All is Fire

Photo by Olivier Ffrench Scholar, former Wall Street trader and author Nassim Nicholas Taleb is in his native Lebanon this week shopping for olive groves, according to an article in today’s Wall Street Journal (enter “Taleb’s Pessimism Lures CIC” in Google to get around the pay wall). Taleb explains, “Healthy investments are those that produce goods that humans need to consume, not flat-screen TVs. Sto...

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Vertical Vegetables

Frederick Law Olmstead’s office has a 19th century “vertical garden.” Vines! I was somewhat dismayed to see a local newspaper article touting a company that sells a $1,000 vertical vegetable garden system to schools. The company has a plan to sell this system nationwide. The problem is that I have serious doubts about the long term viability of vertical garden walls for a number of reasons: irrigation, maintenance and start u...

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Barefoot Running: No Shoes, No Problem

Photo by Magalie L’Abbé Beekeeper Kirk Anderson has a simple message, lets bees be bees. Let them form their own comb, raise their own queens and generally go about doing what they want to do. In short, work with nature rather than try to control her. “Duh,” one might say, but Kirk’s beekeeping method just so happens to run counter to a hundred years of conventional beekeeping practices and “expert” advice....

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More Furniture in 24 Hours

With our stained and Doberman-thrashed thrift store furniture about to end up on the sidewalk, my thoughts have turned to what to replace it with on a limited budget. Naturally, I’m thrilled when the interweb answers my conundrum with yet another 1970s era plywood furniture building manual. This one comes courtesy of a design blog called Ouno, who put up a flickr set of a few pages and plans from a book called More Furniture in 24 Hours...

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Laundry to Landscape 2.0

I just installed a “laundry to landscape” greywater system at the house of Lora “Homegrown Neighbor” Hall using greywater guru Art Ludwig’s free open-source plans. It was a cinch. And, thanks to a revision in the California plumbing code last year, it’s legal with no permit required. I started in the laundry room by rigging up a three way diverter valve so that Lora can route the greywater back to the sew...

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Vegetable Garden Update: Too Much Salad

It’s amazing what you can grow in just a 4 foot by 8 foot area. From top to bottom in the picture above: Escarole mix: Misticanza Di Indivie E ScaroleLettuce: Lattuga Quattro StagioniChicory: Cicoria Variegata Di CastelfrancoDandelion GreensSwiss Chard: Verde Da Taglio Approximately half the bed is devoted to salad makings. Combined with another 2 foot by 4 foot area of arugula elsewhere in our yard, we’ve had a whole lot of salads...

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Cleaning the Sink with Baking Soda and Lemons

   Our sink, freshly cleaned and so darn photogenic!This is because you can’t see all the clutter just out of view.   A little green cleaning review here. It is possible to keep a sink white and shiny without bleach or other toxic cleansers. I took pictures this week while I was cleaning to prove it. Below is our grungy sink. A photo can’t quite capture that particularly scuzzy quality a dirty sink has, th...

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Stinging Nettles and Cat Allergies

Facebookers have already seen these pics. Kitty, being a fast moving black hole, is very hard to photograph. Mrs. Homegrown here: Sorry this is sort of rambling, but context is everything. Our friend Anne, of the pea-eating-Chihuahua fame, and the chicken-sitting-on-kitten fame, and various other fames, is a frequent animal rescuer. She came over to our house maybe 2 weeks ago with a pet carrier. She said, “Someone dropped this of...

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Gathering in Portland: Looking for ideas

Hey all, We’re visiting in Portland on Tuesday, May 3rd and Wednesday, May 4th as part of our book tour. On the Tuesday we arrive, we’re going to be on KGW’s “Live at 7″ program. We’ll be done by 7:15 and have nothing to do afterward. Would anybody like to meet us downtown? Our idea is that we could settle ourselves at a pub or cafe, and anybody who feels like it could come and hang out with us. We’ll ta...

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Why We Travel By Train

Amtrak ain’t this grand, but it’s a lot better than flying! Photo via the Library of Congress. We’re headed up to Northern California, Oregon and Washington to promote our new book Making It: Radical Home Ec for a Post-Consumer World . And, with the exception of the San Francisco to Seattle leg, we’re traveling by train. Why do this when it’s more expensive, time consuming and probably makes our dear publis...

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