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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Growing Your Own Food is Like Printing Your Own Money: Ron Finley’s TED Talk

Please take a moment and watch gangster/guerrilla gardener Ron Finley’s inspiring Ted talk. I first heard about Ron after he got busted for planting a vegetable garden in what used to be a weed strewn parkway. He’s gone on to plant many more gardens around Los Angeles. The end of this talk really hit home for me, “Don’t call me if you want to sit around and have meetings. If you want to meet with me come to the gard...

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Roasted Asparagus

This, believe it or not, is a cake! I found it at Sweetapolita, where she’ll tell you how to make it. Erik’s aunt just called to ask me how I cook my asparagus, because she wants to make it for company tonight. It’s so easy to make perfect cooked asparagus that I forget that some people find it intimidating. Maybe that’s because of those dedicated asparagus cookers they sell, and associations with silver tongs and Holland...

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Sweet Potatoes for Breakfast

...ay since I’ve met him, excepting travel, special pancake-type breakfasts, or the occasional Grape Nut outage. I’ve never been a fan of the cereal myself, since I learned as a child, much to my disappointment, that it contained neither grapes, nor nuts, but instead was composed out of tiny particles of cardboard. I’m a restless breakfasteer.  I like variety. Typically I range between oatmeal, muesli, yogurt, toast or leftovers fo...

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Delicious Cauliflower

For me, cauliflower is a vegetable which eludes inspiration. I eat it raw. I roast it. I’ve made soup with it once or twice. That’s about the sum of my historic use of cauliflower. Now, everything has changed. I’ve found a recipe for cauliflower which I love. It comes from a book called Vegetarian Dishes from the Middle East, by Arto der Haroutunian. I think I’ve mentioned it before. It’s a good, reliable book. Lat...

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Urban Homesteading and Homeowners Associations

Photo: Wikimedia. Homeowners associations are notoriously intolerant when it comes to many of the activities discussed on this blog. HOA covenants and deed restrictions tend to forbid things like keeping chickens and front yard vegetable gardens. You can even get in trouble for a laundry line. I’m curious to hear from readers who live in an HOAs. Did you get into urban homesteading before or after moving to an HOA? Have you ever gotten in...

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How to Get Skunks Out of Your Basement and Yard

Basements and crawl spaces under houses make idea dens for urban critters. If we could charge rent for all the skunks, raccoons and feral cats that have taken up residence under the house we’d have paid off the mortgage by now. Our particular crawl space critter B&B was opened by virtue of a flimsy access door. Some animal, most likely a raccoon, pried it open. The problem with this situation is that you can’t just close up the...

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Dry Climate Vegetables

t of reseeding rogue veggies from our garden that have thrived with just the small burst of rain we got last month. New Zealand Spinach The one I’m most excited about is New Zealand spinach (Tetragonia tetragonioides). It’s reappeared for at lest three years now. And for us it’s much easier to grow than (unrelated) spinach. Fennel Fennel also comes back every year–so much so that if we don’t stay on top of weeding...

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California’s Drought and What To Do About It

...over what we’re doing at the Root Simple compound. We’ve expanded our drought tolerant plantings over the past few years. These plants use less water and encourage beneficial wildlife. I consider them part of the vegetable garden, in a way. I just made a major change to our laundry to landscape greywater system–more on this in another post. I’ve consulted historical irrigation data to more intelligently program our drip i...

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Natural Products Expo West: The Good and the Ugly

The Natural Products Expo West, which took place this past week, is one of the largest conventions in the US. It’s a high stakes dating game between retailers and food, cosmetic and supplement producers. This year I promised myself that I would not sample every power bar and gluten free pizza thrust into my hands. I failed and paid unmentionable consequences later. Imagine the center snack aisles of Whole Foods dumped into a funnel and sh...

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