Bean Fest, Episode 3: Bastardized Puerto Rican Beans

Mrs. Homegrown here: It’s been a tough week here on the bean front. I had two beanfail incidents trying to come up with a recipe for this week. The first, an Armenian recipe for white beans, failed through no fault of its own but because the beans were hopelessly old. No matter how long I cooked them, they stayed crunchy, yet somehow also tasted overcooked. Shudder. Meanwhile, I’d been obsessing on Cuban-style black beans, but fell...

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Notes on Mark Bittman’s “Behind the Scenes of What We Eat”

...ssive environmental degradation, obesity crisis, etc. & etc. (One quick scary fact from the roll of shame: Did you know that 80% of antibiotics used in the US are fed to farm animals? That number has been shooting up fast for the last 20 years. Why are they used on animals? Not so much for illness, but rather to prevent illness in animals living in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions, and to speed growth. They’re prophylactic. Lovely....

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Are Pallets Safe to Reuse?

...henol (TBP) to fumigate pallets. Though, depending on if you believe the trade organizations behind wood pallets or plastic pallets (they hate each other), the Tylenol recall may have had nothing to do with TBP which is not used to fumigate pallets in the US. So, as with most issues on this blog, no easy answer. But I’m still not concerned about using pallets as a building material....

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Mullein (Verbascum thapsus)

...thapsus is one of those plants that most people think of as a weed. Native to Europe and Asia, Verbascum thapsus was introduced to North America because of its many medicinal uses, almost too many to list. Most commonly used for respiratory problems, it also makes both green and yellow dyes and doubles as a fish poison! Tradition holds that it also wards off evil spirits,with some sources saying it’s the herb Ulysses took with him to deal...

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Federico Tbn’s Self Irrigating Pots

inch PVC pipe to refill the reservoir. The plastic on the 5 gallon jug was surprisingly pliable; I was able to mold the top edge to fit the 5 gallon bucket better by carefully heating it with a propane torch.  The art is just for fun, sometimes it is hard for me to leave things unpainted. The second pot uses a sock to wick water up into a container full of cat grass. Kitty looks happy. I’ve used SIPs for years and they are a great tool for...

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California Buckwheat

Here’s a plant SurviveLA would like to see in more Southern California gardens. California buckwheat (Eriogonum fasciculatum foliolosum) has multiple uses–it provides cover and nectar for animals, grows with almost no water, and best of all it produces edible seeds. We’ve gathered the seeds we’ve found in fields and baked it into bread and added it to cereal to both boost nutritional value and to add a nutty flavor. The...

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Nance Klehm at Farmlab Tomorrow

...Everything flows towards soil. This salon will discuss various methods of transforming what is perceived as waste and turning it into soil or building/healing existing soil. Nance Klehm is a radical ecologist, designer, urban forager, grower and teacher. Her solo and collaborative work focuses on creating participatory social ecologies in response to a direct experience of a place. She grows and forages much of her own food in a densely urban are...

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Yucca!

“Now on the western side of the First World, in a place that later was to become the Land of Sunset, there appeared the Blue Cloud, and opposite it there appeared the Yellow Cloud. Where they came together First Woman was formed, and with her the yellow corn. This ear of corn was also perfect. With First Woman there came the white shell and the turquoise and the yucca.” -The Origin Myths of the Navajo Indians The Creation or Age of...

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Least Favorite Plant: Euphorbia tirucalli

...screaming in pain immediately and could not see. Pilar rushed her to the emergency room where she spent several hours hooked up to apparatus that flushed out her eyes. Thankfully she escaped any permanent injury. Ironically, for such a toxic plant, it has many uses, both historical and proposed: Plant blogger Mr. Subjunctive included it in his list of useful houseplants to fend off zombies with over at Plants are the Strangest People. It’...

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Mud for the People! Building an Adobe Garden Wall

This weekend Kelly and I had our first adobe encounter. We were lucky to have been invited to attend a workshop led by Kurt Gardella and Ben Loescher. Kurt also teaches both live and online classes that you can find out about on his website, www.kurtgardella.com. We’ll post announcements for future classes, because I haven’t had so much fun in a long time! This past weekend’s workshop focused on making bricks and building an a...

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