Failed Experiment: Bermuda Buttercup or Sour Grass (Oxalis pes-caprae) as Dye

The “dyed” t-shirt is on the left. The shirt on the right is a basic white tee. I could have achieved similar results by entropy alone. Chalk this one up to the failures column. In an attempt to use Bermuda Buttercup (aka Sour Grass) and various mordants to dye a couple of white t-shirts yellow and green, I succeeded in dyeing both snowy white shirts a pale shade of …let’s call it ecru. Let’s not call it “grimy old...

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Joshua Tree Earthen Oven Class With Kurt Gardella

Kurt Gardella measures the radius of the horno dome. Joshua Tree Earthen Oven Class March 8-10, 2013 Earthen ovens are inexpensive to build, fun to use, and provide baking environment impossible to recreate in the kitchen. This Spring, Kurt Gardella returns to California for three days to teach you how to make your own earthen oven. Kurt has built dozens of these ovens in New Mexico, and has great expertise in both adobe construction and earth...

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Magenta Spreen Lambsquarter

Magenta Spreen Lambsquarter (Chenopodium giganteum a.k.a. “tree spinach”) has reemerged in our garden via the compost pile. It’s a striking edible weed, part of the family that encompasses spinach, quinoa and epazote. Seeds of Change sells this beautiful variety, oddly named “Magenta Spreen.” Like other members of the Chenopodium family it has a fair amount of oxalic acid which could be a problem if it’s all...

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Straw Bale Garden Update: Success!

Ladies and gentleman, straw bale gardening works. I left town for a week earlier this month and, during my absence, the vegetables in the straw bale garden exploded in size. The Tromboncino squash on the left, is threatening to envelop the entire yard.  The tomatoes are equally vigorous and covered in ripening fruit. Zucchini is on the menu. While it takes an input of outside resources in the form of straw and fertilizer, straw bale gardening i...

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Karp’s Sweet Quince Update

Several years ago I planted a variety of quince called Karp’s Sweet Quince, named after local pomologist and writer David Karp. This variety comes from Peru and is unusual in that it can be eaten fresh. But my quince tree has struggled a bit. The soil it occupies is not the best and it’s been plagued with fungal issues. But I can report that you can, indeed, eat the fruit fresh. The texture was not the best, but the fruit I ate was...

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Saturday Linkages: Speedos, Blue Eggs and the Rise of Rye

A rancher of the future according to the 1981 children’s book Tomorrow’s Home. Trojan Horses, Recipes, and Permaculture http://www.patternliteracy.com/770-trojan-horses-recipes-and-permaculture … How bad for the environment are gas-powered leaf blowers? http://wapo.st/14bgqIQ  In Pursuit of Tastier Chickens, a Strict Diet of Four-Star Scraps http://nyti.ms/15yN8EY  Rye’s Rise: New Loaves That Are More Than a Vehicle for Pastrami http...

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Hens in the Orchard for Pest Control

Photo: hencam.com Author Terry Golson, who blogs at HenCam.com, sent along a great pest control tip in response to our thrip post–chickens, of course! Chickens and orchards go together like gin and tonic. The hens take care of pests, clean up rotten fruit, add nitrogen to the soil and the canopy of the orchard protects the hens from hawks and heat. Plus you get eggs and meat. Permaculture in action. The 1920s era photo you see above comes...

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Maintaining a Worm Bin

This image might represent a new low in aesthetics from the Root Simple Photo Department. And that’s saying something. I freshened up our big worm bin today and I thought I’d report on what I did because I get a lot of questions about worm bin maintenance. First, I want to say this is just how I go about it. Other people will have different methods and habits. Worms are forgiving and reasonably adaptable, so you have a whole lot of l...

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Self Irrigating Pot Patent from 1917

I’ve often blogged about the convenience of self irrigating pots (SIPs), containers that have a built-in reservoir of water at the bottom. They work well for growing vegetables on patios and rooftops. You can make your own or purchase one from several manufacturers. I had thought that Blake Whisenant, a Florida tomato grower and Earthbox company founder, had invented the SIP in the 1990s, but it turns out that the idea came much earlier....

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Showers to Flowers

Here’s the truth, I’m lazy. So when it comes to the aforementioned greywater strategies such as bucket flushing and siphoning, while we might try them for a while we’ll most likely quickly tire of all the repetitive effort barring some apocalyptic water shortage. SurviveLA agrees with Art Ludwig, author of Create an Oasis with Greywater that the best greywater systems are the simplest, and involve the least amount of effort and...

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