Bean Fest, Episode 3: Bastardized Puerto Rican Beans

...t’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 into a deep well of conf...

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Your Essential Oil Toolkit

...’t deny that they are pricey, but once you start using them, and you see how far they stretch and how many uses they can be put to, you’ll start to understand why they’d be a bargain at twice the price. Best of all, the most useful oils (to my way of thinking) are the cheapest. My picks are: lavender essential oil, peppermint essential oil and tea tree oil. These three would make a good starter set for anyone, and are also a goo...

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Are Pallets Safe to Reuse?

...ticides. A certified applicator license is required to purchase and use these products and strict adherence to label directions/requirements is mandatory. Under normal fumigation conditions methyl bromide is a gas and when the pallets are properly aerated according to label instructions, virtually no methyl bromide residue remains on the pallets and wood materials. Now I’m not a methyl bromide fan and I find it’s use as a soil fum...

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California Buckwheat

...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 local and resourceful Tongva Indians used the...

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Federico Tbn’s Self Irrigating Pots

...ld 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 landless gardeners. Federico has taken the SIP a step further by making them beautiful. You c...

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Mullein (Verbascum thapsus)

...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 with the treacherous sorcerer Circe. It’s a useful, strik...

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Yucca!

...e Southern California area. SurviveLA likes plants that do not require supplemental irrigation and have multiple uses and the yucca plant, in addition to making rope, can also be used for basket weaving, as a detergent, a white wool dye, a quiver for your arrows, and it also produces edible flowers, seeds, and fruit. Some important distinctions here. First of all we are not talking about “yuca” which is another name for the cassava pl...

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Nance Klehm at Farmlab Tomorrow

...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 area. She actively composts food, landscape and human waste. She only uses a flush toilet when no other option is av...

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Least Favorite Plant: Euphorbia tirucalli

...rhaps we can propel one our rapidly gentrifying neighborhood’s many Priusi.  The Purdue University Center for New Crops and Plants Products lists off dozens of uses for the plant including this gem: “In Tanganyika, the latex is used for sexual impotence (but users should recall ‘the latex produces so intense a reaction … as to produce temporary blindness lasting for several days.’” Using temporary blindnes...

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Something for Nothing – Wild Mustard Greens

Sometimes there is such a thing as a free lunch, which was the case for us yesterday after discovering a large stand of white mustard (Sinapis alba) growing at the end of a nearby dead end street. Mustard grows all over the neighborhood, but rarely in a place out of dog pee range like this little patch. Classified by the USDA as a noxious weed, the leaves have a pleasant and pungent flavor and can be eaten raw or cooked. From the Plants for a F...

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