Garden Amendments as Placebos

I just finished writing an article for Urban Farm Magazine on the subject of aerated compost tea (ACT for short). It proved to be one of the most contentious subjects on which I’ve ever tried to, as Mark Twain liked to say, “corral the truth.” It got me thinking about other controversial soil additives popular in organic gardening and farming circles right now such as rock dust, mycorrhizae additives, and bi...

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Back to the Ranch

Ranch photo from the Huntington’s Ranch blog. I’ve never had so much fun at a symposium as I did at the Huntington’s urban agriculture blow-out this weekend. The two day event launched the Huntington’s new experimental urban agricultural station known as the “Ranch” and featured a diverse bunch of speakers. The Ranch will provide much needed information on edible landscapes and food forestry, particul...

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Straw Bale Garden Part IV: Almost Ready to Plant?

Over the past fifteen days I’ve been “conditioning” my straw bale garden by adding blood meal and a lot of water. During the conditioning process we had both a freak rainstorm (helpful) and a freak heatwave (not so good). The bales did not heat up as much as I expected–as of this morning they are around 80° F, around 15° to 20° higher than the ambient temperature. Several sources I checked, however, su...

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Food Storage as Art

Artist Jihyun Ryou’s work uses food storage techniques from the pre-refrigerator era in a way that’s both useful and beautiful. Her goal is to, “Try to bring your food in front of your eyes” to counteract that tendency we all have to make our refrigerators unintentional composters. The techniques she demonstrates include: Evaporation Sand, both to keep vegetables vertical and to decrease humidity Using the ethylene g...

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L’hamd markad – Preserved Salted Lemons

One of the big problems with citrus trees is that you get a whole lot of fruit all at one time. There are two ways to deal with this–share the harvest and/or preserve it. Homegrown Revolution has done both this week by mooching some lemons off of a friend’s tree and preserving them by making one of the essential ingredients of Moroccan food, L’hamd markad or preserved salted lemons. L’hamd markad is easy to make. HereR...

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Saturday Linkages: DIY Coffee Roasting and That Crazy Rhubarb Lady

IKEA hack: DIY coffee roaster. DIY IKEA hack FrankenRoaster – DIY Coffee Roaster Drum http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/Ikeahacker/~3/Ii6NHUh_5Hg/frankenroaster-coffee-roaster-drum.html … Made in the Shade: Building a Vertical Garden Under the Canopy of Our Guava Tree http://disq.us/8en1h5 Create Your Own Hipster Logo In 6 Steps http://www.fastcodesign.com/node/1673156  Back to Basics: Direct Hydropower http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/typepad/...

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How to Deal with Extremely Root Bound Plants

First off, don’t buy root bound plants. It’s just a bad business, trouble and tears. In general, you should always try to buy the youngest plants you can find. They are healthier than plants which have spent more time in a pot, and will quickly grow to match the size of older, more expensive–and more likely than not–root bound plants. How do you know if the plant is root bound? Look at the bottom of th...

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Is Diagonal the New Horizontal? The Evolution of the “Flipper” Fence

We’re in the midst of what seems like a new real estate bubble here in Los Angeles. Houses get so many bids that buyers have to write letters to the owner to beg for the privilege of buying their dilapidated bungalow. To take advantage of this market, house flippers have developed a new architectural vocabulary based, I think, on a kind of mash up of stuff from Home Depot and ideas from back issues of Dwell Magazine. On...

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Pakistan Mulberry Fever

Let me just say Pakistan mulberries. Now let me say it again. Pakistan Mulberries.  Let’s all repeat that as a mantra. What are they? The tastiest fruit in the know universe. Imagine a longish, very sweet but ever so slightly exotic tasting berry. The problem: they go bad so fast that you practically have to eat them off the tree. The other problem: we have no more room left to grow a Pakistan mulberry tree. Thankfully...

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More Washing Machine Greywater Fun

...e easily substituted. 2. Every 50 horizontal feet of run equals the same amount of pressure as running 10 inches vertically. Ludwig suggests limiting the combined horizontal (using the 50 feet = 10 inches formula) and vertical run to the equivalent height of where the water would normally empty out into the standpipe near the top of the machine. 3. Install a three way valve at the standpipe to allow diverting the water to the sewer. 4. The pipe...

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