The best dry toilet ever

Version 2

We are fortunate to have talented friends all around us, because they are a never-ending source of inspiration.

Case in point: Our friend, Gloria, needed a toilet for her off-grid compound. She asked our mutual friend, Daniel, to make her one. Daniel is a gifted maker– all his creations seem to have an inherent grace about them. Using the classic text, The Humanure Handbook, as a resource, he built her the most beautiful dry toilet system I’ve ever seen.

See more pics of this system and read Daniel’s story on his book-as-a-blog, The Cabin Dweller’s Texbook.

Also, we interviewed Daniel earlier this year for Root Simple Podcast #044.

A Neoclassical Native Bee House

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Inspired by the LA Natural History Museum’s bee houses on poles, I dashed off my own version in Sketchup. It’s an homage to Ian Hamilton Finlay.

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Kelly is supportive but skeptical. I’m hoping it can be a part of the reboot of our front yard, which we’re about to embark on. The plan is to remove unsuccessful plants and make the space more welcoming to wildlife. More on that in later posts.

A House for Native Bees and Insects

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My favorite garden in Los Angeles is the one at the Natural History Museum. It resides in one of the more lifeless parts of the city, surrounded by a sea of concrete and asphalt adjacent to a park that’s just poorly tended grass and roses. The premise of the Natural History Museum garden is, “build it and they (life) will come.” During the four classes we’ve taught in the NHM garden we’ve witnessed that life: insects and birds in abundance.

In addition to lots of life-attracting plants, the NHM folks have created habitats for insects like the one in the pictured above. These cute little native bee habitats sit atop a 8 foot four by four. I’m going to steal the design for our front yard. As soon as I can get Sketchup working again on my computer I’ll draw up some plans and make them available.

In the meantime see the fact sheets on the Xerces Society website for specifics on building and maintaining insect habitats.

060 Eric of Garden Fork Returns

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Kelly has jury duty this week and I had no guest. Coincidentally, Eric Rochow of the Garden Fork Podcast also had no guest or host this week so we both agreed to be guests on each other’s podcasts. This is the second time we’ve had Eric on and in this episode he discusses tapping maple trees and making syrup, grilling steaks on coals, crowd funding, pie crusts and meditation apps. Here’s the rundown:

If you want to leave a question for the Root Simple Podcast please call (213) 537-2591 or send an email to rootsimple@gmail.com. You can subscribe to our podcast in the iTunes store and on Stitcher. The theme music is by Dr. Frankenstein. A downloadable version of this podcast is here.

How to Water Trees During a Drought

This is a practical follow-up to my scree last week on trees dying because no one is watering them. Thing is, we should be watering them, even if we’re really worried about the drought, even if we’re doing everything we can to save water. We need to invest in trees because they save more water than they use. They are our allies in this drought, and they are dying.

Now, I thought I was going to have to write up all this tree-watering stuff from scratch, but our friend Richard Hayden, the head gardener of the amazing Nature Gardens at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, sent me a note with links to these videos produced by the Forest Service. I like these videos because they’re concise, and the info is solid.

Thank you, Richard!
Thank you, Forest Service!

The video at the top of the post is on watering mature trees, the one at the bottom about watering young trees–the two techniques are a bit different.

Also, you can find more learning resources at Tree People.