Getting Hardscaping Right

A water feature at Keeyla Meadows’ garden in Berkeley. One of the many lessons I learned on the tour I took of Bay Area gardens as part of the Garden Blogger’s Fling is that you’ve got to get the hardscaping right before even thinking about plants. When I asked garden designer Keeyla Meadows about the large stones in her garden she told me that they were craned in above the house. It was clear that at some po...

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Kevin West’s Saving the Season

...I’m thinking of throwing out all my picking and preserving books. Why? Kevin West’s new book Saving the Season: A Cook’s Guide to Home Canning, Pickling, and Preserving blows all those other books out of the water bath. Full disclosure here: I’ve tasted a lot of West’s jams. I teach a bread making class at the Institute of Domestic Technology. After my bread demo West does a jam making session and I stick around to...

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DIY Solar Space Heating

Photo: Build It Solar. Mrs. Homegrown, who spent her formative years in the mountains of Colorado, made fun of me this morning as I noted the “cold” temperature . . . 60°F. It was the first ironic “brrrrrr” out of her mouth, letting me know that we’ve transitioned from the hot smoggy season to the the less hot smoggy season here in Los Angeles. In the northern hemisphere it’s time to conside...

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New Phoebe Update/Question

...brightly lit, vet office with a barking Yorkie as a roommate. We’ve been keeping her in our room, so that the other two cats can’t harass her. I figure she feels threatened when her strength is down. I thought that maybe a long sleep would put her to rights, but she’s acting just the same this morning.   She’s moving slow, staring into space, doing odd things like hunkering down with her head over her water dish and just...

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Bad Forager: Mistaking Hemlock for Fennel

...our teacher, Pascal, “Here’s some fennel?” As I said it, I wasn’t entirely sure, because the seeds didn’t taste right. He said, “That’s not fennel, that’s poison hemlock.” At this point I’d already swallowed or spit out the seeds. You know, whichever. I said, “Oh…um…I just ate a couple of seeds.” The rest of the class made noises of dismay. Someone offered me wate...

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Dramm’s Breaker Nozzle: My Favorite Watering Implement

I can’t count how many cheap watering implements we’ve gone through since we bought this house fifteen years ago. Big box store watering widgets seem to last just a few weeks before heading to the landfill. I think I’ve found a solution. During the Garden Blogger’s Fling I attended back in June there was a demo by a Dramm Company representative. What impressed me most at the demo was Dramm’s simp...

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Smurfs Team Up With US Forest Service

...cording to the Hollywood Reporter Sony’s work on this campaign was done “pro bono.” Of course, they do have a Smurf movie coming out this summer. The DiscoverTheForest website explains it all: As inhabitants of the forest, Smurfs are the perfect ambassadors for forest recreation. As these new PSAs remind us, the forest provides benefits such as clean air and fresh water, and provides children with the ability to explore, use the...

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Radish Surprise

...wers. Hummingbirds, honey bees and all sorts of flying insects visit it all day, every day. It has become one of the queens of the garden. The picture below is horrible. The radish plant really is quite pretty,  the equal of any ornamental flowering shrub–but as bad is the picture is, it gives you some scale. See the bales of our straw bale garden behind it?  I think it must be pulling water from there, which accounts for its size and longe...

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Supper for a buck?

...se it is also possible to buy flour in bulk and split it with a friend or two. A loaf of no-knead bread contains the following ingredients: 400 grams of flour, 300 grams of water,  1 1/2 teaspoons of sea salt and, depending on the recipe, either 1/4 teaspoon of active yeast or a bit of sourdough starter. I figured out the cost for the flour (bulk purchased from Central Milling) comes to 52 cents a loaf. If I were a little more persistent, I could...

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How to Keep Squirrels and Birds From Eating Your Fruit

...lastic fruit containers that are used for packing strawberries and grapes. I personally don’t buy fruit in these containers but I asked some neighbors and friends to save them for me and in a short time amassed a large collection. They snap shut over most fruit like these mangos and this helps to control fruit damage. Since they have vent holes, they don’t collect water inside. They can be washed and stored and are durable enough to l...

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