About Us

Root Simple is Kelly Coyne and Erik Knutzen, authors of The Urban Homestead (Expanded and Revised Edition): Your Guide to Self-Sufficient Living in the Heart of the City (2008) and Making It: Radical Home Ec for a Post-Consumer World (2011).  They live in the heart of Los Angeles, in a little bungalow set on a 1/12 acre lot where almost all of their land is devoted to growing edible or otherwise useful plants and trees. Their obsessions include...

Continue reading…

Doomsday Preppers: Exploitative, Uninteresting, Unreal “Reality”

Doomsday Preppers, a series on the National Geographic channel, is part of a cloud of meaningless cable drivel that envelopes our national psyche like the smog that hangs over Los Angeles. In many ways Doomsday Preppers is indistinguishable from countless other low rent reality TV shows. Does anyone really sit down and watch this endless parade of house flippers, dance moms and custom motorcycle enthusiasts? Or is it all a kind of background, t...

Continue reading…

Rain Barrels

Constructing a cistern large enough to supply potable indoor water is an ambitious project involving pumps, filters, UV purifiers, and very large and expensive tanks. We don’t want to discourage anyone from making an attempt at it, but for most urban homesteaders it won’t be economical or practical given the space requirements and weight of thousands of gallons of stored water. Thankfully, there are simpler strategies for harvesting...

Continue reading…

Homegrown Evolution in Chicago

...’s Green Roof Growers and LA’s Homegrown Evolution for a fun class on how to make a sub-irrigated planter (SIP) out of two buckets. As a bonus, meet Homegrown Evolution blogger and author Erik Knutzen, who will be co-teaching the class and signing copies of his book The Urban Homestead. Bring some gloves and learn how to make and plant your own SIP. Leave with everything you need for a summer of fresh heirloom tomatoes–all you add is about 6 hour...

Continue reading…

Saturday Linkages: Making Things and Herding Ducks

Herding ducks. Via The Tangled Nest. DIY Simple Swiss fences for the homestead: http:// dirttime.com/?p=2687 via Practical Parsimony Build-It-Solar Blog: Comparing the Performance of Two DIY Solar Water Heaters http://www. builditsolarblog.com/2012/07/compar ing-performance-of-two-diy-solar.html?spref=tw  … Build-It-Solar Blog: Using Your Lawn Sprinkling Water to Cool the House… http://www. builditsolarblog.com/2012/08/using- yo...

Continue reading…

There Will Be Kraut–Lecture on Fermentation at the Historic Greystone Mansion

ds”. Though ages old, fermented foods are nature’s natural way of food preservation, with an added twist: they’re good for you! See why über chefs of the moment are pickling, curing and fermenting their menu items from scratch. Our guide for for the weekend Fest will be Erik Knutzen, Urban Homesteader, author and one of our popular Institute instructors. Friday, April 26th ~ Saturday, April 27th Location:  Greystone Mansion V...

Continue reading…

The Big To-Do List

iece of taped together paper to come up with our version of Heinlein’s skill set. Most of the subjects on that paper, everything from vegetable gardening to cargo bikes, ended up in the book or in our second book Making It. Now, we don’t expect everyone to master all the things in our books, but it doesn’t hurt to have a cursory knowledge of, say, greywater plumbing or compost pile construction, even if you live in a Manhattan a...

Continue reading…

A Prickly Harvest

sters immediately see the foolishness of not wearing gloves even when wielding those tongs. We know better, yet we’re feeling the the pain of a few dozen almost microscopic barbed glochids sticking out of our palms. But it’s worth it. Prickly pear fruit, despite those painful glochids, are one of our favorite crops here on our humble urban homestead (though, truth be told, a certain co-homesteader here resents the invisible glochids t...

Continue reading…

Roughin’ It

SurviveLA is off to Joshua Tree this weekend for the graduation ceremonies of the Sierra Club’s Wilderness Travel Course. We took the WTC class earlier this year both for tips on backpacking and for gaining general self-sufficiency. The Sierra Club’s approach to roughing it is to, well, not really rough it but to go down to REI and load up on all the latest stoves, tents and “technical” fabrics. This contrasts starkly wit...

Continue reading…

Making Beer in Plain Language

r.” -Guggenheim Fellowship-winning professor of rhetoric and comparative literature Judith Butler via the Bad Writing Contest Huh? At least the terminology surrounding beer making ain’t that obtuse, but it certainly could use some simplification. For novice home brewers, such as us here at Homegrown Evolution, the terminology creates an unnecessary barrier as impenetrable as a graduate school seminar in the humanities. Let...

Continue reading…