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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A Fishy Mountaintop

...e we felt it’s too complicated a subject for most people.Aquaculture/aquaponics also seems to require just the right context. Even here in sunny Los Angeles we’d have to figure out a way to keep the fish warm during the winter, not to mention the use of lots of  water in a very dry place. Austrian permaculturalist Sepp Holzer has developed an innovated aquaculture system.While, obviously, Holzer’s mountaintop setup is very uniqu...

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What’s the dirt on soap nuts?

...ar mixed things. I’m experimenting with Maggie’s Soap Nuts right now (and Erik is complaining about their…uh…rich organic smell…which doesn’t seem to linger after drying), but I’ve not used them long enough really judge how they work. The truth is, so much soap is embedded in the fibers of our clothing that you can wash the average garment a couple of times in nothing but water and it would still come ou...

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Kale, Pomegranate and Persimmon Salad

...can use soy sauce or tamari, but I think Bragg’s is best.1/2 teaspoon sesame oil Wash and chop kale. 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 w...

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More Nettle Love: Nettle Infusion

...never escape unscathed. But stings are just part of the process, a price I pay gladly. I recommend you check out the website of Susun Weed, an herbalist. Reading there, I learned that infusions make more of the plant nutrients available than regular tea, so now we put one ounce of dried nettle (an ounce is quite a lot–a cup if it’s chopped, half a jar or more if the leaves are whole) in a quart jar, fill the jar with boiling water and...

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Questions about cats

...watched me change the box, she jumped into the empty box and peed, soaking her feet. Now I really hustle to get the litter in there.) 5) And while we’re on bathroom matters, will the flushing toilet always be a source of wonderment, or will she grow out of it? 6) Would it be a very bad idea to push the kitty into the bathtub? She’s always balancing on the sides, looking at the water. It’s very tempting to give her a closer acqu...

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Seed Mania

...d clean. At least I won’t have much to harvest! Perpetual Spinach Chard, also from Bountiful Gardens. From their catalog description, “Rare, fine old European strain of Swiss Chard. Smaller smooth dark-green leaves, small mid-ribs. Frost and bolt resistant, needs water in a dry spell.” Sea Buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides) from Bountiful Gardens. The fruit of this berry producing shrub can be found in Armenian and Russian marke...

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