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

...d 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 thinking like this, especially when it comes to schemes with “eco” or “sustainable” pretensions....

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Bean Fest Begins!

...end less. Every Friday from now through the end of September we’re going to be posting about beans. What I’d like to hear from readers today is bean cooking tips–do you pre-soak or long cook? Do you cook in water or broth? When do you add salt? Which herbs pair best with which beans? What are your favorite beans to cook? What would you tell a newbie bean cooker? Who taught you how to cook dried beans? Also, throughout this mont...

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Deep Bedding for Chickens

...e not at all. Depending on your set up. (This is a little off topic, but in a similar way we also advocate thick mulch over any bare ground in your yard. It will improve the soil, encourage worms, discourage weeds, conserve water, etc. If we had lots of spare time, money and a big truck, we’d drive around LA dumping mulch on the many, many parched landscapes that desperately need it.) How deep? What do I use? The deeper the better. Say 4...

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Compost Rebuttal

...ure carefully (it should be between 55ºC and 65ºC for at least three days according to Ingham). The pile also needs oxygen, provided by introducing loose materials like straw and through periodic turning. A compost pile needs water too. It’s not difficult to achieve the conditions Ingham specifies. You just need enough mass combined with the use of a compost thermometer to figure out when to turn the pile.  O.K., so now I’m headed ou...

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How to clean a stained coffee cup

...the first pass. As I described in the sink post, the trick here is to keep the mug on the dry side, because baking soda scrubs best when only slightly damp. Your sponge or rag should be damp, but the mug shouldn’t have water in it. Just a swipe with the magic powder does it. I don’t like housework, but this sort of cleaning makes me happy....

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California poppy tea

... You can make tea with any of the above-ground parts of the plant: leaves, stems and flowers. You can use these parts fresh or dried. I’ve been using fresh so far. I just stuff my tea basket with fresh leaves, pour hot water over them and let it steep a good long time–maybe 10 minutes. I put a saucer over the top of the cup to help keep the tea warm. The long soak ensures a stronger, more potent brew, obviously. All the sources I...

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Lasagna Gardening Simplified

...e University, proposes a vastly simpler version of lasagna gardening.  Chalker-Scott suggests skipping the double digging, cardboard and kitchen scraps. The double digging disrupts soil texture, the cardboard interferes with water penetration (I know this from experience) and the kitchen scraps create a plant nutrient overload. Instead Chalker-Scott suggests simply a very thick layer of mulch–12 inches. Mulch is often free, as many cities...

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Are Raised Beds a Good Idea?

...ng they look so poorly *only* because they are raised beds. That pair of beds has produced very well in the past, but has some sort of soil problem now–one which we can’t figure out. So I wouldn’t agree with labeling the picture “raised bed fail”– it’s more of a gardener fail. It may have something to do with the fact that they are raised, that the soil texture has deteriorated over time due to the elevat...

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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...

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