3D Greetings

...readers is a headache. Well, to be precise, we offer you three dimensional images of two of our favorite garden plants. Above, the prickly pear cactus (Opuntia ficus-indica) and, below, spearmint (Mentha Spicata). To view these two images in three dimensions follow these instructions, specifically the bit about “parallel viewing”. Be persistent, like all good things it might take some practice. We taught ourselves how to free view th...

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Notes on Mark Bittman’s “Behind the Scenes of What We Eat”

...farms, fuel waste, massive environmental degradation, obesity crisis, etc. & etc. (One quick scary fact from the roll of shame: Did you know that 80% of antibiotics used in the US are fed to farm animals? That number has been shooting up fast for the last 20 years. Why are they used on animals? Not so much for illness, but rather to prevent illness in animals living in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions, and to speed growth. They’re...

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Greywater Workshop at Good Magazine

We’ll be doing a greywater workshop at Good Magazine this Wednesday May 27th from 7 to 9 p.m. Directions and RSVP info are here. We’re going to focus on what I consider to be the easiest way to reuse your greywater: hacking your washing machine. We’ll take a look at a couple of approaches including our surge tank, pictured above, which we just got around to elevating with scrap lumber to get a gravity assist. We’ll also...

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Garden Design Trends: Interplanting and Plant Communities

...21;  It’s a design aesthetic that mimics nature’s diversity, but in a somewhat more compressed form. The example he uses is the striking garden at Arthritis Research UK. You can see a video of that garden here. Rosalind Creasy has demonstrated, this same interplanting strategy can be used with edible and medicinal plants. Another related design strategy are gardens inspired by wild plant communities. The example Rainer cites is the Da...

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Why You Should Avoid Staking Trees

The correct way to stake a tree. Image from the Vacaville Tree Foundation To answer the question of why tree staking should be avoided, one can turn to the latest Extension Service advice or to the nearly 2000 year old words of Seneca: No tree becomes rooted and sturdy unless many a wind assails it. For by its very tossing it tightens its grip and plants its roots more securely; the fragile trees are those that have grown in...

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Seaching for Seeds

Old school seed searching: order assembler standing next to racks containing packages at the W. Atlee Burpee Company, 1943 It’s never too early to start planning that garden. And towards that goal, Mother Earth News has created a nice custom Google search engine that scours over 600 seed suppliers. It’s the perfect way to find those obscure plants and varieties not at the local nursery. The search engine even includes our favorite s...

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Bird Netting as a Cabbage Leaf Caterpillar Barrier

...don’t like that idea, I’ve got others.” Specifically, bird netting. I’ve got an untested theory that bird netting is enough to keep out the white butterflies that give birth to the dreaded cabbage leaf caterpillar, the only serious pest for us at this time of year. So far the bird netting seems to be working. I’ll note that it would be important to keep the leaves of plants well away from the netting so that butterfl...

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Real Estate Bubble Bananas

...gelo Mozilo for creating a literal banana republic! Bananas are not my favorite plant for Southern California as they take a lot of water and get somewhat rangy looking when the wind rips up their leaves. But they are one of the most greywater tolerant plants and a good choice for paring with the outflow of a shower or laundry machine. Fruit score: 10 to the squirrels 2 to the people I’m sorry to say that I don’t know what variety th...

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Made in the shade- Passive cooling

...e any kind of motor or electricity, just a some good planning and design. If one were designing a building from the ground up there are myriad features that can help that building use a minimum of mechanical heating or cooling mechanisms. There is no one size fits all design. Passively heated and cooled buildings are adapted to local climate conditions. Current construction practices tend to favor the same type of ramshackle 2×4 and drywall...

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Land Girls

...there’s no need to look like a slob out in the garden, trailing your already disreputable bathrobe through the mire–as Mrs. Homegrown is wont to do. Instead, as The Chap (and historical record) suggests, we could adopt sassy belted sweaters, crisp trousers and sexy Wellingtons. The fellows at The Chap also make some savvy suggestions for planting, captioning this photo, “Come along Tiffany, these tobacco plants, juniper berri...

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