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?

Saturday Linkages: Expensive Grapes, Martha Stewart’s Drones and Sunscreen

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Some very expensive grapes.

Top-notch Japanese grapes fetch a record $5,400: http://disq.us/8j5pz8

Martha Stewart digs drones via http://boingboing.net/2014/07/10/martha-stewart-digs-drones.html …

Lead abatement, a wise economic and public health investment http://www.riskscience.umich.edu/lead-abatement-wise-economic-public-health-investment-report-finds/ …

Can using sunscreen increase your risk of dying? http://www.riskscience.umich.edu/can-using-sunscreen-increase-risk-dying/ …

New York’s Oldest Phone Number : Need to book a room at the Hotel Pennsylvania? Just dial up 6-5000 http://www.atlasobscura.com/places/new-york-s-oldest-phone-number-pennsylvania-6-5000 …

“The universe is comprised of subjects to be communed with, not objects to be exploited.” – Wendell Berry via @LarrySantoyo

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Your Beekeeping Questions Answered

Got a beekeeping conundrum? Wondering about how to get started? Want to keep bees the natural way? There’s an easy answer. Google your question with “Michael Bush.” Michael Bush maintains an encyclopedic website devoted to all-natural treatment-free beekeeping at www.bushfarms.com. And the folks at HoneyLove have shot a series of videos with Bush.

Bush’s advice is well outside mainstream beekeeping. Given the spectacular failures of the big beekeepers in recent years, I think it’s time well past time to look at alternatives.

007 RIP Handsome, 3 Power Tools You Should Own and Hipster Compost

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On the seventh episode of the podcast we open with Kelly’s cure for stepping on glass shards. Then we discuss the passing of our favorite chicken “Handsome.”

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Prompted by a recent comment on the blog we review an old post on three power tools every urban homesteader should own: drill, circular saw and jigsaw.

Lastly, we expand on a recent post about composting brew waste, coffee grounds, juice pulp and coconut husks. In other words, “hipster compost.” During the discussion we answer a reader concern about black solider flies in compost. For more info on soldier flies (they are beneficial in compost but can be a problem in worm bins) see Oregon State’s black soldier fly page. We conclude with another reader concern about contamination in compost and reccomend doing a bioassay test to see if you might have a problem. Washington State has a pdf on how to bioassay your own compost.

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

How Can We Fix Our Public Landscaping?

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Yesterday Kelly blogged about the appalling landscaping in front of an Los Angeles Department of Water and Power facility. When Kelly first showed me the photo of that purple gravel and artificial turf I thought it might be some kind of conceptual art project.

Unfortunately, this poor attempt at a drought tolerant landscape is just another example of an attitude of indifference towards public space that’s all too prevalent in Los Angeles and many other cities. Sahra Sulaiman at LA Streetsblog has done a great job covering the many ways this indifference manifests in big piles of trash on LA’s sidewalks and horrible conditions for bus commuters.

This indifference is also apparent in the lackluster landscaping of most of our public spaces. This egregious LADWP “garden” is the last straw for me. It’s time we do something about it.

Two California based organizations come to mind: Daily Acts in Petaluma and the Ecology Center in San Juan Capistrano. Daily Acts has landscaped public spaces such as libraries and schools as well as private homes. These gardens provide an example that others can follow. The Ecology Center has a spectacular garden that shows do simple water harvesting to create a beautiful landscape with drought tolerant plants that attracts beneficial wildlife.

We need similar organizations in Los Angeles. We have an immense pool of talent here that could fix that terrible purple gravel and artificial turf atrocity and go on to do so much more. Who’s in?

And to those of you reading this elsewhere in the word, feel free to leave a comment about how you changed your public space for the better.

Picture Sundays: A Square Toilet

Photo: Bill Wheelock.

Photo: Bill Wheelock.

When I was unable to attend this year’s Dwell Magazine convention I asked my friend and neighbor Bill Wheelock to make sure and get a photo of any square toilets he might see for the Root Simple blog. Thank you Bill!

Don’t worry, I’m not pondering dropping $1,000 on a square toilet. But, thanks to my curiosity about this modernist design phenomenon, square toilets are now haunting me via contextual ads all over the interwebs. Now wherever I wander along the tubes of cyberspace there is the square toilet accompanying me on the journey.

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Saturday Linkages: Independence Day Weekend Edition

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Fireless cooker via Low Tech Magazine.

We insulate our houses, why not our cooking pots? http://www.lowtechmagazine.com/2014/07/cooking-pot-insulation-key-to-sustainable-cooking.html …

GIF Gardens: How to (Easily) Animate Your Plant Photos http://disq.us/8j1m1y

Never Buy A Rotten Avocado Again http://www.nwedible.com/2012/05/never-buy-a-rotten-avocado-again.html …

Why Do We Refrigerate Eggs in the United States? http://www.kcet.org/living/food/the-nosh/why-do-we-refrigerate-eggs-in-the-united-states.html …

Ash Forests After Emerald Ash Borers Destroy Them http://nyti.ms/1qs4kr1

German police apologize for fining one-armed cyclist for riding his bike with only one arm http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/german-police-apologise-for-fining-onearmed-cyclist-for-riding-his-bike-with-only-one-arm-9578923.html …

Bike commuter super transformer bag: http://kk.org/cooltools/archives/22036 …

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