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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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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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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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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Root Simple’s New CritterCam

...y recent birthday Kelly got me a Moultrie M-990i game camera, a device used by hunters and wildlife researchers. It’s a digital still and video camera with a infrared flash and a motion detector. If something moves in front of the camera a picture or video is taken. It also stamps the time and records temperature and moon phase. [See update at the end of this post--this is probably the wrong camera for the application I intend. Thanks Max!]...

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Dry Climate Vegetables

...h. New Zealand Spinach The one I’m most excited about is New Zealand spinach (Tetragonia tetragonioides). It’s reappeared for at lest three years now. And for us it’s much easier to grow than (unrelated) spinach. Fennel Fennel also comes back every year–so much so that if we don’t stay on top of weeding we’d end up with a fennel forest. I wouldn’t plant this if I lived on the edge of...

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Of Skunks, Sauerkraut and Stoicism

We were honored when the nice folks behind Stoic Week 2013 asked us to write a blog post. It begins, Practicality is why stoicism works so well as the philosophical operating system of urban homesteading. While Foucault and Hegel might help me navigate the epistemological frontier, when I’m staring at a carefully tended vegetable bed that just got destroyed by a skunk, you can bet I’ll reach for the Seneca. Read the rest here...

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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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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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