California Buckwheat

...ul Tongva Indians used the roots and leaves for headaches and stomach problems, among many other uses including using the stems to pierce ears. California buckwheat is available from the Theodore Payne Foundation which runs a native plant nursery in the Sun Valley area. We can easily see California buckwheat fitting into your permacluture strategies, as well as something to look out for when foreging for food–not to mention the DIY piercing...

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All is Fire

Photo by Olivier Ffrench Scholar, former Wall Street trader and author Nassim Nicholas Taleb is in his native Lebanon this week shopping for olive groves, according to an article in today’s Wall Street Journal (enter “Taleb’s Pessimism Lures CIC” in Google to get around the pay wall). Taleb explains, “Healthy investments are those that produce goods that humans need to consume, not flat-screen TVs. Sto...

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Another way to deal with prickly pear stickers

...kitchen sponge. Now I’ve got a new technique for removing stickers thanks to Norman of Silver City New Mexico who writes, “Just a note to tell you how I harvest the pears.  We live in the arid SW and have a lot of native cacti.  The pears were very good this year because of the extra wet summer.  In dry times we burn the stickers off the prickly pear so the cows will eat the leaves.  It saves the cattle in some years.  I take a propan...

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Miner’s lettuce

Miner’s lettuce reminds me of tiny lily pads I was delighted to find a specimen of this delicious little weed growing in our yard among the poppies: miner’s lettuce (Claytonia perfoliata), but I don’t think it will thrive. This plant is native to the West coast of the U.S. (and down into S. America, I believe) but it doesn’t do well in LA.* I never see it on the streets in my neighborhood, it’s too hot and...

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Help save our oaks

...and Power County Department of Public Works to level a gorgeous oak grove this Wednesday, Jan. 12th to make a dumping area for flood debris. The first is just silly, the second is tragic. We’ve destroyed so much of our native landscape that what remains is incredibly valuable and irreplaceable. The thought of leveling 100 year old oaks for such a wasteful, temporary use makes me want to cry. If you’d like to help, consider the follow...

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It’s Elementary

...ng this garden is, but I think the picture above says it all. It’s about the future, and that future is going to have more mulch and a lot less asphalt! The 24th Street Garden contains vegetables, a mini orchard and two native plant gardens, which are used as part of the school’s California history curriculum. A cooking class happens in the garden once a week, overseen by TV chef Gino Campagna. Obviously, we need more gardens like thi...

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The End of California Citrus?

...ution 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 plants. Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable , a meditation on the logical fallacies of economists and Seneca’s Letters from a Stoic have all the strategic wisdom a gardene...

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Made in the shade- Passive cooling

We just survived another major heat wave here. People and plants were positively melting. The sidewalks were veritable solar cookers. I’m sure I could have fried an egg on the sidewalk outside my house. I prefer not to crank the air conditioning, so I have been thinking a lot lately about simple ways to cool ourselves and the spaces we inhabit. Air conditioning is the main mechanical means by which we cool buildings these days. However, t...

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Fish Don’t Fart

...omes out of their work at Austin’s Rhizome Collective. What all of these efforts have in common is a permacultural design principle of turning a waste product into a resource and closing a loop. Fish make fertilizer and plants clean water, so why not combine the two? I’d like to hear stories from ordinary folks who have tried aquaponics on a small scale. If that’s you, leave a comment!...

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Real Estate Bubble Bananas

...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 this banana tree is, but June...

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