Greeks Go Back to the Land

In today’s New York Times there’s an article about Greeks returning to the land and reclaiming practical skills in the wake of their financial crisis. Well worth a read: With Work Scarce in Athens, Greeks Go Back to the Land “I will take the rock in my hand and squeeze it, and with the water that comes out of it, I’ll make pilaf to feed my daughter. We’ll manage.”...

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Joshua Tree Earthen Finishes Class – March 2nd, 3rd & 4th

...paints – the class is suitable for both building professionals and do-it-your-selfers. Topics: Finish selection for conventional and earthen buildings Soil and Material Selection, Sourcing and Testing Vapor Permeability, Water Resistance and Stabilization Tools and Application Techniques Application around Doors, Windows and Other Openings Pigments, and Finishing Detailing Conventional and Traditional Plaster Reinforcing Techniques Code cons...

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Growing Greens Under Fruit Trees

In the photo above is Scott Kleinrock showing off a section of the edible garden he designed at the Huntington Gardens. At first glace it looks like a lot of weeds, but it’s a clever idea: growing greens in the understory of fruit trees. In this picture, which was taken last weekend, you see a field of: mallow daikon radish arugula mustard  vetch calendula cabbage Except for the vetch, which helps build soil, all are edible and nutrit...

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How to Plan a Vegetable Garden

Today I did the unthinkable and made good on one of my many New Years resolutions: I planned our 128 square foot vegetable garden a year in advance. Here’s how I did it: Identifying Seasons Using an Ecology Action pamphlet as my guide, Learning to Grow All Your Own Food: A One-Bed Model For Compost, Diet and Income Crops, I divided the year into three seasons. Most of you reading this blog probably have two: a cool season and a warm seaso...

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Urine as a Fertilizer

available (at least after a night of beer drinking) alternative to organic nitrogen fertilizers such as blood meal. We’ve got a perpetual nitrogen deficiency in our vegetable beds and I hate buying industrial ag sourced items like blood meal. Urine is a great alternative. To use urine in the garden you’ve got to dilute it with water, at least ten to one. Straight urine will burn your plants. Thankfully we don’t worry about our s...

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Edible Landscaping and Gardening Classes With Darren Butler

Consulting Arborist and Ecological Landscape Designer Darren Butler will be teaching two classes at the Root Simple compound starting next month. I’m currently taking a class from Darren right now at the Huntington and to say it’s amazing is an understatement. If you’re interested in taking either of these two classes email Darren at [email protected] Will be great to meet you all! Sign up soon as room is limited. GROW LA VICT...

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Urban Homesteading Mistakes: Landscape Fabric

Since you all seem to enjoy accounts of our many failures around the Root Simple compound, I thought I’d share what must be one of the worst mistakes I’ve made. It’s a error up in our great chandelier of failures along with buying a 91 year old house on a hill with a bad foundation. Two words for you: landscape fabric–that plastic stuff sold in rolls at big box stores that allegedly blocks out weeds. Just after we bough...

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How To Design a Garden Step II: Using Google Earth to Draw Up a Plan

So you’ve set the goals for your garden, as we outlined in a post earlier this week, and you’re ready to start putting pen to paper. Google Earth makes it easy to quickly create a plan to scale. Zoom in on the space you want to garden and print out an image. Next, take separate sheets of tracing paper and use them to map out: your goals existing conditions such as trees and buildings future plantings where water flows when it rain...

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USDA Releases New Hardiness Zone Map

The United States Department of Agriculture has just released a new zone hardiness map that reflects both a warming climate and new algorithms that take into account things like terrain, and proximity to bodies of water.  The map is also now searchable by zip code. You can access the new map here: http://planthardiness.ars.usda.gov/PHZMWeb . For the background on how this map is different from the previous (1990) version, the USDA has a press...

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Everlasting Flower for Colds

...of the many things I learned in this class was that the flowers of California Pearly Everlasting, Gnaphalium californicum, aka cudweed aka rabbit tobacco, are supposed to be good for colds. I’ve not had a chance to try it until this week. I’ve only had one cold since last summer, and that one hit so fast and hard I just sort of gave up on doing anything but riding it out. The one I have this week is more of a typical head cold, and ...

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