Plant Vegetables!

I’m trying to put things in perspective this morning. I have a lot of anxiety about family members in denial and my own fears about the response to COVID-19 in this failed state we live in. That said, what we’re going through is nothing compared to what other people in this world have to deal with now in Palestine, Afghanistan, Somalia or Syria to name just a few troubled regions. We have the luxury of sheltering in place rather than the horrors of life as a refugee.

But a run on our supermarkets has me thinking that I need to walk back on one of my worst blog posts, “Homesteading Heresy: On Giving Up Vegetable Gardening,” in which I announced that I was no longer planting vegetables. While we have plenty of avocados and eggs it would be nice to have some greens other than volunteer nasturtium and nettles. I had two seasons of failed vegetable gardening but that should have prompted a redoubled effort rather than the defeatism that I offered. I’ve taken the step of deleting that post. And Kelly planted some vegetables yesterday.

Stay safe and check in on your neighbors. Share your harvest.

Talk and Vermicomposting Workshop With Nance Klehm Sunday March 8th!

Heal the soil. Heal our communities. Heal the world.

What: A talk by ecological wizard Nance Klehm PLUS an optional vermicomposting workshop
Where: St. John’s Cathedral,  Los Angeles –514 W. Adams Blvd
When: Sunday March 8, 2020 12:30 PM

Nance Klehm (socialecologies.net, spontaneousvegetation.net) is a an ecological systems designer who has worked to heal degraded soil around the world, from her home neighborhood of Little Village, Chicago to the rain forests of Ecuador. Join her at St. John’s Cathedral, where she will talk about the deep connection between soil health and social justice, and the importance of healthy soil in troubled times.

“Soil is both decomposition engine and support network for all living things. It is the living sponge that filters our water and air, thereby cleaning them both. It stabilizes our constructions, prevents flooding, protects our landscapes against drought, and ensures the health of our food, water and air. Soil is not a thing. It is a web of relationships that stands in a certain state of a certain time.”   — Nance Klehm

Bonus option! Stay after the talk for a short workshop taught by Nance on vermicomposting, that is, home composting using a worm bin. This is a fun and easy way to transform your kitchen scraps and waste paper into gold, even if you live in an apartment. Worm castings are a fantastic food for house plants as well as garden plants.You don’t need a strong back or much space to compost with a worm bin. Worm-shop participants will go home with a functioning bin complete with worms!

The general lecture is free and open to all, and no reservations are required for the talk alone, but the worm-shop materials fee: $30 (Financial aid is available) and you must reserve your space by emailing [email protected].  Registration is mandatory so that we can supply your bin and worms.

136 Garden Fundamentals with Robert Pavlis

On this 136th episode of the Root Simple podcast we talk to author and gardening expert Robert Pavlis about how to improve your soil, how to start seedlings in the winter, how to take care of houseplants and much more.

Robert Pavlis lives on 6 acres of land that he has developed into a large private garden he calls Aspen Grove Gardens that contains around 3,000 perennials, grasses, shrubs and trees in southern Ontario, Canada. He is a Master Gardener, speaker and author on gardening subjects with a background in chemistry and biochemistry. Normally I go over questions with guests before we begin but Robert and I just started talking so we’ll join the conversation mid-stream as Robert is telling me about his upcoming book Soil Science for Gardeners. During the podcast we talk about:

  • Soil science for home gardeners
  • The problems with soil tests
  • Soil prep for native plants
  • Fungi inoculation products
  • How to open up compacted soil
  • Sources for organic material
  • Ugh, landscape fabric
  • Cardboard in the garden
  • Hügelkultur
  • Winter sowing
  • Baggie technique
  • LED lights
  • How to water houseplants

You can find Robert at: GardenFundamentals.com, GardenMyths.com on YouTube and via the Garden Fundamentals Facebook Group.

Also–subscribe to Bike Talk!

If you’d like to leave a question for the Root Simple Podcast please call (213) 537-2591 or send an email to [email protected] You can subscribe to our podcast in the iTunes store and on Stitcher. Closing theme music by Dr. Frankenstein. A downloadable version of this podcast is here.

Thankful for the New Rain Garden

One day during a high school English class, here in Southern California where I grew up, it started raining. The entire class spontaneously got up and ran to the window to view the downpour. Our teacher, a transplant from the East Coast, having just lost control of her classroom, looked confused. A moment later I could see in her face that she realized she was dealing with a room full of kids to whom rain is a novelty, something worthy of news reports and, these days, hashtags. Regaining control of her classroom, she patiently explained to us that she came from a place where not only does rain fall from the sky more frequently but that there was something else called “snow.”

This past summer our landscaper, Laramee Haynes and crew installed a rain garden in our backyard and Kelly and I cant stop checking it now that the rainy season has returned. The garden takes the water from the back half of our roughly 1,000 square foot roof. Using this handy online rainfall harvesting calculator, in an average year we could send almost 6,000 gallons of water to our backyard.

We ran a pipe from the rain gutter way back into the yard along a fence. The pipe terminates at a simulated gravel filled stream bed that spills into the rain garden. Kelly has just started planting the wet lower part of the rain garden with native plants including water loving Douglas irises (Iris douglasiana). She planted the dry outer edges with desert willow (Chilopsis linearis), coyote mint (Monardella villosa) and assorted grasses.

Alas, my hopes of building a little boat in which to row back and forth across our new seasonal pond have been dashed by the fact that our soil drains quickly (which is a good thing). We’ll post periodic updates to let you know what worked and what we killed.

135 Larry Korn: Rest in Revolution

Root Simple reader Pat just informed me of the passing of Larry Korn, who was a guest on our podcast in October of 2015. Larry was probably best known as the translator of Masanobu Fukuoka’s One Straw Revolution but that underestimates what he did in his life. Larry, almost single highhandedly, is responsible for bringing Fukuoka’s revolutionary ideas to the rest of the world. A few people have told me that Larry’s words in this interview changed their lives and so, in his honor, I thought I would repeat the episode.

Larry authored an autobiography One-Straw Revolutionary. In this interview we talk about Larry’s experience living on Fukuoka’s farm and we delve deep into Fukuoka’s natural farming philosophy. During the discussion we cover how natural farming is similar to indigenous agriculture and how it’s different than permaculture. We also talk about the mystical experience that changed Fukuoka’s life. Larry’s website is onestrawrevolution.net.

If you want to leave a question for the Root Simple Podcast please call (213) 537-2591 or send an email to [email protected]. You can subscribe to our podcast in the iTunes store and on Stitcher. The theme music is by Dr. Frankenstein. A downloadable version of this podcast is here.