Our Keyhole Vegetable Bed: What Worked and What Didn’t Work

This is what our keyhole bed looked like yesterday just before I fed the remaining vegetables to our chickens and the compost pile. Ignore the large pot–that’s a future solar powered fountain that will be incorporated in a new vegetable garden we’re working on. Here’s what the keyhole bed looked like just after I installed it back in October. Note the compost repository in the cente...

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Stoicism as a Toolkit for Modern Life

Lucius Annaeus Seneca ca. 4 BC – AD 65. This is the first in a series of posts focusing on positive techniques for keeping our heads screwed on straight in troubled times. Growing food, doing stuff with your hands, drinking homebrew with friends–all these kinds of things help keep us grounded and hopeful. But sometimes you need a little more help. Maybe we’ll call these posts “When chickens aren’t enoug...

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Initial Thoughts on the Age of Limits 2013 Conference

...ay weekend, Erik and I and our buddy John Zapf, attended a conference called The Age of Limits: Conversations on the Collapse of the Global Industrial Model. This conference brings together different luminaries from the “doomosphere” to discuss the impact and implications of the three-headed hydra of peak oil, climate change and economic collapse. Now, Erik and I are aware that our lifestyle–what with the chickens and the canned...

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Defining a Garden’s Purpose

...are doing a kind of gardening, albeit one that is not helping our planet. What kind of gardening did I see from the train? The photo above sums it up. The most common sight was dead grass and junk storage. In more affluent areas people had lush grass and maybe a pool. Some had vegetable gardens, a few chickens and goats. One enterprising person, somewhere between Bakersfield and Fresno, had a walled garden protecting lush marijuana plants. Other...

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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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Homegrown Evolution Podcast Episode #1

Subscribe to the Homegrown Evolution podcast in itunes here. Download the mp3 on archive.org. On this first episode of the Homegrown Evolution podcast we talk food preservation with author Ashley English who blogs at small-measure.blogspot.com. English will have two books out next year on food preservation and chickens, part of a series entitled “Homemade Living,” (Lark Books). She also has a weekly column every Friday on Design*Sp...

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Alektyomancy: Divination by Rooster

We’ve blogged before about the Roman practice of using chickens to tell fortunes. It turns out the Greeks had their own chicken oracle method: The Pythagoreans inquired about the posthumous fate of their recently dead by using an uncommon method of divination called alektyomancy. On a table were traced squares containing the letters of the alphabet, and in each square seeds were placed. After proper incantations, a whit...

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Saturday Linkages: Makers, Haters and Beekeeping Donkeys

...-guide-to-the-williams+sonoma-catalog … Hand-crank mills with which to grind one’s own flour ($675.95) are the new artisanal mayonnaise: http://boingboing.net/2012/11/09/hand-crank-mills-with-which-to.html … From the be careful who you put on a pedestal department . . . Nikola Tesla the Eugenicist: Eliminating Undesirables by 2100 http://blogs.smithsonianmag.com/paleofuture/2012/11/nikola-tesla-the-eugenicist-eliminating-undesirables-by-210...

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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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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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