Eight Things to Consider When Saving Vegetable Seeds

The directions for seed saving in our last book, Making It, almost got cut. Perhaps we should have just changed those directions to “Why it’s OK to buy seeds.” The fact is that it’s not easy to save the seeds of many vegetables thanks to the hard work of our bee friends. That being said, Shannon Carmody of Seed Saver’s Exchange gave a lecture at this year’s Heirloom Exposition with some tips for ambitious gar...

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The Lament of the Baker’s Wife

This our flour collection, The Leaning Tower of Pizza.  Erik collects flour like Emelda Marcos collects shoes. The collection is  taking up a good deal of the floor space in our kitchen. Supposedly it will one day be moved to our garage–after the garage is remodeled–but waiting for the garage remodel is somewhat like waiting for Godot, or the Armageddon. Speaking of which, if Armageddon does arrive, you know what that means? Pizza P...

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Fabulous Postcards from HenCam

From Vintage Chicken Photographs. Terry says this picture reminds her of Erik. It reminds me of our friend Craig at Winnetka Farms. Whichever! Let’s hear it for tall handsome gentlemen holding poultry! Our friend Terry over at the great chicken site HenCam has produced three lovely sets of postcard books based on antique photos of people with animals. One set is people and chickens, the second is people with other livestock, and the third...

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The Energy Environment Simulator

Photo: Niklas Vollmer. Sometime in the mid-nineties I was thrift shopping in San Diego with my friend Niklas Vollmer. I can still remember the moment we stumbled on the Energy-Environment Simulator. We couldn’t stop laughing and we realized that we had to buy it. How often do you run into an Energy-Environment Simulator in working condition? t’s been the centerpiece of Nik’s living room ever since, even making a cross country m...

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What laundry detergent should I use for greywater applications?

...the land is a bad idea? You don’t want to salt your garden. Those salts will build up in the soil and can cause salt burn on tree leaves. (This appears as leaves with browning tips, as if they’ve been sunburned.) It’s worth adding that the drier your climate, the saltier the soil, because there is not enough rain to help percolate it away–so if you live in a dry climate it’s even more important to be careful with sa...

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How to Deal with Extremely Root Bound Plants

First off, don’t buy root bound plants. It’s just a bad business, trouble and tears. In general, you should always try to buy the youngest plants you can find. They are healthier than plants which have spent more time in a pot, and will quickly grow to match the size of older, more expensive–and more likely than not–root bound plants. How do you know if the plant is root bound? Look at the bottom of the pot and see if ro...

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The Theme of a Great Garden

Today we toured one of the finest gardens in California, the new garden at the Los Angeles Natural History Museum. The occasion was the opening of the new pollinator habitat. Head gardener Richard Hayden showed us around, taking us to the edible area as well as the new pollinator and Nature Gardens. This garden gave us so many ideas that we’re going to do several posts about it. One important design lesson I learned today is that great ga...

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Ten Uses for Palm Fronds

...t. 3. Make a low quality mulch. Using palm fronds as mulch is somewhat controversial. The stuff takes forever to break down. Our arborist told me that some conventional citrus growers use palm frond mulch specifically because it takes forever to break down. 4. Paint stirrer. I’m proud of this Root Simple innovation. While I was painting the garage recently, I couldn’t find my paint stirrers. Watching the fronds fall as I was up on th...

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On the Back Porch of America

...ok like if we dispensed with false reality show drama and treated subjects with respect. Four more episodes will come out later this year. Small Medium Large also did a piece on Root Simple pal Doug Tiano. Doug’s been making a whole army of soft sculpture copies of himself. Watch if you dare as Doug reveals his own underbelly shadow! Small Medium Large has a bunch of other great videos on their website. Who needs Netflix?...

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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...

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