Shameless Self Promotion, With Kitten

We’ve heard from several people that Making It is an excellent sleep aid. Just a reminder that our two books, Making It: Radical Home Ec for a Post-Consumer World and The Urban Homestead make great holiday gifts. There’s also a Kindle edition of both Making It andThe Urban Homestead if you’re e-inclined. Even if you just click through our Amazon bookstore (on the right column) and don’t buy any of our books, we...

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Yet More Urban Homesteading Mistakes

My new excuse: I didn’t write it, the kitten did! Three of my favorite Root Simple compound blunders happened this week. Yesterday I announced a “Vermincomposting” class. I meant vermicomposting, of course, but I’d point out that it is good to remember that vermin are actually compostable, along with everything biological –including bloggers. Earlier this week I meant to mention Native Americans  but, due...

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The Making of a Great Olive Oil

...(called malaxation) the pulpy olive mass goes into a high speed centrifuge: Matt (left) Dale (right) with the centrifuge At the end of all this machinery the oil pours out of a spigot and into a steel drum: We all had the great privilege of tasting the freshly squeezed oil. I won’t soon forget that heavenly flavor. Matt told us that it takes around a ton of olives to make 25 to 30 gallons of oil. The olives come from a thousand t...

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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 ...

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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...

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Composting the Deceased/ My DIY Funeral Fantasies

...’d be a pollutant. A low end version of this would be setting my ashes afloat in a wicker basket and using it for target practice with flaming arrows, while the Immigrant Song plays. Not great, because my ash is feeding no one, and it cost a lot of BTUs to turn me to ash, but at least I’d not be in a coffin, and there would be fire and arrows. Fantasy 2: As a huge fan of Patrick O’Brian’s novels of Royal Navy life in the 1...

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Matching Your Waste Stream to Your Composting Method

Image source: Philip Cohen, Wikipedia. This past weekend I taught a composting class at a local Waldorf school to a group of adults. When I asked the students to describe their living situations, I realized I needed to take a detour from the main activity of the day, building a large biodynamic compost pile, into a discussion of worm composting. Why? A few of the attendees lived in apartments or had very small yards. The type...

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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...

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Composting at the NATO Protests in Chicago

...bales of straw and dumpstered cardboard from my carbon stockpile to take care of so much nitrogenous waste. Over the past month, the pile, well integrated and covered with a thick layer of straw reached thermophilic temperatures and now is in its mesophilic stage. Most of the food is just residual moisture now and the pile has dropped in volume by at least 20% due to composting and evaporation. So much future soil! Thanks Steven, Sarah, Patrick...

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Book Review: The Urban Bestiary

...cal news blog. I don’t doubt that those neighbors were driven by fear, or grief, to hire this trapper, but the death was so cruel and ultimately so pointless and stupid, given the number of coyotes in the area, and the incontrovertible forces which are driving them here, it made me very sad. To be clear, The Urban Bestiary is not an no-kill polemic. I’ve perhaps put too much emphasis on the aspects of the book which focus on managemen...

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