Erik’s 2012 New Year’s Resolutions in Review

Thank you Kurt and Ben and all who helped build our adobe oven. I never used to make New Year’s resolutions until I decided to flaunt them on our blog last year. And, of course, I made way too many. So how did I do? Completed: Build adobe oven in the backyard: check! Thanks to Kurt Gardella and Ben Loescher who led a class in our backyard. Plan out garden ahead of time instead of playing catch-up at the last minute: I did indeed plan out...

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Plastic or Wood?

Some time ago the folks at the FDA and USDA recommended that we replace our wooden cutting boards with plastic ones (such as the fine Elvis model on the right). This injunction rose out of rising fears of salmonella and e-coli poisoning in our food, which are, by the way, the signature bacteria of our deplorable factory farming system. But that’s another rant. This rant is about the boards. So as we were saying, it was out with the nasty,...

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That ain’t a bowl full of larvae, it’s crosne!

Mrs. Homegrown, justifiably, gives me a hard time for growing strange things around the homestead. This week I just completed the world’s smallest harvest of a root vegetable popularly known as crosne (Stachys affinis). Crosne, also known as Chinese artichoke, chorogi, knotroot and artichoke betony is a member of the mint family that produces a tiny edible tuber. While looking like any other mint plant, the leaves have no smell. The tubers...

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Steve Solomon’s Soil and Health e-Library

I’m really enjoying the incredible variety of obscure old books being scanned and put up on the interwebs. Of interest to readers of this blog will be the archive of free e-books maintained by gardening author Steve Solomon. His Soil and Health e-library contains books on “holistic agriculture, holistic health and self-sufficient homestead living” You can download the books for free, but Solomon requests a modest $13 donation....

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Saturday Linkages: Can Gardens, BOLs and Attack Geese

...rduroy.tv/shows/surf-suf ficient/diy-surfboard-bike-rack  … 80ft Tube Made From VHS Tape http://www. dudecraft.com/2012/08/80ft-t ube-made-from-vhs-tape.html  … Prepping Developing Raw Land into a Homestead or BOL Over Time | The Survival Podcast http:// bit.ly/NoacJJ Beekeeping Bees in a Paris park: http://www. backwardsbeekeepers.com/2012/08/viewer -mail-bees-in-paris-park.html  … Yow! Apple granted patent for location-based camera phone disa...

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Mongolian Giant Sunflower

Nothing much to say about the Mongolian Giant Sunflower other than, “wow”. I got these seeds from Seed Savers Exchange and they have lived up to the “giant” in the name. I’m going to have to climb a ladder to harvest the seeds. Though I don’t see the need to get competitive with my sunflowers, Renee’s Garden has some good harvesting advice, As the petals fall off, the center florets dry up and the seed...

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Italian Dandelion Redux

Italian Dandelion (Cichorium intybus) It’s been a difficult winter growing season here in Los Angeles. Our unpredictable Mediterranean climate has thrown a few curve balls in the past few months courtesy of an ocean temperature phenomenon known as La Niña which has caused alternating periods of cool weather followed by 80º days and little rainfall. Our deciduous trees did not loose their leaves until after New Years, most of the winter ve...

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Campfire Cooking: Fish in Clay (& Vegetarian Options!)

The foraging and culinary partnership of Pascal Baudar and Mia Wasilevich continue to make amazing discoveries. I’d describe their work as elemental–start with wild, local ingredients, use direct but often novel techniques to create a cuisine at once sophisticated and neo-primitive. We blogged about their acorn processing workshop back in October. This month we were fortunate to have taken their class on cooking with clay. This is...

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Help us With a Fodder System for our Hens

A big commercial fodder system. We need something much smaller! I feel somewhat guilty about having our five hens in a confined coop/run. Ideally they’d be grazing on green pasture all day. But our abundant urban predators, lack of space and dry climate make the vision of hens clucking on verdant fields a challenge. I’m thinking of building a DIY fodder system but I’m a bit confused by the instructions I’ve seen floating...

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Native Plant Workshop

Vitus californica covering our ugly chain link fence There’s a couple of common misconceptions amongst novice gardeners about native plants: 1. If you use native plants the whole garden has to be natives. In fact, it’s great to mix natives with non-native plants. The natives bring in beneficial wildlife, are hardy and are efficient in terms of water use. Flexibility is key here–go ahead and mix natives with vegetables, fruit...

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