Gift Suggestions, from the Other Half

...You might remember me writing about them earlier.  Apologies for the California bias: Healing with Medicinal Plants of the West, by Celia Garcia and James D. Adams, Jr., Abedus Press, 2009 Co-authored by a Chumash healer and a USC pharmacology prof., both of whom write for Wilderness Way magazine. A fascinating resource documenting both historical uses and current scientific opinion on our native plants. My post on it is here. Tending the...

Continue reading…

Eight Things to Consider When Saving Vegetable Seeds

The directions for seed saving in our last book, Making It, almost got cut. Perhaps we should have just changed those directions to “Why it’s OK to buy seeds.” The fact is that it’s not easy to save the seeds of many vegetables thanks to the hard work of our bee friends. That being said, Shannon Carmody of Seed Saver’s Exchange gave a lecture at this year’s Heirloom Exposition with some tip...

Continue reading…

Creating a Moon Garden

...r gardens can provide habitat for night pollinators and other wildlife. Bornstein had a number of great tips for making a garden interesting at night: Consider color. White flowers, of course, will pop out under moonlight. But yellow flowers stand out even more. We’re lucky in Southern California to have a lot of native plants with silvery grey leaves (an evolutionary adaption of dry climate plants). Masses of silvery grey leaves stand out...

Continue reading…

Mandrake!

...years ago, finally falling asleep during an endless video game inspired broom chase scene). Apparently wherever it appears in the world, mandrake (Atropa mandragora) has always inspired unusual beliefs. Buhner says, Though all indigenous cultures know that plants can speak with humankind, mandrake is almost the only plant from indigenous European practice about which this belief is still extant. Throughout its Christian European history, it has...

Continue reading…

Back on the Yogurt Train: How to Make Yogurt

...to make yogurt. In fact, I do believe we covered it in our book. Thing is, back in the day when we made yogurt, it was Erik’s job. When he slacked on it, I didn’t even consider picking it up. Chalk it up to the mysteries of division of labor in a household. Anyway, we went to see Mark Frauenfelder talk about his great new book, Made by Hand , and one of things he mentioned was how much he and his family are digging making their own...

Continue reading…

Music to Grow Plants

From the The Secret Life of Plants era, New York dentist and horticulturalist Dr. George Milstein’s 1970 album Music to Grow Plants. Apparently it came with seeds. From the back cover, “As a result of present study, we were able to produce a sound which acts upon plant growth patterns. These sounds have been electronically embedded in this record. Every effort has been made to camouflage them, however, you may at times hear certain...

Continue reading…

Adventures in Gardening Series: Wrap up on the Hippie Heart: Growing lentils and flax

...d reason, since a lot of seeds we can buy in bulk bins may be hybrid, sterile or irradiated. But I wanted to try it anyway. This first season I planted the Heart with bulk bin flax seed and lentils from a boxed lentils. The results were mixed. Sort of interesting. Not super-productive, but not a failure, because I learned lots. First, both flax and lentils are very pretty plants. In its prime, the Heart was an attractive thing The flax grew stra...

Continue reading…

White Sage and Bees and our other sage friends

...f the principle inducements toward living in Southern California. I enjoy the aromatics of our Mediterranean and native chaparral plants as much as the bees do. Here’s what we’ve got going right now–and I think I’m going to add more this fall. Below is our native black sage, Salvia mellifera, just coming into flower. The bees like this sage, too. (They like all sages). This one arranges its flowers in little sipping cups f...

Continue reading…

Annie’s Annuals and Perennials

...nnie’s specializes in riotous color. Many of the spectacular gardens we visited on the Fling sourced their plants from Annie’s. And in addition to unusual and rare ornamental plants, Annie’s has a great selection of edibles. It’s first time I’ve ever seen Oca (Oxalis tuberosa) outside of a book. I had to keep a tight grip on my credit card to prevent myself from buying plants I had no way of getting home on my bike....

Continue reading…

Resources

...them.) Backyard Medicine Herbal Antibiotics Medicinal Plants of the Pacific West Healing with Medicinal Plants of the West Permaculture Sustainable Habitats Plants for a Future Database The books of Masanobu Fukuoka  Rocket Stoves Rocket Mass Heaters by Ianto Evans and Leslie Jackson Paul Wheaton article Larry Winiarski’s Rocket Stove Principles Our own 5-Gallon bucket stove Seed Sources: Garden Edibles–Heirloom...

Continue reading…