Birds on a Wire

A neighbor told me this morning that when the house next door to him was for sale the owners asked him not to hang laundry on his clothesline because it would, “bring down their property value.” And, of course, many housing developments have the same anti-clothesline restriction. Is it some distant cultural memory of 19th century tenement buildings, an id-based Ralph Kramden, an intense fear of anything urban? Maybe this clever desi...

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California’s Drought and What To Do About It

217;s cover what we’re doing at the Root Simple compound. We’ve expanded our drought tolerant plantings over the past few years. These plants use less water and encourage beneficial wildlife. I consider them part of the vegetable garden, in a way. I just made a major change to our laundry to landscape greywater system–more on this in another post. I’ve consulted historical irrigation data to more intelligently program our...

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The Society for the Diffusion of Useful Ignorance

I’m turning over the blog today to Henry David Thoreau, who has kindly taken a break from running his pencil factory to blog for free: We have heard of a Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge. It is said that Knowledge is power; and the like. Methinks there is equal need of a Society for the Diffusion of Useful Ignorance, what we will call Beautiful Knowledge, a knowledge useful in a higher sense; for what is most of our boasted s...

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

My calendula after-bath salve. The camera refuses to capture the deep butter yellow color On Saturday, as a part of this long series on Calendula (here, here and here), I posted about infusing oil with herbs. If you’ve got some herb infused oil, you can make that into a medicinal salve or balm. Salve is nothing but oil thickened by the addition of wax. I prefer beeswax salves, though there are vegan alternatives, like candelil...

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Rooftop SIP Garden in LA

Got to visit John Zapf’s vertiginous LA compound yesterday. He’s got an amazing rooftop vegetable garden using self irrigating pots. John has little sun in the yard so the roof is only option for veggies. He uses drip line to refill the reservoirs. Reminds me of the Green Roof Growers of Chicago (minus the extreme weather). His two cents on what to grow: chard good, zucchini good, corn in pots not so good. For more info on self ir...

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Harvesting and Drying Calendula

Mrs. Homegrown here: Okay, so in a previous post I talked about growing Calendula. This post I’m going to talk about harvesting and drying it. The next post I’ll do on the topic will be about making a skin-healing salve from the dried petals, olive oil and beeswax. When to harvest:  Start harvesting your Calendula as soon as the first flush of flowers is in full bloom. Don’t try to “save” the flowers. The more you...

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Noodler’s Ink Reusable Fountain Pen

Julia just wrote a post on Ramshackle Solid about our newest solution to the frustration of disposable pens: Noodler’s Ink and fountain pens. From the Noodler’s website: Why Noodler’s? “Noodler’s Ink” has the lowest cost per volume in stores that carry it and it’s 100% made in the USA from cap to glass to ink. The ink with the catfish on the label symbolizes a southern sport that attempts to equalize the struggle between man a...

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Grassfed Turkey Cooking Tips from Shannon Hayes

Thinking of cooking a grass-fed turkey for Thanksgiving? Just in time for the holidays, grassfed cooking expert and farmer Shannon Hayes has a blog post with pastured turkey cooking and purchasing tips that you can read on her blog grassfedcooking.com. We’re honored to have been included in Shannon’s book Radical Homemakers . One of her most important tips is to know what you are buying, “If you don’t personally know the farme...

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What Mountaineering Accidents Can Teach Us About Food Preservation

Would you eat pickles made by these two? Each year the American Alpine Club publishes a book detailing all the mountaineering accidents in North America. The club’s goal is simple, as they put it, “to help you learn from the mistakes of others.” I’ve often thought that the same approach should be applied to many of the activities we love in the homesteading movement, especially food preservation. Now, I think t...

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Tippy Tap, Beta Version

A tippy tap is a water-saving handwashing device developed for use in areas where there is no running water, usually fabricated out of simple found materials. Erik and I both love appropriate tech, and this is a really good example of the form. The tippy tap literally saves lives by allowing people to wash up after visiting the bathroom. Erik included a tippy-tap, a rather fancy version of one, it turns out, in one of our link roundups.  I̵...

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