Kimchi Secrets Revealed

Kimchi champion Granny Choe at Krautfest 2009 – photo from Eating L.A. The last time I tried to make the spicy Korean fermented cabbage dish known as kimchi it was such a disaster that Mrs. Homegrown exiled the batch to the back porch where it rotted for a good two months before we got around to sending it to the landfill. At Krautfest 2009, which we helped organize back in September, we had the great privilege of learning to make kimchi...

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Organic Gardening Magazine Tests Seven Different Potato Growing Methods

...w mulch, raised beds, grow bags, garbage bags, wood boxes and wire cylinders. His conclusion? Raised beds worked the best giving the highest yield. Some of the other methods worked well too, though I wonder about black materials, such as grow bags, in our hot climate. The last time we grew potatoes we used a stack of tires. Results were mixed. I think painting the tires white to reflect heat might have worked better. For most of you reading this,...

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Natural Dyeing with Woad

Earlier in the month while the boys stayed at home with Eric, I attended a French General workshop on dyeing with woad (Isatis tinctoria). Woad (from the Brassicaceae family, a cousin to broccoli & cauliflower) has been cultivated in Europe since ancient times. Woad was prized by Napoleon and used to dye his army’s uniforms. At one time, the production of woad was the cornerstone of the economy of the south of France. Indigo o...

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Stinging Nettles and Cat Allergies

...t developed this allergy later, which always seemed stupid and unreasonable. So I’ve decided to ignore it. There’s precedent for this. I also grew up with dogs, and yet later developed an allergy to them, too. I ignored this for our dog Spike, because I wanted a dog more than anything else in the world. At first, I broke out in hives every time he licked me, but it went away. I’m trusting the same thing is going to happen here w...

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Why We Travel By Train

Amtrak ain’t this grand, but it’s a lot better than flying! Photo via the Library of Congress. We’re headed up to Northern California, Oregon and Washington to promote our new book Making It: Radical Home Ec for a Post-Consumer World . And, with the exception of the San Francisco to Seattle leg, we’re traveling by train. Why do this when it’s more expensive, time consuming and probably makes our dear publis...

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Contest Winners!

...with 42 and 119. (Yes, 42! This delights Kelly’s inner geek. Erik doesn’t know why it delights her.) Then we counted the comments, grumbling over the fact they are not numbered. Twice. And the winners are: 42: Rachel said…Birds will not peck at the same fruit/vegetable they pecked yesterday. They’ll go for a new piece every time! 119: Tina said…I like making stock out of veges that are not going to get eaten and the...

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Spigarello: Nature’s way of saying that broccoli is so over

...that tastes a lot like broccoli. But unlike broccoli, you eat the leaves instead of the flowers. Unlike many of the “exotic” Italian greens we grow, this one is not bitter, and probably will pass muster with those who are fussy about vegetables. To me, it tastes like broccoli, but better. A little like broccoli sprouts. Or a cross between broccoli and kale. Let’s just put it this way–I fell in love with it the first time...

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Obligatory Cute Chick Post

Look, it’s just that time of year. We have to live with it. We have no chicks this year. Our ladies are not maternal, they have no male companionship, and we’ve made no chick missions to the feedstore. These pics are from our neighbors’ house. Anne and Bill have a menagerie of ridiculously cute small animals. You recall the pea eating Chihuahua? Among their collection are a pair broody little Silkies, who are old-timers on the...

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My Sooper Seekrit Compost Pile

...so. That’s kitchen waste for two people who cook a lot, but no yard trimmings, obviously.  I’d dump the pail in there, and cover the scraps with handfuls of hay or dry leaves. Sometimes the level would raise high, but this stuff shrinks fast, so it maintained a level one tire deep most of the time, and would have done so until compost started building up at the bottom. Eventually I would have put the top tire on the ground and shove...

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I like my chamomile stressed

...It shoots up overnight and throws off blossoms like crazy, its one goal being to spread seed before it dies. In the past, I’ve harvested chamomile from volunteer plants in my yard. I never planted or tended them, but one or two would get about knee high, and from those one or two plants I’d gather all the flowers I needed by remembering to pick a handful every time I went in the back yard. The thing about chamomile is the more you pi...

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