Flowers from Vegetables

...un to show them a carrot flower, a squash blossom, a bean flower. My new favorite garden flower comes off an old Italian chicory plant left to go riot. I’m not sure which chicory it is, but it’s one of those  long-leaved, bitter greens beloved in Italy and sold by Franchi seeds. It’s easy to grow, pest proof, and we like the strong, bitter flavor. The flowers, though, are amazing. The greens send up narrow stalks 8′ tall o...

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A viewing suggestion from the media arm of Root Simple

...17;m typing on to communicate with the outside world, to the electric light burning beside me. Bless the BBC for making Tudor Monastery Farm (a title which I believe would not fly on American television). This is a quiet series showing three historians/archeologists at play in the Weald & Downland Open Air History Museum, trying out some of the skills they’d need to be tenant farmers to the local monastery. It has some of the structure...

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What laundry detergent should I use for greywater applications?

...cause salt burn on tree leaves. (This appears as leaves with browning tips, as if they’ve been sunburned.) It’s worth adding that the drier your climate, the saltier the soil, because there is not enough rain to help percolate it away–so if you live in a dry climate it’s even more important to be careful with salts. Homemade detergents–the ones based on soap and washing soda–are also not an option, again becaus...

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Growing Food in a Hotter, Drier Land

...ces, like Los Angeles. He points to recent droughts in places which usually receive generous rainfall. Right now it seems as if this tendency toward drought is occurring on a global scale and will worsen in coming years. Unfortunately, conventional, large scale agriculture is not only adding to the problem, it will also not be able to deal with the changes in the making. It is ill-suited to chaotic weather. In sum, if we don’t start growing...

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Connect with Nature Project #2: Rediscover Your Feet

...oes opened wide, taking on a permanent, natural splay. My foot size also increased by an inconvenient half size, making it newly difficult to find shoes which fit. Next came barefoot walking. As has been oft mentioned in this blog, Erik is a barefoot runner. I don’t run, but I am a barefoot walker. Barefoot walking woke me to a world of forgotten sensations: the warm softness of asphalt, the fresh coolness of a sprinkler soaked sidewalk, th...

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Homestead Academy: A Two Day Course in Kitchen Self-Reliance

I’ll be doing a keynote speech at the end of an intensive weekend of classes in bread baking, vinegar brewing, yogurt making and more. The event, which will take place on July 6th and 7th is presented by Growcology and the Emerald Village and will take place in Vista, CA. This weekend intensive is designed to catapult you into a life of self-reliance through homesteading. Join Growcology and the Emerald Village Voluntee...

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Maintaining a Worm Bin

...terly starve, you’re going to be okay. Our worm bin is pretty big (5 feet long), and made of pine boards.  It bears an unfortunate resemblance to a coffin, but it works wonderfully. I used plastic storage totes for my worm bins before we built this, and while those worked fine, I really like my big bin for two main reasons. The first is the size. It can take whatever I throw at it. It takes all my kitchen scraps, except for the really choic...

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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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Looking for Chicken Coop Plans

Our chicken run–designed by John Zapf. I got a note from Tricia Cornell, who is putting together a chicken coop plan book. There is a real need for this, so if you have a coop, consider sharing your design: Hi! I’m a chicken owner in Minneapolis. I was wondering if you could help me spread the word. I’m looking for smart, good-looking chicken coops to feature in an upcoming book. If you’re proud of you...

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We heal together

...spirit of a meeting, that unique energy that arises when a group of people come together to eat, work, or talk. It is almost a thing in itself, if you see what I mean. It rises out of certain combinations of people coming together for a specific purpose. Surely you’ve felt it, at that amazing dinner party you still think about, or perhaps you’ve experienced it in some sort of club, or with a group of friends. Root Simple has always h...

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