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

Cruise down the produce isle of a supermarket in the United States and you’ll only find highly domesticated foods. Thumb through the pages of the Silver Spoon (the Joy of Cooking of Italian Cuisine) and you’ll discover entire chapters devoted to the use of wild or semi-wild plants. This summer I grew one of these semi-cultivated Italian vegetables, Buckhorn plantain (Plantago coronopus) also known as Erba Stella and Barba di frat...

Continue reading…

Pot o’ Goodness: Low, Low-Tech Water Conservation

Mrs. Homegrown here: Continuing on the greywater theme, on big cooking days, when I’m doing a lot of boiling, steaming, soaking and rinsing, I collect all that used water in a big pot and take it out to the garden to water the plants. It’s full of nutrients, and won’t cause any blackwater* problems as long as you: Use it immediately. It will turn foul if left to sit too long. Pour it straight into the soil–don’t s...

Continue reading…

Bean Fest Begins!

Photograph by Luisfi Mrs. Homegrown here: I’ve never figured out why sometimes the body craves junk food (e.g. salt and pepper ruffle chips dipped in sour cream with a side of home baked brownies) and other times it craves good food. But fortunately for my system, I’m craving good food now. I dream about fresh cooked beans, succulent greens and garlic laden pickles. The image above makes me salivate. Yet…dried beans are also...

Continue reading…

Bean Fest, Episode 4: Frijoles Refritos

Refritos are not photogenic, so I decided to show the more tempting end use. Photo by Ernesto Andrade. Mrs. Homegrown here: I can’t believe I’ve never made frijoles refritos--refried beans–before. All these years of scooping that suspicious stuff out of the can–what was I thinking??? Now I see refritos as the natural destiny of any leftover beans. Refried beans (that name is a mistranslation–refrito me...

Continue reading…

Advances in Gardening Series: A Progress Report

Yes, you’ve seen this before. But Erik looks so bad ass with his sledgehammer, I just had to put it up again. Some of you may remember that back in November we ripped out most of our back yard, redesigning the layout to maximize our growing space, and accommodate interests we have now that we didn’t have when we put in the original plantings. We’ve learned from this experience that you should never be afraid to change...

Continue reading…

Rooftop SIP Garden in LA

Got to visit John Zapf’s vertiginous LA compound yesterday. He’s got an amazing rooftop vegetable garden using self irrigating pots. John has little sun in the yard so the roof is only option for veggies. He uses drip line to refill the reservoirs. Reminds me of the Green Roof Growers of Chicago (minus the extreme weather). His two cents on what to grow: chard good, zucchini good, corn in pots not so good. For more info on self ir...

Continue reading…

Making Salves, Lip Balms & etc.: Close of the Calendula Series

My calendula after-bath salve. The camera refuses to capture the deep butter yellow color On Saturday, as a part of this long series on Calendula (here, here and here), I posted about infusing oil with herbs. If you’ve got some herb infused oil, you can make that into a medicinal salve or balm. Salve is nothing but oil thickened by the addition of wax. I prefer beeswax salves, though there are vegan alternatives, like candelil...

Continue reading…

Clean your bathroom without resorting to Poison

We talk about non-toxic housecleaning in almost every lecture we do, and we cover it in both books, but I can’t remember if we’ve talked about cleaning the bathroom on this blog. We did cover how to clean kitchen sink fairly recently, but I’m not sure what else we’ve done.  Of course, I know my regular Root Simple readers are so hardcore they could give me tips in this area, but I thought it would be good to cover non-to...

Continue reading…

Plum Lemon Tomato Power’s Heirloom Tomato

Congressional hearings today revealed that the FDA inspects fewer than 1% of food imports, yet another reason among many to grow your own food. While we have a less than lush vegetable garden this summer, we do have a decent crop of tomatoes thanks to a trip out to Encino a few months ago for Tomato Mania the Lollapalooza of tomato seedling sales. Unfortunately, to add to the ignominy of our white trash gardening efforts, we somehow mislaid the...

Continue reading…

What Mountaineering Accidents Can Teach Us About Food Preservation

Would you eat pickles made by these two? Each year the American Alpine Club publishes a book detailing all the mountaineering accidents in North America. The club’s goal is simple, as they put it, “to help you learn from the mistakes of others.” I’ve often thought that the same approach should be applied to many of the activities we love in the homesteading movement, especially food preservation. Now, I think t...

Continue reading…