Goat Worship: A Halloween Exclusive!

...earing his Altadena booster shirt. Altadena rocks! And Gloria is in her Backward Beekeepers sweatshirt, which is the fashion statement of choice in these parts. Why keep goats? Why operate a home dairy? Why should you keep goats? Well, for the milk, of course. And the cheese–which is milk’s higher purpose.  In an urban area (at least in this part of the world) it can be nigh near impossible to lay your hands on fresh, organic raw...

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Greywater Workshops in Los Angeles

...will cover: Ecological Sanitation – waterless toilets and urine harvesting – can save water, protect the environment, and create free fertilizer around the world. Learn the “how and why” of composting toilets and urine reuse, see projects from Mexico, China, Sweden, Zimbabwe, and the United States. Learn about options for homescale composting toilets from urban to rural applications, operation and maintenance needs, and co...

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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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The Art of Memory

...of the great features of a memory palace is that you can recall your list in any order by simply walking through the imaginary building you’re using. While I’ve got the basic concept of the art of memory I need to do some more practice. So far what I’ve found it most useful for is learning people’s names. And, as an urban homesteader, I always find myself learning new skills some of which require memorization. Now this wo...

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A Review of Williams-Sonoma’s Agrarian Line

Last week upscale retalier Williams-Sonoma announced an urban homesteady line of goods they call “Agrarian”. A number of Root Simple readers responded to the news after I linked to a Wall Street Journal article about the Agrarian line. One reader likened the “Agrarian” items to Marie Antoinette’s 18th century cosplay mini-farm. Another hoped that mainstream acceptance of things like chicken coops and beehives might...

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How To Design a Garden Step IV: Clues to Care

...of garden statuary. Particularly if your garden has a wild look or if you’re trying to grow vegetables in the front yard,  “clues to care” can go a long ways to keeping the neighbors happy. Dr. Susan J. Mulley, a landscape architecture professor at Cal Poly Pomona is doing some interesting research on how people react to alternative forms of landscaping such as native plants and urban vegetable gardens. She’s doing opinio...

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Al Pacino Closed My Bike Lane

It’s the classic urban cycling problem: when faced with the indignities of riding in a car-centric city like Los Angeles, do you make it all one big fun challenge or become what Bikesnob calls “the righteous cyclist?”  Righteous cyclists, according to Bikesnob, are “convinced that the very act of turning the pedals will actually restore acres and acres of rainforest, suck smog from the sky and refreeze the ice caps....

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How to Memorize Numbers

...memory system. Yesterday we introduced an ancient memory system that can be handy for learning all those new urban homesteading skills. Today I’ll briefly discuss a way to use a related mnemonic called the Major System for committing strings of numbers to memory. To use the Major System you first memorize a set of consonants that represent 0 through 9. From Wikipedia, here’s a table of the Major System consonants and a set of mn...

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Upcoming Classes: Edible Gardening and Vermicomposting

A reminder: we have two very talented speakers and educators coming to the Root Simple compound to teach a series of classes. Sign up soon–they are selling out fast. The first is Darren Butler teaching his Beginning Vegetable Gardening series, starting Oct. 4, and his Intermediate series starting Oct. 18th. The second is Nancy Klehm’s teaching an in-depth Vermicomposting class on October 23rd.  Details below: Consulting Arborist...

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Vermicomposting Class

...egrating the worm bin into the wider ecosystem of yard and house, such as: * How to combine vermicomposting and thermacomposting in stepped systems* How to integrate vermicomposting with a dry toilet or pet waste composting system* How to best use your castings in the garden* Tips for the apartment dweller* What to do with all those extra worms… And more! Nancy Klehm is a long-time urban forager and grower, ecological system designer, ar...

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