Mongolian Giant Sunflower

...erve them for your bird feeder, wait until the seeds are completely dry; then remove them by hand or by rubbing them over wire mesh into a basket. Store in tightly closed containers to keep rodents away. In addition to the native sunflowers that reseed themselves every year I think I’ll plant a few Mongolian Giants each summer. If you’ve got a favorite sunflower variety, either ornamental or edible, please leave a comment. Mrs. Ho...

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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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Saturday Linkages: Audio Jars, Cutting Glass Bottles and Assorted Rants

E.B. White’s letter to the ASPCA responding to his failure to pay a dog tax: http://bit.ly/wKIq9L Audio Jar – Open Source Speaker Housings: http://bit.ly/xV7II6 Bread geeks bring native wheat species back to Los Angeles | 89.3 KPCC http://www.scpr.org/programs/madeleine-brand/2012/03/08/25511/la-wheat via @ KPCC Working Undercover in a Slaughterhouse: an interview with Timothy Pachirat http://boingboing.net/2012/03/08/working-unde...

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It’s Elementary

...another interview or two, though I can’t guarantee I’ll talk to everyone. I took the picture above at a volunteer work day at the 24th Street Elementary School in the West Adams district of Los Angeles yesterday. It’s run by the Garden School Foundation. I can’t tell you how amazing 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...

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Compost Field Trip

...ants and other food vendors in the region as well as operate a recycling facility for metals, plastics, wood, paper, yard trimmings and anything else they can find a market for or a way to keep out of the landfill. I must say it was pretty impressive. But the most exciting part of course was the compost. There were literally mountains of compost called windrows in rows perhaps twenty feet high by several hundred feet long. It’s a large sc...

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Karp’s Sweet Quince

Our good friends Nance Klehm and neighborhood fruit guru Lora Hall both had the same suggestion for our small, steeply banked and awkward front yard: plant lots of fruit trees and keep them pruned. Thus began our mini-orchard, delayed for many years by messy foundation work. One of the newest additions to the mini orchard is a bare root tree we ordered from the Raintree Nursery, Karp’s Sweet quince. As you can see from the photo above it&...

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How to Cook Broadleaf Plantain

visit to Urban Outdoor Skills, I was very excited to find he’d developed a cooking technique for broadleaf plantain (Plantago major, the common weed, not the banana relative). Though I know plantain is very nutritious, it is also bitter and heavily veined, so I prefer to collect it as a medicinal herb. I infuse it into oil that I put into salves and creams and I use it as a fresh poultice on itchy bites and hives. But eating it? Meh. IR...

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Guyaba Guayabas (Psidium guajava)

Just last week I was spotting L.A. river blogger creekfreak while he bench pressed a whole bunch of weights (was it 300 pounds?) at our local YMCA. Between hefting all that poundage (we’re both getting ready for the inaugural L.A. River Adventure Race), the conversation turned to a productive guyaba fruit tree on the grounds of the L.A. Eco-village, where the creekmesiter’s crib is located. Guyaba (Psidium guajava–”guyaba...

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