Our Holiday Gift Suggestions

That dreaded holiday seasons is just around the corner. With unemployment still high we hope that many of you have negotiated a family gift truce to limit tedious shopping. Or perhaps you’re making things to give away. But if you still need to get a little something for that special homesteader on your shopping list, we’ve got a few suggestions from our Homegrown Evolution Amazon Store. Even if you just click through the store and b...

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Skid Row Community Garden Gets SIPs

Novice gardeners + hot rooftop accessible only by many flights of stairs = perfect opportunity to use self irrigating pots. Two master gardeners, Anne Hars and Maggie Lobl asked me to show them how to put together some SIPs (read more about what a SIP is here) for the Los Angeles Community Action Network, which works with homeless and low-income residents on skid row.  Hars, Lobl, myself and a bunch of folks from LACAN put together a few SIPs...

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Plantago coronopus, a.k.a. Buckhorn Plantain, a.k.a. Erba Stella

Cruise down the produce isle of a supermarket in the United States and you’ll only find highly domesticated foods. Thumb through the pages of the Silver Spoon (the Joy of Cooking of Italian Cuisine) and you’ll discover entire chapters devoted to the use of wild or semi-wild plants. This summer I grew one of these semi-cultivated Italian vegetables, Buckhorn plantain (Plantago coronopus) also known as Erba Stella and Barba di frat...

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Magenta Spreen Lambsquarter

Magenta Spreen Lambsquarter (Chenopodium giganteum a.k.a. “tree spinach”) has reemerged in our garden via the compost pile. It’s a striking edible weed, part of the family that encompasses spinach, quinoa and epazote. Seeds of Change sells this beautiful variety, oddly named “Magenta Spreen.” Like other members of the Chenopodium family it has a fair amount of oxalic acid which could be a problem if it’s all...

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Avatar: I’m not lovin’ it.

Since it just won the Golden Globe award for best picture and several other garden blogs have commented on it, I think it’s time to take a break from blogging about nettles and weigh in on James Cameron’s Avatar. For the five or so folks who haven’t seen it yet, here’s a plot summary: An evil corporation sets up shop on a far off planet, “Pandora”, to mine a rare mineral necessary for the next generation of...

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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...

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Least Favorite Plant: Ficus benjamina

Photo by Elon Schoenholz While Ficus benjamina, a.k.a. “weeping fig”, is one of my least favorite trees, my most favorite photographer, Elon Schoenholz is currently posting a series of ficus tree images on his blog. Schoenholz, wisely, takes a neutral stance on this hot button tree describing Ficus as, “L.A.’s favorite underappreciated, unheralded, unfavorite curbside flora. I have no real love for these trees, per se, n...

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Pakistan Mulberries

Lora “Homegrown Neighbor” Hall was nice enough to drop off some freshly picked Pakistan mulberries (Morus macroura) gleaned from a house sitting gig. It’s one of the tastiest fruits I’ve ever had, very sweet, kinda like nature’s version of a Jolly Rancher. If you’ve never had a Pakistan mulberry it’s not surprising as it’s a fruit that simply doesn’t ship well. Here’s what the Califo...

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Vertical Vegetables

Frederick Law Olmstead’s office has a 19th century “vertical garden.” Vines! I was somewhat dismayed to see a local newspaper article touting a company that sells a $1,000 vertical vegetable garden system to schools. The company has a plan to sell this system nationwide. The problem is that I have serious doubts about the long term viability of vertical garden walls for a number of reasons: irrigation, maintenance and start u...

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Laundry to Landscape 2.0

I just installed a “laundry to landscape” greywater system at the house of Lora “Homegrown Neighbor” Hall using greywater guru Art Ludwig’s free open-source plans. It was a cinch. And, thanks to a revision in the California plumbing code last year, it’s legal with no permit required. I started in the laundry room by rigging up a three way diverter valve so that Lora can route the greywater back to the sew...

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