World’s Largest Chard Grows in SIP

...he winter rains and grew even bigger. Then, early this spring, as part of our whole “dealing with the lead” problem we tore out the two raised beds in Lead Central in order to dig out the clay beneath them to make adobe bricks. By this time SuperChard was so magnificent I couldn’t kill him (around this time I began to anthropomorphize the chard), so I trimmed off his outer leaves (some of which were as long as my arm) and transp...

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Three Days of Earth Oven Building Compressed Into a Short Video

We just finished a three day earth oven workshop taught by Kurt Gardella and Ben Loescher. Many thanks to all who participated: Laurie, Brian, Leslie, Jenny and Connie.We’ve got to let the oven dry for a few weeks before we put on the final coat. But it’s basically finished. The base is made with traditional adobe bricks and the dome is cob. Don’t worry, we’ll explain the process in future blog posts. Right now we̵...

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CooKit Solar Cooker Made Out of Wood

...f  1/4 inch plywood leftover from fixing up Mrs. Homegrown’s writin’ shed. Rather than send that plywood to the dump I decided to make a more permanent CooKit. I blew up the CooKit pdf from the SCI website using Adobe Illustrator.  I did a tiled printout and taped the pieces together to create a life sized pattern. I used this pattern to cut out the plywood pieces. I spray glued the aluminum foil to the plywood. Next, I drilled hol...

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Made in the shade- Passive cooling

...a passive building in the humid South, might feature carefully placed windows to maximize air flow. In the desert Southwest, where temperatures can be scorching in the summer and freezing in the winter, thick, heavy walls of adobe, strawbales or rammed earth provide protection from extreme weather conditions. Here in the Homegrown neighborhood, most of us live in old houses that are not designed with passive solar features. The Homegrown Evolut...

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Bread Ovens of Quebec Free e-book

...rety online. The book includes the history of the Quebec oven, how to build an oven, bread recipes and even “popular beliefs, spells, incantations, and omens” associated with ovens. I’m really happy with the adobe oven we have in our backyard–it has produced many a tasty pizza and I look forward to having people over to give me an excuse to fire it up. Ovens, in Quebec households were associated with life itself and I unde...

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004-Egg Ethics, Solar Food Dryers and a Question about Earth Ovens

On episode four of the Root Simple Podcast Kelly and Erik discuss the tricky ethics of eggs and mayonnaise, what kind of solar food dryer is the best and we answer a question from Ed about earth ovens. Plans for the Appalachian Solar Food Dryer can be found in an article on Mother Earth News. We have a detailed post on how we built our adobe oven here. If you want to leave a question you can call (213) 537-2591 or send an email to rootsimple@...

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Tippy Tap, Beta Version

...asts that long. If I do another tippy tap in plastic, I’ll use a water jug or a bottle which held something edible, like cooking oil. Next, I gave the bottle a quick coat of paint because I couldn’t scrape off the label and couldn’t stand to wash my hands while that psychotic, chemical peddling teddy bear stared up at me. The mechanics of building a tippy tap are quite simple, but fairly situational, so you’ll have to impr...

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Making Salves, Lip Balms & etc.: Close of the Calendula Series

...e mix starts to cool. I find that the lip of a liquid measuring cup gives enough control to fill even those fiddly little plastic lip balm tubes. Let the containers sit, open, until they are completely cool. Then lid them and label them. Clean up: The best way I’ve found to deal with the waxy grease residue (since I stopped using paper towels) is to shake a generous amount of baking soda into the dish and then rub it around. The soda lifts...

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Harvesting and Drying Calendula

...rd are older than that. I think some herbs keep their properties longer than others, but in general you should try to use them in a year or so. Like spices, the are best fresh, but usable, if not as potent, as they age.  Label and date all your herbs. Even if you think you’ll never forget, somehow or another you will, and at some future find yourself standing at your cupboard, holding a jar full of strange plant matter and saying to yo...

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