Happy Fornicalia!

Oven at Pompeii. Image: Wikipedia. Today (or roundabouts) the ancient Romans celebrated the festival of Fornicalia in tribute to Fornax, the goddess of the hearth and baking. And, yes indeed, it’s where we get the word “fornicate” — for reasons that aren’t entirely clear. It’s either because prostitutes used to operate out of bread oven-shaped basements in Rome, or because the “bun in the oven” eup...

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Build a Worm Tower

...en to have worm & compost expert Nancy Klehm staying with us this weekend, and she explained to us that this particular technology makes a lot of sense for hot, dry climates (note the video comes from Australia), because it’s sunken and it allows the worms to distribute themselves in the cool soil during the day. Conversely, I can imagine this wouldn’t be such a great thing in rainy climates as it could easily flood. Nancy told u...

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Bare Root Fruit Tree Season is Here!

Yet another Internet “un-boxing.” This time fruit trees. Our bare root fruit tree order just arrived from Bay Laurel Nursery. We ordered: Tropic Snow Peach on Nemaguard rootstock Panamint Nectarine on Citation rootstock CoffeeCake (Nishimura Wase) Persimmon Saijo Persimmon (pollinator for CoffeeCake) Flavor Finale Pluot on Myrobalan 29C rootstock Santa Rosa Plum on Citation rootstock (pollinator for the Flavor Finale Pluot...

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The Barrier Method

Over the years we’ve lost countless plants to digging, chewing, trampling and sucking critters, mammals and insects both. We finally got smart. It makes sense to invest a little extra time and money to protect your crops and your livestock with physical barriers. This practice started sort of piecemeal around here, with us only exerting ourselves over particularly problem-prone situations. Nowadays protection is standard for every bed we p...

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Our Winter Vegetable Garden

Favas n’ peas It’s a blessing and a curse to live in a year round growing climate. Winter here in Southern California is the most productive time for most vegetables. It also means that there’s no time off for the gardener or the soil. In the interest of better note keeping, what follows is a list of what we’re growing this winter in the vegetable garden. We’ll do an update in the spring to let you know how...

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Moving Bees Out of a Meter Box

Nuc box (new home) on left–utility box enclosure (old home) on right. I got an email the other day from someone who had a beehive in his electric meter box, a popular destination for bees in this area. It was a very small hive that had taken up residence just a few weeks ago. The house was about to be put up for sale so I had to get them out pronto. I brought along a cardboard nuc box–a temporary hive box used to transport b...

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Medlar: The Best Fruit You’ve Never Heard Of

...a Farms. See, Craig has a place up in those hills, and just happened to know his neighbors had a little grove of medlars, and these neighbors agreed to sell them to Craig and Tara, provided Craig and Tara picked them. For us, it was a great excuse for a trip to the mountains with a bunch of friends for some laughs, fresh air and gorgeous fall scenery. Also along for the medlar hunt were Joseph Shuldiner and Graham Keegan. As a group we gathered 1...

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Sundiner

Beekeeper Dennis made one of those once in a lifetime garage sale finds earlier this year: a solar oven from the 1960s called the “Sundiner.” I couldn’t find much on the interwebs about it except for a brief mention in the  April 1963 issue of Desert Magazine, “Here’s a new product that suits desert living as few others can—it collects and concentrates the heat of the sun and allows outdoor cooking without fuel...

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It’s Elementary

another interview or two, though I can’t guarantee I’ll talk to everyone. I took the picture above at a volunteer work day at the 24th Street Elementary School in the West Adams district of Los Angeles yesterday. It’s run by the Garden School Foundation. I can’t tell you how amazing this garden is, but I think the picture above says it all. It’s about the future, and that future is going to have more mulch and a lot...

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Build a Washing Machine Greywater Surge Tank

would ordinarily just go down the sewer will instead water your plants after first spending a short time in the fifty gallon drum. Temporarily draining your washing machine into a fifty gallon drum has two advantages. First, it allows hot water to cool and secondly it prevents siphoning mishaps and washing machine pump burnouts that can happen if you try to move the water directly to your garden through a pipe. Here’s how to create a surge...

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