Garden Amendments as Placebos

I just finished writing an article for Urban Farm Magazine on the subject of aerated compost tea (ACT for short). It proved to be one of the most contentious subjects on which I’ve ever tried to, as Mark Twain liked to say, “corral the truth.” It got me thinking about other controversial soil additives popular in organic gardening and farming circles right now such as rock dust, mycorrhizae additives, and bi...

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Make a Sourdough Starter

Every damn urban homesteader ought to have a sourdough starter living on their countertop. It’s easy and here’s how we do it around the Homegrown Evolution compound: 1. Get yourself a glass or ceramic container with a lid. It should be able to hold at least three to four cups of starter. Don’t use metal. 2. Put into this container one cup of white flour and one cup of lukewarm water and stir until mixed. Put it in a warm place....

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Till vs. No-Till

...pading fork in moderately compacted soils. This is clearly a topic on which reasonable people can disagree, but the no-till folks seem to have the upper hand in terms of the science. As with all gardening problems, though, context is king. Environmental factors and economic issues (those expensive broadforks) intersect in our urban gardens in complex ways. You have to make up your own mind. I’d say if you’re going to double-dig do it...

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In Seattle, Headed to Portland

Photo from bikejuju.com Dig that tallbike, welded up by our host in Seattle Tom, a.k.a. “bikejuju” who has a blog at www.bikejuju.com. His wife Lyanda is the author of a book readers of this blog will enjoy, Crow Planet: Essential Wisdom from the Urban Wilderness . And they have the prettiest mixte I’ve ever seen in their living room. This afternoon we head to Portland. Hope to see you at one of our appearances....

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Root Simple and LA Bread Bakers at Artisinal LA

This Saturday Kelly and I will be joining a panel discussion on urban homesteading along with our good friends Craig Ruggless of Winnetka Farms and goat keepers and cheese makers Gloria Putnam and Stephen Rucidel. The panel will take place at Artisinal LA on Saturday April 16th at 2 pm in Santa Monica. I will also be taking part in a bread baking demo along with the LA Bread Bakers the same day at 1 pm. More information at artisinalla.com....

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Lasagna Gardening Simplified

First popularized back in the 1970s, “lasagna gardening” involves piling up thick layers of cardboard and uncomposted kitchen scraps on top of (sometimes) double-dug soil. The practice is touted as a way of removing lawns and improving soil with little work. Linda Chalker-Scott, Extension Urban Horticulturist at Washington State University, proposes a vastly simpler version of lasagna gardening.  Chalker-Scott suggests skipping th...

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Whistle Stop Book Tour of the Northwest

...uncanny resemblance to Pierre Trudeau. Credit: Duncan Cameron/National Archives of Canada, PA-136972 Rodale, the publisher of our new book, is sending us on a speaking tour of the Pacific Northwest to promote Making It . Bringing this sort of groovy, DIY info to all you hardcore locavores, transitioners, freegans, goat herds and urban hillbillies in SF, Seattle and Portland seems a bit like bringing coals to Newcastle. But heck, we’re n...

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Photo Tour of the Root Simple Compound

...New, as yet unnamed, kitten enjoying homebrew. Photo by Emily Ho for re-nest. In case you’ve tired of the continuous coverage of Osama Bin Laden’s compound, how about a look at ours? Writer and photographer Emily Ho sure did a nice job putting together a photo tour of our crib over at re-nest in a post entitled “Kelly and Erik’s Urban Farm.” Funny, when I look at our house I see all the work I have left to do, t...

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SoilWeb: An Online Soil Survey Resource

...even a SoilWeb iPhone app allowing you to use the GPS capabilities of your phone to assist in shopping for, say, the perfect vineyard location. SoilWeb maps cover most, but not all, areas of the US (Los Angeles isn’t included for some reason). While highly technical, terms are explained via hyperlinks. You click on the table to the right of the map for more detailed information including suitability for farming. Of course in urban areas y...

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99¢ Store Proofing Basket

...AP out of the canvas and never wash it, or your loaf will stick. I sized the canvas so that I can fold it over the whole bowl to keep the dough from getting oxidized. New kitten “helped” with the fabric cutting. When you’re ready to bake you just invert the bowl and dump the loaf out of the basket. I like the look of bread proofed in a canvas lined basket. Stay tuned for my levain-based bread recipe in an upcoming issue of U...

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