Eating In: The Biosphere Cookbook

This has to be one of the strangest cookbooks ever published, Eating in: From the Field to the Kitchen in Biosphere 2. Author Sally Silverstone was the food systems manager during the much hyped and ultimately disastrous Biosphere “mission” that began in 1991. Without falling down the rabbit hole of discussing what went wrong and why the Biosphere project became fodder for a Pauly Shore movie, I’d just point out the hubris o...

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Qualitites of a Good Outdoor Room

Our front porch. One of the features of gardens that I like is that they tend to be divided into smaller spaces, what has come to be called outdoor rooms. The Ecology Center, that we visited on Saturday, is a nice example of how to arrange a large space into many smaller ones. Just like the Huntington Ranch, the Ecology Center is subdivided into distinct spaces that host school visits and classes. Well designed residential gardens, like...

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Don’t be so quick to clean up

A lot of magic happens in the “dead” parts of a garden. Flowers gone to seed feed birds. Dead stalks support important insect life–from spiders to pollinators. Fallen leaves and sticks give habitat to lizards and toads and mushrooms and myriads of invisible creatures. Yet dead growth is not attractive to the human eye, and around about this time of year we’re all itching to make a clean sweep of all that brown stuff. I...

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California Homemade Food Act Signed Into Law!

Soon to be legal to sell. A bit late to report this, but AB 1616, the California Homemade Food Act was signed into law by Governor Brown last week. The bill will allow Californians to produce “non-hazardous foods,” such as such as jams, jellies, bread and honey, in a home kitchen and sell them. The bill takes effect in January. There is still, however, a lot of work to be done to figure out exactly how local health departme...

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Poultry Houses of the Ultra Wealthy: Part 2

Are $100,000 chicken coops a sign of an empire on the verge of a decadent downward spiral? If so it’s time to get that bug-out location ready because Neiman Marcus publicity flacks just announced a $100,000 “Heritage Hen Mini-Farm.” From the description on their website: Dawn breaks. The hens descend from their bespoke Versailles-inspired Le Petit Trianon house to their playground below for a morning wing stretch. Slipping on...

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Homesteading Disasters: The Skunk Menace

Franky, I think our mistakes are more interesting and educational than the high-horse blog posts we typically churn out. I’m hoping, in fact, to collect our misadventures into a little booklet of homesteading disasters. To that end, I’ll periodically write about the latest problem around the Root Simple Compound starting today with how fun it is to garden with skunks. Angry red arrows mark skunk dig sites in our new keyhole be...

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What Are Your Favorite Compost Materials?

Root Simple’s new composting game for your Xbox! I wish I could source compost pile materials from our yard. But lead and zinc contamination in our soil make that a dodgy proposition without doing a lot of expensive lab tests. And I never seem to have enough materials even for our modest vegetable garden. So in the past I’ve used: horse bedding chicken manure from our own chickens alfalfa hay (kinda spendy these days) str...

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Fewer Linkages Today But More To Come

Not the usual link dump today since I was away all week at the National Heirloom Exposition in Santa Rosa. I camped, so the only tweeting I heard came from actual birds.  I’ll blog about the many talks I went to this week, but until that time, here’s some info from two of the speakers I heard at the conference. A very different take on bees: www.gaiabees.com From Sonoma Compost, information on: How to compost: http://www.sonomacomp...

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Barefoot Running With Ken Bob Saxton

Kelly discovered a barefoot running website, barefootrunning.com. many years ago. When she showed it to me I thought the idea was crazy. Then I had a series of running related injuries: plantar fasciitis, and arthritis in the knee. In desperation (I’m addicted to running) I gave going barefoot a try. The plantar fasciitis went away. Knee pain was greatly, but not entirely, reduced. Old habits are hard to give up. When you spend your who...

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