How To Design a Garden Step IV: Clues to Care

...rm, or anything that looks too “wild.” Clues to care include: Defined pathways Raised beds Mulched beds and paths (vs. bare soil) Artwork Trellises and other attractive supports Birdbaths Benches While the above items fall under the category of hardscape, clues to care also include aesthetic choices in planting and arranging the yard. For instance, it’s never a bad idea to plant lots of flowers, even if you’re more inter...

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The Art of Memory

...bards of the past who could recite thousands of lines of poetry, or the Greek rhetoricians who could speak for hours at a time without notes? Thankfully the basics of the lost art of memory can be mastered in an evening. And  it’s all in a short section of a 2,100 year old document called the Rhetorica ad Herennium. Here’s the memory trick the ad Herennium describes in two easy steps. Step one. Say, for example, you want to memorize...

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How to Memorize Numbers

sonants Mnemonic 0 s, z, soft c “z” is the first letter of zero. The other letters have a similar sound. 1 d, t d & t have one downstroke and sound similar (some variant systems include “th”) 2 n n has two downstrokes 3 m M has three downstrokes and looks like a “3″ on its side 4 r last letter of four, also 4 and R are almost mirror images of each other 5 l L is the Roman Numeral for 50 6 j,...

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Erik’s New Years Resolutions

Normally I don’t do New Years resolutions. This year my resolution is . . . lots of resolutions. Here’s the list. I expect you to hold me to it: get HAM technician’s license learn Morse code attend CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) classes build cob oven in the backyard organize messy office so it doesn’t look like an episode of Hoarders organize supplies in garage into labeled boxes turn the garage into the ult...

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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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Secrets In Your Pantry?

...rgely because I would go through them like a crack addict). But we do have plenty of other dodgy convenience foods picked up at Trader Joes and consumed on those evenings we’re too tired to cook. While the image of the urban homesteader is one who dines on nothing but wholesome veggies, backyard eggs and artisinal canning projects, the truth is that we’re all human and live in a world where Cheez Doodles* practically grow on trees. I...

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Saturday Linkages: From Plastic Bottle Kayaks to Canine Staircases

...y-pet-treat-testi#.UDa6kfTHEpw.twitter  …       Gardening Letting Things Go in the Garden (on purpose) http:// shar.es/77QaJ   Community  A vivid account of life in The Late Suburban Age: http://www. nfb.ca/film/radiant_c ity/  … RT @theurbanologist: Tourists & Angelenos alike will find this 1907 map of streetcar routes in LA most helpful: http:// ow.ly/dbzO0 For these links and more, follow Root Simple on Twitter:  Follow @rootsimple...

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Five Lessons We Learned About Lead in Soil

is problem is in urban areas. Towards that end I though I would share five things that we learned from our backyard lead crisis: Buyer Beware. When you are shopping for a house do multiple soil tests. Once you buy the house it’s too late. Real estate contracts in California (and I suspect elsewhere) have been loaded up with disclaimers about lead and old houses. I’m no legal expert, but I suspect it would be difficult to go after th...

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More On the National Heirloom Exposition

Squash tower at the National Heirloom Exposition Quite honestly, between the lead and zinc in our soil and an endless heat wave that seems to portend climactic disaster, I’ve been a bit dispirited with our little urban homestead project this summer. The Heirloom Exposition up in Santa Rosa lifted me out of my petty depression. The amazing speakers, exhibits and vendors, left me inspired and ready to get back to work. This week I...

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Nominate Your Favorite Complainer

At least once every other month there’s some municipality that sees fit to bust a front yard vegetable garden. Last month some Quebec officials ordered the immaculate kitchen garden, pictured above, removed. You can sign a petition to save this garden here. So what sane city official or neighbor would complain about this beautiful garden? It’s a complaint so outrageous, that it attains a kind of athleticism. Joking with some friend...

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