Why You Should Avoid Staking Trees

The correct way to stake a tree. Image from the Vacaville Tree Foundation To answer the question of why tree staking should be avoided, one can turn to the latest Extension Service advice or to the nearly 2000 year old words of Seneca: No tree becomes rooted and sturdy unless many a wind assails it. For by its very tossing it tightens its grip and plants its roots more securely; the fragile trees are those that have grown in a sunny valley. It...

Continue reading…

Butterfly Barrier Failure

So my idea about using 1/2 inch bird netting as a cabbage leaf worm butterfly barrier? Failure. Above is the photographic evidence–a butterfly caught within the netting. So two alternatives: Floating row cover (inconvenient and too warm for our climate) More biodiversity in the garden I’m liking the biodiversity option the best. Planting a bunch of brassicas is like opening an all you can eat buffet for cabbage leaf worms. Our bac...

Continue reading…

What’s Your Personal Food Policy?

Tom’s got a policy. Do you? The Thanksgiving holiday brings together an often incompatible assembly of  vegetarians, paleoterians, pescatearians, breatharians and folks who just don’t give a damn, to share a meal. While I’m sure many family gatherings pass without controversy, many of the readers of this blog probably end up in uncomfortable discussions about where our food comes from. It’s a holiday that provokes a consi...

Continue reading…

The Perfect Chicken Coop?

Do a Google image search for “chicken coop” and a solid majority of the results will look very much like this nearly 100 year old coop featured in The Gardener’s and Poultry Keeper’s Guide and Illustrated Catalog. Why is this basic design still with us? The attached run gives chickens some space to scratch around in while keeping them safe from predators if you can’t make it home by dark. You can hang a feeder in...

Continue reading…

Hoshigaki Success!

...e fruit that has risen to the surface. The result is, incidentally, very different from drying persimmons in a dehydrator (which also tastes good but has a much firmer texture–hoshigaki has the texture of a gummy bear). It took about a month. One observation is that the persimmons that got the most sun also developed the most “frosting”. Hoshigaki sells for upwards of $35 a pound–I just saw some at a Japanese market and th...

Continue reading…

How to Bake a Traditional German Rye Bread

st the sort of rustic German style breads I’ve always wanted to learn to bake. What I love in particular about his caraway rye sourdough loaf (pictured above) is the crust. Unlike most other breads you don’t slash it before tossing it in the oven. The goal is a kind of perfect imperfection–a hard, thick crust with as many fault lines as the state of California. And this is a bread that requires no kneading so you can easily fit...

Continue reading…

Sunday Spam: Automatic Chicken Cage

We interrupt the usual picture Sunday feature to bring you the best and most misdirected spam email that has ever graced the Root Simple in-box: Dear Sir or Madam, Liaocheng Dongying Hengtong Metal Manufacturing Co.,Ltd here. Glad to hear that you are on the market for Automatic chicken cage. We are a professional producer of the complete sets of equipment for raising birds. At present, it is an enterprise which has the import-export license an...

Continue reading…

Power to the Peoplemover, a Zine About Riding the Bus

the interwebs, but we did have something called Factsheet Five, a kind of telephone directory of zines. You listed your zine in Factsheet Five and people would send you self addressed envelopes to secure a copy of your zine. It makes me feel very old to describe this process, incidentally. Detail from PPM issue 2.0 In addition to Factsheet Five, PPM had a second and unique distribution method. It was designed to look like a San Diego bus schedul...

Continue reading…

Biochar: Miracle or Gimmick?

e for some crops. Yet, there was a decrease in growth in some plants and higher yield in others. In the Arboretum and St. Paul campus sites, we noted similar results, but more crops seemed to decline with biochar than without it. There’s nothing new about biochar. It was in use by native peoples in the Amazon region before Columbus. Hopefully this study will help clarify what types of soils and what crops benefit most from its use. Do you h...

Continue reading…