Vegetable Garden Note Taking

A page from Thomas Jefferson’s garden diary. My worst mistake in the fifteen years we have been gardening here in Los Angeles has been my shoddy note taking. Even though we don’t have frosts to contend with, it still can be tricky to figure out when to plant vegetables. In a lecture I attnded at the National Heirloom Exoposition, Sonoma County gardening guru Wendy Krupnick had a simple suggestion for what to take n...

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Vegetable Gardening Workshops at the Natural History Museum

Master Gardener Florence Nishida will be teaching a four part vegetable gardening class starting in March. Florence is a great teacher and there are a number of discounted spaces for people in zip codes surrounding the Natural History Museum. To sign up for the class go to the museum’s event page or call 213 763-3349. Act soon as it’s sure to sell out....

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The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Beekeeping

We’re very lucky, here in Los Angeles, to have the Backwards Beekeepers whose meetings are led by beekeeper Kirk Anderson, who teaches a radical form of beekeeping that includes: Letting the bees form their own comb (most beekeepers use pre-made foundation). Capturing feral swarms, rather than ordering bees. Using no treatments of any kind. The result is healthier bees with much more robust immune systems than their over-bred and drugg...

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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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2013 in Review Part II

...t my Ham license–KK6HUF. December I harvest one big-ass squash out of the straw bale garden we planted in the spring. In the ongoing post-modern funhouse of mirrors that is the interwebs, reader Molly informs me that Home Depot put our straw bale garden on their Pinterest page. Maybe I’ll get a free orange bucket, a unhappy flat of petunias or an ugly set of patio furniture as a kickback. That big-ass squash is a reminder of how fort...

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Nomadic Furniture

Image: Domus. The 1970s was a golden era for DIY furniture manuals. One of the best is Nomadic Furniture, a 1973 book by designers Victor Papanek and James Hennessy.  Papanek and Hennessy are gifted designers. Nomadic Furniture contains instructions for cardboard seats, bookshelves, lamps made from milk jugs, hexagonal dining sets as well as a two page hymn to the waterbed (ok, not sure about that thoughtstyling). The subtitle...

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Lego-Robot Chickens

...r training chickens, Root Simple pal and fellow Master Food Preserver Diane Trunk posted a video on our Facebook page. Diane explains, Here’s a link to a silly video of our trained chickens. My son trained them to come running in response to a beep. The beep signaled that a lego-robot box (you’ll see) was going to open, and the hens would get their favorite treat: string cheese. Alas, these hens are no longer with us. Our new ladies...

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