Village Homes: A Model for Sustainable Suburbs

...st. All of the rainfall is captured and instead of being directed to the sewer system, it runs to swales between the houses, to nourish fruit trees. The resulting space is a lush park full of edibles, from exotic jujubee trees to grapes to almonds. Residents can stroll around in the abundant shade and pick fruit at will. Only the almond crop is off limits–the almond crop is harvested every year and sold to support the the gardening services...

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In Defense of the Paper Wasp

Paper wasp building a nest. Image: Wikimedia. I really don’t like gardening advice that divides the natural world into lists of good and bad bugs. From nature’s perspective all creatures have a role, even the much despised paper wasp. Paper Wasp Biology 101 Wasps perform important duties: some wasps eat other insects, other wasps are scavengers, acting as nature’s garbage disposers. That’s not to say t...

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Extreme Low-Tech Communication

This has to be the ultimate achievement in low-powered long-distance communication. Ham radio operator Michael Rainey, AA1TJ, transmitted a message over a distance of over 1,000 miles by yelling Morse code with his own voice into this primitive home-made transmitter, nicknamed “El Silbo.” No power was used other than that generated by his own voice vibrating the microphone (which was a re-purposed speaker). If you...

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How to Answer the Question, “What Should I Do With My Life?”

...space on my book shelf). Instead I could have jumped ahead to what I’m doing now. Unsurprisingly, most of the books on my bookshelf, now and in the past, are how-to tomes relating to the subjects on this blog: gardening, poultry health, beekeeping, food preservation, baking, cooking and self-reliance. There’s another broad category : books relating to symbolism, Carl Jung, Rudolf Steiner and media theory. The rest are oddball topics:...

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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 th...

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Front Yard Vegetable Gardeners Fights Back

Hermine Ricketts, vegetable gardening outlaw. Photo: Greg Allen, NPR. I’ve got a tip for to city bureaucrats. Bust someone for growing vegetables in their front yard and you’ll be held up for ridicule around the world. This time it’s the city of Miami Shores’ turn to make fools of themselves for forcing Hermine Ricketts and her husband Tom Carroll to tear up the front yard vegetable garden they’ve...

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Cactus Thief Strikes Again

I knew this was going to happen. After the theft of the first of three barrel cacti in our front yard, I knew the perp would be back. Sure enough the second cacti disappeared the other night. Now I’m left with the smallest, and most pathetic of the three cacti. In response I considered rigging up some kind of Arduino based cacti security system that would set off an alarm and flashing strobe in the house. Attach a trip...

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LA’s Parkway Garden Dilemma: Not Fixed Yet

A parkway vegetable garden on Sunset Blvd.. The City of Los Angeles’ crackdown on parkway vegetable gardens made international news thanks to an article by LA Times columnist Steve Lopez. Lopez was reporting on two parkway gardens that were issued citations by the LA Bureau of Street Services. This crackdown came two years after Ron Finley was busted for being a vegetable gardening outlaw. Over the weekend I started seei...

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A Year After the Age of Limits: Mr. Homegrown’s Take

...ping, they seemed to reinforce a depressive and unproductive group dynamic. Meaningful ritual comes from deep in the collective unconscious. It’s not something you can wing with some bad poetry, encounter sessions and bongos. On the positive side, it was a pleasure to hang out with and talk to John Michael Greer. Throughout the conference he held court outside the tent and discussed many of my favorite topics: organic gardening, Ham radio,...

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Watering 101

This is watering 101. Those of you who have been gardening for a while have probably learned this the hard way. Those of you just starting out may find it helpful. Soil lies. It looks wet, but it’s bone dry a fraction of an inch beneath. Or it looks dry on the surface, but it’s actually quite wet below. Or it’s wet, but only for one inch down. The only way to find out if you’ve watered your garden enou...

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