Meet the Gophinator

The Gophinator Thankfully, we don’t have gophers, but dealing with them is one of the first questions we get when teaching vegetable gardening classes.  You can use raised beds lined with hardware cloth. But, other than target practice (a no-no in urban areas), most people I know with gopher problems end up using traps or zealous cats. Several sources have told me about the Cadillac of gopher traps, the aptly named “Gophina...

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How To Design a Garden Step I: Identifying Goals

Food, beauty and habitat. Garden design does not come naturally to me. I’ve made plenty of mistakes and continue to make them. One of the biggest of those mistakes is thinking of a garden as a collection of plants. Designing this way leads to lots of money wasted at the nursery and a garden that looks like a hoarder’s living room. Trust me, after years of misguided gardening design, your first step should be to identify goal...

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Book Review: The New Sunset Western Garden Book

The Sunset Western Garden Book was one of the first gardening books we picked up when we bought our house back in 1998. A new version is out this month, now dubbed The New Sunset Western Garden Book, and it’s a significant improvement over our old copy. Lavish photos have replaced the drawings of my 1998 copy. The new edition has significantly more coverage of edibles, including a vegetable planting schedule as well as nice photographs of...

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Introducing Nancy Klehm With Tips on Growing Jerusalem Artichokes

Photo by Ann Summa We’re very proud to welcome to the blog our good friend Nancy Klehm. Nancy is a radical ecologist, designer, urban forager, grower and teacher. Most importantly, unlike Kelly and I here in Los Angeles, she lives in a place subject that odd meteorological condition called “winter”, namely Chicago. We asked her to write posts for us for on gardening in a four-season climate and to add her expertise to...

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Peat-free Planting Mix Recipe With Coconut Coir

Nancy’s coconut coir-based planting mix. Here she’s doing the squeeze test, which we talk about below. From an environmental perspective peat moss is a nightmare. Mining of this material is unsustainable, contributes to global warming and destroys habitat for many plants and animals. But, for starting seeds, we’ve used it for years. Our friend Nancy Klehm taught us recently how to make a seed starting mix with coconut...

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The Barrier Method

Over the years we’ve lost countless plants to digging, chewing, trampling and sucking critters, mammals and insects both. We finally got smart. It makes sense to invest a little extra time and money to protect your crops and your livestock with physical barriers. This practice started sort of piecemeal around here, with us only exerting ourselves over particularly problem-prone situations. Nowadays protection is standard for every bed we p...

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Ask Mr. and Mrs. Homegrown

The yodeling around here is non-stop. Photo by Elon Shoenholz Hey Kids! We thought it would be fun to find out what’s on your mind. If you’ve got a question you’d like some advice on, this the place to ask. We’re best at answering questions about things like chickens, gardening, pickling and fixing bicycles. We’re not so great with questions regarding physics, Sanskrit translations or intellectual property...

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Saturday Linkages: The Calm After the Storm

Got a storm damaged tree? See Trees Are Good for advice. DIY Build-It-Solar Blog: A Unique DIY Solar Pool Heating Collector Using PV… http://www. builditsolarblog.com/2012/10/a-uniq ue-diy-solar-pool-heating.html?spref=tw  … Build-It-Solar Blog: Large DIY Solar Space and Water Heating System in … http://www. builditsolarblog.com/2012/10/large- diy-solar-space-and-water-heating.html?spref=tw  … Primitive Skills Roland T...

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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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Country Wisdom

Thanks to a tip from the Soapboxers, SurviveLA augmented our homesteading library with a copy of the extremely useful book, Country Wisdom & Know-How by the editors of Storey Books. Country Wisdom is a compendium of tips culled from the Country Wisdom Bulletin published in the 1970s and oriented to the “back to the land” movement of that time. While geared to country living there is plenty in here for city dwellers such as ourse...

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