What is that black and orange bug in my garden?

...The suggestions on a recent “what’s this bug? post on this blog made me realize how hard it was to tell apart several common garden bugs: the harlequin bug, the bagrada bug, the milkweed bug and the boxelder bug. They are all flattish, orange/red and black, under an inch long, and seem to always be mating. After doing the research, I really wanted to see all the bugs side by side, so I made this picture and this simple ref...

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To each hen her own egg

...out this when they started laying, but as the hens got older, their eggs became even more distinct, so I thought it worth another mention. All four hens look the identical, but their eggs are different, each expressing different aspects of their parentage. One is classic Barnevelder brown, one is speckled, one is light olive green and the other dark olive drab. The picture doesn’t capture the olives at all. It’s useful to be able to a...

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Gourmet Foraging and Advanced Acorn Processing

It’s acorn season in Southern California. I’ve long been interested in acorns, knowing that they were the staple food of the native people who lived here, and I’ve gathered and processed them before. However, once I have the acorn meal, I’ve never known exactly what to do with it. It’s highly nutritious, but I thought (wrongly!) that it was somewhat bland, and all I could do was incorporate acorn...

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Mistakes we have made . . .

...ve more instructional value than our successes. And oh, how many blunders there have been in the past ten years. It’s about time to round up the top 6. I’m sure there are many more that I’ve forgotten, but here’s a start. 1. Installing a water garden. That water garden looks great in the picture above. That was before the neighborhood raccoons spent several nights a week treating it like rock stars used to treat hotel room...

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Viewpoints in the Garden

...r the backyard. As a result there’s some nice viewpoints developing. I thought I’d take a few random pictures to highlight what’s working and what isn’t. I took a seat on the worm bin and discovered this nice vista. It’s the view from where I’m planning a new seating area. Of course photography is a kind of lie. Taking a picture is as much about what we frame out as what...

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Gideon Lincecum Virtual Herbarium

–click to biggify– (If you still can’t read it, it says “Erigeron canadensis, the common hogsweed, bruise and press out the juice from the green plant and take it in tablespoonful dose as often as the stomach will bear, for bleeding lungs, bleeding from the stomach, bowels or womb. It is a powerful agent in stopping hemorrhage from any organ.”) Mrs. Homegrown here: Our friend Nancy gave us some salve made up o...

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Edible Rooftop Gardens

...ave a few projects I could use your help on as well. I am looking for an edible rooftop garden to visit. Ideally it would be in Southern California, but I may also visit Austin, Texas. So either L.A. or Austin gardens would work. I’d love to hear from anyone who knows of a great rooftop edible garden, but I’d really like to find ones that I can visit. The picture here is of an urban farm in Chicago that I visited this summer. It isn&...

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Lessons In Beekeeping: Remember To Wear Boots

...ld to return to the hive. As they returned we sprayed them with sugar water and poured them into their new home. It was a long day. Demolition work started at 9 am and it was 5 pm by the time we put the box in the car to be taken to their new home at Maurice’s apiary. What you can’t see in this picture is all the rat poo Bees are very gentle creatures, except when you disturb their home. I got stung a bunch of times around the ankles...

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Staking Tomatoes with Concrete Reinforcing Mesh

For years we’ve been using concrete reinforcing mesh to stake our tomatoes. It’s a 6-inch square grid of wire and is used to reinforce concrete slabs. I buy it in 3 1/2-feet by 7-feet sections at my local home improvement center. To make a tomato cage with it you find a flat stretch of patio or driveway and bend the wire into a tube. I overlap it a bit and tie it together with wire. This year, thanks to a tip from Craig Ruggless,...

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Bean Fest, Episode 2: Falafel and Babaganoush Recipes

...at we’re going to test out. Thanks, ya’ll! Again, if anyone has a favorite bean recipe, please send it this way ([email protected]). One lesson to take away from last week is that beans do quite well in solar ovens, crockpots and the newer pressure cookers, and that if you eat a lot of beans, one of these devices would be a useful investment. I really wish I had any one of those items! We have a light, homemade solar...

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