Chill Hour Calculator for California

Please excuse another California-centric post, but if you’re in the Golden State and like to geek out on keeping track of your chill hours here’s a handy tool bought to you by UC Davis: Cumulative Chilling Hours. Each year this page keeps track of chill hours between November 1 through end of February. If you know of a similar resource for other states/countries leave a link in the comments. As cool (so to speak) as this tool is, wh...

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Like Root Simple

Despite my mixed feelings about Facebook (we’re doing a lot of work for free for all those marketers, not to mention the creepy privacy issues), I try not to let perfection be the enemy of the good. Facebook can be a useful tool for interacting with folks. And I love hearing from you, our dear readers. So I’ve finally got around to creating a fan page for Root Simple. Please “like” us:...

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Black Widow or False Black Widow?

...ort of marking on their abdomens. Adult male black widows are half the size of the females, and are usually gray or brown rather than black and red; while they may sometimes have an hourglass marking on their ventral abdomen, it is usually yellow or white, not red. Variation in specifics by species and by gender is great; any spider exhibiting a red hourglass or a pair of large red round spots on the ventral abdomen with an otherwise black shiny...

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How To Capture a Bee Swarm With Kirk Anderson

Swarm season is here in Southern California and will arrive elsewhere in North America with the coming of spring. In this video, beekeeper Kirk Anderson shows you how to catch a swarm. It’s the best way, in my opinion, to get bees to start your own hive. Why? Swarms, unlike packaged bees, are free. They are also local, meaning the bees know how to deal with your micro-climate. To capture a swarm you: Spray the swarm with a mixture of wh...

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Sonora Wheat at the Huasna Valley Farm

Ron Skinner I had the great privilege this week of visiting the Huasna Valley Farm in California’s central coast run by Ron and Jenn Skinner whose visible joy is infectious. The Skinners grow Sonora wheat, an heirloom variety brought to the Southwest by the Spanish. Sonora wheat is well suited to dry desert and Mediterranean climates. It produces a cream colored flour that was historically used for tortillas and posole. The Skinn...

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No Need to Knead

The Los Angeles Bread Bakers held their debut demonstration today thanks to the folks at Good. As you can see from the picture above some serious bakers showed up. Teresa Sitz and Mark Stambler Teresa Sitz demonstrated her wild yeast no-knead bread. You can read her recipe over on the LABB Facebook page. Wild yeast breads have a number of advantages over breads made with commercial yeast. Due to higher acidity they keep longer and hav...

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Aerated Compost Tea: Does it Work?

...ewed literature on the subject. Most of the studies show, at best, mixed results. And, honestly, my bias is against gardening techniques that require gadgets or novel techniques with no analog in nature. I’ve also tried it myself and found that a thick mulch of plain compost seems to work better. That being said, I want to present a balanced story. I’m interested in hearing from readers about their ACT experiences. Have you tried it?...

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Bees: Shown to the Children

...wonder why this has been lost, and then try not to despair for civilization. Take this passage about intruders to the hive, from the chapter called Workers in the City (in the book, the hive is conceptualized as a bee city). It’s poetic and morbid and violent fascinating–all things I would have loved as a child: Sometimes a mouse or a snail enters the hive, and then indeed there is great excitement. Imagine a great elephant-like crea...

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Is Our Furniture Killing Us?

feels a little younger already. Nobutaka Yamaoka, who moved in with his wife and two children about two years ago, says he has lost more than 20 pounds and no longer suffers from hay fever, though he isn’t sure whether it was cured by the loft.” [wsj.com] Having encountered Arakawa and Madeline Gins work several years ago, I’ve been haunted by the crazy idea that we should immediately get rid of all of our normal furniture for...

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