Build a Worm Tower

Host: Leonnie Shanahan. More info: www.ecofilms.com.au Mrs. Homegrown here: One of our commenters on the compost debate, Nick H., offered up a link to a great video about worm towers, so we thought we’d share. A worm tower is a wide (at least 50cm dia.) pipe sunk halfway into the ground, with access holes on the lower half to allow the worms to come and go. Food and bedding is dropped in the top, which is kept capped. We happen to have w...

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You’ve probably never met a soup like this

Mushroom and Fruit Soup. Yep. I don’t know if you’re going to like this recipe. I did. Erik made it, which shocked me, because he has a general prejudice against savory fruit preparations. In fact, he has a general prejudice against soup, seeing it somehow as being a substandard food form. Nonetheless, he cooked this soup.  I smelled it first, as it was cooking, and it smelled really good. Then I saw it in the pot, and said, “...

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Growing Artichokes on the Sly

Artichokes also provide shade for lazy cats It is possible to grow vegetables around the grounds of an apartment building, especially if the landlord is neglectful. Often the biggest challenge you’ll face is the gardeners, who will weedwack everything to lawn level. If you can negotiate with them, or somehow put a protective barrier between your plants and the whirling cord of death, you can grow stuff. Take this lovely artichoke....

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Cat Litter Composting

Pocket Nitrogen Generator  Mrs. Homegrown here: Apologies to you googlers looking for solid answers. This is what Erik calls a probe. I’ve decided to compost our kitten’s litter box waste, and this is how I plan to go about it. However, I’m sure I’ll learn a lot as I go, so this post isn’t instructional. I will post a report once the system gets going. The real reason I’m posting is because I’d...

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Seed Mania

Sea Buckthorn. Image by Maggi_94 I’m still hyperventilating from all the lectures and exhibitors at the National Heirloom Exposition in Sonoma that I attended last week. I resisted the urge to buy too many seeds. Well, I sort of resisted this urge. I ended up coming back with: Early Stone Age Wheat from Bountiful Gardens, the seed company founded by John Jeavons. I’ve grew a few Bountiful Gardens seeds this summer with great...

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Scrubbin’ It

Say hello to my new friend the KingSeal Stainless Steel Scrubber, Heavy Duty Commercial Size. If you’re doing the cast iron cookware thing, as we are, you’re going to need a scrubber. And this puppy is the Hummer of scrubbers (apologies for that metaphor) and far sturdier than the usual flimsy supermarket scrubbers. It was gifted to me by Steve Rucidel, who owns a restaurant–so this is an item you’ll have to seek out at...

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So-So Tomatoes Become Excellent When Dried

As we reported earlier, we weren’t thrilled with our cherry tomato choice this summer. They were just plain dull. They were also rather large for a cherry, more like mini-plum tomatoes, which made them awkward for salads. But they were healthy plants, and very, very prolific. In situations like this it is good to remember that tomatoes which don’t taste good off the bush often cook or dry well. The ratio of skin and seeds to pulp in...

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Loofah Sponges

We talk about the joy of loofah–or luffa– (Luffa aegyptiaca) all the time, but I don’t believe we’ve every blogged about it here. I was reminded of it when we received a letter from Candace, who heard us on a podcast talking about how much fun it was to grow loofah sponges. She said: I wanted to thank you for that part of the interview in particular.  I decided to grow some this summer and it has been a great joy.  It i...

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Free Postmortem Exams for Backyard Flocks in California

It’s too late for us now, but if I had another two chickens die in close succession, I’d consider rushing the bodies off to one of the California Animal Health and Food Safety’s labs run by the University of California Davis’ School of Veterinary Medicine. A Root Simple reader who is a veterinarian tipped us off to this service. You don’t need a veterinarian (though you might need one to help interpret the results...

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Our favorite way to cook zucchini

It’s that time of year again. Put aside those zucchini bread recipes and try this instead. This recipe–or technique, rather– sounds too simple to be good, but it really works. As one friend said of the dish, “It tastes like there’s a lot going on, but there’s not.” All you’ve got to do is shred your zucchini up on the large holes of your kitchen grater. Saute the shreds in an uncovered s...

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