Nature Explorer

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Spring is here and Rain at Last! March 12, 2016

Early, cool spring is my favorite time of year.


Eulalie and Jumbo

Eulalie and Jumbo

Artemis Fowl

Artemis Fowl

play structure chicken coop

play structure chicken coop

Weeds Find a Way!

Weeds Find a Way!

Indian Hawthorne

Indian Hawthorne

Baby Apricots

Baby Apricots

Green yard

Green yard

IMG_0683 IMG_0685Last year, we got only a couple of inches of rain all year. This year, while El Nino has definitely not lived up to its promise in southern California, at least we are getting a real spring. The air is clean and cool, our apricot tree has blossomed already and is producing tiny fruit, the Indian Hawthorne bush is ready to explode with blossoms, weeds are finding a way, and the chickens are delighted with the growing garden.


Clairemont Produce Exchange February 22, 2015

Filed under: Gardening,Sustainability — explorergarden @ 8:17 am

My neighborhood has a produce exchange once a month. This month I brought nine bundles of collards and bok toy, with ten leaves in each bundle. In exchange, I got a bag of lemons and oranges, celery, beets, fennel and a few baked goods.

clairemont produce exchange


Purple Cabbage Dye January 28, 2015

Filed under: Gardening,Inspiration,Sustainability — explorergarden @ 6:49 am

I run two school garden programs. At one of my school gardens, we harvested the purple cabbage we planted  a couple of months ago and made dye for linen. It was a good opportunity for Common Core informational writing!

cabbage dye 1cabbage dye 2 cabbage dye 3cabbage dye 6 cabbage dye 5 cabbage dye 4   cabbage dye 8


Making Kale/Collard Sauerkraut at Wild Willow Farm November 8, 2013

Filed under: Gardening,Sustainability — explorergarden @ 8:17 am

Fermented foods are full of beneficial micro-organisms — probiotics — bacterial that live in our gut and help us digest our food. Today we learned to make sauerkraut. Here’s what we did:

Harvest kale, collards and dinosaur kale.

Clean the leaves.

Chop them up finely.

Add 2 tsp salt for every pound of vegetables.

Massage salt into the kale until it “weeps” liquid.

Add herbs and spices.

Push the veggies into a sterile jar — and cram in until the liquid floats on top.

Store covered at room temperature for four days to allow fermentation. Make sure that there is always liquid on the top.

Uncover and refrigerate. Eat!

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San DIego Roots Sustainable Food Project October 19, 2013

Check out this documentary about Wild Willow Farm and Education Center, near San Diego


Building a Cobb Solar Cooker for Solar Cookers International September 23, 2013

Filed under: Everything Under the Sun,Sustainability — explorergarden @ 6:02 am
Tags: , ,

Cobb is an age-old building method using a mixture of mud (clay), sand, and straw as a binder (apparently it produces lactic acid as it ferments, which binds the minerals together). When I was in Africa as a college student, I lived for a few weeks with a Samburu family. One night it rained hard, and the grandmother in the family rushed out into the rain. I wondered what she was doing, and then discovered that she was taking advantage of the rain to repair her house, plastering the outside with a mud-dug, grass mixture. She was an expert in cobb building, like every Samburu woman.
Joe Kennedy is also an expert in cobb building. An architecture graduate of UC Berkeley with MA’s in architecture from SciArch — Southern California Institute of Architecture, and in Peace Studies from Notre Dame, Kennedy has built cobb structures all over the world. In this project, he is teaming with Patricia McCardle of Solar Cookers International, to try to create a durable solar cooker that can be built and used in refugee camps in Chad. McCardle is the editor of the Solar Cooker International journal, and a former member of the US diplomatic corps. She has brought solar cookers all over the world, and has observed the problems with a variety of the cookers in large camps: durability. Her idea and Kennedy’s expertise will hopefully solve that problem.


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