Tree Care Disasters

...ess. One things I noticed after the storm were huge trees with shallow root systems that topled over. It’s the result of combining trees and lawns–keeping the lawn green with frequent light waterings results in trees with shallow root systems. Yet another reason, if there weren’t enough already, to ditch the lawn in a dry climate! Extra bragging rights if you can name the problem in the picture above. Thanks to Ari Kletzky for...

Continue reading…

Growing Greens Under Fruit Trees

In the photo above is Scott Kleinrock showing off a section of the edible garden he designed at the Huntington Gardens. At first glace it looks like a lot of weeds, but it’s a clever idea: growing greens in the understory of fruit trees. In this picture, which was taken last weekend, you see a field of: mallow daikon radish arugula mustard  vetch calendula cabbage Except for the vetch, which helps build soil, all are edible and nutrit...

Continue reading…

New Year’s Resolutions

...tions which are: 1. Read, listen to and experience more divergent opinions. I checked out A Day at El Bulli from the library expecting to hate it. I’m all about quality ingredients (preferably homegrown) prepared in simple, traditional ways and will never attempt any of the ridiculous recipes included in this big picture book. That being said, I came away from thumbing through the book with an admiration for Adrià’s creativity even if...

Continue reading…

The World’s Most Beautiful Okra

...zer until I have enough to cook with. As for cooking okra I leave the pods whole as I ve been told this reduces the sliminess some people find objectionable. And pile on the spices! My favorite recipe is this Iraqi stew called Bamia. Bamia and rice makes for the perfect late summer dinner. Mrs. Homegrown here: I just had to second this post–this is an outstanding, gorgeous plant, pretty enough to be purely ornamental. The picture above doe...

Continue reading…

Garden and Ego Destroyed by Skunks

At the risk of turning Root Simple into a skunk complaint blog, please witness the devastation to both my ego and my small patch of rapini. Luckily, I was able to get a picture of the perpetrator: Skunk lessons learned the hard way: tightly secure vegetable beds with bird netting don’t do a half-assed job with the hoops that support the bird netting don’t think that “this year those skunks won’t go digging for grubs.&#...

Continue reading…

Ridiculous New Parkway Planting Rules for Los Angeles

...ch include chamomile, yarrow and even strawberries, must be kept “mowed.” If you want to grow any of these plants taller than 2 inches or ones not on the list you’ve got to submit drawings, apply for a permit and pay at least $400, possibly more. Ironically, the cover of the guidelines shows a picture of a mature yarrow plant of the sort you’d have to go through the permit process to grow under the new guidelines. If anyth...

Continue reading…

Kelly’s “EDC”

...r, I do carry a few items that would be useful in an emergency. At Erik’s challenge, I unpacked my bag for the camera, editing only the garbage. The laptop (far right) is often in the bag, and was when I unloaded it, so it’s in the picture, but I don’t consider it an EDC and leave it at home as much as I can. The notebook on top is usually with me, though. Row 1 (closest to the bag): This row I think of as my true EDC, in that I...

Continue reading…

Staking Tomatoes with Concrete Reinforcing Mesh

...ant grows, you simply tuck the vines into the cage, with no pruning necessary. But you do have to stay on top of the tucking, otherwise you risk breaking off stems. Since a 7-foot cage can be very top heavy I staked them deep into the ground with some rebar I had laying around. Long wooden stakes would work just as well. You could also choose to grow shorter tomato varieties. The San Marzano tomatoes in the middle of the picture above are half th...

Continue reading…

Garden Bench Ideas

I’ve been contemplating building a garden bench for our backyard so whenever I see a nice one I take a picture. The first example (above) resides in a nursery in Bolinas, California. Looks like one end is the ubiquitous cinder block and the other a pre-cast concrete pier. Add some driftwood (there’s a lot of it in Bolinas) and you’ve got a bench. This arts n’ craftsy bench is in the San Francisco Botanical Garden in...

Continue reading…

More Thoughts on Garlic

...d see. I hoped my hardneck garlic varieties wouldn’t be a total failure. He planted white softneck garlic, the popular commercial variety here in California. I planted Music, Pskem River and Bogatyr garlic at my work site and Pskem River also in my home garden. All three varieties have done simply okay at my work site. However, the Pskem River garlic in my home garden is big and beautiful. Hardneck garlic produces scapes. The picture above...

Continue reading…