Free Vermicomposting Workshop in Pasadena

Some of you might remember that we advertised a free biodynamic composting workshop here a few weeks ago– and some of you may have even attended! It was great to meet Root Simple readers there. Well, that was a great day, where lots of good connections were formed, and another great thing came out of it. It turned out that one of the participants, Don, is an expert worm wrangler. There was a lot of interest in worm composting at the works...

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Medlar: The Best Fruit You’ve Never Heard Of

This week we were luck enough to tag along with Tara Kolla of Silver Lake Farms on a jaunt to the hills near Tehachapi to help harvest an allusive fruit called the medlar.  Erik and I were just extra hands–the plan was hatched between Tara and Craig Ruggless of Winnetka Farms. See, Craig has a place up in those hills, and just happened to know his neighbors had a little grove of medlars, and these neighbors agreed to sell them to Craig an...

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A Primitive Bow Workshop

...ithout breaking. A bow is actually a very complicated tool, something that should inspire respect for our distant ancestors. Paul Campbell author of an excellent book Survival Skills of Native California was along to co-teach the class and help us all shape our bows. The first step was to find some suitable wood. We used willow, a wood used by Native Americans in our region. It’s plentiful and makes an acceptable if short lived bow. Ash an...

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A Question About Gophers

Pocket gopher, courtesy of Wikipedia We’re putting together a short vegetable gardening pamphlet and could use some advice, specifically about gophers. Thankfully, we don’t have any experience dealing with them. Something about our neighborhood, either the lead in the soil or the police helicopters, seems to have made gophers extinct here. Standard advice when planting a tree or installing a raised bed in gopher infested a...

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The Most Beautiful Shed in the World

Located in the Willamette Valley in Oregon, this writer’s shed designed by Erin Moore has some mighty fine details. According to a blog post on Float Architectural Research and Design, The writing studio is designed to reveal the ecological complexity of the site to visitors and in this way it is successful: Small tunnels under the studio bring rare reptiles and amphibians into view through the floor-level window. The water collection bas...

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Our Grape Arbor

Several years ago I demolished a crumbling addition to the house (a room you had to go through the back bedroom to get to) and replaced it with an arbor. Our neighbor generously gave us the columns that used to be on her front porch and I added a plinth to make them taller. In the background are two apple trees that provide some privacy. It’s taken a couple of years for the grapes to cover the structure. One reason is that we lost two vi...

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Loquat Leather Recipe

Our neighborhood is full of loquat (Eriobotrya japonica) trees. For years I’ve been trying to figure out a way to use them. Loquats, a warm climate relative of the apple tree, produce tons of fruit all at once that do not keep well fresh. Thus the need to preserve the fruit. Unfortunately, they are also a chore to process–small large seeds and skins that are difficult to peel. They also vary widely in quality, since many in the neig...

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Pomegranate Factoids

Our pomegranate tree this morning. Since we’ve had a few pomegrante questions coming in in the past week (it’s the tail end of harvest time) I thought I’d provide a link to more information on growing pomegranates than you’ll ever need to know courtesy of UC Davis. If you live in a hot, dry climate that doesn’t freeze much you should get yourself a pomegranate tree. They’ll grow in more humid climates...

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Bringing Blossoms Inside

It’s such a simple thing to do, and so beautiful. If you’re trimming your fruit trees while they’re in bud, as they are now here in SoCal, keep all those twigs and bring them indoors. Stubby little ones can go in jam jars. Long thin whips in a vase make for instant elegance. They’ll keep blooming for a while. For me, no store-bought cut flower can compare....

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Strange brew: herbal steam for a chest cold and sinus pain

Mrs. Homegrown here: I’ve had a bad cold for almost a week now. It’s gone through all the classic steps: the sore throat, then the snot factory, then the ghastly “productive cough” that keeps you awake at night, and on top of it all, the lost voice. Oh, the fun! I thought I was almost out of the woods, but then I seem to have hit a cul-de-sac involving the sinuses. Sinus trouble is a new malady for me–I’m jus...

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