More on our gardening disasters

...le, blue and green leaves unfold (and dutifully picking the slugs off said leaves). I’d never seen cabbages in their natural state before, and they were a wonder and a marvel to me. Somewhere we have a fourteen year old picture of me holding my first cabbage, grinning my head off. That, folks, is why we should garden. Not to get woo-woo and people  away, but I think there’s  a spirit to the garden, and it responds to our intentions. T...

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Broom Corn–or is it Broomcorn?

...d needs some support if you let it ripen, because the heads get heavy. Where do I get the seeds? A quick search will give you several options. Mine were from Seed Savers Exchange. It’s a variegated color variety. The picture on the seed pack promised a huge variation in color. For the longest time I thought I’d been ripped off, because the tassels came out uniformly green and stayed that way til they ripened. Then they started to t...

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Daikon Radish!

We’ve had a crappy vegetable harvest around the Homegrown Evolution compound this winter though, as you can see from the picture above, the artichokes and rosemary in the background are thriving as they always do. Here in Los Angeles, winter is usually the best season for growing things, as perverse as that may sound to folks in the rest of the US. But for us, some combination of bad timing (not getting stuff in early enough), depleted soi...

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Indigo 101

...opping for indigo dye you’ll probably see either Indigofera tictorium, which is native to India, or Indigofera suffruticosa, which is native to Mexico and South America. • You can grow your own indigo (any seeds you buy labeled as Indigo will probably be tictorium or suffructicosa). Indigofera is a pretty plant from the legume family. That family is valuable in the garden because it draws nitrogen into the soil. It would be nice to grow jus...

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Is This Egg Good?

From left: Very Fresh • Pretty Fresh • Bad • Cat When you’re wondering about the age of an egg, put it in glass of water. Really fresh eggs lie on the bottom the glass, flat. These are the eggs you want for poaching and other dishes where the egg is the star. If one end bobs up a bit, as does the middle egg above, the egg is older, but still good. The upward tilt can be more extreme than it is in this picture. In fact, the egg can...

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Watering 101

...nding on your soil, the weather, the method you use to water, how often you water, and what you’re growing. In the end, you just have to use your hands and your common sense to figure it out. There is no formula. In the picture above, you see the surface of the soil in one of our raised beds. This is imported soil, the kind that comes in bags. It doesn’t hold water in pools like clay soil does, it doesn’t sink in fast as it woul...

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Radish Surprise

...ig they can get. This one got huge, then burst out into hundreds of tiny purple flowers. Hummingbirds, honey bees and all sorts of flying insects visit it all day, every day. It has become one of the queens of the garden. The picture below is horrible. The radish plant really is quite pretty,  the equal of any ornamental flowering shrub–but as bad is the picture is, it gives you some scale. See the bales of our straw bale garden behind it? ...

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How to save tomato seed

...paper plates. Tomato seeds stick to paper towels, so if you use those you may end up having to plant the seeds on their little bits of towel. Once they are bone dry, transfer to envelopes or glass jars for storage. Be sure to label! *I just lost a batch to germination. I blame the heat. It didn’t seem like they’d be fermenting that long, but after I drained my seeds I saw the tiny little white nubbins poking out of the seeds. Now I...

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Natural Products Expo West: The Good and the Ugly

...8220;natural” (whatever that means) food industry suffers from the same problems that plague our food system as a whole. Most of the products at the expo are highly processed and high in sugar. Just because something is labeled “gluten free” or “GMO free” does not make it healthy. Getting beyond the nutrition issues most of these “natural” processed foods also taste, frankly, terrible. Out of the hundreds...

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Incandescent, Compact Fluorescent or LED?

...al quality of LED light. They are not so good for lighting an entire room. Many compact florescents (CFL) will have short lifespans if you put them in sealed, enclosed or recessed lighting fixtures. You also have to check the label and perhaps even call the manufacturer to figure out if a CFL will work in a horizontal, base-up or base-down fixture. CFLs perform poorly if turned on and off without at least 15 to 30 minutes to warm up. CFLs contain...

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