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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Root Simple Redesign

We’re getting ready to make some big improvements to our website. Roman Jaster, the designer of our book Making It (seen at the console in the picture above taking some last minute refinements from Mrs. Homegrown), is just about to pull the switch on the new design. We’re switching from Blogger to WordPress. Our new website design will feature: improved search functions an easier to navigate interface improved comment moderation be...

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A tasty Italian chard: Bieta Verde da Taglio

...round. One of my favorites this winter has been a Swiss chard variety from Italy called Bieta Verde da Taglio or “Green cutting chard”. Verde da Taglio has thin stems and thick leaves. It ain’t as pretty as the rainbow colored chards we are also growing, but it tastes better, in my opinion. Steam it, fry it up with some garlic and olive oil and you’re set. Verde da Taglio is sold by the Franchi company, which I have a bra...

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Bee Rescue Hotline

Backwards Beekeeper Kirk Anderson with the hot tub bees, via the Backwards Beekeeper blog. First off: bee swarm seasons is approaching and, if you’re in the Southern California area and end up with a bunch of bees you don’t want, give the Backwards Beekeepers a call. The number is (213) 373-1104. I’ve put it on the right side of the page. When you call state: How to reach you. Please give us a phone number that you will answ...

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The Making of a Great Olive Oil

Kelly admires the olives Thanks to our good friend Dale Benson, Kelly and I got to see how a really high quality olive oil is made. Dale knows Matt Norelli, the wine and olive oil maker at Preston Vineyards of Dry Creek, an organic family farm near Healdsburg in Northern California. Matt was nice enough to let us watch the complicated olive oil machinery in action. First the freshly picked olives go into a big hopper (above). They are...

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No Need to Knead

The Los Angeles Bread Bakers held their debut demonstration today thanks to the folks at Good. As you can see from the picture above some serious bakers showed up. Teresa Sitz and Mark Stambler Teresa Sitz demonstrated her wild yeast no-knead bread. You can read her recipe over on the LABB Facebook page. Wild yeast breads have a number of advantages over breads made with commercial yeast. Due to higher acidity they keep longer and hav...

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National Wildlife Federation Teams with Scotts

Time to take down those “certified wildlife habitat” signs as it seems the National Wildlife Federation has entered into a “partnership” with Scotts, manufacturers of a host of wildlife unfriendly synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. Some thoughts: Scotts products do grave injury to microbial and fungal life in the soil to say nothing of insects. The NWF has too narrow an idea of what constitutes “wildlife”...

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Canning Citrus

Say you’ve got a huge citrus tree and want to can some of it without using a lot of sugar. The nice thing about citrus is that it’s so acidic you can water bath can it in its own juice, in just water or in a light sugar syrup. In our Master Food Preserver class we did a taste test of tangerine sections canned in a variety of liquids: water very light syrup (1/2 cup sugar per quart) light syrup (1 cup sugar per quart) medium syrup (...

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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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