Worm Composting

...nitely need some advice either from the “internets” or from a book. We tried worm composting here in the compound garden a few years ago and found the process somewhat difficult. Unlike our present lazy composting methods, worm composting requires a certain amount of time and effort. When you start a worm composting system you are acquiring pets – worm pets, that need just the right amount of water (too much and they’ll dr...

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Nasturtium “Capers”

Nasturtium grows like a weed here at the SurviveLA compound. We don’t water it, though if we did we might have a larger crop. The nice thing about Nasturtium is that the entire plant is edible – both the leaves and flowers have a strong peppery flavor and the flowers brighten up the Spartan salads we chow down on in the late spring. Once you plant this stuff, at least here in Los Angeles, the thousands of seeds it produces guarantee...

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Block Party Weekend

...;Los Angeles is an army camped far from its sources of supply, using distant resources faster than nature renews them . . . Our region today is so dependent, so uninhabitable, yet so inhabited, that it must transform or die. Sooner or later it must generate its own food, fuel, water, wood and ores. It must use these at the rate that nature provides them. It can . . .”-Paul Glover Los Angeles: A History of the Future as quoted in the LAEV...

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Essential System #6 – Fire

On the crazy path of life you may someday find yourself needing to build a fire. When it’s wet and when kindling wood is lacking this can be a challenge. Which is why we always have fire starting implements on hand including a butane lighter and waterproof matches. Most importantly we carry something to really get the fire going – our homemade wax and dryer lint fire starters. To make a wax and lint fire starter, save up the ends of...

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Essential System #5 – First Aid Kit

...itary napkins are much cheaper and make excellent bandages and provide some low-brow humor potential to cheer up the patient who may find themselves with a sanitary napkin duct-taped to their forehead) Nonadherent dressings – two 4-inch by 4-inch Self-adhering roller bandages – two rolls 2-inch width by 5 yards SAM splint – one Athletic tape – one roll, 2-inch wide Triangular bandages – two 36 inch by 36 inch by 52 i...

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Stirred, Not Shaken

...ulls. After a few months they are unearthed, ritually stirred and applied to soil and compost piles. Steiner has the biodynamic farmer spray these preparations on soil, plants and compost piles to act as a kind of homeopathy for the land. While we did not make our own preparations in class (it’s complicated!) we did a ritual stirring with pre-made preparations in buckets of water. Using sticks we created vortexes in the buckets, alternating...

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Basil all winter long

...I’m 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 fre...

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Growing and Preparing Cardoons (Cynara cardunculus)

...ke out of the covering. I once tried to eat an unblanched stem and it was bitter and tough so, in my experience, the blanching is a necessary step. Pullin’ off the stringy bits To prepare it you take the blanched, tender inner stems and pull off the stringy bits on the back, being careful to avoid the sharp edges (did I mention that this is a pain in the ass food?). Chop the stems into two inch strips and drop them into acidified water to...

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No garden space? Check this out

Follow this link to the Eastsider blog for a little profile piece on a man raising crops in a median strip. This is exactly what we should all be doing. Well, except maybe standing in traffic to water–if at all avoidable–but I do tip my hat to this intrepid fellow gardener. There’s so much wasted space in this city. Yesterday Erik and I were walking down the sidewalk, admiring a flat stretch of dry, weedy ground betwixt sidewal...

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LA Times Calls Vertical Gardens in a Dry Climate a Bad Idea

...ays Green of a garden in Culver City that uses the Wooly Pocket vertical system, “The concrete wall behind the bagged-and-hung garden is wet with runoff from an automated drip system. The sacks are calcified with irrigation scale. Even in an open-air setting, get close and there is a whiff of mold. It’s hard to imagine a less savory or more whimsically destructive system for a region in a water crisis.” Amen. We need more critical...

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