Warning: This Blog is Based in a Mediterranean Climate

...rences to plants such as figs, olives, pomegranates,  and grapes. We have all of those plants in our front yard. There’s also one big misconception about Los Angeles: that it’s a desert. Mediterranean climates such as ours get twice as much rainfall as do deserts. But like deserts, we have to be frugal when it comes to water. All the rain we get comes at one time. Between the late spring and early fall there is no rain at all. Those o...

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LA’s Parkway Garden Dilemma: Not Fixed Yet

...edible?” Allow growing plants over 4-inches without permit fees. If plants are not allowed to go to flower they have little benefit to pollinating insects and birds. And we don’t need more lawn mowers and leaf blowers in this city. Get rid of the permit fees. Why should someone be charged to do the right thing, i.e. plant an attractive set of either edible or drought tolerant plants? There’s currently no permit fee to plant a wa...

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DIY Solar Space Heating

Photo: Build It Solar. Mrs. Homegrown, who spent her formative years in the mountains of Colorado, made fun of me this morning as I noted the “cold” temperature . . . 60°F. It was the first ironic “brrrrrr” out of her mouth, letting me know that we’ve transitioned from the hot smoggy season to the the less hot smoggy season here in Los Angeles. In the northern hemisphere it’s time to conside...

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Kevin West’s Saving the Season

...I’m thinking of throwing out all my picking and preserving books. Why? Kevin West’s new book Saving the Season: A Cook’s Guide to Home Canning, Pickling, and Preserving blows all those other books out of the water bath. Full disclosure here: I’ve tasted a lot of West’s jams. I teach a bread making class at the Institute of Domestic Technology. After my bread demo West does a jam making session and I stick around to...

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Tips on growing great garlic

This week I’m at the National Heirloom Exposition in Santa Rosa, California. Kelly is at home, tending to our herd of milk cats. Yesterday I learned a lot about garlic. Garlic is one of those crops well worth growing if you’ve got the space. Why? unless you know an heirloom garlic farmer, the stuff you buy at the supermarket is one of just three bland varieties. According to garlic expert Jeffrey Nekola, who spoke yesterday,...

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Straw Bale Garden Tour Part I

In this vide we take you into the backyard for a tour of our straw bale garden. We started rotting the bales in late April by adding blood meal. In May we added a balanced fertilizer and started planting the bales. In the video you’ll see the veggies we planted in early June. The soaker hose you see comes from Home Depot. I’m pretty sure it is this stuff. Every other week I add some fish emulsion to a watering can and hand water t...

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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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How To Capture a Bee Swarm With Kirk Anderson

...ica with the coming of spring. In this video, beekeeper Kirk Anderson shows you how to catch a swarm. It’s the best way, in my opinion, to get bees to start your own hive. Why? Swarms, unlike packaged bees, are free. They are also local, meaning the bees know how to deal with your micro-climate. To capture a swarm you: Spray the swarm with a mixture of white sugar and water–this keeps them busy cleaning themselves while you . . . Kno...

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Supper for a buck?

...s Bread Baker’s Club. A 50lb bag of general purpose flour costs $30.00. This works out less per pound than the cheap-0 flour at the supermarket. We actually go through so much flour that it works for us to buy in those quantities, but of course it is also possible to buy flour in bulk and split it with a friend or two. A loaf of no-knead bread contains the following ingredients: 400 grams of flour, 300 grams of water,  1 1/2 teaspoons of se...

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How to Keep Squirrels and Birds From Eating Your Fruit

...lastic fruit containers that are used for packing strawberries and grapes. I personally don’t buy fruit in these containers but I asked some neighbors and friends to save them for me and in a short time amassed a large collection. They snap shut over most fruit like these mangos and this helps to control fruit damage. Since they have vent holes, they don’t collect water inside. They can be washed and stored and are durable enough to l...

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