Village Homes: A Model for Sustainable Suburbs

I’ve recently discovered a truly inspiring housing development in Davis, California. This is not new news–it was built in the 1980′s, but it’s new to me and worth sharing. Village Homes is the brainchild of architect/developer Michael Corbett. It encompasses 70 acres and 200-some homes. It has all the space and privacy that brings people to the suburbs, but it’s designed with considerable intelligence. For instanc...

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Self Irrigating Pot Patent from 1917

I’ve often blogged about the convenience of self irrigating pots (SIPs), containers that have a built-in reservoir of water at the bottom. They work well for growing vegetables on patios and rooftops. You can make your own or purchase one from several manufacturers. I had thought that Blake Whisenant, a Florida tomato grower and Earthbox company founder, had invented the SIP in the 1990s, but it turns out that the idea came much earlier....

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Saturday Linkages: From The Woodsman Workout to Crafting With Your Cat

Yes, it’s the woodsman workout. Via the Art of Manliness. Gardening My new favorite botanic garden – in Mexico! | Garden Rant http:// gardenrant.com/2012/09/new-fa vorite-botanic-garden-in-mexico.html  … Deconstructing the cornmeal myth: http:// ow.ly/1Owd1F DIY Build-It-Solar Blog: DIY Solar Water Heating System in Southeastern Pen… http://www. builditsolarblog.com/2012/09/diy-so lar-hot-water-heating-system-in.html?spref=...

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When It Gets Hot in Chicago: Make Tempeh!

Tempeh image from Wikipedia. Today, a guest post from Nancy Klehm, writing to us from Chicago, in the midst of an epic drought and heat wave. Here’s Nancy: A Drought of Inspiration Until last week, we were at 12% of our normal precipitation for our eight month growing season. This, plus extreme temperatures, made us delirious when some humidity blew south from Canada and was sticky enough to grab ahold of some clouds and build th...

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Homemade Cat Toys

Top to bottom: Trout, palm frond, twine, acorn, plastic strip This is advice for new cat owners coming from relatively new cat owners: don’t waste your money on cat toys. Cats are fickle, ungrateful little creatures. Novelty is more important to them than just about anything else. And I don’t mean genuine novelty–they don’t need newer and stranger toys all the time. Rather, individual toys seem to get stale for t...

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Erik Speaking at Maker Faire

I’m very excited to announce that I’ll be speaking at the Bay Area Maker Faire on Saturday May 19 at 6:30 pm on the Maker Square Stage (located in the Homegrown Village). The talk I’m giving will be about the appropriate tech projects we’ve been up to around the Root Simple compound–our new chicken run, greywater, solar cooking and Mediterranean edible gardening. I’d love to hang out, after the talk, with any...

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Biochar: Miracle or Gimmick?

Cornell University illustration showing biochar as a means of sequestering greenhouse gases. I’m always skeptical of what I call the “notions and potions” school of gardening. Every few years there is some new substance touted as the secret to a lush vegetable garden. One such substance is biochar, a kind of charcoal used as a soil amendment. The University of Minnesota Extension service is in the midst of a four year study to...

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A Question About Gophers

Pocket gopher, courtesy of Wikipedia We’re putting together a short vegetable gardening pamphlet and could use some advice, specifically about gophers. Thankfully, we don’t have any experience dealing with them. Something about our neighborhood, either the lead in the soil or the police helicopters, seems to have made gophers extinct here. Standard advice when planting a tree or installing a raised bed in gopher infested a...

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Rooftop Garden Classes

Homegrown Neighbor here: Los Angeles has sprouted a very cool rooftop garden. Here where January temperatures are often in the 70′s, buildings aren’t designed to hold snow, meaning that our roofs usually can’t hold much weight. So rooftop gardens are rare. But on the border of Little Tokyo, skid row, and a warehouse district, an old seafood warehouse rooftop has been turned into a gourmet garden atop the home of artisan food p...

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How to Deal With Cabbage Worms

It happens every year. I forget the gardening lessons of the year before. Take my many failed attempts to grow cabbage, for instance. It always gets decimated by the imported cabbage worm (Pieris rapae), a creature as abundant in Los Angeles as aspiring actors. There are several strategies I could use to deal with this pest (cabbage worms, that is–I have no problem with actors). I could spray Bacillus thuringiensis but I don’t like...

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