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...

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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...

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Four Ways to Preserve Prickly Pear Pads (Nopales)

For my final project in the Los Angeles Master Food Preserver Program I attempted to see how many ways I could preserve the abundant pads of the prickly pear cactus that grows in our front yard. Of course they are best fresh, but I like them so much that I wanted to see if I could preserve some for use later in the year. Incidentally, I prepare them fresh by first cutting them into strips and boiling them for five minutes to remove the mucilagi...

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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! ...

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Book Review: 1491

I’m way late to this party, because 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus came out in 2006 and was a best seller, so it’s probably not news to many of you that this is a fantastic book. For those of you who haven’t read it, though, this is the type of book that you look up from every few minutes and say, “Listen to this!” or “Did you know…?”  1491 is a depiction of the Americas...

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Barfing and Bikes: Why You Might Want Fenders

Barf Blog reports on an unusual study that took a look at why a an outbreak of gastrointestinal illness occured at the world’s largest bike race in Norway. In short, mud from cattle grazing areas splashed up onto the faces of participants. Now I wouldn’t see the need to repeat this if I hadn’t met a cyclist here in Los Angeles that something similar happened to. In his case it was a case of giardia–his doctor theorized t...

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Emergency Toilet Sanitation

I was asked by our local neighborhood council to talk about emergency turlets for their public safety committee. Doing some preliminary research about what our government suggests concerns me. FEMA and, it seems, all the state and local agencies I looked into rely on a poop in a bag, throw in some enzymes or bleach and throw it into a pit approach. In a short term emergency, a day or two let’s say, this might work fine. But if the emerge...

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More Thoughts on Garlic

...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 live a block away from the Root Simple compound, I’m quite sure weather isn’t the issue. Also, as my ot...

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Root Knot Nematodes, Meliodogyne spp.

Root knot nematodes are my current sworn enemy in the garden. They are very frustrating because unless you know what to look for, you may never know you have a problem. Nematodes are microscopic soil dwelling roundworms. There are many different kinds of nematodes and not all are garden pests. However, the root knot nematode is a very annoying pest indeed. Above ground, plants are stunted. Below ground, the little guys are sucking on the plant...

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Least Favorite Plant: Tree of Heaven

Detroit Tree of Heaven Woodshop’s new ghetto palm farm. Photos from the Detroit Tree of Heaven Woodshop. Riding on the Amtrak San Joaquin train two weeks ago I discovered a new metric: the economic health of a city can be judged by the size of its trees of heaven (aka Ailanthus altissima, aka “ghetto palm”). The higher the ghetto palms, the more likely a city is to be in the crapper. Tree of heaven is a super weed much revile...

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