Advances in Gardening Series: We’re maturing

...dreams of your own spring planting. Back in November, I cleared ground and planted the Phan/Fan with medicinal seedlings. See some of that history here. Now we’re at the end of February, and the Calendula and chamomile plants are mature. The Calendula (the yellow flowers in the pic) is giving off lots of blossoms, the chamomile–not so much. That’s garlic growing on the far right. It’s beginning to brown at the tips, but I...

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Stinging Nettles and Cat Allergies

...incredibly strong Strain to a new jar Drink it iced, room temp or gently reheated. Try to drink that quart over the course of the day. Don’t keep it around, because it will lose its potency after a day. Pour it on your plants and make a fresh batch. Kitten facts for those interested: Kitten is genderless for now. We took he/she to the vet, and the vet was genuinely puzzled. Tricky kitty! We have to wait for more certainty. Kitten is abou...

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Juicing Cane

At Camp Ramshackle, the plants that thrive are the ones that don’t require too much attention. Our sugar cane, started as a six inch start, is case and point. I harvested a stalk to add to lemonade. I first removed the thick tough skin. Once the skin was peeled, I sliced the cane stalks in half. Resident child labor juiced the stalks. Despite the mechanical help of the juicer it was an arduous task. Our yield was meager a...

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Lead Update

...isk of lead poisoning through the food chain increases as the soil lead level rises above this concentration. Even at soil levels above 300 ppm, most of the risk is from lead contaminated soil or dust deposits on the plants rather than from uptake of lead by the plant. If the Wallace Labs report is correct, we’ve got a serious problem. It is possible that, in sampling and averaging multiple locations, we hit a “hot” spo...

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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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