Welcome to the new Root Simple!

The Root Simple Information Hub

After six years of semi-disorganized blogging, we’ve cleaned up our act. We hope this new design will make it easier to find the information you need, whether your want to access an old post, look for some specific information, or find out if we’re doing any events. Also, this new layout is what’s called a “responsive layout,” meaning it should look as good on your phone or tablet as it does on your desktop computer.

We want to thank our designer, Roman Jaster, pictured above, for a beautiful job!

Thank you, too, to Caroline Clerc for the charming drawings in the header.

Some features:

  • We’ve really cleaned up our tags (aka categories), to make information easier to find. In the top menu bar you’ll see some of the major categories, but also be sure to click on “All Categories” to see the full list. Relevant categories also appear to the left of every post.
  • We’ve finally started a project we’ve long wanted to do: creating short how-to videos. We’ll post about each new one as we finish them, but you can also always find them under the “Video” tab as well as on our YouTube Channel. We’re also working on making the videos “video podcasts”, so you can sign up to download them automatically.
  • On the subject of podcasts, we have long promised podcasts but have decided to focus on video production for now.
  • Keep an eye on the “Upcoming Events” in the right-side menu bar. More info will be found under the Events tab at the top.
  • A hint for searching: The search box at the top of our layout works pretty well, but if your search is a tricky one, Google often works best. Just enter “root simple” in quotes and then the subject, e.g.: “root simple” olive oil moisturizer

With any change there’s always bugs. If you experience any technical difficulties with the design, please let us know! And when you do, be sure to mention which browser you were using (Firefox, Chrome, etc.) when you had the problem. You can comment here or email comments to [email protected]

Book Review: The Blood of the Earth: An Essay on Magic and Peak Oil

Phoebe

Phoebe says that despite her midnight coat and lambent eyes, she has nothing whatsoever to do with magic. Or peak oil. And for the record, she also scorns Halloween.

What do magic and peak oil have to do with one another? Quite a lot, actually, if you believe the author, John Michael Greer. And if you read The Blood of the Earth: An Essay on Magic and Peak Oil you’ll probably come to agree with him, because in this book, as in all of his writing, Greer is remarkably lucid, straightforward and persuasive.

Blood of the Earth is unlike any other book you’ll read on peak oil. It’s challenging, honest, sobering and inspiring.

It’s not a end-times book. Greer doesn’t do apocalypse. Nor is it an airy-fairy “we’ll save the world by the magic of positive thinking” sort of book. Instead, it is an investigation of the spiritual/psychological impulses that play out in our responses to peak oil. Part of this is understanding behavior and propaganda in magical terms. To do this, Greer offers a quick, intriguing primer on Western magic.

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Fermenting culture wih Sandor Katz

Katz chats up Master Food Preserver and author Kevin West

Last night Erik and I went to see a talk by fermentation guru Sandor Katz, hosted by the Environmental Changemakers. Being a huge Sandor Katz fangirl, I was thrilled to get a chance to see him in person. These days he’s sporting a charming 19th century mustache!

His first book, Wild Fermentation, was one of those really important, life-changing books for me. It might sound strange to say this about a book on pickling, but it opened my eyes in many ways. And it taught me how to do vegetable and salt ferments, which are the backbone of my pickling practice. The daikon pickles we wrote about in The Urban Homestead are due to Wild Fermentation.

Now he’s got a new book out, The Art of Fermentation, which I’ve got to get my hands on:

Here are some excerpts from my notes:

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Picture Sundays: Uncle Sam Calls For Fruit Plantings On Every Farm & Suburban Homestead

At a lecture at last week’s National Heirloom Exposition, Gary Nabhan passed around this in-house newspaper directed at the sales force working for Stark Brothers Nursery in 1946.

To assist the Government’s new Home FRUIT PLANTING campaign, Stark Bro’s have been conducting a huge Direct-Mail drive to create interest in this important subject. Inquiries from the huge Direct-Mail Campaign are referred to YOU as soon as you start selling Stark Nursery Stock. As a result, aggressive salesmen and women are finding doors open to them everywhere.

Imagine that world of Government fruit tree planting programs and aggressive door to door nursery stock salespeople. Somehow I doubt the decline of apple tree plantings will come up as a topic in this year’s presidential campaign. If it did we’d be talking about something important for a change.

Fewer Linkages Today But More To Come

Not the usual link dump today since I was away all week at the National Heirloom Exposition in Santa Rosa. I camped, so the only tweeting I heard came from actual birds.  I’ll blog about the many talks I went to this week, but until that time, here’s some info from two of the speakers I heard at the conference.

A very different take on bees: www.gaiabees.com

From Sonoma Compost, information on:

How to compost: http://www.sonomacompost.com/Documents/Simple-Guidelines-to-Composting.pdf

A temperature/turning chart: http://www.sonomacompost.com/Documents/Temp-Turn%20Sheet1.pdf

Infinite Green Onions

Here’s a handy little tip. I’m pretty sure I heard it first from Mr. Jack Spirko:

Save the root ends of your green onions (aka scallions) — the parts you cut off when you’re cooking. Plant those, roots down, under about an inch of soil and they will generate new green onions. Keep this cycle going throughout your growing season and you should have an endless supply of green onions for your table. It’s much easier than starting from seed!

Green onions are shallow rooted, so work very well in pots. Also, they’re so unobtrusive and easy to grow that you can just tuck them here and there in your garden–anywhere that gets water–and forget about them until you need them.

Happy growing!

Don’t be so quick to clean up

A lot of magic happens in the “dead” parts of a garden. Flowers gone to seed feed birds. Dead stalks support important insect life–from spiders to pollinators. Fallen leaves and sticks give habitat to lizards and toads and mushrooms and myriads of invisible creatures.

Yet dead growth is not attractive to the human eye, and around about this time of year we’re all itching to make a clean sweep of all that brown stuff. I know I am, but this morning I was grateful that I’ve procrastinated thus far, because I saw a flock of tiny little gnat catchers (adorable!) feasting on whatever tiny bugs live on the scraggy stand of fennel standing in our front yard, and a couple of hours later I found a flock of house finches enjoying the withered heads of our long, long dead sunflowers. I almost cut those stalks down yesterday, and am so glad I didn’t.

It’s a balancing act. If your garden is in your front yard you pretty much have to be tidy to appease the neighbors. If you have a small back yard, like we do, it’s hard to avoid the temptation to clear the decks, because everything is right in your face. Blessed are those with big yards, because they might have the option to keep the areas closer to the house tidy while allowing the “back 40″ to go to seed.

I guess all you can do is keep the little creatures in mind and put off the clean up as long as you can. Leave dead leaves and sticks on the ground year round. Designate small corners as wilderness. The more you support all levels of life in your garden, the more your garden will thrive.

Your Essential Oil Toolkit

A few bottles of essential oils are an important part of the DIY toolkit, but some people don’t ever try them because they are so expensive. I can’t deny that they are pricey, but once you start using them, and you see how far they stretch and how many uses they can be put to, you’ll start to understand why they’d be a bargain at twice the price. Best of all, the most useful oils (to my way of thinking) are the cheapest.

My picks are: lavender essential oil, peppermint essential oil and tea tree oil. These three would make a good starter set for anyone, and are also a good trio to take traveling with you. All of them are on the low end of the essential oil price scale.

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Deodorizing Wash

Deodorizing wash? Freshening wash? In Making It we called it cleansing spray. I’ve never been quite sure what to call this. It’s not a deodorant, in that it doesn’t really stay on you, deodorizing continuously. It’s not a body wash in that you don’t use it in the shower. This is a little mix I created, a simple blend of water, baking soda and essential oil. It’s something you can splash on and towel off real quick when you’re in a hurry. I use it when I don’t have time to shower, but suspect I’m a little too fragrant. I also bring it camping to help reduce the fugg. The baking soda cuts through body grease and deodorizes. The tea tree oil kills any stinky bacteria that remain.

To be clear, this is specifically used to cut sweat on the upper regions of the body–pits, chest, neck and back. I wouldn’t recommend using it “south of the equator.”

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