The no-dig vegetable garden
Garden of Eatin', How-To

The No-Dig Vegetable Garden

I started a new garden bed last fall, and I didn’t dig a thing. It actually would’ve been pretty challenging to dig anything, as I started the new bed in an old bathtub. In my backyard! Four months later, the first plants seeded are finally thriving, thanks to the longer days.

I inherited this vintage, enameled-steel clawfoot tub from the previous owners after I moved into my house a few years ago. They had it propped up under the feijoa tree on a stack of stones, and for many summers it was our repurposed party cooler, filled to the brim with ice and stuffed with cases of beer. But having the tub sit empty the rest of the year seemed silly, especially since we weren’t using it as an actual tub to wash anything in the garden.

Continue Reading

Rare rainy day
Random Thoughts

Sun Guilt

We’ve had torrential rain for the last four days. It was utterly awesome. And not just because the rain was desperately needed in our drought, but because it gave me an excuse to make a fire every day and drink hot cider, the kind of wintery things I adore but don’t get to do that often (especially this year, with our bizarre 75°F winter).

Living in a place with year-round balmy weather sometimes gives me sun guilt. It might sound like an oh, boo-hoo type of thing to say, but it’s a real thing… like a reverse cabin fever. It happens when the days are so calm and clear, you’re guilted into spending all of your time outside instead of inside, vegging on the couch, when that’s all you actually feel like doing.

Continue Reading

Weeds in the garlic bed
Backyard Chickens, Nutrition

Will Weed For Chicken

I love the rain. And one of the reasons I love the rain is because at some point during the day, when there’s a break in the clouds and we have a brief moment of stillness, I run out to the yard for a quick round of weeding.

Weeds between the desert plants

Dandelion

It seems that as soon as the days start getting longer, the weeds start emerging en masse, appearing everywhere from the cracks in my patio to the bed of desert plants. They’ll even pop up from the mulch of shredded bark and the river stones that line my walkway. I usually leave them until the garden gets drenched, either from the hose or the heavens.

Continue Reading

Kayak camping on the East Fork Carson River
Kayaking, Outdoor Adventures

Take Me Back to the Carson

The record-setting drought in California has been big news lately — at least on the west coast, where it was recently announced that Central Valley farmers will get no water this year from the federal government, and a Gold Rush ghost town hidden underwater since 1955 has resurfaced at the bottom of Folsom Lake.

Most of our rivers depend on snowpack in the Sierra, and the lack of precip this winter not only hurts the state of agribusiness in the rest of the country, it also means no fishing, mediocre skiing, and maybe kayaking (if we’re lucky) in the spring. We might get a week or two of whitewater if we watch the river flows closely, compared to the four-month window we normally get in a good season, and it’ll be a toss-up whether one of our favorite rivers will be running at all this year.

Continue Reading

New West KnifeWorks handcrafted knife
Good Stuff

Gorgeous Handcrafted Knives from New West KnifeWorks, Plus a Giveaway!

Ever since I inked the deal on my first book, I’ve been turning my kitchen upside-down every week, cramming the fridge and stuffing the pantry silly with a superabundance of vegs and herbs. It goes without saying that I spend a lot of time breaking down all that food on my massive butcher block with an arsenal of knives à la Dexter.

I own a lot of knives, mostly German and Japanese blades from a cleaver to a santoku, but one of the recent standouts is a new knife I was given from a company called New West KnifeWorks — and they’re based right here in the USA.

Continue Reading

Seed starting supplies from the dollar store
Garden of Eatin', Seeds & Seedlings

Seed Starting Supplies on the Cheap: Scouring the Dollar Store

I have a confession: I’m a dollar store junkie. I especially love going to the dollar store to get my car camping fix. If you’ve ever wandered the aisles of your local 99¢ Only (or here in California, we have the absolutely fantastic Japanese 100-yen store called Daiso — which, silly as it sounds, is actually the $1.50 store once you convert the currency), you might be overwhelmed by all the cheap and practical car camping goods you can buy.

I always stock up on dish rags, scrubby sponges, plastic tablecloths, aluminum pans, aluminum foil, food containers, and zip-top bags on my dollar store sprees. I also replace utensils (especially grilling utensils) that get lost or left behind at campgrounds and cabins.

You know what else the dollar store is good for? Seed starting supplies.

While I always advocate repurposing and reusing what you already have around the house, sometimes you need to buy a few things to round out your collection, and the dollar store is a great way to get started with minimal expense. Anyone who says seed starting is an expensive endeavor should look beyond the traditional garden centers and nurseries, and even beyond the gardening aisle of their local dollar store.

Strange as it seems, the best seed starting supplies are actually found in the non-gardening aisles!

Continue Reading