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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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

...of stretching, incessant shoe wearing and abstaining from running beat back the pain for a year or so. But then it returned for no good reason. Time to take those feet “backwards” All the interventions of conventional beekeepers, the pre-built comb and endless treatments, have produced weak bees. It may seem crazy, but I began to see an analogy to our feet. We ain’t born with shoes on, after all. So why do we think we need to i...

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Bantam Returns

Homegrown Neighbor here: I’ve been busy in the garden and letting the neighbors focus on their book, so I haven’t been blogging in a while. But today something very special happened that I have to share with you, dear readers. My bantam chicken, Debbie, the lighter colored chicken in the photo, disappeared last week. She simply didn’t come in at chicken bed time. This is very unusual. The chickens usually all line up and go...

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Coffee Chaff Chickens

...aw because we clean the inside of the house regularly–their overnight poo is quite concentrated– and it’s very easy to scoop up the poo when it’s mixed with fluffy wood shavings. It also smells better longer. Straw in the house is just sort of substandard. However…the big however….them’s dead trees we’re shoveling into our hen house, and as we all know, trees don’t grow on trees. But what̵...

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UMass Soil Testing

...finally got around to trying out the University of Massachusetts’ soil testing service and can report that it’s fast and cheap. I tested two areas of my yard for both nutrients and heavy metals and found out, more or less, what I expected, that I need to add a small amount of nitrogen. Surprisingly, for having such an old house, I don’t have a lead problem. It costs just $9 for the basic test and $13 for the basic test + heavy m...

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I drank a bottle of MiricleGro and then got on my riding lawn mower

We’re deep in the middle of the deadline for our next book, coming out in November–more on that soon! Today some links: Solar hot air collector made out of soda cans. Built-It-Solar Blog. From the two steps forward and three steps back department. Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa attends a groundbreaking ceremony for a school garden. So far, so good. But it’s sponsored by Scott’s MiracleGro who chipped in some do...

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All is Fire

...at I believe, along with Taleb, that the “highly improbable” is more probable than we think and that it’s best to do the things within our power to do and not worry about what’s going on beyond what we can change. That China’s Sovereign-Wealth Fund is considering investing in the bearish (to put it mildly) investment fund Taleb advises worries me. Time to turn that RiteAid parking lot into an olive grove! I’ll...

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Bean Fest, Episode 5: Black-Eyed Pea Salad (Lubyi Msallat)

...the Middle East, by Arto der Haroutunian. These recipes really fit well with our kitchen just now, considering its emphasis on classic summer vegetables (like eggplants, cucumbers and tomatoes) and bulk bin foods like beans and grains. This black-eyed pea appetizer (meze) is of Syrian-Lebanese origin and is easy to prepare. All you have to do is boil up the beans* and then make a dressing for them. Erik said it reminded him a little of a tabou...

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EDC Part I: Multi-tool and Knife

...bove, a gift from Mrs. Homegrown back when I worked in video in the early 90s. Last year I broke the file off of it and finally lost the tool while re-doing our greywater system. I replaced it with the cheapest Leatherman I could find, the Leatherman Kick: I have to say that I like my old Leatherman better and, thankfully, it turned up again. The Kick works fine but I prefer my old Leatherman’s all metal construction, its superior leather...

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