Decomposed Granite as Mulch: A very bad idea

...osemary bush or two. By the time the yard becomes a sad, desertified tangle of unhappy succulents and crabgrass, the flippers are long gone. I’ve got a big issue with DG as mulch. In order for DG to look good, it’s got to be compacted and soil compaction is really bad for plants, including hardy natives and succulents. It stifles the life of the soil, and does not build new soil. And eventually, the plastic will fail, and the weeds wi...

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Growing Strawberries in a Self Irrigating Gutter (SIG).

...I got this idea from Larry Hall, who made a video showing how he uses gutters as self watering containers. In the first part of the video Larry shows how to use a gutter to supply water to a row of pots. In the second part he shows a two gutter strawberry growing system. I decided to build Hall’s self-irrigating gutter (let’s call it a SIG) to grow strawberries. Here’s how I did it: With some scrap wood I made a support syste...

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Straw Bale Garden: What I Learned

...straw bale gardening I’ve decided to continue straw bale gardening on a smaller scale. I’m going to build some raised beds and fill them with soil, but I’m leaving room for two bales to grow nitrogen hungry crops, principally squash. I’m also planning on building a box to hold those bales so I don’t have to stake them every season. Like most things in life it’s not an either/or proposition. You can have a conv...

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Video Tour of the Root Simple Compound

Johnny Sanphillippo from Faircompanies.com shot a nice video tour of our house. Excuses for the audio–it was shot during a very windy day. And I really need to get around to painting the garage! You’ll see our chicken coop. The video also features our rocket stove, horno and emergency potty plus a spin around the pantry. But the real star of this video is our 1920 bungalow. I wish they still build houses like this (sorry Dwell). T...

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Joshua Tree Earthen Oven Class With Kurt Gardella

Kurt Gardella measures the radius of the horno dome. Joshua Tree Earthen Oven Class March 8-10, 2013 Earthen ovens are inexpensive to build, fun to use, and provide baking environment impossible to recreate in the kitchen. This Spring, Kurt Gardella returns to California for three days to teach you how to make your own earthen oven. Kurt has built dozens of these ovens in New Mexico, and has great expertise in both adobe construction and earth...

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Extreme Low-Tech Communication

This has to be the ultimate achievement in low-powered long-distance communication. Ham radio operator Michael Rainey, AA1TJ, transmitted a message over a distance of over 1,000 miles by yelling Morse code with his own voice into this primitive home-made transmitter, nicknamed “El Silbo.” No power was used other than that generated by his own voice vibrating the microphone (which was a re-purposed speaker). If you...

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The Other Kind of Fencing

That’s Mrs. Homegrown on the left back in 2005. It was with great sadness that we got the news of the passing of our fencing coach Amy Fortune in April. Both Kelly and I were lucky to have taken many lessons with Amy. She was one of those teachers that bring unexpected and valuable life lessons far beyond the topic at hand. She was patient, encouraging and always positive. We miss her very much and send our condolences t...

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Lady Urine, Water Conservation and Halfway Humanure

I approve of the oval shape of the opening of this funnel– and the sporty color. Fact 1: Human urine is an excellent source of nitrogen for your garden. It can be applied directly to a compost pile, or diluted 10:1 and used on plants. Fact 2: Nature has equipped the male of the species in such a manner that it is easy for him to contribute nitrogen to the compost pile. For women, it’s a bit more tricky. So, how do...

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Yes, We Do the Pinterest Thing

...terest for? To gather design ideas for home and garden. I just built this trellis to grow vegetables vertically. It’s part of a plan I have to deck over an ugly concrete patio. The inspiration for the trellis came in part from an image I pinned off the interwebs: Not having a natural design sense, I gather images and synthesize them to come up with plans I can build. Google image search and Pinterest are great inspiratio...

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Tomato Can Stove

Here’s another stove based on the Penny Wood Stove by Mark Jurey for heating up that pot of coffee when the gas and electricity go out. It’s a bit simpler than the Pepsi can stove and doesn’t require fuel other than some sticks or small scraps of wood. The stove works on the same principle as a charcoal chimney starter and it is simple to build.1. Use a 28 ounce can – I used a Trader Joes tomato can. First, drill a bu...

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