Thirsty bees

Did you know bees need to drink water? They seek out shallow water sources like puddles and bird baths. Even if you don’t keep bees, you can help out our little pollinator friends (and a host of other wildlife) by keeping a bird bath or even just putting a saucer of fresh water out for them. You can do this even if you don’t have a yard–try keeping a saucer of water on, say, a balcony railing or in a window box. If you keep...

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Grow Biointensive Videos

I’ve often threatened that our next book would adapt the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders into a vegetable gardening guide. Obsessive/compulsive? Here’s how you plant radishes . . . Wherever I fall in the diagnostic manual, the vegetable gardening method I’ve used for the past few years has been based on John Jeavon’s “Biointensive” method as descr...

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The binoculars are always close at hand

A typical breakfast scene: Erik surveys the neighborhood from our “hilltop aerie.” What’s he looking at? Perhaps a lithesome jogger? Actually, no. When I took this picture he was admiring something poking out of a recycling bin over on Coronado Terrace. I’ve never quite got used to my man’s propensity to snatch up the binoculars, but I don’t really disapprove either. Erik is a peculiar peeping tom. His viewin...

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Stinging Nettles and Cat Allergies

Facebookers have already seen these pics. Kitty, being a fast moving black hole, is very hard to photograph. Mrs. Homegrown here: Sorry this is sort of rambling, but context is everything. Our friend Anne, of the pea-eating-Chihuahua fame, and the chicken-sitting-on-kitten fame, and various other fames, is a frequent animal rescuer. She came over to our house maybe 2 weeks ago with a pet carrier. She said, “Someone dropped this of...

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Sunflowers and Squirrels

It’s a losing battle, the one we gardeners face against the squirrel menace. As the mammoth sunflowers we planted this summer approached the harvest stage, I tied some paper bags over the flower heads to prevent squirrels and birds from eating all the seeds. Mostly, it has worked. But, as you can see from the animation above, one pesky squirrel managed to figure out how to open one of the bags. Perhaps he used the adjacent tomato cage for...

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CooKit Solar Cooker Made Out of Wood

The nice folks at Solar Cookers International gave us permission to reprint plans for their CooKit solar cooker in our book Making It. You can access those plans, as well as many other solar cooker projects, for free, on their website here. I’ve made CooKits out of cardboard and aluminum foil a couple of times. One problem is that I eventually bang up the cardboard and I’ve got to make a new one. This summer I had a lot of  1/4 inc...

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Two Vegetable Gardening Commandments

Two of our vegetable beds looking kinda shabby. I spent the Thanksgiving weekend up on the vegetable gardening equivalent of Mount Sinai receiving a set of revelations. Someday I’ll have Mrs. Homegrown transcribe the complete stone tablets (urbanite rather than stone, technically) I received in their entirety. In the meantime, I’ll share two of the commandments: 1. Thou shalt not have more vegetable beds than thou canst ma...

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Earthquake Proofing the Pantry

So I finally got around to earthquake proofing the pantry. All it took was a bunch of four foot bungee cords which seemed to have just about the right amount of stretch to span our seven foot shelves. You could probably use the same four foot bungee cords to span an even longer shelf. I used eye hooks to anchor the ends of the cords. Looking at the picture, the height of the cords on some of the shelves might not be optimal (looks like some of...

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Other People’s Poo: Biosolids in the Garden

It’s people! Why not use city compost in your garden? Ecological designer Darren Butler, at a class I was sitting in on, showed a soil report from a site that had used compost from the city of Los Angeles. LA’s compost contain biosolids, a euphemism for sewage. The soil test showed high levels of: zinc 196 ppm copper 76 ppm sulfur 5,752 ppm The problem isn’t human waste, it’s all the other stuff that ends up...

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A Sonora and Kamut Wheat Field in Los Angeles County!

Sonora wheat The Los Angeles Bread Bakers, of which I’m a co-founder along with Teresa Sitz and Mark Stambler, have teamed with farmer Andrea Crawford, of Kenter Canyon Farms, to plant what I think may be the first wheat field in Los Angeles County in many years. Wheat used to be widely grown here, especially Sonora wheat, a drought tolerant variety originally bought to the Southwest by the Spanish. Along with Sonora, we planted...

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