Cat Litter Composting

...enign chicken and bunny waste. This isn’t something one should do in a half-assed way, but it is possible. The plan I’m going to follow is the basic humanure model, which is classic composting, but with lots of attention and care, followed by a 2 year rest period for the full bin, during which time worms and bacteria do their scrubbing magic to help remove any lingering nasties. When the first batch is done, I’ll have a sample l...

Continue reading…

Our favorite way to cook zucchini

...itchen grater. Saute the shreds in an uncovered skillet with lots of olive oil and some chopped up garlic, until there’s no water in the pan, and the volume of the zucchini is reduced by about half. This transforms the zukes into a savory, glossy, succulent mush. Maybe that’s not the most elegant way to phrase it, but it’s the best I can do. Yes, it does have a baby food texture, but it’s really, really good, so you don...

Continue reading…

Scrubbin’ It

...ll have to seek out at your local restaurant supply store. Sadly, made in China–but what ain’t these days? Now if only I didn’t have to do the dishes! Mrs. Homegrown here:   This is indeed a fine, stout scrubbie, but as at least one commenter says, it may not be the best thing for the cast iron. For indeed, if your cast iron is well seasoned, food should come off a rag, or a couple scrapes with a flat spatula. Unless yo...

Continue reading…

So-So Tomatoes Become Excellent When Dried

...m trying to save them for the depths of winter, when I really miss tomatoes. We have maybe a couple of quarts of them now. Several years ago we had an absolute disaster involving a pantry moth, its many offspring, and one big jar of dried tomatoes. For this reason I’m storing the dried tomatoes in a series of small jars, to offset the risk. Another good tip for fending off moths is to freeze any food stuff which you suspect might be at risk...

Continue reading…

Derek Jarman’s Garden

...ade to be had for miles in any direction. In winter, sea storms rage, while biting Siberian winds push through the shingle and up through the floorboards of the fisherman’s cottages strung out along the road to the lighthouse. You can’t take life for granted in Dungeness: every bloom that flowers through the shingle is a miracle, a triumph of nature. Derek knew this more than anyone. Gardens give us food, medicine, solace, and t...

Continue reading…

Seed Mania

...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 globe artichoke seeds from the Bountiful Gardens folks. Desert Chia from Native Seed Search. Yes it is that chia, of Chia Pet fame. Chia is an ancient herb used by Native Americans for medicine and food. Cha...

Continue reading…

Loofah Sponges

...and just try to find one that’s organic and locally harvested! Most people think loofah sponges come from the sea, but they are actually members of the cucumber family and grow on vines. With their skins on, they look like zucchini sized cukes. They’re quite attractive and fast growing. The vines can reach 20 feet if they’re happy, and the fruits form on big yellow flowers. They are so prolific and easy to grow (given the right...

Continue reading…

How to start a chicken retirement community

...could do it if we needed to–but we never really sat down and decided what would happen to our ladies when they stopped laying. We’re very good at procrastinating that way. What happened is sort of surprising, looking back. I’ve not eaten chicken since high school (or other meat, except rarely, fish). My objections have never centered around the morality of killing animals for food, but rather a long-standing objection to how th...

Continue reading…

Free Postmortem Exams for Backyard Flocks in California

...217;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) and t...

Continue reading…

Compost Rebuttal

...oo. It’s not difficult to achieve the conditions Ingham specifies. You just need enough mass combined with the use of a compost thermometer to figure out when to turn the pile.  O.K., so now I’m headed out into the garden to combine that tiny and ugly tire pile to the new pile I’m building. For more information on Ingham’s work read, Teaming with Microbes: The Organic Gardener’s Guide to the Soil Food Web, Revised E...

Continue reading…