Italy Questions Neonicotinoid Pesticides, California Department of Food and Agriculture Loves Them

...CDFA as a pest? Responding to concerns about the safety of nicotine based pesticides, such as imidacloprid, the Italian government, last year, banned them as a seed treatment. According to the Institute of Science in Society, Researchers with the National Institute of Beekeeping in Bologna, Italy discovered that “pollen obtained from seeds dressed with imidacloprid contains significant levels of the insecticide, and suggested that the poll...

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Advances in Gardening: The Trough of Garlic

...crete and built this over the hole: a new planting bed.  That’s the Germinator on the right, butting up to it and my Fan behind it.  When we’re done with all this redoing, we’ll clean everything up and take some wider shots so it all begins to make sense. For now–believe me–it’s better to keep to limited views! Right now,  as its name suggests, this new bed is planted with garlic–and a few shallots. Rathe...

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How to Process Carob

...hoto by Bill Wheelock. Our neighborhood has an abundance of carob (Ceratonia siliqua) trees that, around this time of year, drop thousands of pounds of pods. Now many of us may have unpleasant associations with carob as a 1970s era chocolate substitute, but the tree has a long history in the Middle East, where it’s used to make a tea, as a source of molasses, as a vegetable and as animal feed. The “locusts” that John the Bapt...

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Gift Suggestions, from the Other Half

...Magazine editor in chief Mark Frauenfelder A quote from Erik’s review:  Made by Hand is not a how-to book it is, paradoxically, the most practical DIY book I’ve read in a long time. Why? Because it’s all about facing that fear of failure, the single greatest obstacle to actually getting out there and doing things. Radical Homemakers: Reclaiming Domesticity from Consumer Culture , by Shannon Hayes. Despite some inter...

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Advances in Gardening: Introducing the Germinator™

...s or power and aims to maintain a temperature range between 62-73 F. We’ll review the Univent when we try it next year. So far the Germinator™ has worked well, providing a safe haven for our winter seedlings: artichoke, spigarello broccoli, nettles, sweet peas, white sage, Italian dandelion, chard and more. We could sow directly in the ground but, due to construction of our new garden infrastructure, starting seedlings in flats allowed me...

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Chickens in the House!

Mrs. Homestead here: I’d planned to give you all a progress report on the backyard redesign, which features such wonders as the Germinator ™, the Trough of Garlic ™, the Fan of Pharmacy ™ and the Screens of Discretion (also tm). But the camera crapped out on me. So, until I figure it out (Which means until Erik gets home and I can shove the darn thing at him and say, “Fix your camera!”),  I’m offering u...

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Einkorn Pasta

A publicist representing Jovial Foods contacted us about trying out a new product they are marketing, pasta made with einkorn wheat. Einkorn is either the first or one of the first grains to be cultivated. We tried two of Jovial’s einkorn products, a whole grain einkorn spagehtti and a whole grain einkorn fusilli. Both were tasty, well made pastas, superior to a Trader Joes whole wheat pasta we compared them to in a taste test. I think...

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This Is Why Mint Is Invasive

...ressive mat you see above. I’m sure small bits will remain to haunt me, but all in all, I’m grateful it was that easy. The moral: If you’re thinking about planting mint for the first time, keep in mind that it spreads, given space and water. Its roots, properly called rhizomes, run underground and can send up shoots many feet away from the mother plant. In this way, it will cheerfully take over your entire herb bed or your borde...

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Cure for Prickly Pear Stickers

...ed, pernicious, invisible prickly pear fruit stickers (glochids) which somehow end up embedded in my hands every time Erik brings one of those fruits in the house. The answer? Pumice stone. It’s so simple. Just rub the site with a pumice stone. I think it just shaves off the top part of the stickler, and then lower part works its way out eventually, I suppose. But the important part is that the top part isn’t moving anymore, which mea...

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Seaweed, Salmon and Manzanita Cider

...at book store. Like Ulysses, I should tie myself to the mast–pay for my native plants and get out. Somehow it never works. Seaweed, Salmon is a pretty little book. Paperback, thin, but coffee table worthy, because it’s so interesting and at the same time, skimmable. A good gift book. It’s a loose collection of folklore, personal narrative, recipes and preparation tips for wild foods, well-illustrated with color photos. (It is no...

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