Summer Nights in the Garden at the Natural History Museum

Join us for an evening of music, art, nature and science at the Los Angeles County Natural History Museum’s Summer Nights in the Garden. We’ll be part of the festivities this Friday July 25th where we’ll be: POTTING SUCCULENTS! They’re one of the most low maintenance plants out there, and one that’s perfect for our dry L.A. climate. Urban homesteading experts Erik Knutzen and Kelly Coyne are here to help you...

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A Year after The Age of Limits: 5 Responses to the End Times

...earning to be free of laws and civil constraints, to reduce our overly complex society into a simple survival of the fittest paradigm, where, at last, we perhaps can find the fulfillment we lack.  Mind, personal fulfillment is the positive spin on this fantasy–the negative one would point out that there’s some pretty fishy stuff involved here in regard to race and class, urban vs. rural, and suppressed desires to blow out our neighbor...

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The Return of the Paper Collar?

During the summertime in the warm climate we live in I often find myself wishing for the return of the paper collar. What better way to deal with ring around the collar than to just throw out the old collar and put on a new one? I have a theory (unproven, admittedly) that using paper collars would have less environmental impact than all the water and detergents we use to scrub out ring around the collar. Of course, the best solution would be to...

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Radical Beekeeper Michael Thiele Ventures Into New Territory

...h of the bees and not try to prop them up. Thiele had advice for avoiding stings–”relax and focus on the bien” is how he put it. Oddly, I had a chance to try this technique just after the lecture. I walked over to a display by the local county beekeeping association (that Thiele would probably be horrified by) that included a hive in Langstroth boxes being fed sugar water and kept within a mosquito netted tent. Somehow there mus...

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Tips on Composting from Will Bakx of Sonoma Compost

Sonoma Compost’s composting operation. On Thursday at the National Heirloom Exposition, Will Bakx, soil scientist and operations manager of Sonoma Compost, gave a rapid fire lecture on the nitty gritty details of composting. Here’s some of his useful tips: Temperature and Turning Compost should stay above 131ºF for 15 days to kill pathogens. Bakx recommended getting a thermometer to check the temperature every day during the...

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Infinite Green Onions

Here’s a handy little tip. I’m pretty sure I heard it first from Mr. Jack Spirko: Save the root ends of your green onions (aka scallions) — the parts you cut off when you’re cooking. Plant those, roots down, under about an inch of soil and they will generate new green onions. Keep this cycle going throughout your growing season and you should have an endless supply of green onions for your table. It’s much easier t...

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Comopost, Compost, Compost

As if I didn’t need a reminder of how important compost is to a vegetable garden, note the tomato above. It’s on its way out, but it grew with no supplemental water in hard-packed clay soil contaminated with lead and zinc in a hot side yard. Why did it do well while the rest of my vegetable garden did not do as so good this summer? Homemade compost. I didn’t have enough compost for the rest of the veggie garden so I bought som...

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Avoiding Hyperthermia

When spending a day baking pizzas at a public event in front of a 1000º F oven in the full Southern California sun remember to drink water and take breaks. Otherwise you will spend the next day in bed with a splitting headache, unable to eat, barely able to drink anything and at the mercy of two young cats. The first time I pulled off a case of hyperthermia was after a long bike ride. I would not call it fun, nor would I like this to happen whe...

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Real Estate Bubble Bananas

...rns out that our national real estate bubble has a fruit filled silver lining. I imagine that all across America there are abandoned fruit trees yielding their bounty for a new generation of gleaners. Thank you Angelo Mozilo for creating a literal banana republic! Bananas are not my favorite plant for Southern California as they take a lot of water and get somewhat rangy looking when the wind rips up their leaves. But they are one of the most gre...

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