Slaughtering Turkeys for Thanksgiving

A noble Royal Palm tom. This photo by Kevin Saff. The rest are ours. This post is not for everyone, so we’ve concealed most of it behind the jump. This week we helped our friend, Steve, slaughter and dress four turkeys for Thanksgiving. There will be pictures, so those of you who are interested can get some idea of what the process involves. Steve is an especially conscious carnivore, because he raises and slaughters all the m...

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Propagating herbs via cuttings

Mrs. Homegrown here: Say you have one lavender plant, but you’d like to have more. Or your trusty sage plant is getting old and woody and needs to be pulled, but you wish you could save a bit of it and start fresh. One way to accomplish this is to grow new plants from cuttings taken from your existing plant. This is process called taking softwood cuttings. You cut small bits of plant, dip them in a rooting hormone, then baby the cuttings...

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Polyculture

Here at SurviveLA we are experimenting with something called polyculture in the the garden. We read about it first in the worthy permaculture guide, Gaia’s Garden, by Toby Hemenway. Polyculture is the practice of planting a community of interrelated, interdependent plants, mimicking in your garden (in our case a raised vegetable bed) the complex relationships that are found between plants in nature. In the case of food crops, a polycultu...

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Lessons In Beekeeping: Remember To Wear Boots

 Bees in a wall This weekend I assisted beekeepers Maurice and Roger in relocating a very large beehive from a wall in an abandoned shed in the Hollywood hills. First we had to do quite a bit of demolition work, removing shelves and an old workbench. Then we carefully peeled back the wall paneling, to expose the bee’s comb. We smoked the bees to calm them down and proceeded to cut the comb out, putting the honeycomb into a five gallon bu...

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How to Cook Broadleaf Plantain

The last plantain in our yard–the only one which survived the long, brutal summer without water. The winter rains, which are just beginning, will have plantain sprouting all over Southern California soon. We’re big fans of foraging teacher Pascal Baudar. He approaches wild foods like no one else we know–as a gourmet experience. Combining Old World traditions, Native wisdom and a good deal of culinary inventio...

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Bad Forager: Mistaking Hemlock for Fennel

Hemlock (courtesy of Wikimedia) Hemlock (Conium maculatum) and fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) are in the same family, the Apiaceae or carrot family (which also includes dill and parsnips and chevril and cumin and anise and corriander and parsley and Queen Anne’s lace and more–a very nice family, all around). Hemlock and fennel share characteristics of that family, having those distinctive umbrella shaped flower clusters which beneficial...

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Campfire Cooking: Fish in Clay (& Vegetarian Options!)

The foraging and culinary partnership of Pascal Baudar and Mia Wasilevich continue to make amazing discoveries. I’d describe their work as elemental–start with wild, local ingredients, use direct but often novel techniques to create a cuisine at once sophisticated and neo-primitive. We blogged about their acorn processing workshop back in October. This month we were fortunate to have taken their class on cooking with clay. This is...

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How to Deal with Extremely Root Bound Plants

First off, don’t buy root bound plants. It’s just a bad business, trouble and tears. In general, you should always try to buy the youngest plants you can find. They are healthier than plants which have spent more time in a pot, and will quickly grow to match the size of older, more expensive–and more likely than not–root bound plants. How do you know if the plant is root bound? Look at the bottom of th...

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Cactus Thief Strikes Again

I knew this was going to happen. After the theft of the first of three barrel cacti in our front yard, I knew the perp would be back. Sure enough the second cacti disappeared the other night. Now I’m left with the smallest, and most pathetic of the three cacti. In response I considered rigging up some kind of Arduino based cacti security system that would set off an alarm and flashing strobe in the house. Attach a trip...

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How to Remove Bees From a Tree

The Los Angeles Fire Department responds to the North Hollywood bee incident. Photo: LAFD. First let’s cover how not to remove bees from a tree. My beekeeping mentor Kirk Anderson described an incident that took place this week in North Hollywood, What happened was a HUMAN was cutting his tree down. It came down alright, with the bees that were in the tree. The bees didn’t expect or enjoy the trip to the ground. Th...

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