Bleach Alternatives for Disinfecting Pruning Shears

Apples with fire blight: one reason you should disinfect pruning sheers. Photo by Peggy Greb Neighbor Anne tipped me off to an interesting fact sheet on disinfecting pruning sheers by Dr. Linda Chalker-Scott, a horticulture professor at Washington State University. I’ve been using bleach which, it turns out, is not the best choice. Bleach is both toxic to humans and to plants as well. It also stains clothes and damages tools. Chal...

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Self-watering terracotta seed-starters!

...Even better, Anne’s seed starters are made out of terracotta instead of plastic. We’ve tried out her 6-pack model. It’s really cute, and it worked like a charm. Now she’s doing a Kickstarter so she can move her business, Orta, out of the garage and produce a technically more complex 12-pack seed-starter.  So if you’re interested in getting first grabs at her new 12-pack model, or just willing to give a hand to someon...

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Aerated Compost Tea: Does it Work?

...esent a balanced story. I’m interested in hearing from readers about their ACT experiences. Have you tried it? Do you think it works? Or are you skeptical? Leave a comment or send me an email with your name, where you live and whether ACT did or did not work for you. I’d like to gather some anecdotal reports for the story and your help is greatly appreciated. For those of you not familiar with ACT, here’s a good explanation with...

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How To Capture a Bee Swarm With Kirk Anderson

Swarm season is here in Southern California and will arrive elsewhere in North America with the coming of spring. In this video, beekeeper Kirk Anderson shows you how to catch a swarm. It’s the best way, in my opinion, to get bees to start your own hive. Why? Swarms, unlike packaged bees, are free. They are also local, meaning the bees know how to deal with your micro-climate. To capture a swarm you: Spray the swarm with a mixture of w...

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Black Widow or False Black Widow?

...if this particular spider might be a false widow, Steatoda grossa, or a male black widow, Latrodectus hesperus? It’s about 1/2 inch in size. UPDATE 5/10:  After reviewing the evidence, I believe this is a false black widow. However, my trouble are not over, because it turns out that they do have a venomous bite, apparently somewhat like a mild black widow bite. Here’s the bite intensity scoop according to UC IPM: black widows: obviou...

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Book Review: The Blood of the Earth: An Essay on Magic and Peak Oil

...wledge is tied up in digital media. Choose one thing you want to be able to pass on to future generations. Maybe it’s a book, or a song, a philosophy, or a craft technique. Find some way to preserve it and pass it on. The one drawback to this book is that it is not cheap. The publisher, Scarlet Imprint, is offering it in three forms. Two–a gorgeous leather bound edition and a handsome cloth-bound edition–are tempting, but out of...

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Shelter

We’ve been huge fans of author Lloyd Khan ever since reading his seminal book Shelter. For many years Khan has traveled the world chronicling indigenous and extreme DIY architecture. He has an eye for buildings that have a sense of place and a connection with nature. Reading and viewing the photos in his books you’ll pick up both practical ideas and daydream of fantastical structures at once spiritual and playful. Like the Whole Eart...

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