Row Cover as an Insect Barrier

It ain’t pretty but it works.

As one would expect, cabbage leaf worms love cabbage and nearly every other member of the brassica species.  Which  is why I’ve become a real fan of row cover material as an insect barrier.

The perp in question.

It rarely freezes here so I use the thinnest row cover possible, specifically a product called Agribon-15. If you live in a cooler climate and want to use row cover for frost protection you would use a thicker product such as Agribon-30. Johnny’s Select Seeds carries Agribon row cover in lengths as short as 50 feet–plenty for an urban or suburban garden. I’ve used both PVC pipe and chain link fence tension wire as support. I secure the row cover down with pieces of rebar and bricks to keep out skunks.

What cabbage worms become.

It’s not a plug and play solution, however. If it gets hot I have to remember to pull the row cover off. And the added humidity can cause outbreaks of aphids. But overall, it works great. I’ve found that I just need to use it when tender seedlings are getting established. Once they have a fighting chance against the cabbage worms I can pull it off.

Saturday Linkages: Don’t seek the truth – just drop your opinions

DIY
Rear-cycling: Minimalist Stool Grows With Old Magazines | Designs & Ideas on Dornob http://dornob.com/rear-cycling-minimalist-stool-grows-with-old-magazines/ 

Bastard chairs of China: http://boingboing.net/2012/10/15/bastard-chairs-of-china.html 

Tiny Home With Metal Siding in Texas http://lloydkahn-ongoing.blogspot.com/2012/10/tiny-home-with-metal-siding-in-texas.html#.UIBNRCkp2Ys.twitter 

Life is swell in a fallout shelter!: http://boingboing.net/2012/10/17/life-is-swell-in-a-fall.html 

Small, Flat-bottomed Sailboat http://lloydkahn-ongoing.blogspot.com/2012/10/small-flat-bottomed-sailboat.html#.UH78qIIo7TY.twitter 

Car Tent for stealth city camping: Geekologie http://www.geekologie.com/2007/06/car-tent.php  

Thoughtstylings
Heirloom Apples, Heritage Orchards & Cideries Bring Back Food Diversity and Jobs to Our Communities http://j.mp/VkvZvh

World Food Day: A Franciscan Prayer Service on Behalf of Farmers, Farmworkers & Fishers in a Year of Drought http://j.mp/VkvRfl

Zen saying: Don’t seek the truth – just drop your opinions.

Health and Fitness
Fencing may help improve some cognitive functions in older people – Los Angeles Times http://www.latimes.com/la-heb-fencing-cogitive-improvement-20111230,0,1166016.story 

Gardening
Garden planter turns out to be Roman antique: http://boingboing.net/2012/10/12/garden-planter-turns-out-to-be.html  

Best Reporting on the Space Shuttle Tree Debacle
Science Center Given Approval to Remove Nearly 400 Trees to Make Way for Shuttle http://la.streetsblog.org/2012/09/18/science-center-given-approval-to-remove-nearly-400-trees-to-make-way-for-shuttle/#.UHkCZyjj5iQ.twitter   

For these links and more, follow Root Simple on Twitter:
 Follow @rootsimple

Joshua Tree Earthen Oven Class

Kurt Gardella, who led an earth oven workshop in our backyard is teaching another class in November. Our oven turned out great and was amazingly inexpensive (just the cost of sand). Kurt is a great teacher and if you’d like to build your own oven while learning the art of adobe, this class is not to be missed. Here’s info on the class:

Joshua Tree Earthen Oven Class
November 2–4, 2012

Earthen ovens are inexpensive to build, fun to use, and provide baking environment impossible to recreate in the kitchen. This Fall, 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.

Instructors: 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.

Kurt Gardella measures the radius of the horno dome.

Location:
The class will be conducted in the area of Joshua Tree. Coffee and nibbles will be provided at the beginning of the day; lunch is included.

For more info on the class and to register go to Adobe is Not Software.

Questions?
Please do not hesitate to contact Ben by email at mud[at]adobeisnotsoftware.org or by phone at (760) 278-1134.

A New and Improved Self Irrigating Pot System

A very cool improvement on the self irrigating pot (SIP) idea from Larry Hall of Minnesota. Rather than the two bucket system we’ve blogged about in the past (see a roundup of our SIP resources here), Hall uses one long rain gutter to supply water. He’s even got a clever double rain gutter system for growing strawberries that I’m tempted to try on our back patio.

I spotted this video on Inside Urban Green always a good source for SIP related news.

Social Media as a Homesteading Tool

One of the things I love most about this blog is that I get instant feedback and advice. Yesterday I asked for a source for olive trees and Ginny (thank you Ginny) left a comment with the address of a nursery I did not know about. An hour after reader her comment, I came home with a small Frantoio olive tree. Exactly what I was looking for.

I would never have found this tree without blogging. Blogging is a great way to keep notes on what you’re doing and connect with other like minded people. Should blogging interest you I recommend going with WordPress over Blogger. We’re going to switch over next month. And set a deadline for yourself–blog at least three times a week.

While there are many things to dislike about Facebook (principally that those of us who use it are doing free market research on ourselves), it has proven useful for me on many occasions. I’ve used it to solicit gardening advice, find a place to celebrate a birthday, borrow a guitar and keep up with friends and family. And I’ve learned a lot from what Facebook friends have posted about their homesteading adventures. Yes, the privacy issues are alarming but, having written two books now, our life is public anyways.

I think that it’s healthy to look at new technology critically and to take a break both daily and monthly from all the screen time we seem to accumulate. And I’m not a fan of cell phones, even though I own one. They seem like tracking devices with phone privileges to me. Perhaps some of you will show me the smart use of a smart phone. But I also believe the Luddite path is a dead end.

If you write a homesteading/gardening/cooking/home ec blog, or know of a good one leave a link to it in the comments. And friend Root Simple in Facebook here.

Sources for Interesting Perennial Crops

A fruitless search for a fruiting olive tree caused an existential crisis here at the Root Simple compound. With a few exceptions, most nurseries in Los Angeles cater to the mow and blow set. You’re more likely to find parts for your leaf blower and a flat of petunias than anything worth growing. Good luck finding olives.

In the midst of my frustration I stumbled upon a interesting list, put together by the USDA, of retail nurseries and perennial crop resources. You can view that list here. Here’s three sources I found particularly interesting from that list:

Continue reading…

Genetically Engineered Crops Increase Use of Pesticides

A new study authored by Charles M Benbrook of Washington State University, “Impacts of genetically engineered crops on pesticide use in the U.S. — the first sixteen years,” found troubling evidence that the use of genetically modified crops leads to greater pesticide use. This peer reviewed paper concludes,

Contrary to often-repeated claims that today’s genetically-engineered crops have, and are reducing pesticide use, the spread of glyphosate-resistant weeds in herbicide-resistant weed management systems has brought about substantial increases in the number and volume of herbicides applied. If new genetically engineered forms of corn and soybeans tolerant of 2,4- D are approved, the volume of 2,4-D sprayed could drive herbicide usage upward by another approximate 50%. The magnitude of increases in herbicide use on herbicide-resistant hectares has dwarfed the reduction in insecticide use on Bt crops over the past 16 years, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

My two cents about genetically engineered ag:  I’ve always thought the best arguement against GMOs relates to unintended consequences. The novelty of genetic modification, when compared to the slower pace of conventional plant breeding, is a perfect way to generate “black swans“.  This is why I’ll be voting for Proposition 37 which will mandate the labeling of genetically engineered products in California.

Via The Garden Professors.  

The Fine Art of Worm Grunting


For your Monday viewing pleasure we have two videos showing worm grunting in Florida.

Worm grunting is a technique used to lure worms out of the soil to collect as fishing bait. Basically, you take a stick (called a “stob”), pound it into the ground and rub a metal rod (known as a “rooping iron”) against the top of the stob. The deep vibrations are said to mimic the sound of burrowing moles, the natural predator of worms. When they sense the vibrations, the panicked worms crawl to the surface of the soil. (The high population of earthworms in the area profiled, upwards of 1 million per acre, makes grunting a sustainable practice.)

In England, grunting is called “worm charming”. And yes, there are competitions–in Sopchoppy, Florida, Shelburne, Ontario, and South Devon, England.

Kelly adds: Attn: geeks! After viewing, shall we discuss whether Dune author Frank Herbert knew about grunting…er…thumping? Were the Shai-Hulud fleeing even more terrifying SandVoles?