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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Introducing Nancy Klehm With Tips on Growing Jerusalem Artichokes

...ot. The hops are almost four feet high, the fruit trees are in heavy bloom and my pawpaw birthed 14 blossoms for the first time since I planted its seed seven years ago! The problem with this early spring is that it is likely to freeze between now and may 15. Everyone I know who grows tree fruit commercially is a bit worried about the fast blooms so early in the season. We could lose our fruit if the weather snaps to 30 degrees. Jerusalem a...

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Are Raised Beds a Good Idea?

...having used treated lumber! * Raised beds have some pluses and minuses. Lately I’ve been thinking about their drawbacks. Namely: Cost How fast they dry out in a hot climate. Now I can also think of a few reasons one might want to grow vegetables in a raised bed: You do a soil test (and you should do a soil test, especially if you live in an urban area) and the results come back showing that you have heavy metals in your soil. You liv...

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Congrats Denver!

From the Denver Post:   Denver City Council eases way to own chickens, goats at home Apparently it was previously legal, but more difficult because you had to pay steep fees and inform all your neighbors. Now, thanks to citizen action by urban homesteaders, the fee has been reduced to 20 bucks and you don’t have to inform your neighbors in order to keep 8 chickens or ducks and up to 2 pygmy goats. No roosters, natch. Congrats Denver! IR...

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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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SoilWeb: An Online Soil Survey Resource

...even a SoilWeb iPhone app allowing you to use the GPS capabilities of your phone to assist in shopping for, say, the perfect vineyard location. SoilWeb maps cover most, but not all, areas of the US (Los Angeles isn’t included for some reason). While highly technical, terms are explained via hyperlinks. You click on the table to the right of the map for more detailed information including suitability for farming. Of course in urban areas y...

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Emergency Toilet Sanitation

...long as you’ve got a carbon source you can keep Jenkins’ sanitation system going indefinitely. With the FEMA approach you’ve got a problem when you run out of those bags and proprietary enzyme mixtures. One problem with Jenkins’ approach could be finding a carbon source in an urban area, but I think that’s solvable (suggestions invited!). You also need water for the compost pile but it need not be potable. I’m...

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Vermicomposting Class

...egrating the worm bin into the wider ecosystem of yard and house, such as: * How to combine vermicomposting and thermacomposting in stepped systems* How to integrate vermicomposting with a dry toilet or pet waste composting system* How to best use your castings in the garden* Tips for the apartment dweller* What to do with all those extra worms… And more! Nancy Klehm is a long-time urban forager and grower, ecological system designer, ar...

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Upcoming Classes: Edible Gardening and Vermicomposting

...egrating the worm bin into the wider ecosystem of yard and  house, such as: * How to combine vermicomposting and thermacomposting in stepped systems* How to integrate vermicomposting with a dry toilet or pet waste composting system* How to best use your castings in the garden* Tips for the apartment dweller* What to do with all those extra worms… And more! Nancy  Klehm is a long-time urban forager and grower, ecological system  designer, ar...

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Meet the Gophinator

The Gophinator Thankfully, we don’t have gophers, but dealing with them is one of the first questions we get when teaching vegetable gardening classes.  You can use raised beds lined with hardware cloth. But, other than target practice (a no-no in urban areas), most people I know with gopher problems end up using traps or zealous cats. Several sources have told me about the Cadillac of gopher traps, the aptly named “Gophina...

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