Toilet paper in the woods: a rant and some advice

...that is less often seen in recreation areas. Backpackers know how to Leave No Trace and daytrippers mostly hold it.) This means 95% of nasty clumps of toilet paper I find festooning our precious wild spaces were left there by women. So I’m talking to you, Ladies Who Litter. It is s a form of litter, you know. Just as bad as throwing your Starbuck’s cup on the ground and walking away. People might say it’s “biodegradable&#...

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Quick Tip: DIY Decaf Tea

...g would be more in the 9-20% range, as opposed to 80%. To achieve 80% the steep would have to be over 5 minutes. It’s an interesting article, worth a read–it also addresses the complex subject of how much caffeine black and green teas actually have. I’m not sure if this is common knowledge or not– my acupuncturist told me about it years ago–but you can decaffeinate your own tea. As someone who loves (loves loves) hot...

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Our Grape Arbor

...olished a crumbling addition to the house (a room you had to go through the back bedroom to get to) and replaced it with an arbor. Our neighbor generously gave us the columns that used to be on her front porch and I added a plinth to make them taller. In the background are two apple trees that provide some privacy. It’s taken a couple of years for the grapes to cover the structure. One reason is that we lost two vines to...

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The canning lid conundrum

How do you guys store your used canning lids and rings? We keep a lot of them around because we use canning jars for so many things other than canning: dry goods, leftovers, food-to-go, body care, etc.  My collection is driving me crazy. Never was there a set of more awkward objects than a pile of slippery, jangly rings and lids. Ideas? [Mr. Homegrown in my Master Food Preserver mode chiming in here--as per USDA advice we use...

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Decomposed Granite as Mulch: A very bad idea

...d a horizontal fence, redo the interior in a Home Depot meets Dwell Magazine style and then turn around and sell it for a million bucks. When house flippers tackle a yard they tend towards the “low-maintenance” landscape (in quotes because there’s no such thing as a low-maintenance garden). One of the favorite tools in the flipper landscaping toolbox is decomposed granite (DG) used as a mulch. Put some plastic landscape fabric d...

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Is Ham Radio Useful?

...the club’s radio room, located in the emergency communications center at the offices of a local hospital. It was fun, but the utility of the exercise was not immediately apparent. The cell phone system is a lot more robust than it used to be and you don’t need a licence to use a phone in an emergency. I got home from the contest around 9 pm and as I began to make dinner the windows started rattling and the house began to roll. It was...

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Bees will love your Coyote Brush Hedge

...at coyote brush makes a perfectly lovely hedge if it’s pruned up right. I’d never even thought about it. Most of the talk one hears about coyote brush is that it is sort of ho-hum in appearance but can be used to provide a background to the more showy native plants. I never even thought about how its small, sturdy, bright green, evergreen leaves make it a perfect hedge plant. So, the lesson here is that you can have a more formal/tidy...

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Farmstead Egg Guide & Cookbook Giveaway

.... Here’s one of the recipes from the book: Zucchini and Mint Frittata Mint is not just for iced tea and garnishes on plates! Used in a frittata, it adds just the right savory and herbal note to the vegetables. A frittata can be finished in the oven, or it can be flipped over in the pan and finished on the stove. This recipe gives directions for the stovetop version, but you can also finish it in a hot oven as in the prev...

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Josey Baker Bread: One Bread Book to Rule Them All

I’ve been teaching bread baking for a few years now through both the Institute of Domestic Technology and the Los Angeles Bread Bakers. When students ask what book they should get I have to hold up half a dozen. Not any more. Now I can send students to just one book: Josey Baker Bread. The appropriately named Josey Baker (who used to work with another baker named Dave Miller–who mills his own flour, naturally) has...

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Direct Seeding vs. Transplants

How I used to plant my veggies. An 8 inch spacing guide and some seedlings back in 2009. To direct sow or transplant, that is the question. I’m as indecisive as Hamlet when it comes to this question. Some caveats here: we live in a warm climate where you can direct sow almost anything unless you want to get an early start on tomatoes and peppers. And we don’t have to start seedlings indoors. Another thing to note&...

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