Finding an Urban Homestead on Craigslist

of your room. Your roommates will be as follows: a 31 y.o. park ranger who inhabits the upstairs and likes to identify birds by ear and spot clean the floors, a 34 y.o. medic and bike mechanic who likes to brew beer, drink it, and then go on 300-mile rides, and a 30 y.o. outdoor educator who likes to pet her cat and sew up organic undies from reclaimed t-shirts. The last two will be your downstairs co-inhabitants and bathroom buddies. We are...

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Urine as a Fertilizer

...available (at least after a night of beer drinking) alternative to organic nitrogen fertilizers such as blood meal. We’ve got a perpetual nitrogen deficiency in our vegetable beds and I hate buying industrial ag sourced items like blood meal. Urine is a great alternative. To use urine in the garden you’ve got to dilute it with water, at least ten to one. Straight urine will burn your plants. Thankfully we don’t worry about our s...

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Root Simple and Edendale Farm on ABC-7

A local ABC affiliate did a nice, short piece on growing food in the city featuring us and our friend David Kahn of Edendale Farm. I’ll note that David runs a real city farm (he sells eggs) while I call what we do simply gardening, as we don’t grow/raise enough to sell. It’s good to see vegetable gardening and keeping chickens going mainstream–it’s the bright side of the “great recession”....

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One Craptacular Week

It’s been one hell of a week. First we find out, via a soil test, that our backyard may have high levels of lead and zinc. We’ll write a lot more about this once I confirm the results–I’ve sent in another sample to a different lab. And my doctor has agreed to give me a blood test. Whatever the results, I want to help get out the word about this serious issue–ironically, next week is National Lead Poisoning Preve...

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Lead Update

...that “plant available” is different than the total amount of lead in the soil. The total amount would be about ten times higher or 1,120 ppm. According to the University of Minnesota Extension Service, Generally, it has been considered safe to use garden produce grown in soils with total lead levels less than 300 ppm. The risk of lead poisoning through the food chain increases as the soil lead level rises above this concentrati...

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Derek Jarman’s Garden

Photo by angusf Avant-garde filmmaker Derek Jarman spent the last years of his life, after an HIV diagnosis, tending a bleak, wind-swept patch of land opposite a nuclear power plant on the southern coast of England. With just a few hardy plants and some scavenged pieces of wood he put together a stunning garden. He wrote a book about it called, simply, Derek Jarman’s Garden. You can also view a flikr photo set here. Photo b...

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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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Seed Mania

...resistant, needs water in a dry spell.” Sea Buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides) from Bountiful Gardens. The fruit of this berry producing shrub can be found in Armenian and Russian markets here in LA. I was introduced to it by my friends at Tularosa Farms. It’s difficult to germinate so that plan is to gift the seeds to the TF folks and hope that they give us seedlings (an evil plan, I admit). I also picked up some crimson clover and...

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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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