Preserving Leeks – High and Dry

Now that summer has come to a close (not that you could tell with all the hot weather we've been having lately), harvest season is upon us. As part of our harvest plan, we built a solar food dryer in order to alleviate some congestion in the freezer.

We've over our heads in leeks right now. The fridge is full, and the freezer is already full of batches ...

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Growing Garbanzo Beans (that’s chickpeas to you, darling)

You'll find them in Indian food, hearty soups, and as a ubiquitous staple of the salad bar at Soup Plantation, but you might not know how good they really are until you've cooked them yourself. Garbanzo beans, also known as chick peas, are usually undercooked when you buy them canned, and certainly don't hold a lot of flavor on their own (kind of like tofu), but they are a great base for many dishes and very satisfying to grow.

We experimented with growing garbanzo beans in our test ...

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Growing Quinoa – A Complete Protein

This is my second year growing quinoa, and it occurred to me that I hadn't documented the process yet. So - without further delay...

How to grow quinoa:

The first thing you need to know is that while quinoa seed heads are covered in saponin (a natural soap that keeps birds from eating them), the seeds that you plant are somehow going to be completely appetizing to birds in ...

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Chard on the Brain – Recipes for an abundance of Swiss Chard

When a gigantic bouquet of Swiss Chard appeared on the porch the other day, an image of the jam-packed fridge came to mind. This was going to require some thinking. It was time to pull out the big guns, and by "big guns" I mean that it was time to ask the Gardenerd Community for help.

I put a call out in the last Weekly Update and got a couple of good recipes from fellow chard lovers. ...

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Westside Produce Exchange Review

During the Dwell on Design conference, I was fortunate to be asked to participate on a panel with two other gals about community and school gardens. One of the ladies, Hynden Walch, was the founder of the Hillside Produce Cooperative, which is a monthly free food exchange that helps distribute the surplus in a given community. She pointed me in the direction of Naomi Curland, who started the Westside version of this ...

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Growing Weeds on Purpose – Wild Edibles

A question came in this week:

"Balcony gardening question - Is anyone growing wild edibles in pots - such as purslane,dandelions,lambs quarters,wood sorrel,etc.?"

This is the first time anyone has asked me how to cultivate weeds deliberately, but it's not the first time the idea of eating weeds has come up in conversation. While most people simply forage for them, there are many benefits to the plants you have listed here, and with caution, you can cultivate them ...

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Harvesting Garlic

Growing your own garlic is such a joy, and harvesting it can be even more fun. Each October we plant what turns out to be a year's supply of garlic in about 7 or 8 square feet (using the Square Foot Gardening method). Then we nurture the bulbs through winter and into spring. In late spring, which is May or June here in Los Angeles, the foliage starts to turn brown and die back. We cut ...

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The Next Step in Urban Homesteading – Keeping Chickens

Call me a control freak, but I like to know where my food comes from. I started growing my own food to get fresh, healthy produce, to use less water, fewer pesticides and harmful chemicals - but really, to know where my food comes from. That was great, but I thought, "What else can I do to close the loop here?  To be more self-reliant?"  Composting and

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Scale – Not the Weighing Kind

A question came in this week about scale:

"I have two large tree mallows (grown as shrubs) with a very heavy scale infestation. A local nursery recommends using a petroleum oil spray. Is there another effective, greener solution?"

Yes, I can definitely suggest an alternative to petroleum sprays, but first - a little understanding about what scale is:

Scale is an insect, but it looks and behaves more like a mollusk. There are soft ...

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