Root Simple’s New CritterCam

...7;s a digital still and video camera with a infrared flash and a motion detector. If something moves in front of the camera a picture or video is taken. It also stamps the time and records temperature and moon phase. [See update at the end of this post--this is probably the wrong camera for the application I intend. Thanks Max!] My plan is to use it for some urban, backyard citizen science. Specifically I want to figure out a few things: What ma...

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Mitchell Joachim’s Techno-Utopian Future

...a few simple but wonderful ideas that I’ll blog about tomorrow. But first I’ve got to try to digest the strangeness that was a presentation by architect and futurist Mitchell Joachim. Fab Tree Hab. Mitchell Joachim. Joachim is the thoughtstylist in chief of Planetary One and Terreform One, non-profit organizations that, “pioneer visionary socio-ecological and infrastructural strategies for urban environments.” Ar...

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Al Pacino Closed My Bike Lane

It’s the classic urban cycling problem: when faced with the indignities of riding in a car-centric city like Los Angeles, do you make it all one big fun challenge or become what Bikesnob calls “the righteous cyclist?”  Righteous cyclists, according to Bikesnob, are “convinced that the very act of turning the pedals will actually restore acres and acres of rainforest, suck smog from the sky and refreeze the ice caps....

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A Time Out Box for Quail

..., lush rainy spring in Chicago and all my birds get a large bouquet of fresh weedy greens everyday to supplement their feed: chickweed, dandelion, clover, shephard’s purse, garlic mustard, stinging nettles. Besides chickens, I have been raising quail for the past four years – I have both Coturnix and Bobwhite quail. Quail need to be enclosed and can’t ‘free range’. They are top choice of any urban predator: raccoon, possum, stray cat and rapto...

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Our New Chickens

When I put out the call to you, our readers, to name the ideal urban chicken I got a call from my friend Craig Ruggless of Winnetka Farms. He said something like, “Duh, the Barnevelder, of course!” Craig and his partner Gary Jackemuk have an ambitions breeding program to take the Barnevelder from show chicken back to farm chicken. So far the results are impressive. I took this as a message that I should fix my run and get ready fo...

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A Review of Williams-Sonoma’s Agrarian Line

Last week upscale retalier Williams-Sonoma announced an urban homesteady line of goods they call “Agrarian”. A number of Root Simple readers responded to the news after I linked to a Wall Street Journal article about the Agrarian line. One reader likened the “Agrarian” items to Marie Antoinette’s 18th century cosplay mini-farm. Another hoped that mainstream acceptance of things like chicken coops and beehives might...

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Introducing Nancy Klehm With Tips on Growing Jerusalem Artichokes

...ot. The hops are almost four feet high, the fruit trees are in heavy bloom and my pawpaw birthed 14 blossoms for the first time since I planted its seed seven years ago! The problem with this early spring is that it is likely to freeze between now and may 15. Everyone I know who grows tree fruit commercially is a bit worried about the fast blooms so early in the season. We could lose our fruit if the weather snaps to 30 degrees. Jerusalem a...

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How To Design a Garden Step IV: Clues to Care

...of garden statuary. Particularly if your garden has a wild look or if you’re trying to grow vegetables in the front yard,  “clues to care” can go a long ways to keeping the neighbors happy. Dr. Susan J. Mulley, a landscape architecture professor at Cal Poly Pomona is doing some interesting research on how people react to alternative forms of landscaping such as native plants and urban vegetable gardens. She’s doing opinio...

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The Sacred Chickens of Ancient Rome

...ed an unwanted prophesy. The naval commander, Publius Claudius Pulcher, refused to take no for an answer and had the sacred chickens tossed overboard saying, “Let them drink, since they won’t eat.” Elektra Tig also found a drawing of a sacred chicken coop just in case some of you are looking for coopatecture inspiration: Maybe some of us urban homesteader types can put together a flock of sacred chickens for the US senate. By J...

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Gardening Mistakes: Six Ways We’ve Killed Plants

...quality largely due to almost a hundred years of construction projects (decks, foundation work terracing, etc.). The same plant that might thrive in one spot will wither in another. This is where trial and error comes in. Sometimes the only way to find out if what will grow is to plant stuff and see what takes off. 2. Soil compaction This is a big problem in urban areas and our yard is no exception. The parkway, which gets a lot of foot traffic,...

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