Update: Citrus Vinegar for Cleaning

In a previous post we talked about soaking citrus peels in white vinegar to make scented vinegar for cleaning. I’ve been doing this for a while now, using a 50/50 water and vinegar blend in my spray bottle, and I like the scent, but I’ve realized that because the vinegar is tinted by the orange peel if it is left to dry on a white surface it will leave yellow marks behind. This is not a big deal, because when using vinegar spray you...

Continue reading…

World’s Largest Chard Grows in SIP

The story of SuperChard: Its origin is unknown. It might come from Bountiful Garden seed, or perhaps Franchi. It volunteered in a corner of one of our backyard beds, in a bed we were resting. We didn’t water it. It grew all summer long anyway, despite having no rain at all.  In fact, it grew huge and lush. We never harvested it, though, because it was growing in our lead contaminated soil. So we continued to ignore it and it continued to...

Continue reading…

Four Ways to Preserve Prickly Pear Pads (Nopales)

...It’s easy and it works great. Pickled I used the this okra recipe from the National Center for Home Preservation for my pickled nopalitos. They turned out very tasty. Pressure Canned Prickly pear is sold canned both in water and with a small amount of vinegar.  Unfortunately there are no tested home canning recipes for pressure canned prickly pear pads (this needs to be rectified but is difficult in an era of reduced funding for Extension...

Continue reading…

Picture Sundays: Toyon in Bloom

Our young Toyon (Heteromeles arbutifolia) had its first bloom this year. What’s so great about Toyon? Native bees and honeybees love it.  UC Santa Cruz researchers found that Toyon is one of the best plants for attracting beneficial insects.  Native Americans dried the red berries for use as food. It doesn’t need much water. It will grow as far north as Southern England. Get one for your food forest! ...

Continue reading…

Book Review: 1491

...even know what to focus on. Warring archeologists struggling to define the past. The complex and fascinating debate over when and how the first people came to the Americas. (Nope, the old land-bridge theory doesn’t hold water anymore.) Grisly tales of the Conquistadors coupled with intriguing records made by Spanish scribes that offer us precious insights into the strange and magnificent technologies and theologies of the Inka, Maya and Azt...

Continue reading…

Barfing and Bikes: Why You Might Want Fenders

...met a cyclist here in Los Angeles that something similar happened to. In his case it was a case of giardia–his doctor theorized that the little buggers came up from the gutter via the wheel and landed on the top of his water bottle. He was very sick for months and lost a lot of weight. Portlandians will laugh at our lack of fenders down in sunny Los Angeles. Perhaps this study might be enough to convince even roadies to get some. Well, on...

Continue reading…

Emergency Toilet Sanitation

...en you run out of those bags and proprietary enzyme mixtures. One problem with Jenkins’ approach could be finding a carbon source in an urban area, but I think that’s solvable (suggestions invited!). You also need water for the compost pile but it need not be potable. I’m no sanitation expert and am interested in opinions on this topic, particularly those who have worked in emergency situations or in impoverished communities. Wh...

Continue reading…

More Thoughts on Garlic

...River garlic in my home garden is big and beautiful. Hardneck garlic produces scapes. The picture above is of the 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 li...

Continue reading…

Root Knot Nematodes, Meliodogyne spp.

...ts and robbing it of nutrients. This weakens the overall root system, starves the plant and allows entry points for fungus and disease. Bad stuff. I have had plants that mysteriously won’t grow. No amount of fertilizer, water or sunlight seems to make them happy. Then, I pull out the plant and find the tell-tale sign of root knot nematodes- galls on the roots. The roots are stunted and distorted. They look like they are covered in tumors....

Continue reading…

Least Favorite Plant: Tree of Heaven

...eaven for a few years now. They’ve also come up with a stinky tree of heaven sauna: “We have another small installation in the SMART Museums Heartland exhibition: A humidifier is installed in the museum lobby. The water tank of the device contains some pieces of Tree of Heaven wood (coll. Ghetto Palm). This is how the active substances get extracted in traditional Chinese medicine to cure a wide range of ailments from digestion proble...

Continue reading…