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...

Continue reading…

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...

Continue reading…

Whiteflies

The upside to garden pests and diseases is getting to do a little amateur backyard science. Any excuse to mix up a martini, pull out the microscope and take a close look at things and we’re all over it. This week’s happy hour entomology comes thanks to a infestation of white flies living on the underside of our tree collards. I believe the specific culprit pictured above is the greenhouse whitefly, Trialeurodes vaporariorum which, de...

Continue reading…

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...

Continue reading…

Mistakes we have made . . .

There’s a kind of boastful blogging style that, I’m afraid, we here at Homegrown Evolution have been guilty of. Simply put, we’ve failed to detail all our blunders. These mistakes and accidents, some funny, others painfully disappointing, have more instructional value than our successes. And oh, how many blunders there have been in the past ten years. It’s about time to round up the top 6. I’m sure there are many mo...

Continue reading…

Nettle Mania

“out of this nettle, danger, we grasp this flower, safety” -Shakespeare, Henry IV, part 1, Act II Scene 3 Stinging nettles (Urtica dioica) are a common weed with a bad reputation–the plant has tiny spines that inject, as Wikipedia puts it, a “cocktail of poisons.” Miraculously when you boil the plant the spines lose their punch and you’re left with a tasty green consumed plain or incorporated in a number of d...

Continue reading…

Urban Homesteading Thing Catching On

I have a Google alert set up for the phrase “urban homestead”. Lately I’ve noticed more real estate and apartment listings using this phrase. Our neighbors Anne and Bill even used it to rent out their duplex. A rental listing that includes the photos in this post came from a real estate concern renting out an apartment in Edmonton, Canada. For $1,600 Canadian dollars a month you get:  hot water on demand system.  sunroom has...

Continue reading…

Boulder man faces $2000 fine/day for guerilla garden fencing

Via BoingBoing (complete with video): “[L]ast month, an enforcement officer from Boulder’s Environmental and Zoning Enforcement office showed up and said a neighbor had complained about the garden. “She said to take it all down — the tomato cages, the trellises, the posts, the basketball hoop, everything,” Hoffenberg said. … Hoffenberg has until July 14 to take down the trellises and fencing. At that point, Arthur said, he could be c...

Continue reading…

The Secret to Japanese Cooking: Dashi

Bonito flakes, available at any Japanese market. We conclude our Japanese themed week with the sauce that’s sort of the unified field theory of Japanese cooking: dashi. It’s in everything from noodle dishes to sauces to miso soup and it cooks up in just minutes. Dashi contains two ingredients, kombu (a kind of kelp) and bonito (shaved, fermented fish flakes). It’s the backbone of Japanese cooking, but we think it’...

Continue reading…

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...

Continue reading…