Mistakes we have made . . .

...my own advice–plant in season and in respect of place. Hops belong in the Pacific Northwest. In contrast, the heat loving prickly pear cactus in our front yard provides both tasty nopales and fruit reliably every year while growing in terrible alkaline soil with no added water or fertilizer. The problem with the prickly pear is that it is too prodigious, and that’s the kind of problem you can hope for as an urban homesteader. 3. News...

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Salsa Dancing in a World Without Oil

For those of you in the Los Angeles area here’s some events to mark on the calendar: SALSA SALSA What: Salsa Salsa, a Celebration of Love Apples Type: Public Art Event in which we make salsa while dancing to salsa music together. When: Sunday, August 17th, 3 to 7 p.m. Where: Farmlab, 1745 N. Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012 Free to the public SALSA SALSA is a harvest festival inviting the citizens of Los Angeles to come make and taste...

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The Great Sunflower Project

Help determine the health of urban bees with a citizen science experiment called the Great Sunflower Project. It’s simple and free. Just register at the Great Sunflower Project website and you’ll be sent a package of wild annual sunflower seeds ( Helianthus annuus). Twice a month you’ll get an email to remind you to time how long it takes for five bees to visit your sunflowers. Sounds like it has drinking game potential, though...

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Mulberries

..., claiming that doing so produces an unpleasant, mildly psychedelic experience. Apparently you throw up, fall on the ground and become convinced you’re going to croak. We wonder if this is a myth, like the story about boy scouts roasting hot dogs on Oleander sticks (yes, Oleander is very poisonous, but apparently the boy scout story is an urban legend). We found the Mulberries sweet and delicious. It’s a fruit that doesn’t ship...

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In Praise of Disorder

Loose chickens in Houston A neighborhood whose demographics fall somewhere between the extremes of the crack den and the country club presents just the right level of civic inattention to allow the urban homesteader to get away with many of the illegal projects profiled in this blog: greywater, backyard poultry, and front yard vegetable gardening, to mention just a few. Ideally you have a balance between order and disorder–neither gunfir...

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Something for Nothing – Wild Mustard Greens

...s the ‘white mustard’ of commerce . . . The pungency of mustard develops when cold water is added to the ground-up seed – an enzyme (myrosin) acts on a glycoside (sinigrin) to produce a sulphur compound. The reaction takes 10 – 15 minutes. Mixing with hot water or vinegar, or adding salt, inhibits the enzyme and produces a mild bitter mustard.” And speaking of urban foraging, we’ve been inspired by our visitor...

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An Echo Park Weed Salad

There’s nothing like a little urban blight to produce an excellent salad. While not impoverished (not unless you consider dilapidated $600,000 bungalows a sign of destitution), our neighborhood ain’t exactly Beverly Hills, meaning that in terms of landscaping it’s a little rough around the edges. And the edges–parkways, cracks in the asphalt, neglected plantings were, on this warm February day, overflowing with weeds. Edi...

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A Bicyclist’s Bill of Rights Part II

...ificant road space. 3) Cyclists have the right to the full support of educated law enforcement. 4) Cyclists have the right to the full support of our judicial system and the right to expect that those who endanger, injure or kill cyclists be dealt with to the full extent of the law. 5) Cyclists have the right to routine accommodations in all roadway projects and improvements. 6) Cyclists have the right to urban and roadway planning, development a...

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Make a Sourdough Starter

Every damn urban homesteader ought to have a sourdough starter living on their countertop. It’s easy and here’s how we do it around the Homegrown Evolution compound: 1. Get yourself a glass or ceramic container with a lid. It should be able to hold at least three to four cups of starter. Don’t use metal. 2. Put into this container one cup of white flour and one cup of lukewarm water and stir until mixed. Put it in a warm place....

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Loquat Season

...rya japonica) that, at this time of year, produce prodigious amounts of fruit that mostly goes to waste. Many of these trees live in public spaces, the parkway and people’s front yards making them prime candidates for urban foraging i.e. free food. The tree itself has a vaguely tropical appearance with waxy leaves that look like the sort of plastic foliage that used to grace dentist office lobbies back in the 1960s. In short it’s a re...

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