How to Make a Native Bee Nesting Box

Back in the spring I made a native bee nesting box by drilling a bunch of holes in the long end of a 4 by 6 inch piece of scrap wood. I cut one end of the 4 x 6 at an angle so that I could nail on a makeshift roof made from a piece of 2 x 6. I hung the nesting box on an east facing wall or our house with a picture hanger. I used three sizes of holes to see which ones would be most popular: 1/4 inch, 3/16 inch and 1/8 inch. All were moved into b...

Continue reading…

California Homemade Food Act Signed Into Law!

Soon to be legal to sell. A bit late to report this, but AB 1616, the California Homemade Food Act was signed into law by Governor Brown last week. The bill will allow Californians to produce “non-hazardous foods,” such as such as jams, jellies, bread and honey, in a home kitchen and sell them. The bill takes effect in January. There is still, however, a lot of work to be done to figure out exactly how local health departme...

Continue reading…

Radical Beekeeper Michael Thiele Ventures Into New Territory

Thiele with an unorthodox hive–picture from his website Gaia Bees. One of the lectures I went to at the National Heirloom Exposition in Santa Rosa earlier this month has really stuck with me. It was a talk by radical biodynamic beekeeper Michael Thiele that, frankly, I walked into biased against. But by the conclusion I could tell that the whole audience, including myself, left deeply moved by what Thiele had to say. The reason fo...

Continue reading…

Tree Care Disasters

Photo from Weeding Wild Suburbia A fierce windstorm on the night of November 20 of last year left in its wake the evidence of years of negligent tree care in Southern California. A good arborist and crew cost money, and too many homeowners, landlords and municipalities go the cheap route and hire the first idiot with a chainsaw they can find. A local blog I just discovered Weeding Wild Suburbia, has a nice summary of things you can do...

Continue reading…

Growing Greens Under Fruit Trees

In the photo above is Scott Kleinrock showing off a section of the edible garden he designed at the Huntington Gardens. At first glace it looks like a lot of weeds, but it’s a clever idea: growing greens in the understory of fruit trees. In this picture, which was taken last weekend, you see a field of: mallow daikon radish arugula mustard  vetch calendula cabbage Except for the vetch, which helps build soil, all are edible and nutrit...

Continue reading…

More Thoughts on Garlic

Homegrown Neighbor here: So Mrs. Homegrown’s post the other day about their not so successful garlic season this year inspired me to weigh in with some of my own garlic observations. I recall having a conversation with Mr. Homegrown around the time we both planted our garlic in November. I selected three heirloom varieties to grow at a job site and I plopped a few extra cloves into my own garden. Mr. Homegrown said, “You can’...

Continue reading…

Pop Quiz Answer: Pineapple Guava

Fruit forming. photo credit: Kurt Stüber, via Wikimedia Commons Yes indeed, as so many of you guessed, that was a picture of our pineapple guava. For those of you who haven’t seen one, meet the pineapple guava, aka feijoa or Acca sellowiana: a small, evergreen tree or shrub that bears tasty green fruits which have a Jolly Rancher-like flavor. The fruit form off of flowers that taste like cotton candy. The trick is not to eat too m...

Continue reading…

Plantain for rashes

It’s hard to take a decent picture when both of your hands are covered in green slime!  Mrs. Homegrown here: A couple of days ago I made a mistake: I attacked a stand of rogue borage without gloves. You know how it is when you think you’re just going to make one pruning cut, and then end up hacking for an hour in a mindless frenzy? Borage is covered with irritating little hairs which made my hands and forearms itch and burn....

Continue reading…

How Long Do Chickens Live?

This morning we found one of our hens dead in the coop. She’d died near the feed bin, which shows she was a true chicken right to the end. This is our first chicken death. I’ve been gone most of the weekend, but Erik says she didn’t seem ill, though in retrospect he thinks maybe she was little slower than usual for the past few days. The other hens seem healthy enough. There was no sign of predation or injury. I suppose weR...

Continue reading…

The World’s Most Beautiful Okra

If you live in a warm climate, okra is easy to grow and both beautiful and tasty. I spotted this variety growing at the Huntington Ranch: Burgundy Okra from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.The stems and seed pods are a deep and vibrant burgundy–a very stunning plant for your vegetable garden. While not as striking, this year I grew Clemson Spineless okra from seeds I saved. And thanks to a tip (can’t remember where I heard this) I’...

Continue reading…