Apartment Parking Lot Gardening in East Hollywood

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Today we have a guest post from R.J., who lives near us in East Hollywood. R.J.’s post proves that you can start a garden even if you don’t own a house and how an otherwise useless urban space can be put to good use. R.J. says:

I wanted to be able to give my granddaughter the experience of gardening while she was growing up but as both my daughter and I live in apartments, and have no space for gardens I needed to come up with a solution . So based on the “Square Foot Gardening Book by Mel Bartholomew I built two 5 ft. x 1 ft. square foot garden boxes from inexpensive ($ 2.15) 1 x 6  x 6 ft. cedar fence boards bought from Home Depot. I waterproofed them by sealing the insides with with pure tongue tung oil from Jill’s paint in Atwater. Each planter gives me 5,  12 x 12 inch sq. ft. spaces for growing.

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These boxes take up a small amount of space and fit easily in the area  ( about 2 feet wide) between the parked cars and the back wall of my apt building. The area gets about 6 hours of sunlight so it is ideal for growing.

This is my second year of growing and I am a new gardener but I am happy with my results. The first year I grew various veggies including  green onions, bell peppers radishes kale and lettuce and

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During last winter I have successfully grown lettuce, kale and chard though my one cauliflower attempt was a failure.

I found that cherry tomatoes gave me the most satisfaction as every day  there are some ripe ones to pick and eat so you get that nearly instant gratification we are so used to in these “click and get ” high tech times.

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My granddaughter loves to pick them herself and pop them in her mouth so this works out great in terms of her developing an appreciation of where food comes from and experience in raising her own food as she is growing up despite not having any gardening space to speak of.

I decided to go all out this year and planted cherry tomatoes in all ten squares as well as an additional grape tomato plant in an inexpensive Home Depot planter.

The result is I have a TON of delicious cherry tomatoes for myself,  family members and some of my lucky neighbors in my apartment building, not to mention bragging rights and a sense of eco-green accomplishment.

These boxes can be easily made and you can even have all the pieces cut at your local Home Depot or lumber yard and you just nail or screw them together. I would recommend that you use 1 x 8 x 6 ft. fence boards instead of the 1 x 6, though, and fill the soil about an inch below the boards so when watering the water doesn’t spill over the sides as is the case with my 1 x 6 boards.

One of the advantages of having my garden space in the parking lot is that when I leave in the morning I can spend a few moments watering and pruning and picking some delicious tomatoes for lunch and when I come home at night I can repeat the same process . This routine has turned out to be very convenient way of getting my gardening time in during the course of my normal daily routine.

Although there is some effort and expense getting started, there is a tremendous amount of satisfaction in growing your own veggies and the taste is exceptional. My tomatoes have a flavor that is incomparable to even the most expensive organic tomatoes you can buy, including your local farmer’s market.

My goal of teaching my granddaughter some gardening basics while she is growing up has been accomplished and she will have some good childhood memories of the times spent with grandpa growing and eating veggies,

I know there are many people these days who feel the need to get their “gardening on” and teach their children ( if they have any) and this is one way they could go about it.

My materials List:

1) 1 x 6  x 6 ft.cedar fence boards ( I recommend you go with 1 x 8 though and you can also use redwood).
2) 1 1/2   by 3/8 x 8 f t, redwood lath ( to divide squares up).
3) 2 x 3  x 8 Douglas fir for legs ( You don’t really need legs just place on top bricks or wood to allow for drainage).
4) Pure Tongue tung oil (expensive and not really necessary as the cedar or redwood will last for years as-is and is cheap to replace).
5) Galvanized screws or nails.
6) For the soil I recommend you check out Square Foot Garden by Mel Bartholomew as he has a great formula for growing plants in this kind of small area.
7) I recommend you go with seedlings if you are a new gardener and I bought mine from Home Depot and Sunset Nursery in Hollywood.

010 Erica Strauss of Northwest Edible Life

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In episode 10 of the Root Simple Podcast, Kelly and I have a conversation with Erica Strauss, professional chef turned gardener and self described urban homesteading fanatic. Her voluminous and amazing blog Northwest Edible Life offers practical advice on a wide variety of topics: food preservation, gardening, keeping livestock in urban spaces, kitchen tips and home economic hacks. Some of the many topics we touch on in the interview include:

You can also find Erica on Facebook.

If you want to leave a question for the Root Simple Podcast please call (213) 537-2591 or send an email to [email protected]. You can subscribe to our podcast in the iTunes store and on Stitcher. The theme music is by Dr. Frankenstein. Additional music by Rho. A downloadable version of this podcast is here.

Trading our Home for a Dome

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Last week a local blog posted a real estate listing for an unusual dome house not far from where we live. There’s a few of these 70s-80s relics in the LA area. This one is worth about as much as our house. I pondered, for about ten minutes, the thought of trading out our stodgy 1920s bungalow for a geodesic fantasy.

Continue reading…

Getting Started With Succulents Free eBook

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We had a great time at the Museum of Natural History this past Friday along with the 200 people who lined up to plant succulents in thrift store mugs in our booth. Kelly wrote up a nice eBook, Getting Started With Succulents (note that it’s geared towards our climate in Los Angeles but there’s a lot of good general information on propagation). There’s even info on how to drill a hole in a ceramic cup or pot (when you drill 200 of them you get pretty good at it!). You can download the eBook here.

Saturday Linkages: Life on a Boat, Nature and the Bicycle Lobby


Twenty Eight Feet – Life On A Little Wooden Boat: http://youtu.be/syJXrbWU1Aw 

Why Nature Lovers Should Live Apart From Nature http://shar.es/LbYve 

Shinrin-yoku: “Forest Bathing” — I’ve always done it, but only now do I find out that it’s a thing in Japan. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forest_bathing …

Tracing Sriracha’s Origin to a Seaside Town in Thailand http://www.theatlantic.com/video/index/374917/the-origin-of-sriracha/ …

Rio de Janeiro puts QR codes in its mosaic pavements | via @Telegraph http://fw.to/21XRalO

Back pain: Acetaminophen no better than placebos http://boingboing.net/2014/07/24/back-pain-acetaminophen-no-be.html …

Kitchen island turned custom bar – IKEA Hackers http://po.st/ORsHMe 

Satirical “Bicycle Lobby” Twitter Account Fakes Out Media Giants http://usa.streetsblog.org/2014/07/22/satirical-bicycle-lobby-twitter-account-fakes-out-media-giants/#.U9KBjysVgyk.twitter …

“To be is to interrogate the labyrinth of a question that contains no answer. ” Edmond Jabès

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

All Natural No-Treatment Beekeeping Class at the Ecology Center

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I’ll be teaching a natural beekeeping class tomorrow at the Ecology Center in San Juan Capistrano at 1pm. Sign up here.

Become a backyard beekeeper and enjoy a healthy garden full of pollinators. Understand the basics of bees, all natural beekeeping methods, tools, materials, and techniques to get you started.

It’s said that beekeeping, or apiculture, began with the Egyptians whom used logs, boxes, and pottery vessels to make their own bee hives. Today, the practice of beekeeping lives on. Help save a dying species, encourage pollination in your garden, and enjoy raw, organic honey!

In this workshop, come together with Erik Knutzen of Root Simple to learn the basics of bees. Explore the all natural, no treatment method of beekeeping, plus, visit a working hive and learn how to assemble a hive box, perform a hive inspection, and address any health issues.

For those who wish to participate in the hands-on component, we recommend the following: If you own a bee suit, please bring it to wear! If you don’t own a bee suit, please wear boots, jeans, and a long sleeve t-shirt. Thanks!

Summer Nights in the Garden at the Natural History Museum

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Join us for an evening of music, art, nature and science at the Los Angeles County Natural History Museum’s Summer Nights in the Garden. We’ll be part of the festivities this Friday July 25th where we’ll be:

POTTING SUCCULENTS! They’re one of the most low maintenance plants out there, and one that’s perfect for our dry L.A. climate. Urban homesteading experts Erik Knutzen and Kelly Coyne are here to help you plant your own succulent and give you tips on keeping them alive.
Supplies are limited. Available to participants on a first-come, first-served basis

PAINTING! Don’t have a green thumb? Stop by the painting booth and that can soon be changed. Artist Peter Tigler brings participatory image making to NHM. Learn the hi-tech method of fingerpaint meets the ancient art of color-by-number!

RSVP HERE for free admission to L.A.’s best garden parties!

Unable to RSVP? We will continue to allow limited entry at the door until we hit capacity.

EACH NIGHT WILL INCLUDE…

MUSIC! Enjoy the ambient music of KCRW DJ, Anthony Valadez

TOURS! Available at 5:30 pm, *6:30 pm, 7:30 pm:  Awaken your senses on a botanical tour led by our NHM Nature Gardens Staff
*Spanish speaking tour at 6:30 pm
Space is available on a first-come, first-served basis

NATURE MAPPING! Help us map L.A.’s nature by using your smartphone. Stop by our Citizen Science table to learn how you can get involved in local projects.

DRINKS! Sip on a botanical inspired cocktail as you wander through the Nature Gardens.

FOOD! Bring a picnic or grab a bite from one of the food trucks in the North Plaza.

PERFORMANCES! Butterfly stilt performers at 7 pm and 8:30 pm and don’t miss the enchanting Toy Theater show at 8 pm!

009 Artificial Turf Wars and Fashion Disasters

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On the ninth episode of the Root Simple podcast Kelly and Erik recap a post on artificial turf as well as our reaction to the frightening landscaping at one of our local utility’s distribution stations.

During the course of our artificial turf discussion we mention the amazing garden at the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History which demonstrates how you can create a garden in a dry climate that welcomes wildlife and does not use grass. We also mention an organization in Petaluma, California called Daily Acts that has set a good example by creating turf-free gardens on municipal and private property. As examples of parks that are either turf-free or use turf strategically, we mention the High Line in New York City and Playa Vista Park in West Los Angeles.

Fashion on the Homestead

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In the second part of the podcast we discuss the homesteading fashion conundrum inspired by a quote from dapper film director (and cat lover) Alexandro Jodorowsky.

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Kelly talks about her strange uniform idea and I mention Johannes Itten’s uniform for the Bauhaus (that, during the podcast, I mistakenly attribute to Kazimir Malevich–oops!).

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We also mention Soviet artist Alexander Rodchenko’s attempt at a uniform.

We close with a quote from David Lee Roth, “It’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how good you look.”

If you want to leave a question for the Root Simple Podcast please call (213) 537-2591 or send an email to [email protected]. You can subscribe to our podcast in the iTunes store and on Stitcher. The theme music is by Dr. Frankenstein. Additional music by Rho. A downloadable version of this podcast is here.