Saturday Linkages: An Egg Shaped Houseboat, Bamboo Joints and the Origins of Umami

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Interior of houseboat designed by PAD studio, SPUD group and artist Stephen Turner.

Behold a Once-Lost Plan for a Central Park That Might Have Been http://gizmodo.com/behold-a-once-lost-plan-for-a-central-park-that-might-h-787841443 …

#Williamsburg vacant lot transformed into bike course and urban farm: http://po.st/2c8dOu 

Japanese beetle traps—a reconsideration by James Roush http://gardenrant.com/2013/07/japanese-beetle-traps-a-reconsideration.html?utm_source=feedly …

Lifehacking
Whole Life Integration: Tips To Simplify Nearly Everything In Your Productive Home http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/NorthwestEdibleLife/~3/UC-3zsZ43pg/whole-life-integration-tips-to-simplify-nearly-everything-in-your-productive-home.html …

Two new resources on the web for the DIY solar crowd http://www.builditsolarblog.com/2013/07/two-new-resources-on-web-for-diy-solar.html …

A Long-Term Survival Guide – How to Make Bamboo Joints http://www.scribd.com/doc/24688327/A-Long-Term-Survival-Guide-How-to-Make-Bamboo-Joints …

Funnel Wall Plays Music during Rain http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/lloydkahn/~3/cBklP2QZW7E/funnel-wall-plays-music-during-rain.html …

Just plain amazing
Stunning houseboat–Exbury egg by PAD studio, SPUD group & stephen turner: http://www.designboom.com/architecture/exbury-egg-by-pad-studio-spud-group-stephen-turner/#.UehXNCf_u3g.twitter …

The Pheonix Earthship….. http://frommoontomoon.blogspot.com/2013/07/the-pheonix-earthship.html …

Scale Models of Bicycles http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/typepad/krisdedecker/lowtechmagazineenglish/~3/Zre1F8bEuz4/bicycle-scale-models.html …

Food
The Origins of Heritage Foods Revivals 1980-1985 http://garynabhan.com/i/archives/2137 

Fermenting Mentor: Uri Laio of Brassica and Brine http://wp.me/p1xg32-qw 

“Umami” Was Coined by the Inventor of MSG to describe Its Taste http://paleofuture.gizmodo.com/umami-was-coined-by-the-inventor-of-msg-to-describe-i-693953580 …

Why lettuce is making us sick: http://modernfarmer.com/2013/07/why-lettuce-keeps-making-us-sick/ …

Devolution
In Oregon, The GMO Wheat Mystery Deepens http://n.pr/15CRyHO

Study: Wealthier Motorists More Likely to Drive Like Reckless Jerks http://dc.streetsblog.org/2013/07/16/study-wealthier-motorists-more-likely-to-drive-like-reckless-jerks/ …

Gardena PD Ticket, Harass United Riders of South Los Angeles for Taking Lane while protesting case of the Hit-and-Run… http://disq.us/8e2ep5

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Getting Hardscaping Right

A water feature at Keeyla Meadows' garden in Berkeley.

A water feature at Keeyla Meadows’ garden in Berkeley.

One of the many lessons I learned on the tour I took of Bay Area gardens as part of the Garden Blogger’s Fling is that you’ve got to get the hardscaping right before even thinking about plants. When I asked garden designer Keeyla Meadows about the large stones in her garden she told me that they were craned in above the house. It was clear that at some point in the evolution of her small backyard garden, she bit the bullet and got bold with the hardscaping.

While there will be no craning at our house, the point is a good one. Get the hardscaping done first, do it right and be bold. Putting plants in first and then building things like decks and seating areas is a recipe for disaster. Any construction project, even carefully done, causes a considerable amount of destruction.

Some other lessons I’ve learned from fifteen years worth of hardscaping mistakes at our house:

  • Design the hardscaping before even thinking about plants.
  • Open the wallet and get quality materials for any hardscaping project. It’s more economical to do it right the first time, rather than re-do badly done projects multiple times.
  • Go where contractors get materials not the big box stores. A recent trip to Home Depot reminded me about how ugly most of their stuff is.
  • Get materials delivered. I once dropped a very heavy load of Trex on a steep hill near our home and watched, in horror, as it slid a hundred feet down the road. Thankfully no one got hurt. But it was not fun to reload the car on a 100° day.
  • Consider long term maintenance. Choose materials that are durable and easy to maintain.
  • Every home needs a “hide the s@#t fence.” There needs to be a place to put potting soils, shovels, compost piles etc.

I’m just about to embark on a couple of building projects–extending the back patio deck, building permanent vegetable beds and the aforementioned hide the s@#t fence.

This time I’m going to get it right!

How have your hardscaping endeavors gone? What have you done right and wrong? Have you found hardscaping solutions that didn’t break the bank?

Smurfs Team Up With US Forest Service

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When I saw this ad at a bus stop I thought I had fallen into some kind of post-modern hall of mirrors. At first I could not believe that it was real. Is the Forest Service really pushing our magnificent National Forests with an ad depicting a simulated forest populated by the Belgian version of Hobbits*? How could I begin to write about this?

A look at the website reveals that the Forest Service has entered into a co-branding arrangement with Sony Pictures (who took a break from helping remove our green bike lane). According to the Hollywood Reporter Sony’s work on this campaign was done “pro bono.” Of course, they do have a Smurf movie coming out this summer. The DiscoverTheForest website explains it all:

As inhabitants of the forest, Smurfs are the perfect ambassadors for forest recreation. As these new PSAs remind us, the forest provides benefits such as clean air and fresh water, and provides children with the ability to explore, use their imaginations, discover new wildlife and engage in unstructured and adventurous play. The Smurfs’ enthusiasm for their environment hopes to inspire families to create their own forest adventure and reap the many rewards that nature has to offer.

Are we slipping into a terminal nature estrangement syndrome here? A complete break with reality? Are we so detached from the actual forest that the folks at the Forest Service would think this is a good idea?

On a completely off topic side note–can someone tell me why the Smurfs wear phrygian caps? Are they revolutionaries?

*Mrs. Homegrown would like to register her disagreement re: the hobbit/smurf comparison. Mr. Homegrown has an underdeveloped understanding of magical creature taxonomy.

Yes, We Do the Pinterest Thing

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What do I use Pinterest for? To gather design ideas for home and garden. I just built this trellis to grow vegetables vertically. It’s part of a plan I have to deck over an ugly concrete patio. The inspiration for the trellis came in part from an image I pinned off the interwebs:

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Not having a natural design sense, I gather images and synthesize them to come up with plans I can build. Google image search and Pinterest are great inspirational tools.

But I have not made good use of Pinterest’s social features. Towards that end, follow us on Pintrest and we’ll follow back. Let’s exchange ideas!