Saturday Linkages: Dirt Floors, Bike Lanes and More Skunks

3034089-slide-s-8-a-50-floor-to-reduce-the-spread-of-disease-in-rwanda

Could changing the way we make floors stop disease in the developing world?

Lighting homes (and the developing world) with gravity

India’s Health Minister Wants Protected Bike Lanes Nationwide

Los Angeles Isn’t London, and Other Things that are Wrong with California

On the (Very Smelly) Trail of the Skunk Takeover

Free astronomy resources and apps:

CritterCam Reveals Yet More Rats and a Plea to Not Use Poison

My beautiful picture

Taking a cue from the NSA, I blew up and enhanced one of the images our CritterCam took over the weekend. It reveals two rats peeking out from under the shed.

It may be time to consider locking up the chicken feed at night. That and a little cleanup behind and around the shed are the only things I feel the need to do.

A rant on rat poison
Thankfully, the general public can no longer buy d-CON rat poison in California. Unfortunately, professionals still have access to even more toxic chemicals. These poisons have been linked to the recent illness of the magnificent mountain lion that lives in nearby Griffith Park. Check out the before and after photos to see what these horrible chemicals can do.

It’s my hope that the principles of Integrated Pest Managment, developed by a team of scientists at the University of California in the 1950s will gain even more traction. I met the daughter of one of the UC researchers who developed IPM. She told me that her dad had basically sacrificed his career to further the IPM cause. At the time, and to some extent to this day, there’s a lot of incentive to sell poisons.

IPM offers a balanced, common sense approach to dealing with critters like rats: observe, reduce habitat for the creatures we don’t want and increase habitat for predators, use barriers, use biological controls and use toxins as a very last resort.

Our own health and the health our planet demands a less toxic approach to pest management.

015 Worm Composting and Skunks

Our worm bin.

Our worm bin.

On the fifteenth episode of the Root Simple Podcast Kelly and Erik discuss how our cleaning project is going, worm composting, the ongoing skunk menace in our garden and we review two books. Apologies for some clipping in the audio and the cat interruptions.

Worms
During the worm composting segment we cover:

Skunks

What are we reading

Worms Eat My Garbage by Mary Appelhof.

Bread: A Global History By William Rubel.

Kelly mentions Werner Herzog’s Happy People: A Year in the Taiga.

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.

Worm Compost Leachate, Good or Bad?

Image: Permaculturewiki.

Image: PermaWiki.

In the course of preparing for our worm composting demo last week Kelly and I came across a lot of conflicting information. One of the most contentious issues in worm composting is what to do with the liquid that comes off the worm bin, called leachate.

The controversy stems, in large part, from the debate over aerated compost tea (ACT) vs. non-aerated compost tea. Fans of ACT do not like the fact that worm bin leachate is anaerobic, which they believe encourages the growth of microorganisms unfavorable to plants. They like to point out that worm bin leachate is not ACT.

The ACT debate needs a much longer post, but I did find two peer reviewed studies showing the benefits of un-aerated worm compost leachate: “Vermicomposting Leachate (Worm Tea) as Liquid Fertilizer for Maize and “Vermicompost Leachate Alleviates Deficiency of Phosphorus and Potassium in Tomato Seedlings.” I also found several Extension Service publications touting the use of worm bin leachate.

There are some caveats, however. First, it needs to be diluted–at least 1:1 and maybe, according to some sources, as much as 1:10. And you should probably test it out on a few plants before applying it to your whole garden.

And, from a food safety perspective, I’d avoid applying it to leafy greens and lettuces. I’d also point out that if you have a lot of leachate it might mean that your worm bin has too much moisture in it.

What do you think? Have you used worm bin leachate successfully? What side of the aerated vs. non-aerated debate are you on?

Saturday Linkages: Pallets, Ladybugs and Portlandia

Brothers-in-Benches-by-r1-2-537x403

Street Artist Recycles Reclaimed Wood Pallets Into Mobile Pop-Up Benches in

Console Table with 3 legs – Outstanding – IKEA Hackers

Jailed for collecting rainwater:  [Update: A reader notes that there is more to this story than the headline indicates--looks like the person jailed may have been damming streams and taking water from his neighbors.]

Little chicks wearing muffin wrappers as tutus!

The Flight of the Ladybugs

The Portlandia Activity Book

World made by bigots

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Worm Composting Demo at Summer Nights in the Garden

SummerNights

Join Root Simple for a worm composting demo at the Natural History Museum’s Summer Nights in the Garden series this Friday August 28. We’re showing how to set up your own vermicomposting system and raffling off a worm bin. Plus it’s the debut of the new WormCam! Grab a cocktail and join us and KCRW DJ, Anthony Valadez. The garden is one of the best in California and the event is freeeeeeeeee. More info here.

Wild Food Lab: Foraging Taken to the Next Level

plantainroasted

Photo: Mia Wasilevich.

There are a lot of wild food foragers out there but few who really know what to do with nature’s bounty. The gastronomical and foraging team of Mia Wasilevich and Pascal Baudar are pushing the boundaries of food and foraging, teaching classes, putting on pop-up feasts and sharing their discoveries through a website, Wild Food Lab.

Kelly and I took a class from them last weekend (you can find out about the classes through the Los Angeles Wild Edibles and and Self Reliance Meetup) where, in the middle of a hot, dry field in Southern California they proved you can still find abundant and tasty edibles. At this time of year that food comes mostly in the form of seeds. Pascal and Mia created, on the spot, a weed seed power bar, mustard and a few other wild seed enhanced foods.

Not an LA local? The Wild Food Lab website will give you an idea of what this team is up to through recipes and techniques for common wild foods. I think my favorite recipe is also the simplest: how to prepare the ubiquitous broadleaf plantain (Plantago major).

Pascal gave me a couple of ideas for ways to enhance my bread experiments with seeds and wild herbs which I’m looking forward to trying.

Do you have a favorite wild food? Tell us where you live and what you like to gather and work with.