Fruit Tree Maintenance Calendars

Where we live, it’s the time of year to prune and deal with pest issues on fruit trees. The University of California has a very helpful page of fruit tree maintenance calendars for us backyard orchard enthusiasts.  The calendars cover everything from when to water, fertilize, paint the trunks and many other tasks. You can also find them in one big handy set of charts in UC’s book The Home Orchard. The permaculturalist in me likes ou...

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Campfire Cooking: Fish in Clay (& Vegetarian Options!)

...tation. If you do dig your own clay, and find that it is not pure enough to hold together well, try adding an egg white to the mix. Once you have your clay and are ready to start cooking, soften up the clay by adding a little water to it and kneading it until it’s soft and pliable: The next step is to find yourself some big leaves for wrapping your food. We were using big sycamore and curly dock leaves. If you can’t find any big leav...

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Choosing the Perfect Tortilla Press

...the smaller, 6 1/2 inch press as small tortillas are used in authentic Mexican street food. Making corn tortillas is much simpler than I expected. All you do is get masa harina (a limed corn flour), mix it roughly 50/50 with water and let the dough rest for a half hour to an hour. Next, you roll the masa into little 2 inch balls and press them between a plastic bag inserted into the tortilla press. The last step is to heat them on the stove for...

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Easter Lessons

...ye as well as white eggs, but the post promised good results with brown eggs, and the dyes were deep and earthy enough that it seemed it would not matter. The technique was simple–a one to one ratio of organic matter to water, boiled 15 minutes or more, cooled, and then spiked with vinegar. The eggs soak in this mix for as long as you like, perhaps overnight, refrigerated. I tried out onion skin (russet dye), red cabbage (bluish dye) and hi...

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Making Tofu From Scratch at the Institute of Domestic Technology

...s for Crazy-Delicious Vietnamese Sandwiches . She began the tofu class with with some soy beans that were soaked the night before. The pre-soaked  beans were ground up in a blender and the slurry was boiled in a pot with some water. The mixture was poured through a cloth to produce soy milk. The cloth was gathered up and squeezed to get out every drop of milk. Nguyen showed us three different ways to create blocks of tofu with everything from a...

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Is Purslane the New Kale?

...Purslane is a common weed in North America. We’d love to be able to forage it in the neighborhood but, for some reason, it only tends to appear in unappetizing locations: usually the gutter (I think it needs a bit more water than what falls naturally from the sky here). You can eat the whole plant: stems and leaves. It has a salty and slightly lemony flavor reminiscent of New Zealand spinach. There’s always a huge bin of it at Super...

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005 Amy and Vince of Tenth Acre Farm

...ork they did involved constructing berms and swales in the front yard, the only part of their property that gets enough sun to grow edibles. Amy and Vince describe the trial and error process they went through to perfect this water harvesting system. We also discuss the beautiful result you see above–a front yard that combines edibles as well as flowers that both please the neighbors and provide habitat for beneficial insects. The magic ext...

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Creating a Moon Garden

...out better at night if they are in front of a dark background–a dark green bush or the shade of a large tree. It’s not all about plants. Including light colored rocks, gravel, decomposed granite, stepping stones, water features and white walls can also create interest in a moon garden. Creating an interesting nocturnal landscape means less reliance on lighting. As I’ve blogged about before, artificial light is not good for us o...

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Worth Doing From Scratch: Corn Tortillas

...and I’ve done just fine with supermarket masa harina. As I like to measure dry ingredients by weight I’ve figured out that for enough tortillas for four people you need to mix 250 grams of flour with 300 grams of water. Cook as many tortillas at once as you can. I can do three at a time on our stove. Cooking one at a time takes forever. Keep a bag of masa harina around and you’ll be ready for any tortilla emergency. In just a...

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Adopt an Indigo Plant in Los Angeles

...orld. This plant, Persecaria Tinctoria, also know as Polygonum Tinctorum, has been a staple source of blue in East Asia for millennia. It is known for being relatively easy to grow. All it needs is lots of sunshine, plenty of water, and some food. As an experiment, I’ve germinated a bunch of indigo seeds and want to get the seedlings into as many people’s hands as possible! I hope to spread the wonder about the fact that color can be...

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