A gallery of cucurbits! Pumpkins, squash, and gourds!
http://ourlocaltopia.com/2013/10/14/a-gourmets-guide-to-gourds-pumpkins-squash/

A gallery of cucurbits! Pumpkins, squash, and gourds!

http://ourlocaltopia.com/2013/10/14/a-gourmets-guide-to-gourds-pumpkins-squash/

If you have some great figs you should think about making fresh ricotta. Serve it up on grilled bread and drizzle with honey.

Watch this video for the technique. The recipe follows.

I filmed this video with the folks at www.OurLocalTopia.com

Easter Eggs Naturally Dyed

[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/62224240 w=640&h=360]

Learn how to dye eggs with natural materials. If you want to forgo the usual food-colouring and go with some natural dyes, this film should get you started. I shot and edited the film in collaboration with

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Intro to CompostingHome Composting class at Fullerton Arboretum
I taught a home composting class today. Thank you to…View Post

Intro to Composting

Home Composting class at Fullerton Arboretum

I taught a home composting class today. Thank you to…

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I made this video on preserving meyer lemons with salt. The music’s pretty catchy too! More kitchen action on the way.

(Blowing dust from the keyboard) I’ve been gone for more than a little while - my last post was in July and I’d like to chalk things up to a busy summer cultivating the fields, but I think that that excuse is a few months past honest. 

One of the things that I have done is develop a new website where I can organize my content so that it can more easily be used as a resource for the would-be gardener. 

Since July, the garden beds have moved from summer veg into cool-season crops. Cabbages, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, romanesco, potatoes, garlic, leeks, carrots, beets, lettuce, spinach, and dill are currently flourishing in the cool, moist weather that we’ve been having. The searingly-hot Southern Californian summer is fast approaching. Transplanting tomatoes into the bed where I am currently growing cabbage is but three weeks away. 

I’ve also been bringing the camera into the kitchen and using it to make short films. My next post will be a short film that I’ve just made. 

Thank you to those who encouraged me to keep posting. 

I was always planning on continuing but the nudges were inspiring. With camera snapping and keys clicking, I am in the saddle once again!

csaidi1 asked: Do you know where I can buy fresh Amaranth leaves in Orange County?

I haven’t seen amaranth greens for sale in Orange County. It’s extremely easy to grow, particularly in summer. I have even seen it volunteer in a gravel parking lot. Baker Creek heirloom seeds carries many nice varieties as does Kitazawa Seeds

faithjennings asked: Hi - I founded a local co-op of growers in Orange County and we've been trying to find solutions to the bagrada bug. Do you have any recommendations? Thank you. Faith TheCoolCucumberCommunityCooperative

I’d be interested to hear more about your collective.

I had a lot of trouble with Bagradas during their first big season here but they haven’t been too much trouble lately. The weather this summer seems to have favoured their populations so this winter might be a tough one for Brassicas. I have only been able to control them by covering with floating row cover - It is available through Peaceful Valley Farm Supply or you can pick it up locally from McConkey Nursery Supply.

I have tried to spray with a homemade habanero and garlic mixture which seemed to help with the younger instars of the bugs - the adults were still kicking. I even tried organic pyrethrins but really don’t like to use such broad spectrum compounds. They didn’t seem to work all that well either. I ended up simply squashing them by hand. I was out every day around noon squishing all of the bugs that I saw. Perches for birds might help as well. The Black Phoebes here really seem to enjoy eating them. It can’t hurt.

The bugs do seem to favour different crops and varieties so I would try to plant a diversity of any one crop and cover them tightly. You really need to protect the growing points since this is where the insect prefers to feed and where the most damage is done.  

Good luck. I hope you get yourself a few decent heads of cabbage.

Farm Stand Today….

…and the tomatoes are pumping out the fruit! Eighty-five plants gave me around 150 pounds of delicious heirloom fruit today. We also had bell and chile peppers, cucumbers, summer squash, onions, and honey.

Some of My Favourite Heirloom Tomato Varieties

  • Costoluto Genovese - Red and fluted/scalloped variety in the third photo
  • Black Krim - A widely celebrated heirloom that is lightly scalloped with a purple skin (last photo)
  • Reisetomate - The clustered variety in the bottom left corner of the second photo. Individual fruits are like fused clusters of cherry tomatoes.

The plants are hopping lately. Long days and clear skies have them growing at an astounding rate. All I have to do is keep the soil wet and the weeds at bay.

  • These are the first figs from a tree that I planted last year. I’m not sure what the variety is but the man who gave me the plant said it was a variety that his family grew in lebanon. The fruit is delicious. 
  • I cover crop throughout the summer with buckwheat. Going from seed to flower in just 40 days, you can’t beat this plant for a quick bit of mulch and a bucket of nectar for the bees.
  • Yamato Extra-Long Japanese Cucumber - Unless you’re really into canned pickles you should consider Japanese slicing varieties for your garden. They are thin skinned, extremely crispy and always seem to taste exactly as a cucumber should. 
  • Vietnamese amaranth is easy to grow, its seed is easy to thresh, and the plant is beautiful and drought tolerant. The seeds are high in protein and the leaves can be prepared like swiss chard. This plant is around five feet tall but some varieties can exceed twelve!