Straw Bale Garden: What I Learned

Straw bale garden–April on the left, November on the right. The straw bale garden I started this spring has been one of the most successful vegetable gardens I’ve ever planted. In fact it’s still producing well into November. Here’s what I learned from the experiment: Plants that suck up a lot of nitrogen, like squash, do well in a straw bale garden. My tomatoes flourished but, due to the high nitrogen, made more leaves...

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Straw Bale Garden Part V: Growing Vegetables

It’s too early to call my straw bale garden a success but, so far, the vegetables I planted in the bales are growing. I got a late start on planting–I put in the tomatoes, squash and basil in mid May/Early June–just in time for the cloudy, cool weather we have here in early summer. Check out the difference between the tomato I planted in a bale on the left, compared with a tomato in one of my raised beds. The tomato in the ba...

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How To Stop Powdery Mildew

My winter squash has what Mud Baron once described as “jock itch for plants:” powdery mildew. I’ve tried all kinds of notions and potions in the past, but this year I decided to see what the science says about powdery mildew. Our climate where I live in Los Angeles is, unfortunately, ideal for producing this vexing fungus. IPM Let’s begin with some condensed advice from UC Davis’ Integrated Pest Management page: P...

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Root Simple Video Podcast Episode 4: Straw Bale Garden Tour

In the forth episode of the Root Simple Video Podcast we take a tour of our straw bale garden as it appears this week. The vegetables varieties you see growing are Tromboncino squash, Lunga di Napoli squash (growing up into a native bush), Matt’s Wild Cherry tomato, Celebrity tomato, eggplant and Swiss chard. And just to take down my smugness a notch I also included a shot of an unsuccessful cucumber plant. Other than the cucumber, thoug...

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Cornmeal Zucchini Pancakes

...t suit for breakfast, brunch, or even dinner. I imagine if you made them without the onions they could be served sweet, with syrup or jam, as a veggie-infused breakfast pancake.  Note: She calls for yellow zucchini or summer squash, but we used green zucchini. Cornmeal Zucchini Pancakes 1 1/4 cup cornmeal 3/4 cup all purpose flour 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder 1 tablespoon of sugar 3/4 teaspoon salt 1 egg 1 cup of milk 2 tablespoons of veget...

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Noodler’s Ink Reusable Fountain Pen

Julia just wrote a post on Ramshackle Solid about our newest solution to the frustration of disposable pens: Noodler’s Ink and fountain pens. From the Noodler’s website: Why Noodler’s? “Noodler’s Ink” has the lowest cost per volume in stores that carry it and it’s 100% made in the USA from cap to glass to ink. The ink with the catfish on the label symbolizes a southern sport that attempts to equalize the struggle between man a...

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Harvesting and Drying Calendula

...rd are older than that. I think some herbs keep their properties longer than others, but in general you should try to use them in a year or so. Like spices, the are best fresh, but usable, if not as potent, as they age.  Label and date all your herbs. Even if you think you’ll never forget, somehow or another you will, and at some future find yourself standing at your cupboard, holding a jar full of strange plant matter and saying to yo...

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Grassfed Turkey Cooking Tips from Shannon Hayes

...ime to know what you are buying! “Pastured” is not necessarily the same as “free-range.” Some grass-based farmers use the word “free-range” to describe their pasture-raised birds, but any conventional factory farm can also label their birds “free-range” if they are not in individual cages, and if they have “access” to the outdoors – even if the “outdoors” happens to be feces-laden penned-in concrete pads outside the barn door, with no acce...

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Clean your bathroom without resorting to Poison

...dirt. Whatever I clean, however I clean it, will get dirty the next time it’s used, so why all the struggle and germ phobia? All cheap white vinegar is the same, but I like El Pato brand because of the duck on the label. Why doesn’t El Pato make t-shirts? The vinegar spray is great because it doesn’t leave any residue behind (which soap does), shines up things fairly well, disinfects to some extent because it is an acid...

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