Help! Small birds are eating us out of house and home!

So–we thought it would be a nice idea to get a bird feeder. We had resisted up ’til now because we figured any bird feeder we got would end up a squirrel feeder. Then we discovered this particular type of feeder, which is enclosed in a fine mesh, and meant to hold tiny seeds, like thistle seeds. This sort of feeder attracts small, seed-eating song birds, like finches, but doesn’t feed the mice and rats and s...

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Book Review: The Urban Bestiary

Humans in our culture operate under a rather crazed delusion that we are not a part of nature. We fight nature. We defend nature. We pack up our tents and visit nature. I am as susceptible to this delusion as anyone else, but I do try to remember that I am a creature of nature, living in a vast human habitat which exists as part of a web with the entire ecosystem. Remembering that I am not apart from nature sometimes requires...

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Make that 11 Vegetable Gardening Mistakes

In my post, Top Ten Vegetable Gardening Mistakes, several readers and Mrs. Homegrown pointed out that I left out “inconsistent watering.” I plead guilty. I would also suggest an “absentminded” watering category, such as setting up a irrigation system on a timer and not adjusting it throughout the season. And those of us in dry climates could also be better about selecting and saving seeds for drought t...

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Yet More Urban Homesteading Mistakes

My new excuse: I didn’t write it, the kitten did! Three of my favorite Root Simple compound blunders happened this week. Yesterday I announced a “Vermincomposting” class. I meant vermicomposting, of course, but I’d point out that it is good to remember that vermin are actually compostable, along with everything biological –including bloggers. Earlier this week I meant to mention Native Americans  but, due...

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Mongolian Giant Sunflower

Nothing much to say about the Mongolian Giant Sunflower other than, “wow”. I got these seeds from Seed Savers Exchange and they have lived up to the “giant” in the name. I’m going to have to climb a ladder to harvest the seeds. Though I don’t see the need to get competitive with my sunflowers, Renee’s Garden has some good harvesting advice, As the petals fall off, the center florets dry up and the seed...

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Why we love fennel

Fennel is an invasive plant, and there are plenty of fennel haters out there, many of them our friends, but every year we let a stand or two of wild fennel take root in our yard anyway. We just had to pause now, while the fennel is high, to say that we love it, because it is hardy and beautiful and grows with no water and no encouragement. Feral fennel bulbs aren’t as good as cultivated bulbs for eating, but we eat the flowers, the fronds...

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Only at Home: Huntington Ranch Symposium Nov. 18

Not to be missed: the Huntington is putting on an exciting program this Friday November 18. I’m going and hope to see some of you there. If you’re interested in growing edibles in Southern California, this is the place to be! Only at Home: 2011 Huntington Ranch Symposium The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical GardensSan Marino, CA Marking the second year of Ranch operations, this one-day symposium focuses on aspects...

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The Sacred Chickens of Ancient Rome

I stumbled on an odd historical anecdote last week: the use, by the ancient Romans, of sacred chickens as a form of divination. From the Encyclopedia of Diderot & d’Alembert: Sacred chickens were chickens raised by priests in Roman times, and which were used for making auguries. Nothing significant was undertaken in the Senate or in the armies, without omens being drawn from the sacred chickens. The most common method of drawing...

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Saturday Linkages: Cave Living, Chocolate Sourdough, Persian Marmalade and Much More . . .

@ericmiller built the native pollinator house from Making It and tweeted the result! Farine: Chocolate and Currant Sourdough recipe http://www.farine-mc.com/2012/04/chocolate-and-currant-sourdough.html?spref=tw The American who quit money to live in a cave: http://boingboing.net/2012/04/26/the-american-who-quit-money-to.html A Place for Old Chickens, Outside the Pot http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/26/us/new-homes-beckon-for-city-chick...

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