Qualitites of a Good Outdoor Room

...ould be concrete or wood) A place to sit Art, objects, i.e. some human touch With these ideas in mind, how can I improve the outdoor spaces in the photos in this post? On the front porch I could add a small table to hold a book and a glass of beer. The space with the stove needs shelter from the sun during the morning (in another year the grapes will cover the arbor but until that time maybe I need to string up some shading). The earth oven we...

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CooKit Solar Cooker Made Out of Wood

The nice folks at Solar Cookers International gave us permission to reprint plans for their CooKit solar cooker in our book Making It. You can access those plans, as well as many other solar cooker projects, for free, on their website here. I’ve made CooKits out of cardboard and aluminum foil a couple of times. One problem is that I eventually bang up the cardboard and I’ve got to make a new one. This summer I had a lot of  1/4 inc...

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Free Preparedness E-Books

Camp loom, for making mats and mattresses from the 1911 edition of the Boy Scout Handbook Through a circuitous bit of aimless interweb searching I came across a huge list of downloadable urban homesteading/gardening/survivalist manuals on a site called hardcorepreppers.com. Unfortunately, this site is so popular that it seems to be down every time I’ve checked. But thanks to Google’s caching feature I was able to access a li...

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The Cat Poop Portal: Litter Box Composting, Installment #1

...d at the end. The Humanure Handbook is a good general guide to composting principles as well having special instructions regarding the safe handling of poop. If you don’t know how to compost, I’d start there. That book is widely available, and they have a free pdf on their website. See our resources tab.  Our cat litter is compostable–we’ve been using both Feline Pine and Yesterdays News–pine and paper, respectively...

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Bee Hotel

From an old beekeeping book (thanks Steve!),  How to Keep Bees and Sell Honey: This is probably the finest bee hive in the world. It was built by E. S. Williams, St. Petersburg, Florida, who spent 6 months constructing it. It holds two standard 10 frame hive bodies and a bottom board. The second story lifts off for hive manipulations. It is wired for 110 volt current, has window shades and curtains. The front plastic doors swing easily and fit...

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SIP Improvement

Watermelon SIPs on the Chicago rooftop of the Green Roof Growers We’ve featured self-irrigating pots (SIPs) in our first book and have done a lot of experiments with them over the years. One of the problems with growing tomatoes in SIPs is that the roots can get into the water chamber and cause problems and diseases. I found a nice workaround to this problem via an anonymous tip on a BoingBoing tomato post: With tomatoes, you need...

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Deadly Nightshade vs. Black Nightshade

...the International Plant Genetic Resources Institute, describe the uses of Solanum nigrum and end up advocating for its widespread use as a cultivated food source. Here’s what they say about it’s toxicity in their book, Black nightshades, Solanum nigrum L. and related species, which you can read in Google Books, . . . the comparable number of accounts reporting that these species [Solanum nigrum] are harmless as food and fodder source...

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Thoughts on Samhain

Image from the beautiful book, Haunted Air by Ossian Brown  Mrs. Homegrown here: I celebrate Samhain on November 1st because I enjoy marking the changing seasons of the year by making these old festivals my own. It’s so easy to lose track of time in an electronic culture. It’s even easier to lose track when you live in Los Angeles, land of the perpetual sunshine. Samhain marks the last harvest of the year. The weather is...

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