Can our landscapes model a vibrant future? Not according to the LA DWP.

...ne our yards, we need to see examples of yards which work on a different paradigm, and we need to see so many of them that they become part of our shared visual vocabulary. Sorry about the dim photo–the sun was setting–but I think it gives the general idea. This brings me to the new landscaping at our local Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LA DWP) distributing station. I believe it used to have a typical s...

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Our Grape Arbor

Several years ago I demolished 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 struct...

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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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Sourdough Bread Class at the Ecology Center in San Juan Capistrano

Ditch the preservatives and plastic wrap. Join us and learn how to make homemade, all-natural bread from scratch. Learn to bake bread the natural way, with a sourdough starter. Sourdough cultures make breads with bolder flavors, a longer shelf life and deliver the health benefits of living, fermented foods. In this hands-on workshop we’ll make a simple loaf using a version of the miraculous and easy Chad Robertson Tarti...

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Artificial Turf: Is It Ever a Good Idea?

Another winning product from the folks at Monsanto. In the midst of a drought, our local Department of Water and Power is offering a $3 a square foot rebate for residents and businesses who remove their lawn in favor of less water hungry plantings. Those dollars add up if you’ve got even a modest sized backyard. But the devil is always in the details. While the LADWP has some very good information on lawn alternatives as...

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Toilet paper in the woods: a rant and some advice

...for safety and fun and convenience. I just wish that there was some more education about how to properly pee in the woods. It’s not hard to take care of your own needs and take care of the land at the same time. To whit: 4 tidy ways to pee in the woods Carry a zip lock baggie in your pocket. Put your used toilet paper in the bag and carry it until you get to the next garbage can. It won’t smell, it’s not that gross. It’s...

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Quick Tip: DIY Decaf Tea

...doesn’t taste as good as “real tea”–the undiluted kind– but it’s better than the store bought stuff. An additional advantage is that you don’t have to stock two types of tea–one type becomes two, saving shelf space. Note that this works best with loose leaf tea, but can be used with bagged tea, too. All you have to do is brew your tea as you normally would, but start counting as soon as you pour the...

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All Natural No-Treatment Beekeeping Class at the Ecology Center

I’ll be teaching a natural beekeeping class tomorrow at the Ecology Center in San Juan Capistrano at 1pm. Sign up here. Become a backyard beekeeper and enjoy a healthy garden full of pollinators. Understand the basics of bees, all natural beekeeping methods, tools, materials, and techniques to get you started. It’s said that beekeeping, or apiculture, began with the Egyptians whom used logs, boxes, and pottery ves...

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Creating a Moon Garden

...ower (Viguiera laciniata) shrub in full bloom, was shot under low light conditions long after sunset last night. The occasion was a lecture and walk led by Carol Bornstein, garden director at the Los Angeles County Natural History Museum. Bornstein’s talk used the Natural History Museum’s garden to demonstrate the many reasons why we should consider how our gardens look at night. Why create a moon garden? For many people, nighttime is...

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