Vertical Garden Success!

Regular readers of the blog know that we’re dubious about vertical gardening, but this is a vertical garden we can really get behind. Here, a cherry tomato is growing out of a crack in a retaining wall in our neighbor’s yard. (It’s just off our front stairs, and is almost certainly an offspring of one of our tomatoes) It is thriving with no water whatsoever. You can’t see them in this picture, but there’s tons of f...

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Homemade Cat Toys

...hing else. And I don’t mean genuine novelty–they don’t need newer and stranger toys all the time. Rather, individual toys seem to get stale for them. A fresh paper bag is thrilling, but by the end of the day it’s old news. However, if you put another paper bag down, even the exact same kind of bag, the thrills will start all over again. If you try to fulfill their whims by buying them new toys all the time, soon your pocke...

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Tomato Report: Blush

I think I’ve tasted my new favorite tomato variety: Blush. I got to tuck into a box of these delicious tomatoes at the farm of Shu and Debbie Takikawa near Los Olivos. Yellow with red streaks, Blush tomatoes have the perfect balance of sweetness and acidity. The blush tomato was developed by geneticist and tomato geek Fred Hempel and are available via Seeds of Change. Due to a series of gardening blunders that I’ll blog about at s...

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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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Lucius Annaeus Seneca on Living Within Limits

Writing in the 1st century AD, Seneca makes a good case for common sense limits: Is it not living unnaturally to hanker after roses during the winter, and to force lilies in midwinter by taking the requisite steps to change their environment and keeping up the temperature with hot water heating? Is it not living unnaturally to plant orchards on top of towers, or to have a forest of trees waving in the wind on the roofs and ridges of one’s...

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In Chaos Order, In Order Chaos

Periodically Mrs. Homegrown and I teach vegetable gardening classes. For the students, I’ve been looking for a way to illustrate nature’s complex, non-linear dynamics that, paradoxically, seem ordered. I stumbled across this cool sculpture that neatly summarizes the idea of “in chaos order, in order chaos.” Imagine each of the hammers standing in for one of the systems in your garden, insect life, nutrients, microbes, f...

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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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A Question About Gophers

er wire as an underground barrier. We even mentioned this in our first book. The main problem I have with this advice is that the galvanized metal used for hardware cloth and gopher wire leaches significant amounts of zinc as it breaks down. Zinc, in high quantities, is toxic to plants. And, when using cages for trees, I’d worry that the cages would not break down soon enough, causing the roots to circle. Plastic, I’m fairly certain,...

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Saturday Linkages: From Plastic Bottle Kayaks to Canine Staircases

...y-pet-treat-testi#.UDa6kfTHEpw.twitter  …       Gardening Letting Things Go in the Garden (on purpose) http:// shar.es/77QaJ   Community  A vivid account of life in The Late Suburban Age: http://www. nfb.ca/film/radiant_c ity/  … RT @theurbanologist: Tourists & Angelenos alike will find this 1907 map of streetcar routes in LA most helpful: http:// ow.ly/dbzO0 For these links and more, follow Root Simple on Twitter:  Follow @rootsimple...

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Poultry Houses of the Ultra Wealthy: Part 2

Are $100,000 chicken coops a sign of an empire on the verge of a decadent downward spiral? If so it’s time to get that bug-out location ready because Neiman Marcus publicity flacks just announced a $100,000 “Heritage Hen Mini-Farm.” From the description on their website: Dawn breaks. The hens descend from their bespoke Versailles-inspired Le Petit Trianon house to their playground below for a morning wing stretch. Slipping on...

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