Saturday Linkages: Improvised Motocycles, Permaculture, Bear Attacks Man In Outhouse, Unicorn Poop Cookies–Yes, It’s a Strange World We Live In

Stuck in an African desert, a man improvises a motorcycle out of his Citroen with no tools. You can’t get more bad-ass than that!

Homemade motorcycle improvised out of a Citroen 2CV in the middle of the desert:

Geoff Lawton on the Future of Permaculture | The Survival Podcast

Outhouse bear attack survivor was grabbed from ‘throne’

3D printed Yogurt Cup SIPs from Carlyn up on Thingiverse – thanks to @rootsimple for the inspiration!

HOWTO make unicorn poop cookies:

West Coast Women’s Permaculture Gathering:

Functional Coat Hooks Made of Unlikely Upcycled Material | Designs & Ideas on Dornob

Art from plastic waste in Kenya:

No need to rewash pre-washed leafy greens barfblog:

Limiting barf in bike races | barfblog:

Imidacloprid bee study appears flawed:

Follow the Root Simple twitter feed for more linkages.

Three Front Yard Vegetable Gardens

I spotted some nice front yard gardens while I was out for a walk the other day. Check out these finds:

Above, these gardeners have used some scrap lumber as retaining walls to allow them some extra soil depth for planting. In this small front yard bed they’re growing beautiful kohlrabi (my new favorite vegetable), some climbing beans and a few different kinds of squash. Keeping a veggie garden doesn’t have to be either complicated or expensive. Neighborhood gardens like this are really what inspired us when we started out. They taught us to plant boldly, to plant casually, and to plant anywhere we wanted.

This yard above delighted me. It seems they’ve given up on their lawn and instead have planted an army of caged veggie seedlings in orderly rows across their front yard. Not pictured is a little strip of  established food garden at the front of the yard. It looks like they wanted more room and said, “To heck with the lawn!” I’m going to keep checking progress on this one.

In this front yard, the lawn has been replaced with drought tolerant perennial shrubs and grasses arranged around gravel paths. It’s very pretty. I like that the landscaper included some artichoke plants in the mix, proving that gardens can be edible and stylish. Many people don’t know that artichokes open into huge, striking purple flowers if you don’t harvest them for food–so it’s win/win either way.  And bees adore artichoke flowers. They roll around in the thick pollen like gangsters in cash.

Indigo 101

Graham stirs the vat with his “witchy stick” –which is tinted many beautiful shades of blue.

One of the primary lessons of gleaned from my Shibori Challenge is that cotton is difficult to dye with natural dyes, whereas wool and silk take these colors beautifully. Know your materials!

Building on that, I’ve also figured out that the reason indigo dye is the favored dye for shibori techniques is because indigo gets along very well with cotton (and other plant fibers) and the dyeing characteristics of indigo are ideal for shibori. In fact, the idiosyncrasies of indigo probably led to the development of shibori, way back in the mists of time. So, if I want to make shibori patterned cotton cocktail napkins, as was my challenge to myself, I may as well fall in with thousands of years of tradition and dye with indigo.

Book reading and Internet surfing are all well and good for gathering knowledge, but to learn an unfamiliar process, nothing works better than to find someone who knows what they’re doing and go watch them. That way, you learn via a pleasant form of osmosis, rather than by frowning at at a glowing screen.

Our friend Graham Keegan dyes with indigo and sells his beautiful canvas and leather creations in his own Etsy shop. He kindly invited me to come to his studio and watch him dye some test swatches yesterday.

Continue reading…

World’s Largest Chard Grows in SIP

The story of SuperChard:

Its origin is unknown. It might come from Bountiful Garden seed, or perhaps Franchi.

It volunteered in a corner of one of our backyard beds, in a bed we were resting. We didn’t water it. It grew all summer long anyway, despite having no rain at all.  In fact, it grew huge and lush. We never harvested it, though, because it was growing in our lead contaminated soil. So we continued to ignore it and it continued to thrive.

It sucked up the winter rains and grew even bigger. Then, early this spring, as part of our whole “dealing with the lead” problem we tore out the two raised beds in Lead Central in order to dig out the clay beneath them to make adobe bricks. By this time SuperChard was so magnificent I couldn’t kill him (around this time I began to anthropomorphize the chard), so I trimmed off his outer leaves (some of which were as long as my arm) and transplanted him into a self-watering container (SIP).

I knew that transplanting such a big, established plant would be difficult, but by this time I really wanted to harvest this plant’s seed. So I told him that I wanted to preserve his genetic legacy–what plant doesn’t want that?–and praised his beauty, and babied him through the transition.

SuperChard adapted beautifully to life in a container and quickly grew back to full size. We took him  with us to our various gigs, both to show people what a SIP was and to blow their minds with the beauty of chard. I wish I had a pic of SuperChard in full leaf. In the photo above all his energy has gone into the flower, so the leaves are a sad shadow of their former glory. Basically, SuperChard used to look like an exotic, pampered tropical plant. One that did not mind rattling around in our hatchback and getting dragged all over tarnation.

Chard reproduces in its second year, and SuperChard’s time has come. He began to bolt with our first heat wave and has sent up a huge flower spike. He drinks like crazy to support the SuperSpike–so we  fill the SIP reservoir daily.

I’ll be sad to say goodbye to SuperChard, but I will be collecting his seed. And I do believe we will have to keep our promise to him and spread his genetic diversity far and wide by sending his seed across the country to be stewarded by our readers.

Watch out for a seed giveaway later this summer.

Reminder: Earthen Oven Workshop This Friday-Sunday at the Root Simple Compound

There’s still a few spots left for the oven workshop with adobe master Kurt Gardella. Here’s the details and registration information:

Earthen ovens are inexpensive to build, fun to use, and provide baking environment impossible to recreate in the kitchen.  This May, Kurt Gardella returns to California for three days to teach you how to make your own earthen oven.  Kurt has built dozens of these ovens in New Mexico, and has great expertise in both adobe construction and earthen plasters and finishes. Attendees will leave the class with the knowledge necessary to built an oven of their own, with materials that you may already have in your yard.
The class is suitable for bakers, building professionals and do-it-your-selfers, and is a great introduction to adobe construction and earthen plasters covered in more depth in adobeisnotsoftware’s other classes.
Topics Include:
  • Local considerations and the siting your earthen oven
  • Soil and material selection, sourcing and testing
  • Foundations and oven base design and materials
  • Sizing
  • Sand Form and Oven Domes
  • Natural oven plasters and finishes
  • Firing and baking in your oven.
Instruction Type:
This is a hands-on class. Attendees will have the opportunity to get dirty and use tools and equipment typical of adobe construction and earthen finishing. Due to the course format, enrollment will be limited to 10 individuals.  In the unlikely event of inclement weather, instruction will occur indoors.
Kurt Gardella teaches adobe construction at Northern New Mexico College, is Director of Education for Adobe in Action, and is certified as an earth-building specialist by the German Dachverband Lehm.
Ben Loescher is a licensed architect, founder of adobeisnotsoftware and principal of golem|la, an architecture firm specializing in adobe construction.
The class will be conducted in the Silver Lake area of Los Angeles, and hosted by Root Simple.  Coffee and nibbles will be provided at the beginning of the day; lunch is included.
Click here to register.  Early bird tuition is $190/person for registrations before April 20th, standard price registrations will be $220 after that date.