Sonora Wheat at the Huasna Valley Farm

...wheat. Ironically, as we face an uncertain energy future, we may have to go back to the original Sonora wheat as it performs better in organic circumstances and needs less water than modern wheat varieties. Ron shows off the combine. One of the challenges the Skinners faced in farming just a few acres of wheat was figuring out how to harvest it. Large industrial farms use enormous and very expensive combines. Small and medium sized combi...

Continue reading…

Are Raised Beds a Good Idea?

...inding the stinkhorn mushroom. This bed is somewhat of a compromise. I cut the bed in half lengthwise to make it half as tall as it used to be thus getting two beds for the price of one. Then I sunk it into the ground In effect, the veggies are in the ground but I still have the neatness and defined borders of a raised bed. Again, if you’re in Seattle raised beds are probably a good idea. But here in SoCal, I’m going to skip them...

Continue reading…

Emergency Toilet Sanitation

...lic safety committee. Doing some preliminary research about what our government suggests concerns me. FEMA and, it seems, all the state and local agencies I looked into rely on a poop in a bag, throw in some enzymes or bleach and throw it into a pit approach. In a short term emergency, a day or two let’s say, this might work fine. But if the emergency stretched out longer I can see some potential problems. And the cynic in me sees an oppor...

Continue reading…

Support Locally Sourced Kittens

...ing for a home. They came to her in bad shape, their tiny little bodies crawling with fleas, so much so that the water of their first bath turned blood red. One was very, very sick with some sort of intestinal bug. He didn’t seem likely to make it, but recovered, thanks to Anne’s 24-hour care. But those dark days are over. These authentic HaFo SaFo street kitties (HaFo SaFo is a neighborhood in LA, and a blog)  are now healthy, ha...

Continue reading…

More Thoughts on Garlic

...scapes I have removed from my plants in order to encourage them to produce bigger bulbs. Now I am going to stop watering the garlic and hope to harvest it in a couple of weeks. It is best to stop watering garlic at least two weeks prior to harvest to help the papery skins to form. This will also improve its storage quality. Since I live a block away from the Root Simple compound, I’m quite sure weather isn’t the issue. Also, as my ot...

Continue reading…

Advances in Gardening Series: The Fan

...sturdy galvanized wire. Because it’s sold in circular bundles, it’s easy to cut off a piece and use it as a hoop. The cut ends get thrust in the ground and the netting is spread over the arch. We weigh the ends down with bricks or boards. You can see the bricks on the far left wedge above–if not the netting itself.  This system isn’t elegant, but it’s temporary, and it works. Now all I have to do is top water…...

Continue reading…

Learn How to Compost Via the Humanure Handbook

Composting ain’t rocket science but it does require some finesse. Following up on an earlier post which contained a comparison of different composters, I thought I’d mention my favorite written resource on how to compost. In my opinion, the best writing on the subject comes from a surprising source, the Humanure Handbook by Joeseph Jenkins. Best of all, an edition of this book is available online for free. Even if you have no intenti...

Continue reading…

Let’s Get Biointensive

...d to just touch each other when the plant is mature, also creates a living mulch which shades the soil and saves water. Jeavons suggests cutting out some triangles in different sizes to assist in planting. Using scrap wood, I made triangles in 3, 4, 6, 8, 12, and 15-inch sizes, taking the spacing suggestions in Jeavons’ charts for the seeds I had planted in flats. When it came time to transplant the seedlings I used the triangles to create...

Continue reading…

Basil all winter long

...replacing it–in a culinary sense–with Italian parsley, which loves cool weather, but hates the heat. It seems our gardening year swings between the basil and parsley poles. I made the last of our basil into basil cubes, which is my favorite way of preserving it. Just wash and coarsely chop your basil leaves and shove them into an ice cube tray, so that there’s a spoonful of basil in every cube. Cover with water and freeze. Pop t...

Continue reading…

Kale, Pomegranate and Persimmon Salad

.... Cut the tops off of the persimmons and cut into chunks, about 1/2″ cubes. To seed the pomegranate, place it in a bowl of water and cut in half. Then proceed to remove the seeds. This takes the mess out of the pomegranate. If you remove the seeds underwater, you never get stains on your clothes. The seeds float to the bottom and the white pithy part floats. Mix everything together in one big bowl, serve and enjoy. Variations: You can al...

Continue reading…