Native Plant Workshop

Vitus californica covering our ugly chain link fence There’s a couple of common misconceptions amongst novice gardeners about native plants: 1. If you use native plants the whole garden has to be natives. In fact, it’s great to mix natives with non-native plants. The natives bring in beneficial wildlife, are hardy and are efficient in terms of water use. Flexibility is key here–go ahead and mix natives with vegetables, fruit...

Continue reading…

Tell the Bees

ical free style of beekeeping). Even if you aren’t in Los Angeles, the Backwards Beekeepers site has a lot of nice tips and information. And what an amazing group people! In the midst of our challenging economic times, it’s groups like this, forming around a sense of group cooperation and problems solving that are going to really shift the paradigm in the coming years. Let’s hope that Backwards Beekeeping groups will form all o...

Continue reading…

California Agriculture Journal Online

The University of California has put 63 years worth of its journal California Agriculture online for convenient downloading at californiaagriculture.ucanr.org. There’s plenty of detailed (peer reviewed!) nuggets for the home gardener between the pages of this scientific journal. Make sure to check out the article and video of UC Berkeley entomologist Gordon Frankie explaining what kinds of plants are best for attracting bees in your urban...

Continue reading…

How Much Can You Carry on a Bicycle?

How I transported the 8-foot poles for our new trellis. We’re overdue for an update on our car-free Los Angeles lifestyle experiment, but one thing that has made it possible is the cargo bike I’ve had since 2006, the Xtracycle. Xtracycle pioneered the “longtail” bike, essentially a bike stretched out in order to accommodate large panier bags. My Xtracycle was an add-on to an existing mountain bike. Xtracycle and their com...

Continue reading…

Help us With a Fodder System for our Hens

a DIY fodder system but I’m a bit confused by the instructions I’ve seen floating about the interwebs. Which is where you come in. Have you built a fodder system? Do you know any good instructions? How big should it be for five hens? Or do you know of a reasonable off-the-shelf option? In our climate I think I can keep it outside. Leave some ideas, notions and links in the comments:...

Continue reading…

How To Calculate Anything

It needn’t come to this! (Though we think this is pretty cool.) Need to calculate Ohm’s law? Convert women’s clothing sizes? Calculate the area of a circle? Figure out whether its better to buy or rent a home? It’s all at www.calculatoredge.com. The site has lots of formulas for the urban homsteader even if you never have to perform a Sallen-Key Butterworth Low Pass Filter equation (except, perhaps, for recreational reaso...

Continue reading…

Campfire Cooking: Fish in Clay (& Vegetarian Options!)

grass/veggie technique at the end of this post. For cooking a fish in clay, the first step is to find clay either in the wild or, in the case of this workshop, from the local art supply store. If you’re buying the clay, it doesn’t matter what kind–so go for the least expensive type. If you are harvesting your own clay, just make sure the ground in that spot you’re digging in isn’t polluted, e.g. the site of an old ga...

Continue reading…

Of Skunks, Sauerkraut and Stoicism

We were honored when the nice folks behind Stoic Week 2013 asked us to write a blog post. It begins, Practicality is why stoicism works so well as the philosophical operating system of urban homesteading. While Foucault and Hegel might help me navigate the epistemological frontier, when I’m staring at a carefully tended vegetable bed that just got destroyed by a skunk, you can bet I’ll reach for the Seneca. Read the rest here....

Continue reading…

Saturday Linkages: Cheese Powder and Torpedo Bikes

Cheese powder anyone? Cheese powder: What is it?: http://boingboing.net/2013/11/14/cheese-powder-what-is-it.html … Heat Your Clothes, Not Your House http://www.lowtechmagazine.com/2013/11/heat-your-clothes-not-your-house.html … Heat Your Desk, Not Your Office http://www.notechmagazine.com/2013/11/heat-your-desk-not-your-office.html … Bog Butter: Storing Food in Soil http://www.notechmagazine.com/2013/11/bog-butter-storing-food-in-soil.html … App...

Continue reading…