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April 21, 2013
This week our SoCal Garden Clinic turns to problematic avocado trees: Question from reader Steven Klein of Malibu: In November 2011, I planted a 3-gallon Lamb Hass avocado tree on a slope with full sun about 90% of the day. Despite my ineptitude, this tree continues to survive, although it has lost several branches and 65% of its leaves. There is some sign of new growth, and I would like to help it along, even though it may take several years. A similar mature avocado tree existed in the same general location for years and did well with almost no care until it was consumed by fire.
April 18, 2013 | By Ken Dilanian and Paul Richter, Los Angeles Times
WASHINGTON - The British and French governments have asked the United Nations to investigate what they believe is credible evidence that the Syrian regime has used small amounts of chemical weapons in recent months, officials said Thursday. The evidence, including soil samples and witness testimony, is not definitive. But the indications are such that "we are pressing the United Nations to investigate further and raising our concerns with international partners," said a British diplomat who requested anonymity in addressing a sensitive matter.
April 13, 2013 | By Bettina Boxall
It took a lot of muscle to build the Whole Earth Building in Claremont, not to mention mud balls, sandbags and dirty hands. Opening April 20, the new headquarters of the nonprofit organization Uncommon Good has an uncommon green pedigree. The 2,500-square-foot building is a marriage of the ancient and high-tech.  A series of domed rectangular structures, it was constructed by hand with dirt dug from the site. A passive solar design will help warm rooms. Photovoltaics will light them.
April 1, 2013 | By Bettina Boxall
Western land managers may have a new weapon in their frustrating - and so far losing - battle against invasive cheatgrass. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says early field tests of naturally occurring soil bacteria known as ACK55 show promise in controlling alien cheatgrass, a native of Eurasia that was accidentally introduced by settlers in the 1800s. Cheatgrass has taken over millions of acres of federal land in Nevada and other Great Basin states, promoting huge, fast-moving wildfires that destroy sagebrush habitat and with it, food and shelter for pronghorn antelope, sage grouse and mule deer.
March 29, 2013 | By Karen Kaplan
Humans could learn a thing or two from lowly sand termites about managing the Earth's natural resources. Mysterious African "fairy circles," up to 55 yards across, are created by these creatures, according to a study published in Friday's edition of the journal Science.  Fairy circles are formations that appear along a 1,200-mile belt that stretches along the southwestern edge of Africa, from the middle of Angola to Namibia to the northern edge...
March 6, 2013 | By Richard A. Serrano, Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON - Can the president legally order a drone strike to kill an American on U.S. soil? Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. wrote this week in a letter to Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) that he could envision "an extraordinary circumstance in which it would be necessary and appropriate" to use such lethal force. Those words touched off a heated debate Wednesday in the Senate over when and where the president can order the killing of U.S. citizens designated as "enemy combatants. " President Obama and his aides have said that targeted killings of Americans must be governed by some due process.
February 15, 2013 | By Henry Chu, Los Angeles Times
VATICAN CITY - He's God's own man, but Italians think he should be theirs too. Now, after a 35-year hiccup, they have a good shot at making that true again. As the derby begins to replace Pope Benedict XVI, who stunned the world this week by announcing his intention to retire at the end of the month, Italy is aiming to resume the line of homegrown pontiffs who reigned for more than 450 years until John Paul II, a Pole, came along in 1978. Italians figure high on the list of likely successors to the German-born Benedict and, by a wide margin, form the single largest national bloc - though far from a majority - among the cardinals who will choose the next occupant of St. Peter's throne.
February 14, 2013
I have two orange trees that were planted 12 years ago. They bore beautiful fruit until four years ago, when my gardener pruned them rather severely. Since that pruning, no more fruit at all. But the trees appear healthy -- very green, with few yellowing leaves. Please advise as to how we can get them to bear fruit again. Frances Berlin Palm Desert For answers on if or how gardeners can revive a badly pruned citrus tree, we turned to Frank McDonough, botanist at the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden in Arcadia.
January 29, 2013 | By Jenn Harris
Restaurants typically do their best to keep their establishments clean. And in Los Angeles, we even grade our restaurants based on cleanliness. So it came as a surprise to see a restaurant in Japan serving actual dirt on the menu. And we're not talking about the small remnants that can cling to a piece of produce after it's been washed. Nor the trendy "dirt" -- made with ground  nuts and malt flour -- popularized by the Copenhagen restaurant Noma. It's real dirt. Ne Quittez Pas , a restaurant in Tokyo, is serving an entire menu devoted to dirt, reported Asian news site . The first course consists of a potato starch and dirt soup; the second, salad with dirt dressing, then an aspic with oriental clams and a top layer of sediment; and the fourth course, a dirt risotto with sea bass and burdock root.
December 7, 2012 | By Lisa Boone
Steven Wynbrandt sticks his hand deep beneath the layers of straw that blanket his enormous compost heap and pulls out a fistful of black gold, sweet and earthy. “Look at this soil,” Wynbrandt says with excitement as his fingers open, revealing his secret recipe for compost: decomposed dairy cow manure, alfalfa, yarrow, camomile, stinging nettle, oak bark, dandelion and valerian flowers. “I'm an alchemist.” PHOTOS: The Wynbrandt backyard As further proof that compost is to gardening these days what grass-fed beef and gluten-free gourmet foods are to the world of food, the Wynbrandt compost heap photographed by the Los Angeles Times would later sell through word of mouth for $1 a pound.
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