Lead Update

...eek I thought I’d do a series of posts about soil and heavy metals beginning with a few more details about the possible lead contamination situation in our backyard. Two weeks ago Darren Butler, who is teaching a vegetable gardening series at our house, led a class project where we took four samples from different locations in the backyard, mixed them together and sent them off to Wallace Laboratories, a local soil testing lab with an inter...

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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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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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Saturday Linkages: Makers, Haters and Beekeeping Donkeys

...utos-80 times more Efficient http://www.lowtechmagazine.com/2012/10/electric-velomobiles.html … Haters Shopspin: The Hater’s Guide To The Williams-Sonoma Catalog – http://deadspin.com/5959212/the-haters-guide-to-the-williams+sonoma-catalog … Hand-crank mills with which to grind one’s own flour ($675.95) are the new artisanal mayonnaise: http://boingboing.net/2012/11/09/hand-crank-mills-with-which-to.html … From the be careful wh...

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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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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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Self Irrigating Pot Patent from 1917

...s SIP closely resembles the Earthbox and SIPs I have built out of five gallon buckets and plastic storage bins. The interwebs reveal only one detail about Burleigh, that he owned a house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. From this one factoid I infer that he had money and a progressive inclination. The SIP idea took another eighty years to finally catch on. For more SIP information: Read our many posts on SIPs And visit our SIP gardening friends,...

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What To Do With Old Vegetable Seeds

In short, throw them around. We’ve got a lot of expired seed packages sitting in a shoe box. And I’ve been reading a newly published translation of a book by the late, “natural farmer” Masanobu Fukuoka (review coming soon). Fukuoka inspired me to distribute those old seeds around our micro-orchard to see what comes up. Fukuoka has some tips in his book The Natural Way of Farming for creating a semi-wil...

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Mallow (Malva parviflora) an Edible Friend

...use the leaves as a substitute for grape leaves for making dolmas. Modern Mexicans also make a green sauce with the leaves. If any of you readers have recipes, please send them along. If that ain’t enough, the mucilaginous nature of the plant can be exploited by making a decoction of the leaves and roots to use as a shampoo, hair softener, and treatment for dandruff. And yet, like so many other gardening books, the oh-so-bourgeois Sunset Garden...

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