Erik’s New Years Resolutions

Normally I don’t do New Years resolutions. This year my resolution is . . . lots of resolutions. Here’s the list. I expect you to hold me to it:

  • get HAM technician’s license
  • learn Morse code
  • attend CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) classes
  • build cob oven in the backyard
  • organize messy office so it doesn’t look like an episode of Hoarders
  • organize supplies in garage into labeled boxes
  • turn the garage into the ultimate man cave
  • fix bad knees
  • return to the fencing strip
  • increase running distance
  • organize bug-out box
  • backpack more often
  • camp on Santa Rosa island again
  • plan out garden ahead of time instead of playing catch-up at the last minute
  • return to biodynamic practices in the garden
  • learn how to sharpen knives and tools
  • improve writin’ skills
  • start a podcast
  • shoot some how-to videos
  • create an iPhone or iPad app
  • check email only twice a day
  • clean up the graphic design on the blog and organize information better
  • take more time to cook
  • keep the kitchen spotless
  • ferment vegetables more often
  • celebrate the wonderful awesomeness that is Mrs. Homegrown each and every day

And that’s just January. It’s going to be a great year for everyone in the urban homestead movement! What are your resolutions?

Zombie Apocalypse Poll Results

2012—year of the goat?

The poll results are in and a solid majority thinks that things will get worse in 2012. The results, with 617 votes:

  • 187 30% things will get better
  • 309 50% things will get worse
  • 121 19% things will stay the same

I had intended to editorialize about how I see 2012 going. But I can’t say it better than this anonymous comment:

I could not answer the poll. My first thought was that things will get worse. I was thinking from a world wide view, economic, food wise, etc. But I thought again and decided that really those things don’t matter. I expect things around my house to get better. My love for my wife will grow and I hope hers for me. We may spend more for less, have shortages of this or that. But those are not a good measure of better or worse in my life. So my answer is that I purpose to have a better year no matter how the rest of the world does.

I’d also encourage all to read the wise blog post of Archdruid John Michael Greer, “Hope in a Cold Season.”

Feiyue Shoes: The Poor Man’s Vibrams

I’m cheap and just don’t want to pay $100 to run “barefoot” in those funny Vibram shoes even if everyone I know swears by them. So, I run . . . barefoot. In two years of actual rather than Vibram-mediated “barefoot” running, on both concrete and dirt paths, I have yet to even get a scratch.

But there have been a few times when I’ve encountered a particularly gravely path. Ouch. On those occasions I’ve been experimenting with slipping on a kind of Chinese martial arts shoe called Feiyue. Think of them as the poor man’s Vibrams as they cost less than $20.

Are they durable? More than you’d expect for a $15 shoe, but they won’t last forever. Are they attractive? Not particularly. And wearing them around makes me want to bust out a few parkour moves for our next book signing.

Thanks to Elon Shoenholz for the tip on the shoes and parkour moves. 

2011 in Review: Urban Homestead Trademark Dispute

As the year draws to a close I thought I’d review some of our posts from the previous year starting with an update on the trademark dispute over the terms “urban homestead” and “urban homesteading”.

In February of this year the Dervaes Institute (DI) sent a cease and desist letter to over a dozen different individuals and organizations including our publisher Feral House/Process Media, public radio station KCRW, Denver Urban Homesteading, and the Santa Monica Public Library. In addition DI successfully manged to get Facebook to take down a page about our book The Urban Homestead, that our publisher had put up, in addition to Denver Urban Homesteading’s Facebook page. As of this date both of those Facebook pages are still down.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation and Winston & Strawn LLP have generously assisted us in challenging the DI’s trademarks. The DI filed a motion to extend discovery earlier this month. I expect a decision from the Trademark Court sometime next year but I’m not going to predict when. The Trademark Court works slowly and via correspondence. We’ll let you know of any major developments.

Thanks again to the support of all the readers of this blog and to our attorneys.

For more background on this issue see our February 21 post.

Other People’s Poo: Biosolids in the Garden

It’s people!

Why not use city compost in your garden? Ecological designer Darren Butler, at a class I was sitting in on, showed a soil report from a site that had used compost from the city of Los Angeles. LA’s compost contain biosolids, a euphemism for sewage. The soil test showed high levels of:

  • zinc 196 ppm
  • copper 76 ppm
  • sulfur 5,752 ppm

The problem isn’t human waste, it’s all the other stuff that ends up in the sewer. I see a future when we’ll be responsibly composting human waste (see Joseph Jenkin’s website for how to do that). But watch out for that free city compost.

Update: A blog reader, Helane Shields, left an interesting series of links about biosolids in the comments. Thanks Helane!

Tomatoes in December

It ain’t pretty but I’m not complaining.

Note to self: the tomatoes that sprout on their own are always the healthiest. The cherry tomato above has reseeded itself for at least 12 years. Sometimes its offspring survive the winter and grow as a perennial. Our climate sort of permits this but occasionally a cold night will kill tomatoes off. And each year the fruit declines in quality.

This summer I transplanted two tomato seedlings that sprouted in the yard on their own. One turned out to be the offspring of the Italian red pear tomato I grow every year and the other a somewhat boring but prolific yellow cherry tomato.

It’s Christmas and all of these tomatoes are still growing and producing. I’ve got an unintentional food forest started here. One of these days I’ll just give up starting seeds and let nature do her thing!

How to Keep that Christmas Tree Fresh

Photo from WSU

Washington State horticulture professor Linda Chalker-Scott, has a podcast “Last minute advice about Christmas trees and other fun stuff” that details more than you’ll ever want to know about how to keep a Christmas tree fresh in the house. And, yes, it’s been studied. Apparently WSU has a Christmas Tree expert: Dr. Gary Chastagner, seen above counting dry needles.

The Sun Comes

photo credit: Henry Mühlpfordt

Happy Winter Solstice!

It is the darkest day of the year, and the shortest day of the year.  But from now on, every day will be a little longer and a little brighter, until the year turns once more. This is a rough time to be a gardener, even in Southern California. Everything seems to be sleeping. You, perhaps, wish you were tucked in a warm bed, sleeping, instead of frantically rushing getting ready for the holidays.

As a counterbalance to Erik’s gloomy Apocalypse post, I’d just say that the Winter Solstice offers us this annual lesson: there is a dawn after even the longest, darkest night. And then things get better.

We may be facing many challenges right now, as individuals, as a nation, as a global community, but we’ll get through them. We always have, we always will.

Things will change, no doubt about it. The future will not look like the present. As Heraclitus reminds us, Everything flows. But life is always made up of equal parts joys and sorrows, no matter when, or where. So whatever winter festival you celebrate, take joy in it. Get together with the people you love best. Burn some lights against the darkness. Keep each other warm. Eat something delicious.

Our best wishes to you all! Thank you for your love and support.

Zombie Apocalypse Poll

Despite the jokey title of this blog post I’m seriously interested in hearing where our readers are coming from regarding our future economic/social situation in 2012. To that end I’ve crafted a poll that you can find on the right top side of this blog. The poll closes on the 31st and I’ll post the results in the new year. Feel free to also leave a comment below. What is your outlook for 2012?