Figs Happen


You can stand around complaining that the squirrels got every single peach, that the rats got every grape, that there’s not enough time to weed, that the garden looks like crap. Then bam, figs happen. Lots of figs. So many figs that you start having to think about fig jams, fig compotes and figs with cheese and honey. But you’re also lazy so most of the figs get eaten somewhere between the tree and the front door. You promise figs to friends and neighbors but somehow that never happens.

If you’re the score keeping type let it be known that we’re talking about a Mission fig tree we planted around 2009 in our front yard.

How’s your garden doing this summer? Where do you live and what are you growing?


What Tree Should I Plant? Cal Poly’s SelecTree Has the Answer

Screen Shot 2017-07-28 at 8.19.02 AMTree knowledge is not one of my stronger skills. Thankfully Cal Poly San Luis Obispo has us tree ignorant Californians covered with an extensive, searchable tree database called SelecTree that will help you find the right tree for your yard.

Or, let’s say, you’re bored with hours spent adding movies to your Netlix queue that you never plan to watch (one of my vices). How about searching for oddball trees instead? What about a California native tree with favorable fire resistance, low root damage potential that produces edible fruit? The database came up with two options, the hollyleaf cherry (Prunus ilicifolia) and the saguaro cactus (Carnegiea gigantea).

Let me also put in a plug for our favorite tree, the Fuerte avocado (Persea americana ‘Fuerte’).

106 Opposable Thumbs


This week on the Root Simple Podcast we’re featuring the first half hour of another podcast we think you should subscribe to: Opposable Thumbs. Hosts Taylor Hokanson and Rob Ray interview a guest each week who issues a creative challenge to the next guest on the podcast. Think of it as kind of a maker game show. We’re simulcasting the first half hour of episode #10 on which Kelly and I tackle the challenge, “creating problems.” To find out what we did you’ll; have to listen to the podcast.


Hint: it involves seed balls, payloads and explosives. To listen to the rest of the show head over to Opposable Thumbs #10 or subscribe to the show in iTunes, Google Play or Stitcher. The show is also the first time we’ve ever been involved in a conversation about alien autopsies and the Cisco hold music.  We also discuss:

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.





105 GardenNerd’s Tips for Organic Gardening Success

christy_052 copy

Our guest on this episode is “GardenNerd” Christy Wilhelmi, previously heard on episode 19 of the podcast, who returns this week to discuss her new ebook 400 Plus Tips for Organic Gardening Success. As you might guess we touch on a lot of topics and tips including:

Christy’s website is GardenNerd. You can also connect with Christy on Facebook and Twitter.

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.

Putting Your Civic House in Order: How the Young Members of the Family Help

Screen Shot 2017-07-07 at 9.51.39 AMToday, in its entirety, Root Simple brings you an article on a school garden program in Los Angeles by writer and German literature translator Mary Richards Gray from the June 1916 issue of The Craftsman. Some context: Los Angeles has always been a little ‘rough around the edges.’ LA was also, in the early 20th century, the wealthiest agricultural county in the US, producing high-value crops such as citrus and walnuts. This particular attempt to get LA’s “civic house in order” recalls the strategy of 4-H clubs: Adults are set in their ways so you’ve got to get to the kids to make change happen. Work your way through the rambling early 20th century prose and you’ll find some solid advice we could really use to get our present day civic house in order. You can read all of the 1916 Craftsman issues for free in Google Books.

by Mary Richards Gray
The desire for beauty, health, order is inherent in mankind, is among the deepest and most powerful forces in life. Man’s first consciousness of these desires is operative only within the narrow confines of his own personality. Then, as he grows wiser, he wishes beauty, health and happiness for his family, then for his neighbor, his city, country, until finally he is eager for the joy and the advancement of the whole world. He no longer thinks that his interests are confined only within himself, he knows that the boundary of his life extends until it touches the uttermost ends of the world. He feels that his home is the world, not just merely the corner lot in a small town upon which he has built a house. He understands that as he makes his own lot more beautiful he has increased the beauty of the world, that every improvement he makes in his own house is made for his community as well, that it is virtually impossible for him to work for himself alone, that he rises or falls with his neighbors, with his countrymen.

This larger, pleasanter, truer outlook on life has recently been reached in most interesting manner by the citizens, old and young, of Los Angeles through a widespread civic housekeeping siege. Even the children now understand that as they clean up their small corner of their yard and make flowers to blossom where weeds once bristled, they help clean up the city and become true gardeners. If every child in a town and every town in the country followed the Los Angeles plan of campaign for a more beautiful and healthful city would be the beauty spot of the world.

Continue reading…