Summer Nights in the Garden at the Natural History Museum

SummerNights

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.

Saturday Linkages: Dystopian Knitwear, Green Tomatoes and Drought

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Great Moments in Dystopian Knitwear http://vult.re/1nJPPwb

Animals as the answer to recycling food waste: http://www.notechmagazine.com/2014/07/animals-as-the-answer-to-recycling-food-waste.html …

A Food Has an Historic, Objectionable Name. Should We Change It? http://on.natgeo.com/1jFfLsY 

How good are we at transportation prediction? http://bit.ly/1sfTRiI

Green Tomatoes: Not Just for Frying http://wp.me/p2TfI0-ex

Why the modern bathroom is a wasteful, unhealthy design http://gu.com/p/3qk34/tw

Re-imagining Parking Spaces as Micro-Apartments http://usa.streetsblog.org/2014/07/14/re-imagining-parking-spaces-as-micro-apartments/#.U8TC4OPhJiA.twitter …

At Tour de France, Safety Concerns Arise About Selfies http://nyti.ms/1r1jBzd

Couple Threatened With Fine For Brown Lawn Even As State Gripped In Drought http://huff.to/1yClovx 

One drought buster for the entire city of LA: http://www.dailynews.com/general-news/20140716/drought-buster-patrols-the-streets-of-los-angeles#we-recommend …

RAST Bike Wall Mount – IKEA Hackers http://po.st/zRcV9l 

How To: Make a Modern, Trough-Style Concrete Planter: http://www.curbly.com/users/capreek/posts/15008-how-to-make-a-modern-trough-style-concrete-planter#.U8hqthm6Bho.twitter …

Scientific Heretic Rupert Sheldrake on Morphic Fields, Psychic Dogs and Other Mysteries http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/cross-check/2014/07/14/scientific-heretic-rupert-sheldrake-on-morphic-fields-psychic-dogs-and-other-mysteries/?WT.mc_id=SA_sharetool_Twitter …

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

Fashion on the Homestead

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It’s about time I addressed, on this home economics/DIY/gardening blog, the importance of the way we dress. I’ve been bothered of late by my rumpled appearance. Like most Americans I wear in public what in an earlier era would have been considered pajamas. And I’m approaching fifty. The people I’ve met who have aged gracefully generally seem to dress well though not ostentatiously.

Knowing what to wear and finding that wardrobe on a budget is incredibly confusing in our schizophrenic consumer culture. I found some good advice recently from an unexpected source, the Chilean avant guarde filmmaker and mystic Alejandro Jodorowsky. He says,

Clothing used without consciousness is a mere disguise. Holy men and women do not dress in order to appear, but in order to be. Clothes possess a form of life. When they correspond to your essence, they give you energy and become allies. When they correspond to your distorted personality, they drain your vital forces. And even when they are your allies, if you do not care for them and respect them, they will retaliate by disturbing your mind. Now do you understand why we fold our garments so carefully, as we might fold a flag or a sacred vestment?

Jodorwsky is 85 and, from the photos I’ve seen of him he always seems to be wearing a simple black jacket and a black sweatshirt or dress shirt (except recently when he introduced a new film in the nude–one of the many NSFW moments in his long life). He also, almost always, has a smile on his face and a cat nearby.

Now I can’t cop Jodorowsky’s style. While Jodorowsky is reading tarot cards at a Parisian cafe I’m cleaning out a chicken coop. But the point of what he’s saying is that something of your true self must express itself sincerely through your clothes. Know thyself, in other words, and what to wear will be obvious. Does that mean a chicken coop casual Fridays?

And for part two of this post I need to cajole Kelly into blogging about her outré homesteading uniform idea. In the meantime, how do you approach the way you dress?

Creating a Moon Garden

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Believe it or not the photo above, a Encelia farinosa  San Diego Sunflower (Viguiera laciniata) shrub in full bloom, was shot under low light conditions long after sunset last night. The occasion was a lecture and walk led by Carol Bornstein, garden director at the Los Angeles County Natural History Museum. Bornstein’s talk used the Natural History Museum’s garden to demonstrate the many reasons why we should consider how our gardens look at night.

Why create a moon garden? For many people, nighttime is the only chance to see the garden during a busy work week. And sometimes it’s more pleasant to avoid the heat of the day and enjoy a garden after the blazing sun goes down. But perhaps most importantly, our gardens can provide habitat for night pollinators and other wildlife.

Bornstein had a number of great tips for making a garden interesting at night:

  • Consider color. White flowers, of course, will pop out under moonlight. But yellow flowers stand out even more.
  • We’re lucky in Southern California to have a lot of native plants with silvery grey leaves (an evolutionary adaption of dry climate plants). Masses of silvery grey leaves stand out well at night.
  • Include a contrasting background. Light colored flowers and plants stand out better at night if they are in front of a dark background–a dark green bush or the shade of a large tree.
  • It’s not all about plants. Including light colored rocks, gravel, decomposed granite, stepping stones, water features and white walls can also create interest in a moon garden.
  • Creating an interesting nocturnal landscape means less reliance on lighting. As I’ve blogged about before, artificial light is not good for us or for wildlife.

That Bornstein considers the sound of leaves in the wind at night, should give you an idea of her appreciation for detail in garden design. And it’s nice to know that after we go to sleep our gardens can provide food and shelter for the creatures of this earth that work the night shift.

Angelinos should check out the NHM’s Summer Nights in the Garden series of events, as well as their many classes and activities.

008 Grind Your Own Flour With Erin Alderson

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On the eighth episode of the Root Simple Podcast we speak with Erin Alderson about milling your own flours at home. Erin is the author of The Homemade Flour Cookbook and blogs at naturallyella.com.

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In our conversation Erin mentions that she uses WonderMill Grain Mill.

We also discussed where to get unique grains.  Erin mentions a few sources in her book:

Bob’s Red Mill
Arrowhead Mills
Nuts Online
Jovial Foods (source for Einkorn)
Lundberg Family Farms

I’ll add that if you’re in the Los Angeles area you can buy flour and grain at Grist & Toll in Pasadena.

After my conversation with Erin I briefly mention my purchase of a flour mill, the KoMo Classic Mill.

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

Artificial Turf: Is It Ever a Good Idea?

Monsanto Astroturf ad

Another winning product from the folks at Monsanto.

In the midst of a drought, our local Department of Water and Power is offering a $3 a square foot rebate for residents and businesses who remove their lawn in favor of less water hungry plantings. Those dollars add up if you’ve got even a modest sized backyard.

But the devil is always in the details. While the LADWP has some very good information on lawn alternatives as well as training classes on water wise landscaping, why did they have to include “non-vegetative groundcover” a.k.a. artificial turf in the rebate program? And why did they landscape one of their own facilities with the stuff?

In this interest of keeping an open mind, I tried to think of circumstances in which artificial turf might be a good option. Maybe if it were used ironically? But I don’t really think its use can be justified. Why?

  • It’s a petrochemical product.
  • It will eventually break down and end up in a landfill or the  ocean.
  • There’s no wildlife benefit.

Practically speaking, it also gets really hot on a summer day and you’ve got to hose it down with water just to step on it. And if you have pets, it’s not easy to clean up after them on artificial turf.

And while we don’t have kids, I don’t buy the argument that kids need grass. I think kids would enjoy a garden that’s lush and a bit of a maze with places to play hide and seek. Same goes for dogs, really. They’re hard on grass, and do better with mulch. Kids and dogs and grownups as well enjoy the wildlife and rich scents brought in by diverse plant life.

As far as athletics are concerned, while there’s considerable debate on the subject, some studies have shown that sports injury rates are higher on artificial turf.

In short, I don’t think there’s an application for this stuff. And we certainly don’t need our government to incentivize it.

And just FYI, Monsanto developed AstroTurf.

How To Diagnose a Tomato Disease

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Tomato mosaic. Photo: Texas A&M.

It’s that time of year in the Northern Hemisphere. If you’re lucky you’ve got tomatoes. If you’re unlucky you’ve got tomato diseases.

When I’ve got a tomato problem I turn to Texas A&M AgriLife Extension’s Tomato Problem Solver. What makes it handy is all the pictures. They’ve pretty much covered every tomato disease in pornographic detail.

How are your tomatoes doing? Any problems?