Essential System #4 – Illumination

...ounts of mercury that compact fluorescents contain contaminating landfills. Still, compact fluorescents are far better than incandescents since they consume less power and hence create less greenhouse gas. Remember that power plants are America’s single greatest producer of greenhouse gases. And as far as conservation goes, it’s estimated that if every American replaced one bulb with a compact fluorescent it would be the energy equiva...

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Basil all winter long

Mrs. Homegrown here: Basil is a summer plant. When the nights get cold, basil turns unhappy. It yellows and loses flavor. Here in LA that doesn’t happen until quite late in the year. Erik just pulled out our summer basil a couple of days ago to make room for winter plants. I’m replacing it–in a culinary sense–with Italian parsley, which loves cool weather, but hates the heat. It seems our gardening year swings between...

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Great Seeds Grow Great Gardens

...to support the garden project. Botanical Interests is a family owned company. Their seeds are untreated and non-GMO. I have grown a lot of vegetables from their seed and I have always had great germination rates and healthy plants. They have a great selection of vegetables, herbs and flowers to choose from. My very favorite plant from their collection is the Italian Nero Kale. I eat huge, heaping kale salads from my garden on a regular basis. I...

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About Us

Root Simple is Kelly Coyne and Erik Knutzen, authors of The Urban Homestead (Expanded and Revised Edition): Your Guide to Self-Sufficient Living in the Heart of the City (2008) and Making It: Radical Home Ec for a Post-Consumer World (2011).  They live in the heart of Los Angeles, in a little bungalow set on a 1/12 acre lot where almost all of their land is devoted to growing edible or otherwise useful plants and trees. Their obsessions include...

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Nettle Harvest

...that nettle can sting you right through a latex glove. And my wrists were stung quite severely. But oh well. I was so excited about harvesting I just plunged my arm into the deep green patch and started cutting. I cut the plants off near ground level and carefully placed them in my paper bag. Then I closed the paper bag and hung it inside near a sunny window to dry. If you live in a humid climate or need it to dry quickly, I recommend settin...

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Essential System #9 – Hydration

...e our foundation repairs, is the construction of a rainwater storage system. We plan to feed one of our roof downspouts to several fifty gallon plastic drums that will be linked together. We will use this water for irrigating plants in the front yard. While, admittedly, we don’t have room for much rainwater storage to make a big difference, we plan on filling these drums with municipal water after the rainwater runs out. That way we will al...

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Parkway Plantings

...rop last year. Carrots – Carota Pariser Market. This is a small round carrot that French folks apparently like. Around the wire obelisks, that give our street garden a certain gravitas in addition to supporting climbing plants, we have planted a very exotic looking bean called Borlotto lingua di Fuoco or “Tongue of Fire” (a reference to Pentecost we suspect rather than the cheesy 1970s Italian thriller). This is a pole bean with...

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More Washing Machine Greywater Fun

...move the waste water out to your garden. There are, however, ways to minimize the risk of pump burnout. The guru of greywater, Art Ludwig, suggests the following methods for using your washing machine’s pump to irrigate plants: 1. Use only 1 inch HDPE or either rigid or flexible 1 inch PVC pipe. Smaller pipe may burn out the washing machine’s pump and larger pipe will allow water to accumulate and get stinky. Standard garden hose is n...

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Build a Washing Machine Greywater Surge Tank

After the shower, the next best source for greywater is the washing machine. Constructing what is called a surge tank with a fifty gallon plastic drum is the simplest way to reuse your washing machine waste water. Perfectly good water that would ordinarily just go down the sewer will instead water your plants after first spending a short time in the fifty gallon drum. Temporarily draining your washing machine into a fifty gallon drum has two adv...

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In the Gutter

Our roofs, of course, are another impermeable surface that prevents rainwater from going where it should go–to our edible landscape. We can minimize the surface area by living in as small a house as possible and trying to maximize open ground. At our own compound we’ve even gone so far as to remove some previous resident’s bad addition and reduce the footprint of our house. So called green roofs, which have soil and plants growing on them...

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