Picture Sundays: Giant Crops of the Future

...rating on the east coast point to a day when crops will grow to giant size, vastly enlarging yield per acre. These super-plants will be disease and insect resistant — more tender and tasty — and controllable as to ripening time. Seasonal vegetables like corn will be available fresh nearly everywhere for most of the year instead of only a month or so. Loopy, but kinda prescient. Not sure it’s gonna work out so well!...

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Should Reuseable Bags Be Washed?

...og, there’s not a lot of evidence about the question–just one study on the matter. In fact it’s not clear if the bag in this 2010 incident was to blame or the fact that the bag, stuffed with food, spent some time on the floor of the bathroom where, “viral particles likely floated over from the toilet.” Yuck! No wonder the Barf Blog folks avoid potlucks. So how do you dodge norovirus? Food safety professor Doug Powel...

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How to Prep Fabric for Dyeing: Scouring

...it into the pot it won’t clean properly.  Liles recommends 1 quart of water per ounce of cotton yarn and 2 quarts per ounce of cotton fabric.  This may mean you’ll have to scour in batches to do it properly. Allow time for this. Recommended quantities of soap and soda vary somewhat from source to source. Personally, I don’t think the exact ratios are all that important. You’re using washing soda and detergent and heat to l...

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Avoiding Hyperthermia

When spending a day baking pizzas at a public event in front of a 1000º F oven in the full Southern California sun remember to drink water and take breaks. Otherwise you will spend the next day in bed with a splitting headache, unable to eat, barely able to drink anything and at the mercy of two young cats. The first time I pulled off a case of hyperthermia was after a long bike ride. I would not call it fun, nor would I like this to happen whe...

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So-So Tomatoes Become Excellent When Dried

...a running microwave, not loud, but persistent. I was always half-consciously expecting to hear the microwave “ding!” at any moment. So, while the electric dehydrator let us process this crop of tomatoes in record time, I don’t think we’re going to ever buy one ourselves. Old Betsy, the wonky wooden dehydrator, suits us well enough....

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Vegetable Garden Update: Too Much Salad

...mbined with another 2 foot by 4 foot area of arugula elsewhere in our yard, we’ve had a whole lot of salads this winter. Mrs. Homegrown would probably say too many salads. She’s also tired of me pointing out, each time I prepare a salad, that it’s made with fancy-pants Italian varieties. But these greens are tasty and eye catching. Not even “Whole Paycheck” carries this stuff–you gotta grow it yourself. I got t...

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Sun Bleaching Really, Really Works

Line drying in the sun is a time honored means of brightening whites. But I had never guessed how effective it can be. I have a pair of white bath towels which developed mysterious, spreading yellow stains all over them, stains which I could not remove no matter what I tried (Borax, oxygen bleaches, stain removers), and which I may have actually worsened by a final, desperate flirtation with chlorine bleach a few years ago. The towels were in...

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Pimp My Cold Frame

...t a single tomato seed to germinate until late May. To head off another seedling crisis I built a simple cold frame. In order to prevent the cold frame from becoming a solar cooker (it can get over 80°F during the day this time of year) I pimped it out with an Univent Automatic Greenhouse Vent Opener . The Univent uses no electricity. As the temperature gets hotter a small piston thingy forces open the window you attach the Univent too. As t...

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Advances in Gardening Series: The Perennial Herb Bed, Patience and Plant Spacing and Breaking Your Own Rules

...pe TV shows. Two things are questionable about this scenario. First, it makes both financial and horticultural sense to plant young, small plants. Small plants are cheaper, they catch up with the gallon-sized perennials in no time at all, and will probably be healthier in the long run. The second is a question of spacing. Perennial plants used in landscaping tend to be bushy things, plants which will need some room when they grow up. Too often th...

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