Qualitites of a Good Outdoor Room

Our front porch. One of the features of gardens that I like is that they tend to be divided into smaller spaces, what has come to be called outdoor rooms. The Ecology Center, that we visited on Saturday, is a nice example of how to arrange a large space into many smaller ones. Just like the Huntington Ranch, the Ecology Center is subdivided into distinct spaces that host school visits and classes. Well designed residential gardens, like...

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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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See You At Maker Faire!

Erik says: A reminder that I’ll be speaking at the Bay Area Maker Faire tomorrow, 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. Hope to see you there! For more information about Maker Faire go to http://makerfaire.com/....

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The World’s First Lamp

Erik’s link to the orange lamp on Saturday reminded me to post this. This is Project #1 in Making It, and we often open our lectures by building one of these, but I realize I’ve never talked about oil lamps here on the blog. Forgive the somewhat atmospheric photo. What you’re looking at is the simplest thing in the world: an oyster shell filled with olive oil and balanced in a small dish of sand. Three pieces of cotton stri...

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California Agriculture Journal Online

The University of California has put 63 years worth of its journal California Agriculture online for convenient downloading at californiaagriculture.ucanr.org. There’s plenty of detailed (peer reviewed!) nuggets for the home gardener between the pages of this scientific journal. Make sure to check out the article and video of UC Berkeley entomologist Gordon Frankie explaining what kinds of plants are best for attracting bees in your urban...

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The Homegrown Mailbox: How and Where Do I Get My Soil Tested?

...ers or stick to ornamentals. You could also try bioremediation: each season plant a cover crop, let it grow, and then pull it up and dispose of it. Test the soil until it comes out clean. This works well, but it can take many years to get all the contaminants out. For those of you in Los Angeles, our local Extension Service agent Yvonne Savio kindly sent me the following list of labs with comments. Biological Urban Gardening ServicePO Box 76Citru...

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The High Cost of Golf

...t. Instictively, we ducked thinking that someone was shooting at us. Though my heart was racing, I soon realized the culprit: a errent golf ball sent hurdling over the fence by some anonymous, impossible to trace Tiger Woods wannabe. We circled back to the club house to file a report with the manager of the course and begin the long tedious process of settling the insurance claims. So what does this have to do with urban homesteading? A lot. It...

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Problems Part I

The road to urban homesteading ain’t smooth and involves more than a few potholes along the way. Some of those potholes will swallow a bike tire while others are big enough for a Hummer. But with persistence it becomes easier to deal with the occasional bump, lessons can be learned and future mistakes avoided. With the popularity of our earlier blunders post, I’d like to begin regularly sharing problems as they develop. Here’s...

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Row Cover as an Insect Barrier

...;t pretty but it works. As one would expect, cabbage leaf worms love cabbage and nearly every other member of the brassica species.  Which  is why I’ve become a real fan of row cover material as an insect barrier. The perp in question. It rarely freezes here so I use the thinnest row cover possible, specifically a product called Agribon-15. If you live in a cooler climate and want to use row cover for frost protection you would...

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A New and Improved Self Irrigating Pot System

A very cool improvement on the self irrigating pot (SIP) idea from Larry Hall of Minnesota. Rather than the two bucket system we’ve blogged about in the past (see a roundup of our SIP resources here), Hall uses one long rain gutter to supply water. He’s even got a clever double rain gutter system for growing strawberries that I’m tempted to try on our back patio. I spotted this video on Inside Urban Green always a good sourc...

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