How to Keep Squirrels and Birds From Eating Your Fruit

Photo by Noel Ramos. Got a tip from Noel Ramos a.k.a. Florida Green Man on how to deal with those pesky squirrels and birds in your fruit orchard. Noel says: I use those clear plastic fruit containers that are used for packing strawberries and grapes. I personally don’t buy fruit in these containers but I asked some neighbors and friends to save them for me and in a short time amassed a large collection. They snap shut over most fruit like...

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What To Do With Old Vegetable Seeds

In short, throw them around. We’ve got a lot of expired seed packages sitting in a shoe box. And I’ve been reading a newly published translation of a book by the late, “natural farmer” Masanobu Fukuoka (review coming soon). Fukuoka inspired me to distribute those old seeds around our micro-orchard to see what comes up. Fukuoka has some tips in his book The Natural Way of Farming for creating a semi-wild vegetable garden:...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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How to Bake a Traditional German Rye Bread

In the interest of health, I’ve focused my bread baking obsession of late on 100% or near 100% whole rye sourdough loaves. I’ve used as my guide a nicely illustrated book How to Make Bread by Emmanuel Hadjiandreou. His specialty is just 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 bread...

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More on our gardening disasters

We need to put the heart back into our garden. (Our Heart of Flax from way back in 2011) I thought I’d chime in on the subject of this year’s garden failures. Before I do, I’d like to thank you all for your kind advice and commiseration that you left on Erik’s post. First, I will agree that it really, truly has been a terrible year in the garden. Sometimes Erik gets a little melodramatic when it comes to the crop failure...

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Garden Design: Quantity vs. Quality

There’s an old saw, probably apocryphal, about a ceramics teacher who divided her class in two, made one half spin as many pots as possible while the other struggled to create one perfect pot. The students who were graded by quantity rather than quality made the best pots. I’ve noticed, from the years I used to be in the art world, that he most talented creative folks I’ve met crank out lots of material. So how do we apply the...

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Hoshigaki Success!

I’d estimate that one out of ten new homesteading projects succeeds. Which is why I’m especially happy that the long process of drying persimmons the Japanese way (hoshigaki) has been a big success. The white powder that looks like mold is sugar in the 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–hos...

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