Sources for Interesting Perennial Crops

...hops nurseries from the Oregon State Hops Commision. Also note that the USDA maintains a huge collection of fruit trees, nut trees and many other crops at thirty-two federally funded repositories around the United States. At least one of those facilities, the National Clonal Germplasm Repository for Fruit and Nut Crops in Davis, CA, will send out scion wood when available (researchers get first dibs). They appreciate a Fed Ex number so they don&...

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Chairs, are they killing us?

The rest of the evening, however, took place in a room of the house that had only an Afghan rug and some pillows–no chairs or tables–where we sat for several hours listening to a concert of classical Afghan music. It was a lot like the picture above. Everyone, young and old, sat on the floor, cross-legged for the entirety of the concert. Imagine a group of Americans sitting down to a Thanksgiving dinner like this. And we wonder why Am...

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A Primitive Bow Workshop

After spending an entire week staring a computer screens to update this website, it was a great relief to spend a Saturday carving primitive bows in a workshop led by local self-reliance expert Christopher Nyerges. Kelly and I have been into archery for many years, off and on,  but we’ve never tried to make our own bow. Root Simple pal John Zapf carves a bow to match that stylish hat A bow seems like a simple device until you try to make...

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Extension Service Webinars on Organic Agriculture

When it comes to doing research for articles and books I lean heavily on research based advice from our Cooperative Extension System. It’s a great resource. I just discovered a treasure trove of Extension Service webinars on organic farming practices that you can watch here: http://www.extension.org/pages/25242/webinars-by-eorganic. You can watch archived sessions or sign up to participate live. While the webinars are aimed at small farme...

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Saturday Linkages: Sedum Stumps, Chicken Steadycams and the End of the World

Sedum stump via The Garden Professor’s Blog. Gardening Cool gift idea–plant a sedum stump: http://ow.ly/1PQqq2 Nature Meets Video Chicken as steadycam: http://n.pr/11bA7gl Fantastic slow motion video of sprinting cheetahs – Boing Boing http://boingboing.net/2012/11/26/fantastic-flow-motion-video-of.html … DIY Livin’ Sun Ray Kelly: An Ungated Community http://nyti.ms/Ut6Tb5 Modest Student Micro-Cottage is a Mere 12 Square...

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Pierce Disease Resistant Grape Vines for Southern California

Pearl River Grape–slightly critter chewed, but still tasty. At the risk of counting our chickens before they’ve hatched, I think we finally have grape vines that are immune to Pierce’s disease. Pierce’s disease is a fatal condition spread by sucking (and sucky) insects known as sharpshooters. Once a vine get it there is no cure. Pierce’s is why your glass of California wine may one day be genetically modified. Over...

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Straw Bale Garden Update: Success!

Ladies and gentleman, straw bale gardening works. I left town for a week earlier this month and, during my absence, the vegetables in the straw bale garden exploded in size. The Tromboncino squash on the left, is threatening to envelop the entire yard.  The tomatoes are equally vigorous and covered in ripening fruit. Zucchini is on the menu. While it takes an input of outside resources in the form of straw and fertilizer, straw bale gardening i...

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Picture Sundays: What Commuting by Bike Looked Like in 1942

From the Library of Congress photo archive a 1942 picture from Burbank, CA: The bicycle brigade at Lockheed Vega Aircraft Corporation. Employees living within four miles of Lockheed’s plant may purchase bicycles through the company and resell them to the company when need for them no longer exists. This mode of transportation is becoming increasingly popular, and has resulted in the sale of 2,400 bicycles in record time. This is part of 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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