Least Favorite Plant: Ficus benjamina

...s, “L.A.’s favorite underappreciated, unheralded, unfavorite curbside flora. I have no real love for these trees, per se, no sentimental attachment. They just express form and mass and scale and human intervention in a way that I enjoy, like nothing else in the urban landscape as I encounter it.” He’s wise to be neutral. A civil insurection broke out in Santa Monica over plans to replace ficus trees with ginko trees in the...

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Row Covers in a Warm Climate

The aftermath of a skunk rampage. Here’s an unintended organic gardening chain of events: 1. Scoop up multiple trash bags full of fruit scraps from Fallen Fruit’s jam making event at Machine Project. 2. Add this large bounty of organic material to the compost pile. 3. Watch as a bunch of beetle larvae hatch and devour the fruit and other goodies in the compost pile. 4. Sift compost and feed most of the larvae to a happy flock of hen...

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Mushrooms and Yard Sharing

...my humble opinion, are not cost effective. If anyone knows of well written step by step directions somewhere on the interwebs, please let me know, or better yet if you’ve done it yourself send me an email. And yes, there is Paul Stamets, but some psilocybin freak stole all his books out of the LA library. Secondly, I’m writing another article for Urban Farm Magazine and I’d like to speak to anyone who has set up or been a part...

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Root Simple and LA Bread Bakers at Artisinal LA

This Saturday Kelly and I will be joining a panel discussion on urban homesteading along with our good friends Craig Ruggless of Winnetka Farms and goat keepers and cheese makers Gloria Putnam and Stephen Rucidel. The panel will take place at Artisinal LA on Saturday April 16th at 2 pm in Santa Monica. I will also be taking part in a bread baking demo along with the LA Bread Bakers the same day at 1 pm. More information at artisinalla.com....

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Till vs. No-Till

...pading fork in moderately compacted soils. This is clearly a topic on which reasonable people can disagree, but the no-till folks seem to have the upper hand in terms of the science. As with all gardening problems, though, context is king. Environmental factors and economic issues (those expensive broadforks) intersect in our urban gardens in complex ways. You have to make up your own mind. I’d say if you’re going to double-dig do it...

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Of Stickers and Boomers

...history and its stories instead of boomers who despoil our limited resources and move on, without thought, as if there will always be more to wealth to wring from nature, no matter what we do. Of course, Berry is an advocate of the small farmer (as we all should be) and his remarks have much to do with farmland, and his family’s history as farmers, but I don’t think us urban and suburbanites should think his plea has nothing to do wi...

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A Time Out Box for Quail

..., lush rainy spring in Chicago and all my birds get a large bouquet of fresh weedy greens everyday to supplement their feed: chickweed, dandelion, clover, shephard’s purse, garlic mustard, stinging nettles. Besides chickens, I have been raising quail for the past four years – I have both Coturnix and Bobwhite quail. Quail need to be enclosed and can’t ‘free range’. They are top choice of any urban predator: raccoon, possum, stray cat and rapto...

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Our New Chickens

When I put out the call to you, our readers, to name the ideal urban chicken I got a call from my friend Craig Ruggless of Winnetka Farms. He said something like, “Duh, the Barnevelder, of course!” Craig and his partner Gary Jackemuk have an ambitions breeding program to take the Barnevelder from show chicken back to farm chicken. So far the results are impressive. I took this as a message that I should fix my run and get ready fo...

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Al Pacino Closed My Bike Lane

It’s the classic urban cycling problem: when faced with the indignities of riding in a car-centric city like Los Angeles, do you make it all one big fun challenge or become what Bikesnob calls “the righteous cyclist?”  Righteous cyclists, according to Bikesnob, are “convinced that the very act of turning the pedals will actually restore acres and acres of rainforest, suck smog from the sky and refreeze the ice caps....

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A Review of Williams-Sonoma’s Agrarian Line

Last week upscale retalier Williams-Sonoma announced an urban homesteady line of goods they call “Agrarian”. A number of Root Simple readers responded to the news after I linked to a Wall Street Journal article about the Agrarian line. One reader likened the “Agrarian” items to Marie Antoinette’s 18th century cosplay mini-farm. Another hoped that mainstream acceptance of things like chicken coops and beehives might...

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