Are Raised Beds a Good Idea?

...orn (Sorghum bicolor ) doing just fine straight in the ground. A partially sunken bed. Extra points for finding the stinkhorn mushroom. This bed is somewhat of a compromise. I cut the bed in half lengthwise to make it half as tall as it used to be thus getting two beds for the price of one. Then I sunk it into the ground In effect, the veggies are in the ground but I still have the neatness and defined borders of a raised bed. Again,...

Continue reading…

Erik’s New Years Resolutions

Normally I don’t do New Years resolutions. This year my resolution is . . . lots of resolutions. Here’s the list. I expect you to hold me to it: get HAM technician’s license learn Morse code attend CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) classes build cob oven in the backyard organize messy office so it doesn’t look like an episode of Hoarders organize supplies in garage into labeled boxes turn the garage into the ult...

Continue reading…

Droopy Leaves are Not a Good Thing

Droopy Dawg Mrs. Homegrown here: So I just learned I’ve been taken in by a popular myth. You know how in the summer, the leaves of some plants go droopy in the heat of midday, then bounce back when it cools off? I’d heard…somewhere…who knows how these things get planted in your brain…that this was nothing to worry about. I’d also heard that was ineffectual, anyway, to water them midday. Well, I was wr...

Continue reading…

In Chaos Order, In Order Chaos

Periodically Mrs. Homegrown and I teach vegetable gardening classes. For the students, I’ve been looking for a way to illustrate nature’s complex, non-linear dynamics that, paradoxically, seem ordered. I stumbled across this cool sculpture that neatly summarizes the idea of “in chaos order, in order chaos.” Imagine each of the hammers standing in for one of the systems in your garden, insect life, nutrients, microbes, f...

Continue reading…

Animal Tracking

erve, in which I learned the basics of animal tracking from a pair of wonderful teachers, Jim Lowery and Mary Brooks of Earth Skills. Tracking is the kind of skill that you can easily spend a lifetime, or two, developing. Yet it is also possible, with good teachers, for even a neophite like me to pick up a working knowledge of the art over a couple of days. By the end of the class, I was able spend an enthralling hour tracking a cottontail throug...

Continue reading…

Erik Speaking at Maker Faire

I’m very excited to announce that I’ll be speaking at the Bay Area Maker Faire on Saturday May 19 at 6:30 pm on the Maker Square Stage (located in the Homegrown Village). The talk I’m giving will be about the appropriate tech projects we’ve been up to around the Root Simple compound–our new chicken run, greywater, solar cooking and Mediterranean edible gardening. I’d love to hang out, after the talk, with any...

Continue reading…

On the Southwest Chief to Chicago

I’m heading to Chicago aboard Amtrak’s Southwest Chief this evening for a series of workshops. Hope to see some of you in Chicago. When I get back to Los Angeles, Mrs. Homegrown and I will be leading a greywater workshop at Good Magazine on the 27th of May. Details to follow. In Altadena on May 30th I’ll be doing a talk, “Living Simply, Living Abundantly” at the Altadena Community Center 730 East Altadena Drive fro...

Continue reading…

Acquainted with the Night

Light from Sunday Paper on Vimeo. This poetic video, shot in my own overlit hometown, likely expresses the filmmakers ideas about wasting electricity. But like all good art it has multiple interpretations. I’m going to suggest that it shows how electric lighting has stolen the gift of night, robbing us of our night skies and peaceful sleep. There’s a large body of evidence that artificial light plays havoc with our sleep patterns, h...

Continue reading…

The Cat Poop Portal: Litter Box Composting, Installment #1

y. We’re just going to do straight up, classic composting, Humanure Handbook style. The only difference between this style and ordinary composting is that we’ll let this compost rest for two years before we spread it, to be sure the bad beasties die off. And in case they aren’t gone, we won’t spread the finished compost around edible plants. No, this is not orthodox practice. It is not considered “safe” to comp...

Continue reading…

Gardening Tip: Senecent Seedlings

With seedlings, small is good. Mrs. Homegrown here: Senescence is the “change of the biology in an organism as it ages after it reaches maturity” (see Wikipedia). I believe I’m experiencing it right now. What we’re here to warn you about today is buying plants which are old before their time. Seedlings which are senescent. What are senescent seedlings? Basically, these are seedlings whose roots have met the botto...

Continue reading…