Our Grape Arbor

Several years ago I demolished a crumbling addition to the house (a room you had to go through the back bedroom to get to) and replaced it with an arbor. Our neighbor generously gave us the columns that used to be on her front porch and I added a plinth to make them taller. In the background are two apple trees that provide some privacy. It’s taken a couple of years for the grapes to cover the structure. One reason is that we lost two vi...

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Adopt an Indigo Plant in Los Angeles

Artist Graham Keegan is crowd sourcing an indigo project here in Los Angeles. You can help out by adopting indigo seedlings and growing them out–then harvesting the leaves and joining the other growers for a couple of indigo dyeing fiestas. We realize this is a highly local post, but it’s a great idea, and we hope it might inspire some of you to do group growing/harvesting projects in your hometowns. Here’s the 411 from his we...

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Direct Seeding vs. Transplants

How I used to plant my veggies. An 8 inch spacing guide and some seedlings back in 2009. To direct sow or transplant, that is the question. I’m as indecisive as Hamlet when it comes to this question. Some caveats here: we live in a warm climate where you can direct sow almost anything unless you want to get an early start on tomatoes and peppers. And we don’t have to start seedlings indoors. Another thing to note–I fell under...

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Land Shark!

This stunning garden sculpture is by an Australian artist, Brett Martin. I love the way it hovers over the grass and, best of all, swivels in the wind. Martin says, I try to use as much recycled materials as possible. I used salvaged timber from building sites, a swivel chair, old table base, many hundreds of tin cans collected from neighbours and 5000 pot rivets. I live at Congo, the south coast of New South Wales and based this 3.5m beauty on...

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The tale of the tub scrubber

I’ve used the purple bath puff on the left in the photo above to scrub my bathroom sink and tub for eight years. Eight years! It’s a little shocking now that I count back. (Puff n’ me, we’ve done a lot of scrubbing. Good times.) I received this puff has part of a gift set of bath items. I don’t enjoy using puffs in the bath, personally, so decided to try it out on the shower scum instead, and found it worked amazin...

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Ask Lowes and Home Depot to Stop Killing Bees

If you haven’t heard, Friends of the Earth is swarming (ahem) Home Depot and Lowes with cards around Valentines Day, asking these retailers to “show the bees some love” and stop selling bee-killing pesticides (neonicotinoids) and garden plants which have been pre-poisoned with such pesticides. In our opinion, systemic pesticides, like Imidacloprid (which is a neonictinoid) should preferably not be used at all, and certainly s...

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Composting the Deceased/ My DIY Funeral Fantasies

When I die, I want to return to the elements. In the best case scenario, I’ll be food. I mean, I suppose the bacteria get us all, unless we’re cremated, but I don’t want to be locked inside a coffin, with most of my potential nutrient value going to waste.  This obsession has led to several funeral fantasies, which I like share with Erik spontaneously, usually while we’re grocery shopping or something, much to his dismay...

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World’s Largest Kale

The Franchi kale (collard?) “Galega De Folhas Lisas” I planted in the fall of 2012 has reached six feet. It’s a Portuguese variety used in a soup called Caldo Verde. Given that we have such a small yard I’ve really got to stop planting gargantuan vegetables like this and those ridiculous Lunga di Napoli squash. Root Simple is at risk of devolving into a geek with large veggie Tumblr site....

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Beekeeping Class at the Ecology Center in San Juan Capistrano

I’ll be teaching a two hour introduction to natural no-treatment beekeeping at the Ecology Center in San Juan Capistrano this Saturday at 1 pm. To sign up buzz over here. Here’s the class description: Become a backyard beekeeper and enjoy a healthy garden full of pollinators. Understand beekeeping tools, materials, and techniques to get started. Beekeeping, or apiculture, is said to have begun with the Egyptians who used logs, boxes...

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Josey Baker Bread: One Bread Book to Rule Them All

I’ve been teaching bread baking for a few years now through both the Institute of Domestic Technology and the Los Angeles Bread Bakers. When students ask what book they should get I have to hold up half a dozen. Not any more. Now I can send students to just one book: Josey Baker Bread. The appropriately named Josey Baker (who used to work with another baker named Dave Miller–who mills his own flour, naturally) has written a perfect...

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