Michael Tortorello on Urban Homesteading

Michael Tortorello, who wrote that nice piece about us a few months ago, “Living Large, Off the Land,” is one of my favorite writers on gardening and “urban homesteady” topics. He’s critical without being curmudgeonly and manages to separate the truth from the hype (and there’s an awful lot of hype in this movement!). Plus he managed to get an entire paragraph about my thyrsus into the New York Times. Thyrsus...

Continue reading…

CooKit Solar Cooker Made Out of Wood

...lks 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 inch plywood lef...

Continue reading…

Cheap and Natural Handsoap–and a rant

...n you touch a soap dispenser, you are about to wash your hands. When you wash you hands, you kill all the germs. It doesn’t matter how “germy” the dispenser is–unless you plan to suck on it. This device is about as needful as evening wear for hogs. 2) In 2002, at the urging of the AMA, the FDA evaluated anti-bacterial soaps. The AMA was concerned that these anti-bacterial soaps (i.e. Triclosan-based products*) may be bree...

Continue reading…

Peat-free Planting Mix Recipe With Coconut Coir

...articularly sustainable in that way. Nothing is perfect. So, if you have peat on hand or prefer peat you may use it in this recipe instead of coir, just substitute it, 1:1. PERLITE: Perlite is a volcanic glass which, upon being subjected to extremely high temperatures (850C +), puffs–sort of like popcorn, or a Pop Rock. Obviously, though its origins are natural, it is an industrial product, but it is very useful for making soil fluffy and l...

Continue reading…

The Return of the Fraternal Society

...en, incidentally, were made Freemasons in France beginning in the early 18th century. In the French, Spanish and Italian speaking parts of the world Freemasonry is co-ed. Freemasonry in the US lost much of its political, social and spiritual content in the wake of a scandal that took place in the 1820s. From that point on it became what some have called “Rotary with ritual.” That is, just a social club with some strange outfits and,...

Continue reading…

Healing the yard with a huge compost pile

...two purposes: 1) to remove the topsoil, where most of the lead (lead being an airborne pollutant) is located and 2) to harvest the clay beneath to use in our earth oven. Between the clay harvested for making the adobe bricks and cob, and the supplemental clay that we’ve put aside for future repairs and maintenance on the oven, the pit has grown to be about 12 feet wide and 2 feet deep. This pit is going to be our new planting area, but obvi...

Continue reading…

The Sacred Chickens of Ancient Rome

...038; d’Alembert: Sacred chickens were chickens raised by priests in Roman times, and which were used for making auguries. Nothing significant was undertaken in the Senate or in the armies, without omens being drawn from the sacred chickens. The most common method of drawing these omens consisted in examining the manner in which the chickens dealt with grain that was presented to them. If they ate it avidly while stamping their feet a...

Continue reading…

Indigo 101

...era suffruticosa, which is native to Mexico and South America. • You can grow your own indigo (any seeds you buy labeled as Indigo will probably be tictorium or suffructicosa). Indigofera is a pretty plant from the legume family. That family is valuable in the garden because it draws nitrogen into the soil. It would be nice to grow just as a conversation starter. I don’t know much about making the dye from scratch, but it is quite possible...

Continue reading…

Saturday Linkages: Pig’s Milk, Hot Sauce, Clutter

Nettle hot sauce recipe from the Wild Food Lab. How About a Nice Cold Glass of Camel, Buffalo, or Pig Milk? Artisinal cocktail movement gets out of hand: Stop the Madness! | Garden Rant http:// gardenrant.com/2012/07/stop-t he-madness.html  …   Yes, there’s a parasite of the day blog: http:// dailyparasite.blogspot.com The Clutter Culture via UCLA Magazine http:// magazine.ucla.edu/features/the-c lutter-culture/  … And, how to...

Continue reading…