Our Books

...streets. Provides step-by-step instructions for a wide range of projects, from building a 99-cent solar oven to making your own laundry soap to instructions for brewing beer. Making It is the go-to source for post-consumer living activities that are fun, inexpensive and eminently doable. Our goal in this book was to provide really stripped down, simple projects that use only inexpensive, easy to source materials. We also tried to use the same m...

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Bar Codes on Veggies

...nion of Agricultural Cooperative cooperating with other farming and agricultural associations are adding QR code labels right at the point of origin. In the supermarket, consumers use camera equipped cell phones to scan the QR code on the label. The code links to a mobile website detailing origin, soil composition, organic fertilizer content percentage (as opposed to chemical), use of pesticides and herbicides and even the name of the farm it was...

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Gluten Intolerance . . . Is It All In Your Head?

...e life of the mind. We dismiss the placebo/nocebo effect as, “just being psychological.” And because it’s “psychological” it’s not “real.” We forget that what goes on in our heads has real world implications. I think, many people are having a spiritual crisis as a reaction to their unhappiness and dissatisfaction with the modern world and the industrial food system. This system is making us sick bot...

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Fruit Tree Maintenance Calendars

Where we live, it’s the time of year to prune and deal with pest issues on fruit trees. The University of California has a very helpful page of fruit tree maintenance calendars for us backyard orchard enthusiasts.  The calendars cover everything from when to water, fertilize, paint the trunks and many other tasks. You can also find them in one big handy set of charts in UC’s book The Home Orchard. The permacultura...

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The Spice Zee Nectaplum

We just harvested our first Spice Zee Nectaplum and, no exaggeration here, it was just about the tastiest fruit we’ve ever eaten–very sweet, with a indescribably rich taste and aroma. The nectaplum is a complex hybrid developed by Zaiger’s Genetics and sold through the Dave Wilson Nursery. It’s a gorgeous tree, with deep red leaves in the spring that gradually become a dark green by mid-summer. Hybrid fruit trees are cre...

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The End of California Citrus?

...he downside. My unsentimental conclusion: don’t try to grow citrus. If I had a mature tree I’d leave it in place and rip it out at the first sign of HLB. Despite the state’s offer to replace any HLB infected tree with a free citrus tree I wouldn’t take them up on the offer. In our case we have three small, immature citrus trees that are already chewed up by citrus leafminers. I’m pondering pulling them up and replaci...

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Growing Food in a Hotter, Drier Land

...ces, like Los Angeles. He points to recent droughts in places which usually receive generous rainfall. Right now it seems as if this tendency toward drought is occurring on a global scale and will worsen in coming years. Unfortunately, conventional, large scale agriculture is not only adding to the problem, it will also not be able to deal with the changes in the making. It is ill-suited to chaotic weather. In sum, if we don’t start growing...

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June: National Bathroom Reading Month

By bikin’ friend Colin informed me last week that he had heard a report on National Public Radio about June being, “National Bathroom Reading Month”. Doing a little digging revealed that, sadly, it was just a publicity stunt for a series of un-funny bathroom humor books and did not have the backing of our congress, senate or president. Nevertheless we thought we’d celebrate bathroom reading month anyways with a look at wh...

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Introducing Nancy Klehm With Tips on Growing Jerusalem Artichokes

...horseradish leaves, wild carrot, hawthorn flower and burdock root. The hops are almost four feet high, the fruit trees are in heavy bloom and my pawpaw birthed 14 blossoms for the first time since I planted its seed seven years ago! The problem with this early spring is that it is likely to freeze between now and may 15. Everyone I know who grows tree fruit commercially is a bit worried about the fast blooms so early in the season. We could los...

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How to Make Soba Noodles

...mer. Made of buckwheat, soba is gluten free, though beginners start with some all purpose flour added in to make it easier to roll out. Sakai has a couple of soba recipes on her website. There’s a basic one here that includes a nice series of photos showing the steps you go through to roll it out and cut it. She also has a beautiful soba recipe using matcha here. Buckwheat flour for making soba is available in any Japanese market. The authe...

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