Reforming City Codes

On my high horse pointing a finger. In response to my intemperate use of the word “bureaucrat” in yesterday’s post on the city of Miami Shores’ crackdown on a front yard vegetable garden, a Root Simple reader DRBREW responded: I hate to do this, but in defense of City bureaucrats (of which, I am one) and code enforcement people (of which I am not)…… Most of those citations are complaint driven, it is the code enforcement...

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Natural Products Expo West: The Good and the Ugly

The Natural Products Expo West, which took place this past week, is one of the largest conventions in the US. It’s a high stakes dating game between retailers and food, cosmetic and supplement producers. This year I promised myself that I would not sample every power bar and gluten free pizza thrust into my hands. I failed and paid unmentionable consequences later. Imagine the center snack aisles of Whole Foods dumped into a funnel and sh...

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Advantages and Disadvantages of Raised Bed Vegetable Gardening

The new hexagonal raised beds. More on the design in another post. Due to contaminated Los Angeles soil, we’ve got to grow our veggies in raised beds. There’s just too much lead and zinc in the ground, according to our local soil lab. Putting together three new beds recently got me to thinking about the ups and downs of gardening in raised beds. I thought I’d list off the pros and cons: Pros: Keeps roots away from contaminated...

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Made in the shade- Passive cooling

We just survived another major heat wave here. People and plants were positively melting. The sidewalks were veritable solar cookers. I’m sure I could have fried an egg on the sidewalk outside my house. I prefer not to crank the air conditioning, so I have been thinking a lot lately about simple ways to cool ourselves and the spaces we inhabit. Air conditioning is the main mechanical means by which we cool buildings these days. However, t...

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Straw Bale Garden: What I Learned

Straw bale garden–April on the left, November on the right. The straw bale garden I started this spring has been one of the most successful vegetable gardens I’ve ever planted. In fact it’s still producing well into November. Here’s what I learned from the experiment: Plants that suck up a lot of nitrogen, like squash, do well in a straw bale garden. My tomatoes flourished but, due to the high nitrogen, made more leaves...

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Compost Pail Comparison

Homegrown Neighbor here: Just a quick product review. Containers to hold your kitchen scraps are now common accoutrements sold in home stores. The idea is you fill them up as you prepare food and they are able to store the coffee grounds and broccoli stems without getting any flies or foul smells until you have a chance to get out to the compost pile. I used to use a large yogurt container for this and store it in the fridge. The problem was,...

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Picture Sunday: Amazon’s “Rasta Imposta” Squirrel Costume

If I get one of these and run around the yard would squirrels be so confused that they’d leave my fruit trees alone? From the Amazon reviews: it even comes with nuts By squirrelman When I first saw this squirrel costume, I went a little nuts (pun intended ). I starting buying one for everyone I knew. My wife, kids, lawyer, dentist, family practitioner, our local barista, and even my boss. Needless to say, we all suited up for halloween...

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How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Grub

Why start the day with the Wall Street Journal when the real excitement is to be found in periodicals such as Backyard Poultry Magazine? While our broke nation can’t afford missile shields or moon trips anymore, at least it’s comforting to read in the pages of BPM that the citizens of Bonner Springs, Kansas can visit the brand new National Poultry Museum. This month’s issue of BPM also has a fascinating article by Harvey Usse...

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