Tomato Review #1 Red Currant–The World’s Smallest Tomato

...arden this year we’ve had a bit of a “need to get produce at the supermarket” gap. Ironically, the first bit of homegrown produce to appear this summer came in the form of what we’re calling the world’s smallest tomato: an heirloom variety Mrs. Homegrown Evolution picked up at this year’s Tomato Mania sale called Red Currant (Solanum pimpinellifolium). This is a domesticated version of wild tomato plants origi...

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Humanure Dry Toilet Made From a Milk Crate

Modern toilets take two valuable resources, water and nitrogen rich human waste, and combine the two to create a problem: sewage. In a dry or “humanure” toilet, you cover your deposits with a layer of non-toxic sawdust. Once the toilet is full you dump the contents into your outdoor humanure pile and compost the waste at high temperatures for at least a year. You can then use that compost as fertilizer for plants. The ubiquitous fi...

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Growing Strawberries in a Self Irrigating Gutter (SIG).

...ally PVC, which is an environmental and health disaster. I have two questions–how much PVC is leached into the growing medium and how much of it would be taken up into the fruit? I don’t have an answer to either. If you know of science-based information (i.e. not Livestrong articles) on PVC and growing food please leave a link. Generally, plants do not take up toxins into fruit so I’m not losing any sleep thinking about eating a...

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Hornworm meets alien!

...tch. In this Purdue Extension Entomology Service produced video, you’ll see a hornworm devour a tomato and then fall prey–Alien-style–to a species of parasitic wasp (Cotesia congregata). Not only do these parasitic wasps devour their host but in order to overcome the caterpillar’s defenses, mama wasp injects a virus before laying her eggs. How do you create habitat for Cotesia congregata? Adults feed on nectar producing pl...

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The End of California Citrus?

...responsibilities as a backyard gardener to large scale growers? Do the benefits of international trade outweigh the inevitable appearance of invasive species? Should we close the downtown flower markets and produce distribution warehouses where state entomologists suspect the psylids might have come from? Rather than try to answer the unanswerable, I’m going back to two of my favorite books books that don’t have anything to do with p...

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It’s Calendula Season!

...Just a reminder to you all that Calendula officinalis (aka Pot Marigold) is super-easy to grow in the garden. Why should you grow Calendula? To make Calendula infused olive oil, of course– as I’m doing above, with inevitable feline assistance. Well, that’s why I grow it. Calendula infused olive oil is the base of all my lotions and potions, because it is such a potent healer of dry, itchy, burnt or otherwise irrit...

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Saturday Linkages: Tall Bikes, Za’atar and So Much More

...ells 5 Kinds of Apples http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2013/04/heritage-apples-john-bunker-maine … Taming the Wild Thyme: A Visit to a Za’atar Farm in Lebanon http://ow.ly/kqeoi  New Farmer’s Almanac for 2013: http://boingboing.net/2013/04/21/new-farmers-almanac-for-2013.html … Plants as Education: Kit Brings Gardening Back to the Masses http://dornob.com/37885/  Fortrait #4 “Subterranean Breakfast Nook” http://lloy...

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Lady Urine, Water Conservation and Halfway Humanure

I approve of the oval shape of the opening of this funnel– and the sporty color. Fact 1: Human urine is an excellent source of nitrogen for your garden. It can be applied directly to a compost pile, or diluted 10:1 and used on plants. Fact 2: Nature has equipped the male of the species in such a manner that it is easy for him to contribute nitrogen to the compost pile. For women, it’s a bit more tricky. So, how do...

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Saturday Linkages: Hiding Spots, Bedbugs and Rodents of Unusual Size

...lld.com/2013/04/130-square-foot-micro-apartment-in-paris/ … Bedbugs! How a Leafy Folk Remedy Stopped Bedbugs in Their Tracks http://nyti.ms/12H9HDI Gardening All About Gabions : Cheap Retaining and Other Garden Features http://shar.es/JHCQS  New killer compost problem–Imprelis: http://ow.ly/1UWcBj How to protect plants from frost: http://ow.ly/1UMWLG Farmers tackle pests with colas: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/3977351.stm … Rode...

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Thyrsus: the new hipster accessory

Ancient thyrsus on left, modern hipster version on right. The traveling exhibition Pompeii and the Roman Villa, currently at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, has a few nice tchotchkes worth considering for those of us attempting to garden in Mediterranean places. One of the centerpieces of the show, a large fresco depicting a garden, includes many familiar plants: chamomile, oleander (who knew oleander existed before freeways!), strawberr...

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