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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Fruit Tree Update: Flavor Delight Aprium

One of my big regrets is not planting a bunch of fruit trees when we first moved into our house in 1998.* Thankfully though, we got our act together eventually. In 2011, we put in a call local fruit tree expert Steve Hovfendahl for some suggestions. His advice was based on what would grow in our warm climate as well as fruit tasting results conducted by the Dave Wilson nursery. It’s been over two years since we planted the trees Hovfendah...

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Saturday Linkages: Bus Offices and Secret Doors

...ex  Thanks, Davis! Gardening grounded design by Thomas Rainer: No They Didn’t!: A Gallery of Mockable Landscapes http://landscapeofmeaning.blogspot.com/p/no-they-didnt-gallery-of-mockable.html?spref=tw … Ancient wheat: making a comeback http://www.smithsonianmag.com/people-places/Artisanal-Wheat-On-the-Rise.html#.UQM4YKWpmhs.twitter … Soul Searching The secret to feeling like you have more time available – Boing Boing http://boingbo...

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Homemade Teeccino

A carob tree heavy with pods Mrs. Homegrown here: A while back I kicked coffee, and reduced my caffeine intake down to maybe one cup of green tea a day, and it’s been a really good thing. At that time, Root Simple readers wrote in to suggest all sorts of coffee alternatives for me, and I tried a bunch of them. One of them was Teeccino, with which I quickly developed a love-hate relationship. Teeccino is a line of coffee substit...

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Make Your Own Damn Cheese

We live in a country where buckets have warnings on them, but the greatest indignity of our present nanny state is that the Man does not want us to eat raw cheese. As Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin put it, “A meal without cheese is like a beautiful woman who lacks an eye” and if that cheese was made with crappy pasteurized, homogenized and sterilized milk it ain’t worth eating. That’s why you’ve got to make your own...

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Make a Sourdough Starter

Every damn urban homesteader ought to have a sourdough starter living on their countertop. It’s easy and here’s how we do it around the Homegrown Evolution compound: 1. Get yourself a glass or ceramic container with a lid. It should be able to hold at least three to four cups of starter. Don’t use metal. 2. Put into this container one cup of white flour and one cup of lukewarm water and stir until mixed. Put it in a warm place....

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The Rag and Bone Man

...211;a layer of cotton will make a good first layer. We’ve used newspaper in the past with organic material on top, but in our dry climate here in LA the newspaper can actually prevent water from getting to the soil when it rains. We’re guessing that cotton might work better. 3. Household cleaning–this is obvious, but we do go through quite a few rags with our too few household cleanings, not to mention keeping the bicycle chains...

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Interview With Apartment Gardener Helen Kim

We got a lot of emails after posting the image above of Los Angeles based photographer Helen Kim’s astonishing windowsill garden. It’s a great example of what you can do with a small amount of space, and brings to mind William Morris’ advice, “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful”. Helen graciously sat down for an email interview to talk about her beautiful and useful garden...

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Build Your Own Furniture

We live in a 4 by 8 world. This is why we can’t get all that excited about things like geodesic domes, straw bale and rammed earth houses. All of these innovative architectural ideas may have great potential, but when it comes time to buy supplies at the lumber yard, the overly creative builder will soon realize the difficulty of utopian designs in a world of 4 by 8 sheets of plywood and drywall. That geodesic shape is hip, but what do you...

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Stirred, Not Shaken

“Matter is never without spirit and spirit is never without matter.” – Rudolf Steiner This past weekend I had the good fortune of attending an amazing workshop in biodynamic gardening taught by master gardener Dory Rindge. For those of you unfamiliar with biodynamics, it’s a system of agriculture based on the work of early 20th century philosopher and mystic Rudolf Steiner. In the 1920s, at just the point when chemical f...

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