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....

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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...

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Earthquake Proofing the Pantry

So I finally got around to earthquake proofing the pantry. All it took was a bunch of four foot bungee cords which seemed to have just about the right amount of stretch to span our seven foot shelves. You could probably use the same four foot bungee cords to span an even longer shelf. I used eye hooks to anchor the ends of the cords. Looking at the picture, the height of the cords on some of the shelves might not be optimal (looks like some of...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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California Homemade Food Act Signed Into Law!

...mpossible for an individual to influence. The California Homemade Food Act demonstrates that thinking locally and picking a fight that can be won, can really make a difference. Correction: the first version of this post had a picture of canned citrus with the caption “soon to be legal to sell.” It seems that whole canned fruit is not on this approved list for this bill. I”m looking into this issue, as canned citrus is considered...

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Three Mules in Los Angeles

UPDATE 01/21/13: We’ve been informed via the comments that a volunteer has set up a Facebook page for the Mule Man–and with his approval. It’s called 3 Mules. So if you Facebook you can go there for more info., or to post pictures or stories. There’s even video interviews. Of course, you are very welcome to continue post your sightings or thoughts here, too–especially those of you who don’t do Facebook. We&...

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A Mason Jar Camping Lantern

...le allows you to carry it around or hang it. Headlamps are all very convenient, but little candles make a campsite feel like home. And yep, it works well in the backyard too.  There’s nothing to it, but just in case the picture makes it look more complicated than it is, all I do is wrap a piece of scrap wire around the mouth of the jar, twisting it closed. The ridges at the top of the jar hold it in place. Then I make a handle by twisting a...

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Book Review: 1491

...t the relationship between nature and culture in pre-contact Americas. As with Tending the Wild: Native American Knowledge and the Management of California’s Natural Resources , which we’ve reviewed here before, a picture rises of very active human management of natural resources. All across the Americas there is compelling evidence of intense landscape management practices which in most cases (but not all) managed to provide for the...

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