Remember to Label Those Jars!

Label, label, label!” This was one of the most important lessons I learned in my Master Food Preserver training. You’ll note, from the jars above, that I’m not very good about this. When were those jars canned and what’s in them? I have no idea. They were probably the result of some late night canning frenzy two years ago. At the time I probably thought to myself, “I’ll label them in the morning.”...

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Bleach Alternatives for Disinfecting Pruning Shears

Apples with fire blight: one reason you should disinfect pruning sheers. Photo by Peggy Greb Neighbor Anne tipped me off to an interesting fact sheet on disinfecting pruning sheers by Dr. Linda Chalker-Scott, a horticulture professor at Washington State University. I’ve been using bleach which, it turns out, is not the best choice. Bleach is both toxic to humans and to plants as well. It also stains clothes and damages tools. Chal...

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Los Angeles Fruit Tree Pruning Workshops

...an ephemeral yet breathtakingly beautiful sight. But many of these trees will not bear good fruit without proper pruning. Good pruning encourages stronger limbs able to hold heavy fruits, prevents limb breakage, improves air circulation and light penetration and overall makes for a more attractive tree. Improper pruning or sheer neglect can mean weak, spindly limbs, a chaotic looking, ugly tree and puny fruits. But how do you know what to cut? I&...

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Looking for the Union Label

...derwear on the internets recalled a highly catchy ad jingle from the roller disco era, “Look for the Union Label” (youngsters can watch it on youtube here). We looked for the union label and we were surprised to find it via a company called Union House which carries a functional, if unexciting line of apparel. Unless hipsters take to golf shirts in an ironic fashion judo move, these offerings will never be cool like the domestically m...

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Pruning and Grafting Workshop with C. Darren Butler

This Sunday May 29, learn how to prune and graft citrus and avocados with consulting arborist, ecological designer, sustainable landscaping specialist, and teacher C. Darren Butler. Slots are still available. It’s a double workshop (pruning in the morning and grafting in the afternoon). You can sign up for one or both. Hope to see some of you there! For more information contact Darren at: [email protected]..

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Backyard Orchard Culture

...at the market. One quince tree is fine (we have one) but six is way too many. Some other points Spellman made: Pruning: Spellman suggests size control in the summer and detail work in the winter. (Note: this pruning advice is for our climate in California.) Commercial growers focus on eye appeal over taste. You can’t buy decent stone fruit at the market, so stone fruit is a great thing to grow at home or buy at a farmer’s market. I...

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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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Review: Quaker Lower Sugar Instant Oatmeal

I prefer long cooked oatmeal when I’m at home, but we’ve always packed instant oatmeal with us when camping. I think the habit goes back to when Erik and I took epic backpacking trips, and food weight was a prime consideration. Now, camping is a more gentle endeavor–but the instant oatmeal has become a tradition, an easy no-brainer for sleepy grey mornings in the woods, even though its nutritional qualities...

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Non-GMO Versions of Grape Nuts and Cheerios Less Nutritious Than GMO Versions

...ve natural food expo, I attended earlier this month, I saw a lot of unhealthy foods with a “non-GMO” label. In the case of Cheerios and Grape Nuts, the “non-GMO” label is either a marketing gimmick or an attempt to start a voluntary labeling program to head off voter mandated efforts. Here’s where you can help. I need to kick my Grape Nuts crack habit and find a healthier breakfast alternative. Any suggestions? Note...

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How to make a Calendula oil infusion

...en press the dried matter to squeeze out the remaining oil as best you can. You’ll never get it all back. Label it  Make sure you label it with the type of oil and the date it was made. Believe me, even if you only make one jar, you’ll forget what it is and when you made it, and a year later you’ll be standing at your cupboard, puzzling over it. Store Store the oil in a dark place. Use it up within a year, the sooner the be...

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