Looking for Tough, Drought Tollerant Plants?

For Californians, you need look no further than UC Davis Arboretum’s searchable list of All-Stars. The horticultural staff of the UC Davis Arboretum have identified 100 tough, reliable plants that have been tested in the Arboretum, are easy to grow, don’t need a lot of water, have few problems with pests or diseases, and have outstanding qualities in the garden. Many of them are California native plants and support nati...

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Vote Yes on 37!

I don’t normally discuss politics on this blog. I feel that the topics we discuss under the banner of homesteading–such as gardening, alternative energy, alternative transpiration, home ec, health and fitness–unite people across the political spectrum. Overall, I’d rather focus on what we can do and what we have in common rather than the constant diet of strife and discontent served up by mainstream media. That being sai...

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Homesteading Disasters: The Skunk Menace

Franky, I think our mistakes are more interesting and educational than the high-horse blog posts we typically churn out. I’m hoping, in fact, to collect our misadventures into a little booklet of homesteading disasters. To that end, I’ll periodically write about the latest problem around the Root Simple Compound starting today with how fun it is to garden with skunks. Angry red arrows mark skunk dig sites in our new keyhole be...

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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.&#...

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Shiitake Happens

...next winter for any further experiments. We’re going to try some different methods and will report back on the results. Tips from readers are appreciated. And speaking of reader tips, an anonymous commenter on our self irrigating planter post noted that indoor marijuana farmers have been experimenting with container gardening for years and that Homegrown Evolution would be wise to take a look at the kind of innovation that comes with higher...

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How to Stake Tomatoes

...rcing wire comes in 3 1/2′ by 7′ sections. We use a circular saw with a metal blade on it to cut off the bottom rung, so as to leave spiky wires with which to stick the reinforcing wire tubes into the ground, but this is not absolutely necessary. Once in place that’s it. According to So Cal gardening guru Pat Welsh, tomatoes surrounded by a reinforcing wire staking system need not be pruned nor will they need any additional stak...

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Spreadin’ Seed

The past week was spent feverishly spreading genetic material around. No, we weren’t backstage with Metallica. We’re talking plants. Here’s a few ways we’ve been spinning the genetic biodiversity wheel in the past week: Seed Swaps Yesterday was International Seed Swap Day of Action, sponsored by Food not Lawns. We celebrated the day in Altadena with a bunch of local gardening enthusiasts and countless boxes of seeds. We g...

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Least Favorite Plant: Asparagus Fern (Asparagus setaceus)

...ing nettles. Instead we’ll focus our horticultural wrath elsewhere. Asparagus Fern (Asparagus setaceus) is the scourge of my backyard gardening existence and a plant many will recognize from floral arrangements. The bozos who owned our house before us planted one of these nasty things underneath the avocado tree. It entangles itself through the branches of the tree, winding it’s way upwards as much as ten feet in a season. It’s...

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Poultry Houses of the Ultra Wealthy: Part 2

...etit Trianon house to their playground below for a morning wing stretch. Slipping on your wellies, you start for the coop and are greeted by the pleasant clucking of your specially chosen flock and the site of the poshest hen house ever imagined. Your custom-made multilevel dwelling features a nesting area, a “living room” for nighttime roosting, a broody room, a library filled with chicken and gardening books for visitors of the huma...

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Stella Natura: Planting by the Signs

...ing? Probably not. But here in Los Angeles, where we have a four month time span to plant most things, following the Stella Natura calendar is a good way of avoiding procrastination. The calendar also has a handy space for taking notes on plantings, another thing I’ve been bad about in the past. I want to be clear that I’m not discounting empiricism. But since don’t have a lab at my disposal, gardening is an intuitive process wh...

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