Chop and Drop: Leaving Plant Residues in the Garden

Image from California Agriculture Since 2004, University of California scientists have been studying “conservation tillage,” a suite of techniques that includes practices such as reducing tillage and leaving crop residues in the field after harvest. Leaving crop residues, in permacultural lingo, “chop and drop,” it turns out has a number of important benefits. According to a research paper in the April-June 2012...

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Return of Recipe Friday! Carrot Soup

We had a party at our house last week and lots of people brought baby carrots. And no one took their baby carrots home with them when they left. So I took the pile of baby carrots and made a pureed carrot soup with them–one of my all-time favorite soups, in fact. Working with baby carrots was kind of fantastic. No chopping! No peeling! Doing this reminded me that I haven’t shared this recipe on the blog, so I dug up the original re...

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Straw Bale Garden Tour Part II

In this video we take a tour of our straw bale garden as it appears this week. The vegetables varieties you see growing are Tromboncino squash, Lunga di Napoli squash (growing up into a native bush), Matt’s Wild Cherry tomato, Celebrity tomato, eggplant and Swiss chard. And just to take down my smugness a notch I also included a shot of an unsuccessful cucumber plant. Other than the cucumber, though, this is one of the most productive v...

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Matt’s Wild Cherry Tomato

...att’s Wild Cherry image from Johnny’s Select Seeds. Permaculturalist Paul Wheaton was in our neck of the woods this weekend to give a couple of lectures. In his talk on “Irrigation Free Foodscapes” he mentioned a variety of tomato called “Matt’s Wild Cherry” that, as the name implies, is a wild-type tomato that grows without supplemental irrigation. Many avid vegetable gardeners have probably had the expe...

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Beans 101 (Return of Bean Friday!)

...ur back. Skeptical? Here are a few very simple dishes you can throw together if you’ve got cooked beans in the fridge: Tacos, of course. Keep a big pack of corn tortillas in the fridge and deploy for fast, cheap eating. Cheapo corn tortillas taste best if they’re toasted in skillet before serving. Fancy them up by chopping up whatever fresh vegetables and herbs you happen to have on hand (radish, cabbage, carrot, green onion, parsley...

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One Secret for Delicious Soup–A Parmesan Cheese Rind

...are magic flavor bombs. All you do is add them to soup or bean dishes. Add them at the start of cooking, because they need a good long while to soften up and release their flavor goodness. They don’t make the dish taste cheesy, but rather add that elusive umami (rich, savory) character to the dish. I think it would be redundant to use the rind if you are already using meat or bacon fat or the like in your soup, but for vegetable-based dishe...

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Growing Your Own Food is Like Printing Your Own Money: Ron Finley’s TED Talk

...rilla gardener Ron Finley’s inspiring Ted talk. I first heard about Ron after he got busted for planting a vegetable garden in what used to be a weed strewn parkway. He’s gone on to plant many more gardens around Los Angeles. The end of this talk really hit home for me, “Don’t call me if you want to sit around and have meetings. If you want to meet with me come to the garden with your shovel so we can plant some s**t.̶...

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Roasted Asparagus

...I forget that some people find it intimidating. Maybe that’s because of those dedicated asparagus cookers they sell, and associations with silver tongs and Hollandaise sauce and hotel brunches. Yet the truth is all you have to do is roast it. Here’s a universal rule: everything tastes better roasted. Even vegetables. I can’t think of one vegetable that doesn’t roast nicely, and asparagus is one of my favorites. All vegeta...

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Appletastic Apple Cake

...n a regular round cake pan, or even a square one. It’s just that the final product is a little sticky, and the springform helps with a clean release. You’ll lose points for presentation if you have to dig it out of a regular pan, but it will still taste mighty good. The cake batter: 1/2 cup flour1/3 sugar1 tablespoon baking powder1/8 teaspoon sea salt1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract2 large eggs, lightly beaten2 tablespoons vegetable oil1/...

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Edible and Tasty Arugula Flowers

Our winter vegetable garden is just about finished. This week I’m going to tear out most of it and plant tomatoes and a few other summer veggies. I may keep some of the arugula that has gone to flower a little longer. Why? arugula flower taste great in salads bees love them arugula self seeds readily The flowers, which taste like the leaves, are a reminder of my favorite time of year: arugula season. Each year I curse...

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