Gardening Mistakes: Six Ways We’ve Killed Plants

...quality largely due to almost a hundred years of construction projects (decks, foundation work terracing, etc.). The same plant that might thrive in one spot will wither in another. This is where trial and error comes in. Sometimes the only way to find out if what will grow is to plant stuff and see what takes off. 2. Soil compaction This is a big problem in urban areas and our yard is no exception. The parkway, which gets a lot of foot traffic,...

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Saturday Linkages: Solar Projects, John Cage and Cat Litter

...projects.html?spref=tw … John Cage: Mushroom Hunter http://hyperallergic.com/118615/john-cage-mushroom-hunter/ … The lasting legacy of the Dobson telescope http://www.scpr.org/programs/brand-martinez/2012/09/12/28381/amateur-astronomers-stars-john-dobson-telescope/ … The most epic Ikea hack ever–stool turned into child’s Draisienne – the Frosta bicycle – IKEA Hackers http://po.st/6gp9HM  Urban date foraging: http://ucanr.edu/blo...

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Black Widow or False Black Widow?

...s or have no marking at all. Female black widows often exhibit various red markings on the dorsal or top side of the abdomen, commonly two red spots. However, black widow young are believed to have at least some sort of marking on their abdomens. Adult male black widows are half the size of the females, and are usually gray or brown rather than black and red; while they may sometimes have an hourglass marking on their ventral abdomen, it is usual...

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Thursday Linkages: Mason Bees, Hawks and Robot Cars

Image: BoingBoing For some reason I neglected to publish last Saturday’s gaggle o’ links. Here is a belated version: Build Your Own Mason Bee House http://boingboing.net/2014/05/16/build-your-own-mason-bee-house.html … Swiss Restaurant Imposes Fine on Customers Wasting Food http://www.ibtimes.co.in/swiss-restaurant-imposes-fine-customers-wasting-food-600131 … via @ibtimesindia1 #foodcrisis Hawks and Rats in NYC, on...

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We’ve taken the flowers out of our hair

...s Lexus SUV at a filling station in Berkeley. More exciting to us was discovering that our base of operations in the Mission was a mere block from the infamous Symbionese Liberation Army safe house where heiress Patty Hearst became urban guerrilla Tanya. We have a feeling we’ll see the return of revolutionary noms de guerre in the coming few years and when that happens we’ll see Tom ditch the SUV for two wheeled transit on Berkeley...

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007 RIP Handsome, 3 Power Tools You Should Own and Hipster Compost

On the seventh episode of the podcast we open with Kelly’s cure for stepping on glass shards. Then we discuss the passing of our favorite chicken “Handsome.” Prompted by a recent comment on the blog we review an old post on three power tools every urban homesteader should own: drill, circular saw and jigsaw. Lastly, we expand on a recent post about composting brew waste, coffee grounds,...

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As Above, So Below

...eople how to make their own low-cost telescopes. As a monk, Dobson could not afford expensive materials. He kept the design inexpensive by using a simple mount and cheap materials: wood and cardboard. My Dobsonian was made by the now defunct Coulter Optical Company out of particle board and a cardboard concrete form. Its large 13.1 inch mirror makes it perfect for looking at nebulas, galaxies and star clusters even in light polluted urban areas....

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A New Reality

...yle as something impossible to accomplish. The underlying message? Stay on that couch, don’t try to change the world, just buy the crap our advertisers sell. These type of realty shows are also a rigged version of the prisoner’s dilemma in which the cooperative option (what most people tend to choose in stressful situations) is not allowed. We need to tell a different story. Bloggers in the urban homesteading movement can join togethe...

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How To Calculate Anything

...e think this is pretty cool.) Need to calculate Ohm’s law? Convert women’s clothing sizes? Calculate the area of a circle? Figure out whether its better to buy or rent a home? It’s all at www.calculatoredge.com. The site has lots of formulas for the urban homsteader even if you never have to perform a Sallen-Key Butterworth Low Pass Filter equation (except, perhaps, for recreational reasons). Thanks to Bruce Nolte, N1BN for the...

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Help us With a Fodder System for our Hens

...e need something much smaller! I feel somewhat guilty about having our five hens in a confined coop/run. Ideally they’d be grazing on green pasture all day. But our abundant urban predators, lack of space and dry climate make the vision of hens clucking on verdant fields a challenge. I’m thinking of building a DIY fodder system but I’m a bit confused by the instructions I’ve seen floating about the interwebs. Which is wher...

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