California’s Drought and What To Do About It

By this summer, due to the worst drought in memory, California will resemble the desert planet Arakis in Frank Herbert’s novel Dune. Not only will we be watering our lawns less, we’ll be drinking our own urine. Knife fights with a bikini clad Sting will break out and we’ll be trading our bikes for rides on the over-sized worms emerging from our compost bins. But I digress. Let’s cover what we’re...

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Tomato Report II: Franchi Red Pear

...ped with vertical ribs . . . Really meaty containing few seeds. Indeterminate. One problem I’ve had with it is that it’s not super productive, at least in my vegetable beds.  I also think I may have over-watered it this summer and, consequently, it’s not quite as flavorful as last year’s more “meaty” crop. So what beefsteak varieties do you like? I’m looking for suggestions for next year–hybrids...

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The Cat Poop Portal: Litter Box Composting, Installment #1

...ween this style and ordinary composting is that we’ll let this compost rest for two years before we spread it, to be sure the bad beasties die off. And in case they aren’t gone, we won’t spread the finished compost around edible plants. No, this is not orthodox practice. It is not considered “safe” to compost pet waste–all the standard advice tells you not to– but we’re doing it anyway, because we t...

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The World’s Most Beautiful Okra

If you live in a warm climate, okra is easy to grow and both beautiful and tasty. I spotted this variety growing at the Huntington Ranch: Burgundy Okra from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.The stems and seed pods are a deep and vibrant burgundy–a very stunning plant for your vegetable garden. While not as striking, this year I grew Clemson Spineless okra from seeds I saved. And thanks to a tip (can’t remember where I heard this) I’...

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Urban Homesteading Thing Catching On

I have a Google alert set up for the phrase “urban homestead”. Lately I’ve noticed more real estate and apartment listings using this phrase. Our neighbors Anne and Bill even used it to rent out their duplex. A rental listing that includes the photos in this post came from a real estate concern renting out an apartment in Edmonton, Canada. For $1,600 Canadian dollars a month you get:  hot water on demand system.  sunroom has...

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The Secret to Japanese Cooking: Dashi

...field theory of Japanese cooking: dashi. It’s in everything from noodle dishes to sauces to miso soup and it cooks up in just minutes. Dashi contains two ingredients, kombu (a kind of kelp) and bonito (shaved, fermented fish flakes). It’s the backbone of Japanese cooking, but we think it’s gentle, savory character could adapt well to Western-style cooking if you use it as a substitute for vegetable stock. Dashi only keeps a fe...

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How To Design a Garden Step IV: Clues to Care

...ee, to a piece of garden statuary. Particularly if your garden has a wild look or if you’re trying to grow vegetables in the front yard,  “clues to care” can go a long ways to keeping the neighbors happy. Dr. Susan J. Mulley, a landscape architecture professor at Cal Poly Pomona is doing some interesting research on how people react to alternative forms of landscaping such as native plants and urban vegetable gardens. She’...

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Cornmeal Zucchini Pancakes

...asy, Queen of the Edible Landscape. If you don’t, look her up. She wrote Edible Landscaping, among others. It turns out that she’s not only an amazing gardener, one who makes colors and textures sing, who makes edible gardens more beautiful than any ornamental garden I’ve ever seen, but she cooks, too.  Darn her and her…her…competence!!! Erik found her Recipes from the Garden at the library and brought it home. This...

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Geoff Lawton Soils Video

...ing viewing a video entitled Soils featuring permaculturalist Geoff Lawton. What I like about this video is that it’s not just about soil, but Lawton actually shows you what you can do to improve your soil. In the DVD he demonstrates how to build a compost pile (lots of carbon material), contoured vegetable beds, a compost pile heated shower and a simple vermiculture system using an old bathtub to name just a few projects. You get practical...

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How to Get Skunks Out of Your Basement and Yard

...wl space critter B&B was opened by virtue of a flimsy access door. Some animal, most likely a raccoon, pried it open. The problem with this situation is that you can’t just close up the door. Some poor creature would die a horrible death and then stink up the house for months. The answer is to create a one-way critter exit. To make an exit you need a raccoon trap. I got a cheap one at Harbor Freight. But you’re not going to use it...

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