Are We Keeping Too Many Bees?

Image: Jonalthunder Someday I’ll get around to writing a fill in the blanks form for journalists doing the inevitable urban homesteading backlash story. You know, “Folks are tired of all the chores and are dumping their [chickens/vegetables/bees] and returning to a life of [shopping/golfing/riding jet skis].” This month’s backlash story concerns urban beekeeping in London. Reader Cassandra Silver (who h...

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Journal of the New Alchemists

“Six-Pack” Backyard Solar Greenhouse, 1975. Image: Journal of the New Alchemy. After reading an article by Paul Ehrlich, “Eco-Catastrophe!,” Nancy Todd turned to her husband John and said, “We must do something.” The year was 1969 and the Todds along with Bill McLarney went on to found the New Alchemy Institute. History repeats itself. What the New Alchemists did, in response to the 1970s er...

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Saturday Linkages: A Close Shave, Building Codes and Protected Bike Lanes

Image: Garden Professor’s Blog. Should you shave tree roots? http://blogs.extension.org/gardenprofessors/2014/06/02/another-close-shave/ … Building Codes and the Self Built Mortgage Free Home http://wp.me/p4fosC-fx  Can These $20,000 Houses Save the American Dream http://tinyurl.com/o8vp8a8 Nancy Luce and her chickens: http://poultrybookstore.blogspot.com/2014/06/nancy-luce-and-her-chickens.html … Protected Bike Lanes Ma...

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Fashion on the Homestead

It’s about time I addressed, on this home economics/DIY/gardening blog, the importance of the way we dress. I’ve been bothered of late by my rumpled appearance. Like most Americans I wear in public what in an earlier era would have been considered pajamas. And I’m approaching fifty. The people I’ve met who have aged gracefully generally seem to dress well though not ostentatiously. Knowing what to wear...

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010 Erica Strauss of Northwest Edible Life

In episode 10 of the Root Simple Podcast, Kelly and I have a conversation with Erica Strauss, professional chef turned gardener and self described urban homesteading fanatic. Her voluminous and amazing blog Northwest Edible Life offers practical advice on a wide variety of topics: food preservation, gardening, keeping livestock in urban spaces, kitchen tips and home economic hacks. Some of the many topics we touch on in the...

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Josey Baker Bread: One Bread Book to Rule Them All

I’ve been teaching bread baking for a few years now through both the Institute of Domestic Technology and the Los Angeles Bread Bakers. When students ask what book they should get I have to hold up half a dozen. Not any more. Now I can send students to just one book: Josey Baker Bread. The appropriately named Josey Baker (who used to work with another baker named Dave Miller–who mills his own flour, naturally) has...

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How Much Can You Carry on a Bicycle?

How I transported the 8-foot poles for our new trellis. We’re overdue for an update on our car-free Los Angeles lifestyle experiment, but one thing that has made it possible is the cargo bike I’ve had since 2006, the Xtracycle. Xtracycle pioneered the “longtail” bike, essentially a bike stretched out in order to accommodate large panier bags. My Xtracycle was an add-on to an existing mountain bike. Xtra...

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As Above, So Below

Inspired by the response to my post on the need to keep our gardens dark, I decided to reclaim my childhood telescope from my mom’s garage and get it working again. It occurred to me that I haven’t looked up at the night sky in a long time. What a shame. This past week I’ve been thinking about how important it is to look up at the stars–just as important, I think, as staying in touch with the plants, i...

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Anagallis monellii : A New Favorite

Last fall we planted Anagallis monellii “Blue Pimpernel” in a bed of mixed flowers and herbs. This plant is neither edible or medicinal, but we hoped the bees would like its many blue flowers. Anagallis monellii is a Mediterranean native, so it is well suited to the California climate, and it follows that it does not need much water. It is perennial in zones 9 to 11 (that’s us), but can be grown as an annual...

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How to Deal with Extremely Root Bound Plants

First off, don’t buy root bound plants. It’s just a bad business, trouble and tears. In general, you should always try to buy the youngest plants you can find. They are healthier than plants which have spent more time in a pot, and will quickly grow to match the size of older, more expensive–and more likely than not–root bound plants. How do you know if the plant is root bound? Look at the bottom of th...

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