflon coated bulbs, “WARNING: This product contains PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene–”Teflon” is a brand name). When heated, it creates fumes potentially fatal to confined birds.” GE does not have a warning label. I let the ladies take the winter off of laying and it never dips below 40ºF here...

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Are Pallets Safe to Reuse?

...ticides. A certified applicator license is required to purchase and use these products and strict adherence to label directions/requirements is mandatory. Under normal fumigation conditions methyl bromide is a gas and when the pallets are properly aerated according to label instructions, virtually no methyl bromide residue remains on the pallets and wood materials. Now I’m not a methyl bromide fan and I find it’s use as a soil fum...

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Back on the Yogurt Train: How to Make Yogurt

...Your last store bought container of yogurt. You need live yogurt to start the culture, only a few spoonfuls. The label should say something about containing live, active cultures. You’ll need 1 Tablespoon of live yogurt for every quart of milk you’re transforming. Milk, of course. Make sure your milk doesn’t say “Ultra Pasturized” or UP on the label. That stuff is just nasty. Otherwise, you can use whole, 2%, 1% R...

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Review: Quaker Lower Sugar Instant Oatmeal

I prefer long cooked oatmeal when I’m at home, but we’ve always packed instant oatmeal with us when camping. I think the habit goes back to when Erik and I took epic backpacking trips, and food weight was a prime consideration. Now, camping is a more gentle endeavor–but the instant oatmeal has become a tradition, an easy no-brainer for sleepy grey mornings in the woods, even though its nutritional qualities...

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New Health Food Trends at the Natural Products Food Expo West

This weekend I attended, for or the second year in a row, the Natural Products Expo West. At this massive convention, health food, natural supplement and cosmetic concerns pitch their products to retailers. And, again this year, I did a lot of intemperate sampling. For the sake of you, our dear readers, I ate every known power bar, sports beverage and processed soy/hemp/chia meat substitute so you won’t have to. It was...

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Bar Codes on Veggies

...nion of Agricultural Cooperative cooperating with other farming and agricultural associations are adding QR code labels right at the point of origin. In the supermarket, consumers use camera equipped cell phones to scan the QR code on the label. The code links to a mobile website detailing origin, soil composition, organic fertilizer content percentage (as opposed to chemical), use of pesticides and herbicides and even the name of the farm it was...

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Five Lessons We Learned About Lead in Soil

As regular followers of this blog may recall, we did some soil tests last year that revealed elevated levels of lead and zinc in our backyard. The cause? Most likely, paint from our 92 year old house and nearly a hundred years of auto exhaust and dust from brake linings. Applying a little alchemy to turn lead to gold, I think the most productive thing I can do is to help get the word out about lead soil and how common this problem is in urban a...

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Don’t be so quick to clean up

A lot of magic happens in the “dead” parts of a garden. Flowers gone to seed feed birds. Dead stalks support important insect life–from spiders to pollinators. Fallen leaves and sticks give habitat to lizards and toads and mushrooms and myriads of invisible creatures. Yet dead growth is not attractive to the human eye, and around about this time of year we’re all itching to make a clean sweep of all that brown stuff. I...

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Shiitake Bloom

This is a photo taken on the third day of the second bloom of my shiitake birthday log. The first bloom had two mushrooms, this time it’s five so far (that’s a tiny one on the left). After I shot this picture I tipped the log back as far as the cloche that covers it would allow so that the caps wouldn’t grow up against the log and limit their size like last time....

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