An Overdue Update on Phoebe

This is her cute face. Her surprised by the camera face. Her usual expression is more calculating. Even frightening. I realized that it’s been a long time since we updated you all on how our cat Phoebe is doing–well over a year, actually. And at that time, we told you we didn’t expect her to live more than 9 more months. Surprise! She’s been doing really well. (For those of you new to the blog, Phoebe has a malformed hear...

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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 the pot and see if ro...

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Maintaining a Worm Bin

...e side is working and the other side is resting. This division is easy to make in a long, skinny bin like mine, but can be managed in a smaller bin as well. Basically, once you’ve got a worm bin going, there will come a time when you’ll need to harvest some of the castings. Those castings are valuable in the garden, and the worms don’t want to live in their own waste. You’ll know its getting close to harvest time when you...

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Growing Food in a Hotter, Drier Land

We just got our hands on Gary Paul Nabhan’s newest book, Growing Food in a Hotter, Drier Land: Lessons from Desert Farmers on Adapting to Climate Uncertainty. It couldn’t have arrived at a better time. In the spirit of full disclosure, I heard about this book on the grapevine a good while back, and requested a review copy from the publisher because we’ve met Gary and like his work. Getting free books once in a while is one of...

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DIY Project: Reconnect with Nature

...g chair. 4) You’re going to sit for at least a half hour. A half hour is a good place to start. Longer sits are really nice, but don’t strain yourself in the beginning. It’s distracting to be wondering about time, so put away your time pieces. Turn off your phone. It is easy to lose track of time while Sitting, so if you’re worried about that, you can bring a kitchen timer, or set an alarm on your phone or watch. Then put...

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Our Winter Vegetable Garden

Favas n’ peas It’s a blessing and a curse to live in a year round growing climate. Winter here in Southern California is the most productive time for most vegetables. It also means that there’s no time off for the gardener or the soil. In the interest of better note keeping, what follows is a list of what we’re growing this winter in the vegetable garden. We’ll do an update in the spring to let you know how...

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How to Cycle Safely

...lking about rules for adults here–kids are a different situation. These are just a few of what I consider the most important things I’ve learned: Route choice. I carefully choose my regular routes to maximize the time I spend on quiet, seldom traveled side streets or in bike lanes/paths. I will go well out of my way to avoid high speed, bike-unfriendly streets. When going to a place I’ve never biked before I choose a route ahea...

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World’s Largest Chard Grows in SIP

...ew even bigger. Then, early this spring, as part of our whole “dealing with the lead” problem we tore out the two raised beds in Lead Central in order to dig out the clay beneath them to make adobe bricks. By this time SuperChard was so magnificent I couldn’t kill him (around this time I began to anthropomorphize the chard), so I trimmed off his outer leaves (some of which were as long as my arm) and transplanted him into a self...

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The Pinnacle of Permaculture: Tending the Wild

Book review: Tending the Wild: Native American Knowledge and the Management of California’s Natural Resources by M. Kat Anderson, University of California Press, 2006 When the white man came to California, he found a verdant paradise: meadows thick with wildflowers and clover, stately groves of nut trees, abundant, healthy game and rivers full of fish. It was a land of endless bounty. The natives, often derogatorily called “Diggers...

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Book Review: 1491

...st pile up.  What I think back on most, though, is what is revealed through these stories about the relationship between nature and culture in pre-contact Americas. As with Tending the Wild: Native American Knowledge and the Management of California’s Natural Resources , which we’ve reviewed here before, a picture rises of very active human management of natural resources. All across the Americas there is compelling evidence of inten...

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