Arduino Homesteading Projects

An Arduino-based chicken coop controller on Instructables. At the risk of putting high tech in our low tech, I just took an introductory Arduino class at Crash Space along with the folks at Zapf Architectural Renderings. An Arduino is a simple, low cost microcontroller thingy. It’s got a bunch of digital outputs, analog and digital inputs and a programmable microchip. You download a program onto the chip (either one you&...

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Pierce Disease Resistant Grape Vines for Southern California

Pearl River Grape–slightly critter chewed, but still tasty. At the risk of counting our chickens before they’ve hatched, I think we finally have grape vines that are immune to Pierce’s disease. Pierce’s disease is a fatal condition spread by sucking (and sucky) insects known as sharpshooters. Once a vine get it there is no cure. Pierce’s is why your glass of California wine may one day be genetica...

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4 Vermicomposting Tips

...8217;t have as far to move. You can harvest faster, and get it done all at once instead of forming and reforming the pyramid. Of course when you’re doing either method you should remember the worms are very vulnerable when they’re out of their bin like this, vulnerable to heat and sun–you don’t want to forget about them!–and also to predators like chickens, birds and even dogs. 3) Some of you have worm bins with spig...

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Saturday Linkages: Poultry Shaming, Horse Treadmills and Garden Snark

Image: Thirdroar. Poultry shaming: http://www.thirdroar.com/journal/2014/2/24/public-poultry-shaming.html … Russian Man Uses Horse Treadmill to Power Log Splitter http://paleofuture.gizmodo.com/russian-man-uses-horse-treadmill-to-power-chainsaw-1532466975 … Garden Variety SNARK | Garden Rant http://gardenrant.com/2014/02/garden-variety-snark.html … Pison eu, Colon grossum! http://wp.me/p4bjRl-5V  Reviving forgotten recipes: ht...

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The Ecology Center of San Juan Capistrano

Kelly and I had the privilege of doing a short talk this weekend at the Ecology Center in San Juan Capistrano. If you’re interested in Southern California food forestry, greywater, chickens, you name it, this is the place to visit. They have an amazing garden, classes and a well curated gift store. When people ask us how to design garden and house systems in SoCal, we’re going to send them to the Ecology Center....

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Permaculture Design Course at the Ecology Center in San Juan Capistrano

I can’t think of a better place to earn a permaculture design certification than the Ecology Center in San Juan Capistrano. Their PDC course starts up soon . . .  Dive deeper into hands-on ecological design with this 3-month certification course in Orange County exploring food, water, waste, energy, and shelter, and become an eco-advocate! Read on for details and download the application. ECO-APPRENTICES / PERMACULTURE...

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My Trip to Maker Faire

...7 toting garden gnomes. And solar powered bikes. Not sure how this would work out on an LA street. Someone in the Homegrown area was processing greywater in bulk containers planted with bamboo. Overall I had a great time. It was a wee bit heavy on the robots and 3d printer gadgets but that’s to be expected. At least there were a few chickens present to balance out the proceedings. However, next year I’m coming with an overhead pro...

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Cheap and Natural Handsoap–and a rant

...assembled in Chinese factories–not to mention the big-ass clamshell package it all comes in. How long will the average unit be employed? A year? If does last more than a year, how long will Lysol keep making those plastic cartridges?  Oh, and joy! We’ll have more toxic batteries to figure out how to dispose of–all so we can wash our hands. Arggghhhh! I’ve got to go visit the chickens or something. My knickers are all in a...

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Thoughts on Samhain

...n style). Face it, this is the time of year to deal with mortality and memory. Halloween is lots of fun. (I love the genial anarchy of both Halloween and Fourth of July–they’re my favorite holidays.) So I save Oct. 31st for trick o’ treaters and parties and celebrate Samhain on the 1st, quietly, with a just a few simple gestures. I don’t plan on slaughtering any animals (Did I just hear our chickens breath a sigh of relief...

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What Are Your Favorite Compost Materials?

...ot of expensive lab tests. And I never seem to have enough materials even for our modest vegetable garden. So in the past I’ve used: horse bedding chicken manure from our own chickens alfalfa hay (kinda spendy these days) straw (takes a long time to break down) spent grain from a local brewery vegetable scraps from the farmer’s market Once again I’ve got to build another pile and I’m interested in hearing from readers a...

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