Category Archives: growing stuff

Lunar Camel Co. field guide to trees, ch. 4: other people’s trees

YEARS Schmiede Hallein 2011

Years, Schmiede Hallein, Austria, 2011.

Bartholonäus Traubeck, Years. A turntable plays trees by analysing “their strength, thickness and rate of growth. This data serves as basis for a generative process that outputs piano music. It is mapped to a scale which is again defined by the overall appearance of the wood (ranging from dark to light and from strong texture to light texture).” Via Need Supply.


Axel Erlandson’s tree circus in the Santa Cruz mountains, via Creatures of Comfort. Erlandson died in 1964 and the trees were then cared for by a tree-loving architect. In 1985 they were moved to a theme park in Gilroy, where they live today. Tree circus scholars can learn more from the Tree Circus Collection at Santa Cruz’s Museum of Art & History.

tree circus double knots

tree circus cube

A.E. at his tree circus

tree circus sycamore phone booth

sycamore phone booth by Mark Primack

tree circus box

the tree circus is coming to town

the tree circus comes to town by Mark Primack

Cf. Arborsmith Studios; Pooktre tree shapers; the German master of treedome shaping; unrelated German tree fence from the 1930s; Indian tree bridges; Plantware.


Italian tree tea from Buon Italia.

Erbe e Spezie tea packet

Erbe e Spezie tea  ingredients

Ingredients: coriander seeds, juniper berries, cloves, orange rinds, cinnamon bark, ginger rootstocks, mountain pine needles.

“Un sorso di salute, nel rispetto dell’ambiente” = “A sip of health, while respecting the environment.” I bought it more for making ice cream with than for drinking, but it’s nice for drinking. I was expecting it to taste strongly of pine trees the way Italian pine honey does — eating pine honey, in my experience, is like being bonked on the head with a pine branch — but actually it’s rather gentle and balanced, with no one flavor dominating. Just the thing for a hiker’s mug.


In Suffolk there’s a beech so ugly that it terrifies children and pensioners, says the Daily Mail. I admit I did not read the article closely but it’s probably a benefits scrounger, too.

the ugliest tree

ugly tree by David Garnham


Blog-friend a wild slim alien — who is in fact a tree — pointed me in the direction of Five Dials, a monthly literary mag from Hamish Hamilton. Number 22 (Why Willows Weep and Other Tales From The Forest Floor) consists of fables about nineteen varieties of trees native to the U.K. and may be read here. Five Dials is a PDF mag but you can buy a special dead tree copy of this one issue to support the Woodland Trust here. They’ll plant five trees if you do.

Five Dials Number 22


how to get a tree to speak

EOS magazine’s talking tree has been telling the world about its life in Brussels for a year or so now. There doesn’t seem to be any sound coming through on its YouTube channel but you can listen to the tree on SoundCloud.


Chapter 3 of my field guide to trees is here.

This and that No. 5

teeth-and-gums plant

Haunting teeth-and-gums plant and other botanical delights at Nothing is New.

The Plant Journal

The Plant Journal “provid[es] botanical contents in a simple, personal and cozy way.” The internet says it comes from Barcelona. There’s also this Plant Journal, which looks informative but less cozy.

Kwangho Lee Cactus No. 47

Kwangho Lee painting, Cactus No. 47, at but does it float.

glowing shrooms kit

Bioluminescent mushroom habitat kit at Black Jungle Terrarium Supply.

Ananas Noir tomatoes

Ananas Noir (Black Pineapple) tomatoes at Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.

tub of ladybugs

Tub of ladybugs (approx. 1,500) at

praying mantis egg cases

Set of two praying mantis egg cases at
Apparently they will not eat the ladybugs.

Peanut butter fruit (Bunchosia argentea)

Peanut butter fruit (Bunchosia argentea) at Logee’s Plants for Home and Garden. The fruits “have a hint of peanut butter flavor.”

Gardeners' Question Time

In the morning sometimes I listen to BBC Radio 4 Gardeners’ Question Time. Is it the Car Talk of England? I have no idea. I like listening to it while doing things around the apartment because I find people’s ambitions for their plants weirdly touching – little old ladies who want to grow bananas in Dorset, that sort of thing. One of their panelists is Bunny Guinness and another is Bill Flowerdew. When the program started in 1947, it had a panelist called Bill Sowerbutts. I don’t know much about gardening but I like to think that if I were to change my name to Magenta Pistil-Pollenbottom, I might have a future as a radio starlet.

This and That No. 4 is here and contains links to all the rest.

This and that No. 3


The Philips microbial kitchen, via The Guardian. Click on the images to read more about it.

I wish I were making this Thanksgiving’s pies in this lovely microbial kitchen. It is the kitchen of the future, says Philips. The heart of it is the bio-digester island, which is basically a poop- and vegetable scrap-repurposing contraption: burning methane powers the stove, and the “residue” (blessedly, magically dehydrated) can be used as fertilizer.

the larder
the larder close up

The larder.

The part of the microbial kitchen that really excites me is the larder, which has “a twin-walled terra cotta evaporative cooler” consisting of “compartments and chambers [that] vary in wall thicknesses and volumes . . . designed to keep different types of food at different optimal temperatures.” I am ready for this now. I am already mentally arranging my mushrooms and cheeses. You know what this reminds me of, this amazing styrofoam kitchen of the future from 1978:


Styrofoam kitchen by Lino Schenal, from Joan Kron and Suzanne Slesin’s High-Tech(1978).

I got High-Tech after seeing this outdoor hangout room from it over at Wary Meyers. There are loads of good ideas in the book and the styrofoam kitchen has stuck with me. I often bring home new kitchen equipment that I don’t have just the right spot for, and with a kitchen like this I could scoop out a compartment for, say, my new ice cream machine. It isn’t as high-tech as the microbial kitchen, but how great would it be to combine the two, with terra cotta inserts for the scooped-out wall, like the larder? Such that one could open a little door to a personal-size cheese cave? Or a mushroom-growing cabinet. I have been trying to grow mushrooms inside my componibili and this would be an improvement. One could have a mushroom-growing cabinet right next to a pipe carrying cool, clean water and have one’s mushrooms misted automatically. Or via phone.

The more mysterious biological and transformative aspects of the future kitchen remind me of this fallen tree that Mr. Lunar Camel Co. and I recently encountered at Rockefeller State Park Preserve in Sleepy Hollow, NY. Are these the ghosts of insects struck by lightening? Whatever happened here happened to the entire length of the tree.



This and That No. 1 is here.

This and That No. 2 is here.

how you got here

looking for lunar camels

I always enjoy looking at the search terms that have brought people — mostly people, one hopes — to this blog. A small handful appear to be specialty perverts whose reconnaisance missions have led them through several pages of Google results before arriving here, and I am almost sorry to turn them away empty-handed. (That “almost” is for you, Mr. or Ms. “sexual pony”). For the most part, though, I have indeed blogged about the things you’ve been after, or you are after things I am willing to consider blogging about. Such as:

Humboldt County weed: Very popular, this stuff, but I have a suspicion many searchers get lost scrolling all the way down to the middle of this post, past the distracting book, car, books, radio, dirty magazines, and wonk-eyed cat.

fat liz taylor: It makes me feel like such a part of the community, that we share an enthusiasm for looking at photos of Liz having a grand old time at fat camp on rainy weekday afternoons.

roasted seaweed snack: I like those too and I use them to make other snacks. Is there a word for snacks within snacks? I am going to roll up some almonds inside a layer of seaweed snack and then roll that up inside a tortilla spread with almond butter and think about snacks within snacks within snacks within snacks.

baby molds: I really banged on about the sort of baby molds one might use to make chocolate babies, but who knows what these searchers were after. I don’t have any children of my own so I am unfamiliar with the types of mold that grow on babies, and my thoughts are more likely to turn to the fascinating babies one might make with an actual baby mold. The technology appears to work well with melons, and as a bonus you’d probably be able to make some baby oil at the same time.


basic square melons

paper camel step by step: Unfortunately I am useless at making those.

70s weird: I feel like I blog about this a lot (e.g.) but rarely do I explicitly explain that that is what I am doing, so it’s nice that people interested in this find their way here anyhow.

where can i buy bio coffee: In my neighborhood! At Food For Life Supreme on 116th Street. I have mentioned I sort of like it. My man-friend is thinking of getting a container and drinking it every day for a week. I will encourage him and keep you posted on that.

boys bathing bare: Like you, I have a scholarly interest in this.

driftwood cutting board: I find it surprising that I am one of very few people to possess one of these on the internet. All the more so because I gave my temporary driftwood cutting board the briefest of mentions. Driftwood tends to be soft so it doesn’t make the best cutting board, but don’t you people ever need to forage for a cutting board in a pinch? Urban freeganism drools, seaside freeganism rules.

marimo balls: I keep them, yes.

marimo ball smell: Mine smell good, a fresh, green smell, but you can’t smell anything at all unless you take them out and hold them up to your nose. I change the filtered water my marimo balls live in once a week, if that helps.

how can I make my marimo reproduce: An excellent question. Whatever they do, they apparently prefer to do away from prying people eyes. Please let me know if you’ve ever walked in on yours going at it because mine are not very active.

how to cover stuff with marimo balls: I’m at a loss as to why this requires research because the answer seems obvious to me: pile them on and don’t use any ruinous glue! If they don’t stay put just keep adding more and more marimo balls until your stuff is covered.

sink growing stuff: I like growing found plants and discarded bits of plants — did you know you can grow your own pineapple tree from your old pineapple parts? — but strangely I have not blogged about this interest yet. Nor have I ever tried growing things in my sink. I am guessing that people who are doing that are mostly doing it by accident. Either that or I am ignorant about next-level avant gardening.

what do i wear with creepers?: I’m still gathering data as to whether anyone really is wearing creepers, but in the meantime I think very tight trousers would be ideal.

famous bed: I have only ever briefly touched on the subject of famous bed-ins. I think famous beds is an excellent subject for an entirely new blog. You could get off to a rousing start with the Celestial Bed, and I think you could also blog any and all round beds because there aren’t ever enough photos of those to look at, are there? Semi-related, do any of you remember there used to be a nice blog called The Sleeper and the author signed each post, “Yours amidst the sound of knocking radiators,” after dispensing advice about sheets, etc.? I can’t find it now even with The Internet Wayback Machine.

winged phallus: Yes of course I have shown you one of those.

gastronome cravat: Those too.

monolith boner: I have written about those too! I think it’s generally pretty great that people with similar interests can find one another effortlessly like this.

pothead daydream: Pretty much the entirety of my blogging is about this subject.

sex nuns: I have only written about movie nuns who weren’t having any sex at all, but a knowledgable friend tells me you can find the sex nuns here. Don’t click on that at the office.

hypnotic butt spiral: I don’t really keep up with trendy dance moves, I’m just a dabbler, so you should ask another blogger about this.

monkey paw weed: I have never tried that kind but if you are its publicist you can send me some and I will review it.

killingworth ct nude in the woods: I like to go hiking there (exhibit A; exhibit B) so I can tell you that, like other woods, those woods are full of ticks and scratchy tree branches. So to answer your question, no, that wasn’t me.

boner pjs: I did once go on a tangent about pajamas but I don’t know what boner pjs are. Have they got a hole in them or are they so sexy as to be boner-inducing? Whichever it is, I bet this person’s neighbor wears them sometimes. Or ought to.

all the latest news about my marimo balls

My marimo balls arrived a few weeks ago and are quietly doing whatever it is they do. They arrived in a little glassine envelope, moist and fuzzy to the touch, perfectly spherical and smelling very pleasantly mossy. I’m pretty happy with them. Take a good long look at them now because I probably won’t show you them again until they’ve achieved thunderous girth, and that’s going to take a while.

my marimo balls are here

my marimo balls are quietly minding their own business

My marimo balls at present.

it's just grass -- yawn

An approximation of what my marimo balls will look like the next time I show them to you. I plan to keep them intact so you should picture me reclining on top rather than posing inside, as this woman was doing inside a dull old grass ball at the Hampton Court Palace garden show. Photo by Luke MacGregor/Reuters via The Guardian.

A certain helpful someone who was cleaning up my apartment while I was at work blearily mistook my marimo balls for some sort of culinary experiment gone wrong and flung them into the sink, but they don’t appear to have suffered for having spent time out of their little glass home. The ensuing email discussion (“those are intentional pets!”) brought forth Gmail ads for Mr. Big Moss Collection (“You should see whether they might be interested in retaining your consulting services . . .”). Fellow moss-keepers take note, Mr. Big does not go around “collecting” other people’s mosses the way houseguests do; instead it is a big — supposedly — collection of mosses for sale, some of which are nearly as attractive as my marimo balls.