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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Behold the Western Electric 500

There’s much to love about the Western Electric 500 telephone. It’s easily serviceable and built like a tank. Why? When it was manufactured you didn’t own your phone, the telephone company leased it to you. This relationship served as a powerful incentive to manufacture a device that would last. In the 90s I went through three or four cheap cordless phones that broke after a few months of service. I switched back to an old tou...

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How to Process Carob

Before. Photo by Bill Wheelock. Our neighborhood has an abundance of carob (Ceratonia siliqua) trees that, around this time of year, drop thousands of pounds of pods. Now many of us may have unpleasant associations with carob as a 1970s era chocolate substitute, but the tree has a long history in the Middle East, where it’s used to make a tea, as a source of molasses, as a vegetable and as animal feed. The “locusts” th...

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Squash Baby Stolen!

Squash Baby’s empty cage This morning we woke to find that Squash Baby had been taken during the night. Erik just returned from searching the neighborhood, hoping to find traces, remanants or, heaven help us, the perp him or herself.  Needless to say, he is cursing. He’d planned on harvesting Squash Baby today, so it is particularly heartbreaking. It had stopped adding inches (I believe it held at 36″), and had start...

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Waiting for our tomatoes/Tomatoland

grow! grow faster! Mrs. Homegrown here: Via Boing Boing, I found this excerpt on Onearth Magazine’s website, from a new book called Tomatoland by Barry Estabrook, which is apparently a document of all the indignities suffered by the industrial tomato–the tomato that sits, bright red, useless and flavorless, on store shelves year round, country-wide. Here at the Root Simple compound, we choose to eat tomatoes seasonally̵...

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Spore 1.1

Spore 1.1 from matt kenyon on Vimeo. From artists Matt Kenyon and Doug Easterly of S.W.A.M.P.(Studies in Work Atmospheres and Mass Production), “Spore 1.1.” It consists of a rubber tree plant, purchased from Home Depot, that is hooked up to a self-contained watering mechanism and calibrated on a weekly basis, according to the performance of Home Depot stock. If the Home Depot stock does well, Spore 1.1 gets watered. If Home Depot stock does...

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How to Prep Fabric for Dyeing: Scouring

Check out the water after boiling my supposedly clean sheet! As usual, I’m taking my shibori challenge right to the deadline. One important preparatory step to dyeing is a cleansing process called “scouring.” I’d never heard of this before now, which may be why all my casual attempts at dyeing thus far have not turned out so great. I spent my weekend scouring so I can move on to dyeing. And then on to sewing! Yik...

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Reseeding Vegetables for the Warm Season

So what edible/useful plants pop up in lead contaminated soil along a hot, dry alternately sun-baked and deep-shaded south side of a house in Southern California? After dumping a load of compost along our side yard, mother nature is doing her own food forestry experiment. This month the following things popped up out of that load of compost: stinging nettle cardoon tomatoes nasturtium fennel sunflowers Elsewhere in the yard, New Zealand spin...

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Mellow Yellow: How to Make Dandelion Wine

Today on Root Simple we welcome another guest post from our Midwest correspondent Nancy Klehm: In the past week, we Midwesterners have experienced three hard frosts – killing back the growth, that emerged too early of my grapes and hardy kiwis and zapping peach blossoms. We will see if there is any fruit onset and if my vines recover. Meanwhile, it is dandelion wine time! I first tasted dandelion wine when I bought a bottle of it at a folksy gi...

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Kelly’s Shibori Challenge

...;m going to tell you all my plan so I can’t get lazy, back out, and watch Netflix instead of working.  As I execute this plan, I’ll post some more and so hopefully will share some useful information with you along the way, The plan is in three parts: Part the First: I’m going to make natural dyes using common plants like red cabbage and sour grass, following the instructions in The Handbook of Natural Plant Dyes: Personalize You...

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