Animal Tracking

A track trap we laid to capture chipmunk tracks. We got some mice, too. No one wanted our peanuts–the chipmunk actually hopped over them. These critters had an advanced palette, preferring locally sourced pine nuts from the pinon pines. Photo courtesy of one of my classmates, Kurt Thompson.  Mrs. Homegrown here: I just returned from an amazing five-day sojourn in the mountains, at the Windy Springs Preserve, in which I learned the...

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U-Dig-It Folding Shovel

I came across this nice little folding hand shovel called the “U-Dig-it” at a surplus store. It measures 5 3/4 inches when folded and weighs six ounces with the convenient belt holster. I used it this morning to transplant some okra seedlings and I can also see taking this tool camping. I dig the U-Dig-It design, and I already prefer it to the hand shovel that got buried in the yard somewhere a few months ago. I can see this tool b...

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Eat Your Pests

Grubs anyone? Responding to our anti-squirrel post a few days ago Root Simple reader Chile pointed to a post on the her blog “Pests . . . and how to eat them“. She makes the excellent point that most of our dreaded garden pests, including insects are edible. Now if I could only overcome my squeamishness about eating insects. I had to deal with lots of wax moth larvae this week and remembered that in parts of Asia they are s...

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4 Vermicomposting Tips

Ecological landscape designer Darren Butler has been teaching a series of classes at the Root Simple compound this month (I think there may be a few open slots in his Intermediate Organic Gardening class if you’re interested. Click here for details). Darren dropped a few vermicomposting tips during the beginning class that we thought we’d share: 1) Worms don’t like empty space in their bin. They dislike voids. They appreciate...

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Urine as a Fertilizer

How do I spend my Saturday mornings you ask? Answer: scanning the peer reviewed literature for articles about using human urine as a nitrogen source in the garden, i.e. taking a leak in the watering can. As we’re currently hosting some excellent classes at our house taught by Darren Butler, a big proponent of what he calls “pee-pee-ponics,” I thought I’d take a look at the science of urine use. Urine offers a free and re...

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The Practical Beekeeper by Michael Bush

“There are a few rules of thumb that are useful guides. One is that when you are confronted with some problem in the apiary and you do not know what to do, then do nothing. Matters are seldom made worse by doing nothing and are often made much worse by inept intervention.”-Richard Taylor Michael Bush, in his new book on natural beekeeping, The Practical Beekeeper Beekeeping Naturally, begins with Taylor’s quote, which could just as eas...

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All Politics Are Local

I thought it appropriate on election day to repeat one of my favorite equations for happiness–a stoic flowchart that comes via Mark Fraenfelder of BoingBoing.  At the end of the day, about half of America will be happy, and half will be dismayed. All we can do is remember that beyond voting, we cannot control the outcome of the election. So a stoic would advise us to not to rail against what we cannot change or affect, but to focus on wha...

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Basil all winter long

Mrs. Homegrown here: Basil is a summer plant. When the nights get cold, basil turns unhappy. It yellows and loses flavor. Here in LA that doesn’t happen until quite late in the year. Erik just pulled out our summer basil a couple of days ago to make room for winter plants. I’m replacing it–in a culinary sense–with Italian parsley, which loves cool weather, but hates the heat. It seems our gardening year swings between...

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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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