The Upside Down Fire

lt in the opposite direction: heavy stuff on the bottom, lighter stuff on top, tinder on the very top. Basically, the finished product looks like a bird’s nest sitting on a log cabin. This style of fire is great because it takes care of itself–build it, light it, and get on with your other chores. It lasts a long time too, as it makes very efficient use of the wood. I’ve done this many times, and it works like a charm. The video...

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How do you care for cast iron?

They really knew how to rock cast iron in those days. A couple of months ago I found an 8″ cast iron skillet on the sidewalk. It was a newer model pan, already seasoned, hardly used. One of my neighbors had apparently decided they didn’t like it, or need it. I snatched that puppy up. Not that I need more cast iron–I have three skillets in varying sizes, and no room for another. But to me, cast iron is solid gold. So I gave it t...

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Piet Oudolf’s Enhanced Nature

ilway turned into a park in New York City. Noel Kingsbury is a gardener and writer who has been the primary promoter of Oudolf’s work and what has come to be called naturalistic gardening or the “new style.” It’s an approach that’s more complex than it might seem at first glance. Oudolf walks a fine line between the public’s desire for “nature” and the untidiness of the real thing. Oudolf responds w...

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What’s in Worm Leachate?

Garden Professor Jeff Gillman analyzed worm leachate (the liquids the flow our of your worm bin) from a home vemicompost setup. It’s pretty strong stuff! Gillman concludes, this could be a great liquid fertilizer if it were used properly.  I’d recommend diluting it somewhere between 1:1 and 1:5 worm juice : water before applying it, and I’d only apply it once every week or two.  If you want to use it, try it on something that you’re not t...

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Straw Bale Garden Part III: Adding Fertilizer

After watering our straw bales for three days our next step is to apply a high nitrogen fertilizer. We’re following West Virginia University Extension Service’s Straw Bale Gardening advice. They suggest a 1/2 cup of urea per bale or “bone meal, fish meal, or compost for a more organic approach.” (I think they mean blood meal as bone meal does not have much nitrogen in it.) Choosing the organic approach, we’re water...

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Self-Righteousness Fail: We Bought a Car

usehold overnight. A combination of environmental guilt and distaste for car shopping led us to a six month car free living experiment in Los Angeles. That period ended in late September when we purchased a car from a friend. It’s well past time we came clean and discussed the ups and downs of car-free living, as well as the reasons that led us to start burning dinosaur juice once again. Only a nobody walks in LA First let me dispel the...

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Live Like a Stoic for a Week

Image: Rugu. A group of British academics are asking an important question: “Can the ancient philosophy of Stoicism help us to lead better and happier lives?” This week they’ll be providing everything from a Stoicism Handbook to recorded meditations to help wake your inner Seneca. They are also asking for people to participate in a week-long experiment to see what kind of effect Stoic philosophy can have on day to day living. C...

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Sourdough Bread Class at the Ecology Center in San Juan Capistrano

...anic ingredients. Other benefits of baking at home include using less energy (used in harvesting, processing, and shipping store-bought bread), using less plastic packaging, and spending less money. Become a baker and join us for a weekend of heart-healthy, bread baking workshops: Saturday, June 21, 1-3 to make Sourdough and/or Sunday, June 22, 1-3p to make Sourdough rye! Topics discussed will include: How to make your own sourdough starter (als...

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Sourdough Rye Bread Class at the Ecology Center in San Juan Capistrano

...l reveal the secrets of whole grain baking, plus you’ll learn how you can grind your own grains. In the end, you’ll take home a loaf to bake in your oven. You can’t buy this kind of bread so you better learn how to bake it yourself! By baking bread at home, you’re in charge of what goes into every loaf and can choose to incorporate local and organic ingredients. Other benefits of baking at home include using less energy (used in harvesting,...

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What Epuipment Do You Need to Bake Bread?

ved 90% of my bread baking problems. The scale pictured above is not the scale that I own, unfortunately. The one I have works just fine, but the OXO Good Grips Scale has a really great feature: a pull out display. This makes it easier to read the scale when you’ve got a big bowl on top of it. It’s inexpensive, and I’ve seen it for sale at my local Whole Foods. It’s also the scale we use when I teach classes at the Institu...

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