Radical Beekeeper Michael Thiele Ventures Into New Territory

Thiele with an unorthodox hive–picture from his website Gaia Bees. One of the lectures I went to at the National Heirloom Exposition in Santa Rosa earlier this month has really stuck with me. It was a talk by radical biodynamic beekeeper Michael Thiele that, frankly, I walked into biased against. But by the conclusion I could tell that the whole audience, including myself, left deeply moved by what Thiele had to say. The reason fo...

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Infinite Green Onions

Here’s a handy little tip. I’m pretty sure I heard it first from Mr. Jack Spirko: Save the root ends of your green onions (aka scallions) — the parts you cut off when you’re cooking. Plant those, roots down, under about an inch of soil and they will generate new green onions. Keep this cycle going throughout your growing season and you should have an endless supply of green onions for your table. It’s much easier t...

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The Return of the Paper Collar?

less shirts. The folkloric apparel in hot climates tends towards white and collarless or, at least, short collars. Until dashikis make a comeback I predict we’ll see the same paper collar trend that hit the Victorians: It is hardly twenty-five years since the advent of the paper collar. Prior to that time the average man wore neck-gear made from linen fabric, or was content to go without collars, except on Sundays and legal holidays. Th...

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New Zealand Spinach is the New . . . Spinach

Spotted in a neglected corner of our backyard: New Zealand spinach (Tetragonia tetragonioides). What’s interesting is that it self-seeded and grew with no supplemental water in the middle of summer in lead and zinc contaminated soil.  We’ve never been able to grow regular (and unrelated) spinach here. But there’s no stopping the New Zealand spinach. Due to the heavy metal problem we won’t be eating this particular specim...

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Comopost, Compost, Compost

As if I didn’t need a reminder of how important compost is to a vegetable garden, note the tomato above. It’s on its way out, but it grew with no supplemental water in hard-packed clay soil contaminated with lead and zinc in a hot side yard. Why did it do well while the rest of my vegetable garden did not do as so good this summer? Homemade compost. I didn’t have enough compost for the rest of the veggie garden so I bought som...

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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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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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How To Design a Garden Step II: Using Google Earth to Draw Up a Plan

So you’ve set the goals for your garden, as we outlined in a post earlier this week, and you’re ready to start putting pen to paper. Google Earth makes it easy to quickly create a plan to scale. Zoom in on the space you want to garden and print out an image. Next, take separate sheets of tracing paper and use them to map out: your goals existing conditions such as trees and buildings future plantings where water flows when it rain...

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USDA Releases New Hardiness Zone Map

The United States Department of Agriculture has just released a new zone hardiness map that reflects both a warming climate and new algorithms that take into account things like terrain, and proximity to bodies of water.  The map is also now searchable by zip code. You can access the new map here: http://planthardiness.ars.usda.gov/PHZMWeb . For the background on how this map is different from the previous (1990) version, the USDA has a press...

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Growing Greens Under Fruit Trees

In the photo above is Scott Kleinrock showing off a section of the edible garden he designed at the Huntington Gardens. At first glace it looks like a lot of weeds, but it’s a clever idea: growing greens in the understory of fruit trees. In this picture, which was taken last weekend, you see a field of: mallow daikon radish arugula mustard  vetch calendula cabbage Except for the vetch, which helps build soil, all are edible and nutrit...

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