Lead Update

Our post about a high soil lead level needs an update. I asked my doctor do a blood test to check for lead levels since we’ve eaten plants grown in the backyard and done a whole lot of digging over the past 13 years. The good news is that no lead showed up in my blood. In the interest of “testing the testers,” I took one soil sample and split it in three, sending one sample to Wallace Labs, one to the University of Massachuse...

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A Question About Gophers

...his in our first book. The main problem I have with this advice is that the galvanized metal used for hardware cloth and gopher wire leaches significant amounts of zinc as it breaks down. Zinc, in high quantities, is toxic to plants. And, when using cages for trees, I’d worry that the cages would not break down soon enough, causing the roots to circle. Plastic, I’m fairly certain, would not work as the gophers would chew through it. A...

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Saturday Linkages: Pig’s Milk, Hot Sauce, Clutter

...nal Materials for Crop Production: http:// extension.agron.iastate.edu/compendium/ind ex.aspx  …   Cross-contamination: washing chicken or any meat is a bad idea | barfblog: http:// bit.ly/M4pybB   Making hot sauces with wild plants: http://www. urbanoutdoorskills.com/wildfoodlab.ht ml  …   How to Restore an Heirloom Axe | The Art of Manliness http:// artofmanliness.com/2012/07/17/how -to-restore-an-heirloom-axe/  …   Of all the linkages this wee...

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The Good Stuff at Dwell on Design

...Joey Roth has a very clever take on a very old idea: a pot with a built in olla he calls simply Planter which is avaliable on his website for $45. Ollas are ceramic jars buried in the ground to deliver a slow drip of water to plants. Roth’s design is elegant, simple and effective–take an olla and make it integral with a pot. Particularly on a hot day, conventional ceramic pots dry out quickly and Roth’s planter would be great on...

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Comopost, Compost, Compost

...? Homemade compost. I didn’t have enough compost for the rest of the veggie garden so I bought some at a nursery. The homebrew compost obviously had much more life in it.  And life is the point. Soil is a living thing. Plants, particularly vegetables, need microbial life to thrive. For more on the importance of microbial life read the USDA’s soil biology primer written by Dr. Elaine Ingham....

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Tips on Composting from Will Bakx of Sonoma Compost

...een unable to verify this–if any of you know about this issue, please leave a comment. Alleopathic plant material such as eucalyptus leaves and walnut leaves, on the other hand, are ok to add. Bakx cited studies where plants were successfully grown in leaf litter made entirely out of eucalyptus leaves. He suggested keeping such alleopathic material to less than 15% of the pile. Web links Sonoma Compost’s website: www.sonomacompost....

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Revolution: A New TV Series About Extreme Suburban Homesteading

...think of it, Hollywood seems to be having a love affair with archery of late. Is the javelin next? Put down those Xboxes kids and start practicing! In Revolution it’s also revealed that people suddenly know the names of plants and what to do with them even without access to Google. But the tranquil suburban homesteading is not to last forever. An insurance adjuster turned warlord’s assistant comes to town to kidnap the heroine’s...

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Toby Hemenway On How Horticulture Can Save Us

...t by “horticulture” is not, say, propagating begonias. Rather, he defined horticulture as gardening, the kind of gardening some indigenous people did when they influenced the landscape to produce useful and edible plants. In other words, what we in the West would call permaculture. This is in contrast to agriculture which Hemenway considers to have a destructive influence on ecosystems, human health and culture. Hemenway also, justif...

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Three Front Yard Vegetable Gardens

...rogress on this one. In this front yard, the lawn has been replaced with drought tolerant perennial shrubs and grasses arranged around gravel paths. It’s very pretty. I like that the landscaper included some artichoke plants in the mix, proving that gardens can be edible and stylish. Many people don’t know that artichokes open into huge, striking purple flowers if you don’t harvest them for food–so it’s win/win eit...

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Bleach Alternatives for Disinfecting Pruning Shears

Apples with fire blight: one reason you should disinfect pruning sheers. Photo by Peggy Greb Neighbor Anne tipped me off to an interesting fact sheet on disinfecting pruning sheers by Dr. Linda Chalker-Scott, a horticulture professor at Washington State University. I’ve been using bleach which, it turns out, is not the best choice. Bleach is both toxic to humans and to plants as well. It also stains clothes and damages tools. Chal...

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