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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I like my chamomile stressed

This poor, abused little seedling is flowering like crazy. Mrs. Homegrown here: I made a mistake–I predicted a while ago that this would happen, and here it is. When we remodeled the yard and I set aside space for The Phan of Pharmacy ™ my goal was to maximize the production of herbs and flowers.  I prepped the ground in the fan like a fine flower or veg bed: double dug and richly amended. It was only aft...

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The Barrier Method

Over the years we’ve lost countless plants to digging, chewing, trampling and sucking critters, mammals and insects both. We finally got smart. It makes sense to invest a little extra time and money to protect your crops and your livestock with physical barriers. This practice started sort of piecemeal around here, with us only exerting ourselves over particularly problem-prone situations. Nowadays protection is standard for every bed we p...

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Bean Fest, Episode 3: Bastardized Puerto Rican Beans

...ly happens when trying to find practical info. on the interwebs. Vinegar, sherry or wine? Sugar–really? How much? When does the sofrito go in? Is pork truly optional? Last night I set aside my Cuban plans in frustration and opened up Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian–a generally solid cooking resource. He had a recipe for black beans and rice cooked together in a pot in the oven. Intrigued, I gave it a try. I won&...

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Goat Worship: A Halloween Exclusive!

Dance with me in the witches’ grove! Bwah ha…ha…er…. Well, okay, if you’re not so into that, I’ll take an apple instead. This Saturday our friends Gloria Putnam and Steve Rudicel at the Mariposa Creamery in Altadena gave a free, two-hour class on the basics of goat keeping. I was there with bells on. I’ve always wanted goats. It was a wonderful afternoon–about forty “goat curious...

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Two Vegetable Gardening Commandments

y. In the meantime, I’ll share two of the commandments: 1. Thou shalt not have more vegetable beds than thou canst maintain in a worthy condition. We’ve already reduced the amount of vegetable space in our garden and replaced it with native perennials. I’m considering cutting more vegetable space. Having a lot of poorly maintained vegetable beds sends out a big invitation to the sorts of insect visitors we don’t want in o...

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Fermenting culture wih Sandor Katz

Katz chats up Master Food Preserver and author Kevin West Last night Erik and I went to see a talk by fermentation guru Sandor Katz, hosted by the Environmental Changemakers. Being a huge Sandor Katz fangirl, I was thrilled to get a chance to see him in person. These days he’s sporting a charming 19th century mustache! His first book, Wild Fermentation, was one of those really important, life-changing books for me. It might sound...

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Cat Poop Compost Installment #2

Drum full o’ cat litter WARNING: Human waste and cat waste contain dangerous bacteria.  I fully believe that composting is a safe and sane solution to a waste stream problem–that’s why I’m writing about it, after all– I also know that it can be handled badly. (The stories we hear!) So please, read up on the subject before starting. You should have a solid foundation in regular compost to begin with, because...

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Beans 101 (Return of Bean Friday!)

Simple is good. As a follow up to the “Dollar Supper” post,  this post is about is the simple act of making a pot of beans. I make beans about once a week, the goal being to always have beans in the fridge. For us, they’re an essential staple. (Readers new to Root Simple should note that we’ve done a lot of posts about beans, and have gathered favorite bean recipes from our readers. So if you’re looking for recipes,...

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Deep Bedding for Chickens

We’ve got about 5-6″ of loose stuff on the floor of our chicken run. Underneath that, it’s black gold. Around this time of year, folks are getting chickens. Some for the first time. So I figured it was time to talk about deep bedding again. I know we’ve written about it before, in our book, or on this blog, but this advice bears repeating: Nature abhors bare ground.  Line your chicken coop and run with a thick l...

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