The Barrier Method

...keeps out critters, but also blocks many insects, particularly the cabbage worms that harass our brassica crops. It’s not pretty, but it keeps the plants pretty within. Heavier gauges of row covering can be used to ward off frost, or help jump start plants in cold weather. Our chickens have a very secure coop. Connected to it is some extra play space, bounded by picket fence. This doesn’t protect the chickens from much, but...

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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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Another Panel Solar Cooker

Poyourow demoing her solar cooker design There’s no one size fits all solution when it comes to the world of solar panel cookers. All have their advantages and disadvantages. I got an email from author Joanne Poyourow, leader of the amazing Los Angeles Environmental Change Makers, with a simple and effective design she came up with. Pouyourow’s cooker comes together much faster than the CooKit design that I blogged about earlier th...

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Three Events Coming Up: Ciclovia, Huntington Plant Sale and Homegrown

This Sunday October 10th from 10 am to 3 pm, Los Angeles will host a bike/pedestrian festival “Ciclavia,” modeled on similar street festivals that originated in Bogata, Columbia. It’s a seven mile route from the Bicycle Kitchen to Boyle Heights with streets fully open to human powered transit (seems like a better way to put it than “closed to cars”). I’ll be there along with Homegrown Neighbor and Mrs. Homegr...

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All is Fire

...and the fragments of Heraclitus are what I point people to when they ask, “so why do you do these things, gardening, pickling, brewing etc.” Invoking these stoic philosophers both ancient and modern is along winded and perhaps pretentious way of saying that I believe, along with Taleb, that the “highly improbable” is more probable than we think and that it’s best to do the things within our power to do and not worry...

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Self Irrigating Pot Patent from 1917

...iners that have a built-in reservoir of water at the bottom. They work well for growing vegetables on patios and rooftops. You can make your own or purchase one from several manufacturers. I had thought that Blake Whisenant, a Florida tomato grower and Earthbox company founder, had invented the SIP in the 1990s, but it turns out that the idea came much earlier. Reader Avi Solomon, sent me a surprising link to a patent for a SIP, dated 1917, by a...

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Plantago coronopus, a.k.a. Buckhorn Plantain, a.k.a. Erba Stella

...bles, Buckhorn plantain (Plantago coronopus) also known as Erba Stella and Barba di frate (friar’s beard). It’s a mild, ever so slightly bitter green I found delicious boiled and sauteed with garlic and olive oil. The Silver Spoon suggests cooking it with either pancetta or anchovies. As for growing Plantago coronopus, let me put it this way, if you can’t grow it consider giving up gardening. I left some in my seedling flat and...

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Made By Hand

...g in a Throwaway World that chronicles his quest to do the kinds of activities we cover on this blog: vegetable gardening, keeping chickens, fermentation, beekeeping and more. While Made by Hand is not a how-to book it is, paradoxically, the most practical DIY book I’ve read in a long time. Why? Because it’s all about facing that fear of failure, the single greatest obstacle to actually getting out there and doing things. In the book...

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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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How to Stake Tomatoes

...m with rolled up concrete reinforcing wire. Normally used to reinforce concrete slabs, reinforcing 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 b...

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