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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Natural Products Expo West: The Good and the Ugly

...equences later. Imagine the center snack aisles of Whole Foods dumped into a funnel and shoved down your throat. It will be no surprise to most readers of this blog that the “natural” (whatever that means) food industry suffers from the same problems that plague our food system as a whole. Most of the products at the expo are highly processed and high in sugar. Just because something is labeled “gluten free” or “GMO...

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One Secret for Delicious Soup–A Parmesan Cheese Rind

...17;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 dishes, it really adds a nice touch. As to how much rind you should add, it’s kind of hard to say, since rinds vary in thickness. I don’t think it’s necessary to use a whole rind per pot&#...

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The Strange World of Artificial Plants

...ake dead grass mixed in for realism. Perhaps in some ironic post-modern house this artificial turf could fit in. It did remind me of the time a neighbor, who is a Hollywood art director, grabbed me late one evening to help her fake a vegetable garden for a movie. From her I that learned that their are businesses in Hollywood that do nothing other than provide fake plants. Not just flowers, but everything from corn to . . . hemp. Having a bad year...

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Nettle Mania

“out of this nettle, danger, we grasp this flower, safety” -Shakespeare, Henry IV, part 1, Act II Scene 3 Stinging nettles (Urtica dioica) are a common weed with a bad reputation–the plant has tiny spines that inject, as Wikipedia puts it, a “cocktail of poisons.” Miraculously when you boil the plant the spines lose their punch and you’re left with a tasty green consumed plain or incorporated in a number of d...

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Hugo, humanure and nettles

...es; he examined the plants, which were uprooted and already dried, and said: “They are dead. Nevertheless, it would be a good thing to know how to make use of them. When the nettle is young, the leaf makes an excellent vegetable; when it is older, it has filaments and fibres like hemp and flax. Nettle cloth is as good as linen cloth. Chopped up, nettles are good for poultry; pounded, they are good for horned cattle. The seed of the nettle,...

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Mistakes we have made . . .

...7;s agent. Our inspector spent a very short time in our house and ignored large problems, in my opinion, because it was in his favor for the house to sell so that he could continue his relationship with our agent. It’s an inherent conflict of interest for the inspector to have a connection to either real estate agent. 6. Planting a lawn We weren’t always the Molotov cocktail tossing vegetable growing radicals that we are now. Just aft...

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Whiteflies

...g. What we could have done better is to have kept a closer eye on our plants. Daily inspection of more sensitive vegetables is always a good idea, but something we’ve been lax about lately. Keeping intensively planted annual vegetable beds close to places of daily activity means being able to stay on top of pest and disease problems. Raised beds we recently installed by the front door are on the path of our early morning amble down to the s...

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Genetically Modified Oranges Coming to a Store Near You

...ding thousand of acres of abandoned citrus groves, have devastated the Florida citrus industry. The psyllid made its way to California and the industry here is alarmed that HLB will soon follow. A Reuters story on HLB, “A day without genetically altered orange juice” has a number of astonishing revelations, The bacterium that causes citrus greening is so lethal that the U.S. government classified it among potential bioterror tools kno...

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