The Mystery of the Zero-Irrigation Squash

...with squash vines, as we were growing two types of large squash: Tromboncino and “Long of Naples”.  They were both tasty as juveniles, but our long wait for them to ripen was disappointing. Both were rather bland. Bland yet remarkably plenteous. We tried many things to make this stuff useful and/or tasting: pies, pickles, soups, but in the end we felt like we were always trying to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. Though we...

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012 Damnation, Good Books and Listener Questions

...bread, weeds and fertilizer. We briefly mention our experiment in house cleaning inspired by a post on Apartment Therapy. Those damn dams! Go to the Damnation Website to watch the documentary trailer and find links to where you watch the whole movie. Via Youtube, a documentary on China’s massive Three Gorges dam. I didn’t mention it during the podcast, but I used to work at the Center for Land Use Interpretation. The CLUI did a show...

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

...California is suffering from drought. In Los Angeles, we’ve experienced back to back two of the driest winters on record (winter is our rainy season). Last year’s rainfall total was under 6 inches. The governor has asked California residents to cut their water use by 20%.  Apparently, we’ve only managed to cut it by 5%. There’s a strange sense of unreality about the drought. I think that’s because we&#...

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How do you care for cast iron?

...really knew how to rock cast iron in those days. A couple of months ago I found an 8″ cast iron skillet on the sidewalk. It was a newer model pan, already seasoned, hardly used. One of my neighbors had apparently decided they didn’t like it, or need it. I snatched that puppy up. Not that I need more cast iron–I have three skillets in varying sizes, and no room for another. But to me, cast iron is solid gold. So I gave it to a fr...

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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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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

...t  (Thanks, Laura!) brought alerted me to an excellent post on tea myths and includes findings from (apparently) the only two studies to every test this methodology of reducing caffeine levels in tea.  These show that the reduction from a short steeping would be more in the 9-20% range, as opposed to 80%. To achieve 80% the steep would have to be over 5 minutes. It’s an interesting article, worth a read–it also addresses the complex s...

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