Neil deGrasse Tyson, GMOs and Risk Management

I can understand why Neil deGrasse Tyson made these off the cuff remarks about genetically modified organisms. There’s a lot of tin foil hat thinking on the anti-GMO side. But his comments also reveal that Tyson does not understand the difference between conventional plant breeding (something human beings have been up to for thousands of years) and GMOs. For me, the best argument against GMOs come from a risk-management perspective. Sta...

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Root Simple’s New CritterCam

...t kinds of birds are visiting the bird bath? Have my skunk proofing efforts worked? What’s the most active time in the night for mammalian activity? How many cats are visiting and what time do they come through? What’s the best way to critter proof fruit trees and vegetable gardens? What mammal is chewing on our fruit? How often do coyotes visit and at what time? (We’ve seen them two times in the backyard). Are rats visiting our...

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Do Hens Make Noise?

Yes, indeed hens make noise. Far less than a rooster, but when it comes time to lay an egg you often get the stereotypical hen vocalization, technically known as “cackling,” which goes something like, “cluck, cluck, cluck, CLUCKAAAAAWWWWK!” Thankfully this only happens around laying time, which for our three productive hens is no more than once a day, and usually at a respectable time between around 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. Som...

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Loquat season is here!

...with thick, glossy leaves that remind me of citrus leaves and magnolia leaves and avocado leaves all at the same time, meaning it’s vaguely tropical looking. They don’t seem to require much water or pruning–so they do well under benign neglect, though I’d suspect the fruit is best on trees which are not completely ignored.  This is the time of year when the fruit comes ripe, and it’s always kind of an exciting time b...

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Thoughts on Samhain

...rking the changing seasons of the year by making these old festivals my own. It’s so easy to lose track of time in an electronic culture. It’s even easier to lose track when you live in Los Angeles, land of the perpetual sunshine. Samhain marks the last harvest of the year. The weather is cold enough to keep meat, so it is also the time when all non-breeding livestock was slaughtered and cured–otherwise they’d have to be f...

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Return of Bean Friday! Chickpea, Pasta and Tomato Soup

...ng, optional The recipe called for not only an overnight soak for the beans, but also for three hours of cooking time. That seemed like overkill. What I ended up doing was letting my two cups of dried beans soak on the counter for 2 or 3 hours, by which time they’d doubled in size.  I’m not sure if pre-soaking is necessary at all, really. The long cooking time may be necessary to get the beans silky enough. This will all be the subjec...

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Interview With Apartment Gardener Helen Kim

...ized the screens were impossible to remove (to water, etc…) without mangling. The building manager at the time told me that the screens were non-removable (what?!). So I measured all the windows, went to the hardware store, and had them make removable screens, voila. Maybe I should mention, too, that the management recently ripped out all the shrubbery in front of the building. I assumed they were going to put in something else in immin...

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Upcoming Classes: Edible Gardening and Vermicomposting

A reminder: we have two very talented speakers and educators coming to the Root Simple compound to teach a series of classes. Sign up soon–they are selling out fast. The first is Darren Butler teaching his Beginning Vegetable Gardening series, starting Oct. 4, and his Intermediate series starting Oct. 18th. The second is Nancy Klehm’s teaching an in-depth Vermicomposting class on October 23rd.  Details below: Consulting Arborist...

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Non-GMO Versions of Grape Nuts and Cheerios Less Nutritious Than GMO Versions

...ve natural food expo, I attended earlier this month, I saw a lot of unhealthy foods with a “non-GMO” label. In the case of Cheerios and Grape Nuts, the “non-GMO” label is either a marketing gimmick or an attempt to start a voluntary labeling program to head off voter mandated efforts. Here’s where you can help. I need to kick my Grape Nuts crack habit and find a healthier breakfast alternative. Any suggestions? Note...

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