Direct Seeding vs. Transplants

How I used to plant my veggies. An 8 inch spacing guide and some seedlings back in 2009. To direct sow or transplant, that is the question. I’m as indecisive as Hamlet when it comes to this question. Some caveats here: we live in a warm climate where you can direct sow almost anything unless you want to get an early start on tomatoes and peppers. And we don’t have to start seedlings indoors. Another thing to note–I fell under...

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Maintaining a Worm Bin

This image might represent a new low in aesthetics from the Root Simple Photo Department. And that’s saying something. I freshened up our big worm bin today and I thought I’d report on what I did because I get a lot of questions about worm bin maintenance. First, I want to say this is just how I go about it. Other people will have different methods and habits. Worms are forgiving and reasonably adaptable, so you have a whole lot of l...

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Flowers from Vegetables

Whenever possible I let vegetables go to flower, sometimes to save the seed, but more often to share the bounty with insects and birds. The usefulness comes in two waves: the first being the pollinators attracted to the flowers, and once the flowers go to seed the birds will move in. Of course this means that I’m “wasting space” and making my garden “unproductive” but the rewards outweigh any inconvenience. New gar...

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How to Bake a Traditional German Rye Bread

In the interest of health, I’ve focused my bread baking obsession of late on 100% or near 100% whole rye sourdough loaves. I’ve used as my guide a nicely illustrated book How to Make Bread by Emmanuel Hadjiandreou. His specialty is just the sort of rustic German style breads I’ve always wanted to learn to bake. What I love in particular about his caraway rye sourdough loaf (pictured above) is the crust. Unlike most other bread...

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The Best Raw Flax Cracker Recipe

I have to admit to not being a huge fan of the raw food movement. Now I think we should all eat some raw food, but many nutrients are accessible only through cooking. That being said, I like a few recipes that came out of the raw craze, especially flax crackers. My favorite flax cracker recipe is the onion cracker bread you can find here. This easy to make recipe requires no pre-soaking or sprouting.  All you do is mix the ingredients (onions,...

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The tale of the worm bin celery

This is related to my recent post about our flowering radish. It’s a tale of botanic dumpster diving and another reason why you should let your food plants go to flower when you can. Last year I threw the crown (which is to say, the bottom) of a celery plant in my worm bin. I probably should have chopped it up for the worms’ sake, but I didn’t. Later, sometime in the fall,  I rediscovered the celery crown. Instead of rotting...

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How To Manage a Compost Pile Using Temperature

I’ve always been confused about when to turn a compost pile. Some people suggest lots of turning while others don’t turn at all. I built a pile in December using a technique I learned from Will Bakx, soil scientist and operations manager of Sonoma Compost. Bakx recommends keeping the pile between 131° F (55° C) and 163°F (72°C) for a period of 15 days. The only time you turn is when the pile starts to dip below 131° F or to prevent...

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Edible and Tasty Arugula Flowers

Our winter vegetable garden is just about finished. This week I’m going to tear out most of it and plant tomatoes and a few other summer veggies. I may keep some of the arugula that has gone to flower a little longer. Why? arugula flower taste great in salads bees love them arugula self seeds readily The flowers, which taste like the leaves, are a reminder of my favorite time of year: arugula season. Each year I curse myself for not pla...

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Beans 101 (Return of Bean Friday!)

Simple is good. As a follow up to the “Dollar Supper” post,  this post is about is the simple act of making a pot of beans. I make beans about once a week, the goal being to always have beans in the fridge. For us, they’re an essential staple. (Readers new to Root Simple should note that we’ve done a lot of posts about beans, and have gathered favorite bean recipes from our readers. So if you’re looking for recipes,...

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Saturday Linkages: Poison, Pee and Plagiarism

Birdhouse shaped like a Google Map icon. Via Dornob. For the birds Avian Accommodations: Google Map Pin-Shaped Birdhouses | Designs & Ideas on Dornob http://dornob.com/avian-accommodations-google-map-pin-shaped-birdhouses/ … Thar she blows . . . Here’s to No-Blow Gardens | Garden Rant http://gardenrant.com/2013/03/heres-to-no-blow-gardens.html … DIY Pure Salvage: 10 Eclectic Tiny Homes Built with 99% Scrap | Designs & Ideas on Dornob...

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