Our Rocket Stove

  Editor’s note: we have a new design for a portable rocket stove here. Low-tech is the new high-tech, and the best example of the low-tech revolution is the miraculous rocket stove–a stove that makes it possible to cook with small twigs–no logs needed! Best of all rocket stoves are easy to build. We liked the idea so much that we decided to build a permanent one just off our back deck for entertaining and as a backup to o...

Continue reading…

The Making of a Great Olive Oil

Kelly admires the olives Thanks to our good friend Dale Benson, Kelly and I got to see how a really high quality olive oil is made. Dale knows Matt Norelli, the wine and olive oil maker at Preston Vineyards of Dry Creek, an organic family farm near Healdsburg in Northern California. Matt was nice enough to let us watch the complicated olive oil machinery in action. First the freshly picked olives go into a big hopper (above). They are...

Continue reading…

Urban Homesteading Mistakes: Landscape Fabric

Since you all seem to enjoy accounts of our many failures around the Root Simple compound, I thought I’d share what must be one of the worst mistakes I’ve made. It’s a error up in our great chandelier of failures along with buying a 91 year old house on a hill with a bad foundation. Two words for you: landscape fabric–that plastic stuff sold in rolls at big box stores that allegedly blocks out weeds. Just after we bough...

Continue reading…

Three Power Tools Every Urban Homesteader Should Own

On nearly all the work I’ve done on our house, everything from chicken coops to wood floors I’ve used just three power tools: corded drill circular saw sabre sawjig saw While I also own a router, a miter saw, a sander and a few other miscellaneous power tools, the three tools above I consider essential. Even if you don’t own a house, but would like to build some furniture or help a friend or relative with a repair project,...

Continue reading…

Broom Corn–or is it Broomcorn?

Mrs. Homegrown here: This summer I suggested we plant broom corn for no other good reason than I saw the seed pack at the nursery and thought it would be fun to make a broom. (This sort of temporary insanity often overtakes me in the seed aisle.) So without knowing anything at all about broom corn or broom making we planted a block of the stuff. Maybe I should have done a little research into broom making before planting, but I let it slide ...

Continue reading…

Urban Farm Magazine

We have a article on urban farmers across America in the premiere issue of a magazine bound to appeal to readers of this blog, Urban Farm. Our article, Where Urban Meets Farm, profiles the efforts of our friends the Green Roof Growers of Chicago, Em Jacoby of Detroit and Kelly Yrarrazaval of Orange County. All of these fine folks have repurposed urban and suburban spaces to grow impressive amounts of food, a common sense trend popular enough to...

Continue reading…

Back on the Yogurt Train: How to Make Yogurt

...;re transforming. Milk, of course. Make sure your milk doesn’t say “Ultra Pasturized” or UP on the label. That stuff is just nasty. Otherwise, you can use whole, 2%, 1% — and even skim, I presume, though I’ve never tried it. How much milk? As much as you want. But it seems to me that for the trouble, a quart would be the minimum it would be worthwhile making. After all, it keeps a long time.  The procedure: Heat m...

Continue reading…

Clean your bathroom without resorting to Poison

...gery. Stuff just needs to be wiped down to remove dust and other surface dirt. Whatever I clean, however I clean it, will get dirty the next time it’s used, so why all the struggle and germ phobia? All cheap white vinegar is the same, but I like El Pato brand because of the duck on the label. Why doesn’t El Pato make t-shirts? The vinegar spray is great because it doesn’t leave any residue behind (which soap does), shin...

Continue reading…

There Will Be Kraut Part II–Full Day Hands-On Fermentation Workshop at the Greystone Mansion

...st continues with a fermented dark whole-grain rye bread recipe made with wild yeast starter. We’ll finish the day with a quick brine-based daikon radish fermented pickle and the signature Institute Flavor Bar™ packed full of spices and flavorings to make your pickle unique. SPECIAL OFFER!  Purchase Together: Friday Evening Lecture + Full-Day Workshop for only $200 ! Erik Knutzen:  Co-author of The Urban Homestead and Making It: Radic...

Continue reading…

It Quacks Like a Duck

The Happy Ducks of the Petaluma Urban Homestead It seems a new lifestyle is taking shape, in part born of the ashes of the World Trade Center, the aftermath of Katrina, and the endless resource wars our country feels the need to fight. There’s a great desire out there to “do something” and a refreshing DIY spirit of self-sufficiency is beginning to emerge. Two of the indicators of this new lifestyle seem to be the mixture o...

Continue reading…