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...

Continue reading…

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...

Continue reading…

Urine as a Fertilizer

...l. 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 sauerkraut taking on a urine flavor: Use of Human Urine Fertilizer in Cultivation of Cabbage (Brassica oleracea)––...

Continue reading…

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”....

Continue reading…

Zombie Apocalypse Poll Results

...19% things will stay the same I had intended to editorialize about how I see 2012 going. But I can’t say it better than this anonymous comment: I could not answer the poll. My first thought was that things will get worse. I was thinking from a world wide view, economic, food wise, etc. But I thought again and decided that really those things don’t matter. I expect things around my house to get better. My love for my wife will gr...

Continue reading…

The CDFA’s Pesticide Theater

In the fall of 2009 a citrus pest called the Asian Citrus Psylid showed up in our neighborhood. It’s a major concern to commercial citrus growers since the pest spreads an incurable and fatal plant disease called huanglongbing (HLB). The California Department of Food and Agriculture commenced a futile effort to suppress the psylid by hiring a contractor, TruGreen, to spray residential backyards in Southern California with a combination o...

Continue reading…

Finding an Urban Homestead on Craigslist

Backyard of the “Lee Street Homesteaders” You know the urban homestead thing has caught on when the phrase shows up in a Craigslist rental ad: Imagine… living at the edge of a city and at the edge of modern society. Growing your own food and medicine in your backyard. Raising poultry and harvesting your own eggs. Brewing your own beer and kombucha. Fermenting your own raw sauerkraut and pickles. And living within s...

Continue reading…

Canning Citrus

Say you’ve got a huge citrus tree and want to can some of it without using a lot of sugar. The nice thing about citrus is that it’s so acidic you can water bath can it in its own juice, in just water or in a light sugar syrup. In our Master Food Preserver class we did a taste test of tangerine sections canned in a variety of liquids: water very light syrup (1/2 cup sugar per quart) light syrup (1 cup sugar per quart) medium syrup (...

Continue reading…

Book Review: Attracting Native Pollinators: The Xerces Society Guide to Conserving North American Bees and Butterflies and Their Habitat

How can we save the world? Simple. Get everyone to read and understand the contents of a new book, Attracting Native Pollinators: The Xerces Society Guide to Conserving North American Bees and Butterflies and Their Habitat. Why? There’s the obvious–pollinating insects provide a huge amount of our food–but they also have a few unappreciated roles. Without pollinators, plant communities that stabilize river banks disappear. Ma...

Continue reading…