Crab Traps

My crab trap is basically just a larger version of the crawfish traps I made previously .

This time I got some larger gauge wire mesh out of a dumpster at a construction site, so it's better suited for bigger fish.

Things you need: wire cutters, wire, half-inch gauge wire mesh, paper, scissors.

Check out the photos for rough instructions on how to fashion it together. I'm using heavy duty stereo speaker wires as twist-ties to secure the edges and pieces of my trap together. Copper wire works well because it bends easily but stays tight. There are certainly other ways of doing it, but if you're making these things out of scrap materials you gotta go with what you got.

The trap in these photos only has one end with a cone shaped entrance. Due to not having enough mesh I had to fit the other end with a simple circular cut to cap it. That probably means it'll catch fewer crabs, but in Louisiana there's plenty of the little bastards crawling around.

Best way to catch crabs is to throw your trap out in the evening in a shallow waterway (lake, bayou, canal, calm ocean shore, rocky areas or around piers are really good. Let your trap sit overnight. Chicken is an excellent bait. Shrimp too. Fish heads work well. Really almost any meat will attract crabs. Pull it up in the morning and throw your catch in a bucket with some water in it.

I like to boil my crabs in hot pepper and lemons and eat them straight out of the shell with my hands. If you're fancy you can make crab cakes, gumbo, or whatever.

What's going on in this photo is that I've cut a half-circle out of paper (in order to make sure when I fold it that it fits well in the cylindrical body of the trap. If you want a mathematical formula, you should basically double the diameter of the trap's body and that's the diameter of the half-circle you'll want to cut out of the wire mesh.

Here I'm folding the straight bottom of the half circle in on itself. You fasten it together there to make the cone shape. Then you cut out a hole in the tip of the cone big enough for crabs to crawl through.

Here it is fit into the body of the trap. Ideally you'd put one of these in both ends, but I've only got one end fit like this on this here trap.

Close up of the twisted stereo speaker wires that hold the trap's parts together. I know it looks crappy, but it works well and is very durable.

Finished. Now all I need to do is cut a hole in the side to make a little hatch where I can put bait into it or take crabs out of it.



I compulsively grow plants, epecially vegetables, fruit and nut trees, and anything exotic I can find discarded in the dumpsters of hardware stores, nurseries, and bourgy grocery stores (Trader Joe's has a penchant for throwing out beautiful orchids that have many years of life left in them).

Right now I'm growing mostly figs and avocadoes. The figs are cuttings that I've rooted over the winter in my sunny southeast facing kitchen window. The avocados are sprouted from pits that were thrown away by a nearby restaurant that uses them to make salads.

This is an avocado and pineapple. The pineapple is still just rooting.

I've also got a humungous cherry tomato plant growing on my little balcony. The tomato bush came my way be a magical butterfly. She flew in from the west and planted it in rich compost. It's been doing very well ever since.

I find it amazing how much life can grow in such a small place with such little care. I only spend about 1 hour total a week caring for these plants. As soon as I find a sunny protected place where I can plant them in the ground I'll begin another set of cuttings and seeds. The problem here is land, ownership, and mainstream priorities. There are few houses in Uptown New Orleans where you'll find a serious vegetable garden or orchard. Edible plants in general are far between.

There are papayas and bananas commonly planted about. The bananas don't fruit as well because of the climate here (too cold in the winter), but mostly because people aren't serious about tending to them. Figs are not common enough. There are some major trees hidden upriver of Canal Street, in Irish Channel, Touro, Bouligny, Audubon, Leonides neighborhoods. There could easily be hundreds more. Most of the lush gardens of the Uptown are filled with nonedible flowers, vines, tropical plants, and this is all shaded over by massive live oaks. I can imagine a very different New Orleans, one filled with fruit trees and gardens, little to no asphalt covering the earth. People who own property in our society need to get their heads straight. We need fewer concrete slabs, fewer rose gardens, and more edible landscapes. Don't get me wrong, I love a good rose garden, but can't we have a guava garden instead?


DIY - How to Make a Crawfish Trap

Crawfish are found all over the United States, from Alaska to Florida. The best fishing grounds for them are in the American South, but there's amazing lakes and rivers full of them in California and New York too. Crawfish are also eaten in Europe, South America, Australia, Asia and beyond. Although they're not a staple of food for most Americans, they could be. Their popularity in Louisiana has more to do with local's love for them rather than some presumed natural abundance.

That said, the waters in Louisiana are full of them. Making a trap to catch crawfish is relatively simple. Mine is made from wire mesh of a small gauge that I dumpstered from a construction site. Look around your town and see if anyone's building a stucco structure. Odds are they'll be throwing out wire mesh used as backing for the stucco they apply. This is really ideal material for making a trap.

You'll also need some wire you can use to twist-tie fasten the mesh together with. I got mine by pulling out the copper wire from inside an old electrical cord and making litle ties out of it. Whatever works. Having some paper, pens, good wire cutters, etc. helps a lot.

First you cut out a big rectangular piece and bend it into the shape of a big cylinder. The ideal size is maybe a foot and half in diameter and a few feet long. Next you need to cut to large half circles out of the wire mesh. These will be the ends of the trap that allow the crawfish in, but don't let them out. I recommend actually cutting out a few different sizes of paper half circles first, folding them on themselves (so that the flat edge meets and you have a perfectly shaped cone) and then seeing how well these fit in your cylinder's ends. Once you have a good size paper cut out use it to trace-cut your wire mesh half circles.

Tie the cones together and cut a small opening at each one's tip, about 2 inches in diameter. Then lower them, pointed side first, into the cylender's ends and fasten them well. Now you have the basic trap, all you need is an access door on the side (a place to insert bait and take out the catch). Cut a hole in the side (whatever shape you like) and then cut out a larger piece of wire mesh from the remaining stock you have. Put this larger piece over the whole and find a way to fasten it down like a door with little hinges on one side and a lock on the other. I simply used little pieces of metal twisted into a circle to secure the door on one side and I tie it tightly shut with a little piece of string.

That's it. Now it's ready to go fishing. The best bait apparently is fresh fish parts but chicken works, as do other kinds of meat. It's best fresh, not rotten. Put the bait in the trap and lower it in a creek, bayou, river, lake, pond, etc. Leave it overnight as crawfish are nocturnal. Hopefully when you pluck it out the next day there will be some crawfish in there.

Best way to eat them is to boil them with lots of salt and hot pepper.



My guerrilla garden happens to be in one of the most highly policed areas of Santa Barbara.

The cops come down to the tracks every few weeks or so to run the houseless folks off. Usually they'll write a trespassing ticket and if the hapless individual happens to fit their profile, the coppers will search them for drugs.

The city and railroad company (Union Pacific) happen to cooperate in attacking the little community of folks who live and hang out around the tracks. The company, knowing that the area provides nice shelter under the oaks, palms, and other shrubs, came through last month and chopped down many of the older trees and all of the underbrush. They almost went far enough up the line to destroy my garden, but luckily it was saved!

What's really got me down about their chainsaw/chipper/shredder treatment of my tracks is that they reduced several beautiful stands of Islay trees to mulch. Islay trees are native shrubs that produce berries (commonly called Holly Leaf Cherries) which can be eaten after leaching out the tannins. The Chumash used to harvest them.

This year I sprouted several Islay saplings from seed. Perhaps I'll put them down in my garden this fall, for rebirth and renewal.


Freddy Went to Afghanistan....

I took part of the day off to tend my garden down along the UP tracks. I ended up spending about 2 hours digging around, gathering stones and building new beds for flowers that I’ll transplant soon. As I was searching for chunks of sandstone I noticed a man sleeping beneath willow trees near the garden. He apparently noticed me also because as I was crossing the tracks to gather up more stones he approached me and waved. I waved back.

He came over and awkwardly asked, “are you bored, or uh….?”
Clearly he was wondering why I was wandering around this lonesome section of rail between the freeway and lagoon.
“I’m tending my garden,” I answered. He looked relieved. The last thing he probably wanted was for me to be some creep or sketchy character.
“So you’re the one who does this!”
“Yeah, I’ve been working on this little patch of land for a few months,” I said.
“I’d been wondering who was doing it. Now I know. It’s real cool. Sometimes I hang out down here, but mostly I notice other people using it. It’s making a difference, you’re doing something good.”
“Great,” I glowed. “That’s what it’s for. In fact, if you want to work on it, plant anything…. Anything, go for it.” It was good to hear that people are enjoying it and respecting the space.

The man stuck out his hand and said, “Freddy, my name’s Freddy.” I told him my name and we shook on it. For some reason he felt compelled to now explain himself, why he was down here in the rough. “I was in the service,” he began. The military; somehow I knew right where this was going.
“I went to Afghanistan and got back in 03’. I seen thing over there that ain’t right. I was in Nicaragua in the 80s, I went to Bosnia, and a few other places where I saw combat. There ain’t nothin’ that can compare to what’s going on over there in Afghanistan, and Iraq too. It’s fucked up.”

Freddy had a purple bruise under his left eye from a punch that must have landed on his cheekbone weeks ago. I didn’t ask him about it. His face was weathered and he had dark tired eyes. But he didn’t look like a drinker. He said he liked coming down here because it was quiet, because he could “escape from society.”

“I can’t deal with society sometimes, so I’ve gotta just come down here and be alone. I like it down here. There’s not too many workers nor too many other people like us down here, so I get left alone. There’s nobody doing drugs or getting drunk. It’s a good spot. I’m glad you’re keeping this garden up.”

Freddy and I talked more about Afghanistan. Freddy said his whole life he’d been patriotic and believed in America. But after what he’d seen over there, after he war he said no more.

“I love my country, hate my government,” I told him. He said he agreed with that. We shook hands again and he walked off down the tracks toward town. A few minutes later a big freight rolled by with dozens of box cars toward the tail end. At least five of them had doors open on both sides, primo rides. The train slowed down enough to hop on, but I didn’t have the right clothing nor any supplies to catch out. Just my luck a perfect boxcar rolled by at about a soft jogging pace. Inside were three traveler kids, anarchists. One eyed me and beckoned to hop aboard with a wave of his hand. I flashed a peace sign and yelled, “maybe next time.”

No maybes, I’m hopping out in a few weeks for sure.


State Street TAZ

On Halloween we took over State Street in downtown Santa Barbara for 2 hours. The temporary autonomous zone produced by hundreds of us included music, dancing, art, free food, kisses, and joy!



See you in the streets!


Guerrilla Gardening on Stolen Land

All this land is stolen, so why not squat every last inch of it?

Down on the Union Pacific tracks nestled between the rails and the 101 freeway I've squatted a little plot of land for a garden. As of today I've got a fig tree, two nopale cacti, cape and tree mallow, some hollyhock and a blueberry bush growing.

In a month or so I plan to plant some peach trees, the sort that do well in mild climates. I hear there's a variety called the Santa Barbara Peach. Perfect.

Here's some pics.
My littler plot of land bounded by the 101 freeway, a little creek and the UP tracks. Water is year round, relatively clean.

Islay berries, sometimes called Holly Leaved Cherry. The Chumash used to eat these by boiling the pits and mashing up the soft nut in the center to remove tannins. I cooked a few pounds this year. They grow near my plot naturally. I'm planting more over the winter around town.

A houseless man's camp, one of about 2 dozen that were raided by cops a month or so back. The little community that lives along the tracks has only slowly started coming back.

Lavender! It grows well and can tolerate a few weeks without water, perfect for my style of gardening in SoCal.

Cape Mallow, produces beautiful flowers that attract bees, butterflies and humming birds.

The train zips by every few hours, mostly AmTrak, but also freighters.

Poor pit bull that got hit by the train years ago. He mummified under his makeshift grave and is now exposed to the air. Perhaps I'll rebury him soon with a proper grave...

I like flowers. Soon I'll plan fruit trees galore and have a beautiful and practical guerrilla garden.