Reduce, Reuse, Re- Cold Frame!

Here is where my experience as an old hippy served me well. I remembered that most transient of indoor plant crazes: the glass bottle terrarium. I remembered the evapotransporation made evident by the fog growing in the bottle on a sunny afternoon. And then I remembered our plastic vinegar and milk jugs.

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Santa Cruz County Homemade Food Update – an interview

California recently adopted the Homemade Food Act, allowing individuals to sell homemade, or cottage food to individuals or restaurants (deli’s, local markets…) with the new Cottage Food Operator’s permit. Since each county is administering the program on a local level, I took a minute to talk with the person in charge of the program for…

First Strings First

Finally got the peas strung up. The tripods are my husband’s invention, made from 10′ landscape poles, cut to length and screwed together . They are meant to support anything from tomatoes to beans, to peas or squash, season after season. The string is untreated garden jute and we used bamboo kebab sticks to span…

Ok to Sell Homemade Food (with Permits) in CA

With the new California Homemade Food Act (AB 1616), as of January 1, 2013, it is alright to sell homemade food direct to a consumer again in the state of California. But don’t paint that lemonade sign yet, there’s more you need to know… Only certain, non-perishable foods are allowed. Your award winning jam with…

Sweater Saved by Darning It

The first time I saw a darning egg, it wasn’t an egg, it was a mushroom and it belonged to my grandmother. It was early in the ’70’s and she still used it regularly. The mushroom was in a basket with some knitting to be mended. My mother explained it’s use, and said, “Don’t worry….

Of Candied Violets and Regret

Today’s lesson: Learning from the mistakes of others takes much less time than learning from my own. This is important because time is really all we have. Disregarding the directions to do what I presume to be the right thing is something I do with surprising regularity. Inevitable failure sets my stubborn jaw and dooms…

Harvest Time Already?

Winter veggies are in the ground and just getting comfortable with the season. The peas aren’t even strung yet. Lo and behold, broccoli. Yummm…

Gone Goaties

Ending a three-year homesteading lesson in keeping livestock, I recently sold the dairy goats. The adorable animals ruled my daily routine while they were here, and now are gone in less than a week. This leaves me rudderless for at least two minutes while I see what floats to the top of the priority list…

Sweet Violets, not so Shy

They are everywhere! In the flower beds were I planted them, on the lawn (read as: mowable meadow) where I didn’t and everywhere else in the garden. These are violets gone wild. After transplanting less than half a dozen refugees into my northern flower bed 3 years ago, they have lost all sense of decorum…

A Fox Guarding the Henhouse?

Well, that would be silly. Is that what has happened to our national food supply with former Monsanto VP and lobbyist, Michael Taylor, appointed senior advisor to the FDA’s commissioner? Frederick Ravid and 213,000 other folks think so, and signed a petition to that effect. Just to catch up a bit, Monsanto is a chemical…

Happy Groundhog Day!

In ancient Celtic and Nordic cultures, today was called the first day of spring and it was a pagan holiday. It is clearly no longer winter, the days and weather have changed and it is a little warmer. Each day has a little more light. Early potatoes, lambs and daffodils begin to appear, seemingly springing…

Goats get Vinegar

They surround me after I empty the small Rubbermaid container into the water each morning. To satisfy curiosity, the container is offered for inspection and each takes a greedy lick or two. Once nibbling begins the tub is whisked away. They would eat the plastic to get more of that tasty stuff. It is apple…

Oh Dairy Me

The Spring of 2011 brought with it what it always brings, arriving with a usual yearning that begins sometime in late January… the desire that every goat fanatic knows: the thrill of watching baby kid goats springing through the yard. And that year, as I always knew we would (tho’ somehow hubby was surprised!) we added dairy…

the annual update

Has it been too long since I’ve written? What could I possibly say after all this time? These are things I wonder as I stop to write a letter to a friend from whom I have been long absent. Okay, it is my annual yuletide note, included in the card I also sometimes get around…

A Garden is Like a Friend

A long time ago, in a classroom (not so) far away my horticulture professor said, “Having a flower garden is like having a friend. You have to pay attention to it. Having a vegetable garden is like having a child or a pet (can’t quite remember which) because you have to spend time with it…

Droning On: the Multiple Choice Moral

Upon further reflection, there are some possible lessons to take from yesterday’s story on “The Plight of the Drone”. You are invited to take your pick of these, choose them all, or to come up with your own. a.     Learn to feed yourself. b.     Bee present and vote, it may be…

The Plight of the Drone

It breaks my heart each time I find one of these guys on the floor. What these poor bees go through is a sad and sorry tale. My husband warns me that it is not for the faint of heart, or those easily gone queasy. Read on a your own discretion, but you may want…

Being Cheesy, Easy If…

For me, being cheesy has always come naturally. I love sappy songs, musical comedies and cheese in my food just about anytime. Having an abundance of milk available – more than merely available, arriving in quarts every 12 hours – prompts the question: “Whaddamigonnado?” (Hint: don’t use that word in Scrabble.) Within 24 hours of…

The Miracle of Domestication

When humans were hunter-gatherers, our diet consisted of a lot of nuts, berries, fruit and bugs. Hunters brought home what they could, and it was eaten with minimum effort. There are folks who believe the diet of our caveman ancestors was superior to our more modern diet, which includes the advantages of agriculture and domesticated…

Of Spider Bites and Plantain

“Mom, what is this – a spider bite?” Two little punctures punctuated by tiny spots of blood. An inch or so down the arm, there was another pair. Time to find the plantain growing in the lawn! Now take this as just my personal home remedy. I have done a little study and used myself…

Cleanliness is Next to Impossible

My grandmother used to say, “Cleanliness is next to Godliness” and I believed her. Now I am older and know that there are different kinds of clean. There is the kind of clean your room is when your mother asks. If I’m mom, I’ll be checking under the bed and bedclothes for candy wrappers and…

A Wildlife Habitat Garden

There is a special joy in knowing your garden has more wildlife because you live there, than it might if you didn’t. Buy the careful avoidance of all synthetic pesticides and herbicides you begin to create the habitat wildlife can enjoy too. Butterflies, pollinators, amphibians and many others will not be able to survive even…