National Wildlife Federation Teams with Scotts

Time to take down those “certified wildlife habitat” signs as it seems the National Wildlife Federation has entered into a “partnership” with Scotts, manufacturers of a host of wildlife unfriendly synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. Some thoughts: Scotts products do grave injury to microbial and fungal life in the soil to say nothing of insects. The NWF has too narrow an idea of what constitutes “wildlife”...

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2013 in Review Part II

July We got rid of our compact florescents and went back to incandescent bulbs. In most household applications, believe it or not, incandescent bulbs are a better choice. Mrs. Homegrown pondered equine touring by reviewing an obscure book, The Last of the Saddle Tramps. Perhaps she was inspired by our 2012 siting of the 3 mule guy (one of our most Googled posts, by the way). August I consider summer to be our winter in Los Angeles. It’s...

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Sonora Wheat at the Huasna Valley Farm

Ron Skinner I had the great privilege this week of visiting the Huasna Valley Farm in California’s central coast run by Ron and Jenn Skinner whose visible joy is infectious. The Skinners grow Sonora wheat, an heirloom variety brought to the Southwest by the Spanish. Sonora wheat is well suited to dry desert and Mediterranean climates. It produces a cream colored flour that was historically used for tortillas and posole. The Skinn...

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How To Capture a Bee Swarm With Kirk Anderson

Swarm season is here in Southern California and will arrive elsewhere in North America with the coming of spring. In this video, beekeeper Kirk Anderson shows you how to catch a swarm. It’s the best way, in my opinion, to get bees to start your own hive. Why? Swarms, unlike packaged bees, are free. They are also local, meaning the bees know how to deal with your micro-climate. To capture a swarm you: Spray the swarm with a mixture of wh...

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Mallow (Malva parviflora) an Edible Friend

d author and self described “environmentarian” Linda Runyan. A Turkish blogger has a recipe for mallow and rice here. We’ve used mallow in salads, and it would also do well cooked Italian style in a pan with olive oil, garlic and some hot peppers to spice it up a bit. Malva parviflora comes from the old world–the ancient Greeks make it into a green sauce and use the leaves as a substitute for grape leaves for making dolmas. Mode...

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What to do with all those hot peppers: Harissa!

of our hot peppers, discarded the seeds, and combined them in a food processor with: 1 tsp salt1 tsp cumin1 tsp caraway seeds2 tsp coriander seeds1 tsp fresh mint3 garlic cloves Turn on the food processor and add enough olive oil to form a paste. That’s it. Harissa will last several weeks in the fridge or you can freeze it. You could also can it, but you’ll need a pressure canner as this is a low-acid food (even though it’s fier...

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Supper for a buck?

ans run about $1.50 a pound where we shop. One pound of dry beans makes about 6 cups of cooked beans. That’s a lot of food. I’m not going to try to do the math and add up the costs of the onion and herbs and olive oil I add to the beans. And I surely don’t have the patience to figure out the cost of the salad from our garden (do I have to figure in the mortgage?), but I do know that around this time of year I could forage a sala...

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Bushcraft Video

ike hunting and blacksmithing, but I admire the grit. Here you can learn how to make a lamp out of raccoon fat and crap he scavenges from an abandoned cabin. This project is appealing (???)  to me because it combines homemade oil lamps, which I love, with a more recent interest in novel ways to deal pesky backyard critters. Skunk lamp, anyone? The Pathfinder School also has it’s own reality show–roughly cut footage of their camps and...

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How do you care for cast iron?

it with soap, just wipe it out with a damp cloth. Never scrub it with a pad or scouring powder. If stuff is stuck to the bottom, soak it, then scrape the residue off  gently with the flat edge of a spatula. If it looks dull, oil it. I know there are whole web sites devoted to the care of cast iron, and these have competing doctrines, especially when it comes to the seasoning process. I don’t have the strength to sort out these arguments,...

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3 things to do with citrus peels

g vinegar with cleansing/disinfecting herbs, like lavender or sage, is something I’ve known about for a long time, but don’t do, in practice. I’m too lazy. Instead, I scent my cleaning vinegar with essential oil. But we always have citrus peels laying around in piles, and the simplicity of the citrus idea is so a peeling that I had to try it. (ouch! stop throwing things!) I filled one jar with orange peels and covered it with vi...

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