My New Drug Dealer Phone

I’m not a fan of cell phones. I don’t like being interrupted when I’m away from home. But good luck finding a pay phone. For that reason cell phones have become somewhat of a necessity in modern life. A few years ago a reader suggested picking up a prepaid phone. We had one for a long time and it worked great, as long as you don’t use it that much. We lost it and I  had to replace it recently. For $20 I picked up the Tra...

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How Much Can You Carry on a Bicycle?

How I transported the 8-foot poles for our new trellis. We’re overdue for an update on our car-free Los Angeles lifestyle experiment, but one thing that has made it possible is the cargo bike I’ve had since 2006, the Xtracycle. Xtracycle pioneered the “longtail” bike, essentially a bike stretched out in order to accommodate large panier bags. My Xtracycle was an add-on to an existing mountain bike. Xtracycle and their com...

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Defining a Garden’s Purpose

...t a UCLA anthropology team discovered when they placed cameras in 32 Los Angeles homes to see how people used their houses and back yards, “More than half of the families in the Los Angeles Study spent zero leisure time (none for kids, none for parents) in their back yards during our filming. In quite a few of these cases, no family member so much as stepped into the back yard for any purpose. For another 25 percent of the families, the parents d...

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Hoshigaki Success!

...t has a much firmer texture–hoshigaki has the texture of a gummy bear). It took about a month. One observation is that the persimmons that got the most sun also developed the most “frosting”. Hoshigaki sells for upwards of $35 a pound–I just saw some at a Japanese market and they did not look as good as the ones I made. This is definitely a project I’ll be repeating next year. They would make a great gift along with...

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Barley Water

...r in a can from a Japanese supermarket, and I believe unsweetened barley water is a health drink all the way from India to Japan. And of course, there’s hot and cold roasted barley tea in those parts, too. Health claims for barely water vary depending on how and where it’s made. It has been used as a pap for infants, as a balm for digestive systems, to sooth sore throats and to cure UTIs, to promote lactation, and even to combat hig...

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Return of Recipe Friday! Carrot Soup

...it’s something I copied from a magazine onto a card fifteen years ago or so. It’s amazing how such a simple soup can have so much flavor. The sweet-spicy flavor and bright orange color also make it an ideal dish for this time of year. Each time I eat it I feel like I’m doing something really good for my body. Carrot Soup 2 tablespoons olive oil or butter About 2 pounds of carrots, peeled and sliced into chunks* (Peeling is o...

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Seeking Opinions for a Cargo Bike Review

A Christiania trike I’m reviewing a few cargo bikes for Urban Farm Magazine and I’m interested in hearing opinions from you, our dear readers. Leave a comment or send me an email. Let me know what cargo bike you have and what you think about it. What do you haul? Did you give up a car? Note: I’m not reviewing trailers, just cargo bikes. I have an Xtracycle that I’ve used for years and am very happy with. But the...

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Get a Soil Test!

...ou buy property–and that means getting a soil test from a soil lab. They’re not that expensive, especially when you consider the high cost of remediation, and the well being of your self and your family. Test soil for both nutrients and heavy metals when: Buying a house or land Starting to grow food in your yard   Are growing food and have never tested Starting a plot in a community garden or a school garden Buying soil in bulk Pr...

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Cat Update

Last week was fairly traumatic around here. We learned two scary things–the first was that we might be living on a Superfund clean-up site, and the second was that something was seriously wrong with our kitten, Phoebe. As Erik just posted, the lead issue remains up in the air, and will be for quite some time. But we did find answers regarding Phoebe, and while it is bad news, it is not as bad as our worst imaginings, and it’s good...

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Upcoming Classes: Edible Gardening and Vermicomposting

...GROW LA VICTORY GARDENING BEGINNING CLASSES In partnership with the LA County Master Gardener Program In Silver Lake: hosted by Root SimpleTuesday and Thursday evenings, Oct 4, 6, 11, 13, 6:00 to 9:00pm$85 early registration for payments received by September 23, $95 thereafter$25 per single class if availableSilver Lake series is filling up quickly  Recommended for those who have moderate organic gardening skills, are new gardeners, have moved...

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