Nominate Your Favorite Complainer

...at most complainers are lonely, clinically depressed people seeking attention. Or perhaps bureaucrats justifying their jobs in a recession. So the competition might give our complaint athletes just what they want: to be noticed. But on this blog, a yearly complaint competition would give us a way to organize and round up the most outrageous complaints. With urban homesteading activities on the rise there will certainly be more of these unfortunat...

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Mulberries

..., claiming that doing so produces an unpleasant, mildly psychedelic experience. Apparently you throw up, fall on the ground and become convinced you’re going to croak. We wonder if this is a myth, like the story about boy scouts roasting hot dogs on Oleander sticks (yes, Oleander is very poisonous, but apparently the boy scout story is an urban legend). We found the Mulberries sweet and delicious. It’s a fruit that doesn’t ship...

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Our New Chickens

When I put out the call to you, our readers, to name the ideal urban chicken I got a call from my friend Craig Ruggless of Winnetka Farms. He said something like, “Duh, the Barnevelder, of course!” Craig and his partner Gary Jackemuk have an ambitions breeding program to take the Barnevelder from show chicken back to farm chicken. So far the results are impressive. I took this as a message that I should fix my run and get ready fo...

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Mistakes we have made . . .

...my own advice–plant in season and in respect of place. Hops belong in the Pacific Northwest. In contrast, the heat loving prickly pear cactus in our front yard provides both tasty nopales and fruit reliably every year while growing in terrible alkaline soil with no added water or fertilizer. The problem with the prickly pear is that it is too prodigious, and that’s the kind of problem you can hope for as an urban homesteader. 3. News...

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Whiteflies

The upside to garden pests and diseases is getting to do a little amateur backyard science. Any excuse to mix up a martini, pull out the microscope and take a close look at things and we’re all over it. This week’s happy hour entomology comes thanks to a infestation of white flies living on the underside of our tree collards. I believe the specific culprit pictured above is the greenhouse whitefly, Trialeurodes vaporariorum which, de...

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A Bicyclist’s Bill of Rights Part II

...ificant road space. 3) Cyclists have the right to the full support of educated law enforcement. 4) Cyclists have the right to the full support of our judicial system and the right to expect that those who endanger, injure or kill cyclists be dealt with to the full extent of the law. 5) Cyclists have the right to routine accommodations in all roadway projects and improvements. 6) Cyclists have the right to urban and roadway planning, development a...

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Al Pacino Closed My Bike Lane

It’s the classic urban cycling problem: when faced with the indignities of riding in a car-centric city like Los Angeles, do you make it all one big fun challenge or become what Bikesnob calls “the righteous cyclist?”  Righteous cyclists, according to Bikesnob, are “convinced that the very act of turning the pedals will actually restore acres and acres of rainforest, suck smog from the sky and refreeze the ice caps....

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A Time Out Box for Quail

..., lush rainy spring in Chicago and all my birds get a large bouquet of fresh weedy greens everyday to supplement their feed: chickweed, dandelion, clover, shephard’s purse, garlic mustard, stinging nettles. Besides chickens, I have been raising quail for the past four years – I have both Coturnix and Bobwhite quail. Quail need to be enclosed and can’t ‘free range’. They are top choice of any urban predator: raccoon, possum, stray cat and rapto...

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Root Simple and LA Bread Bakers at Artisinal LA

This Saturday Kelly and I will be joining a panel discussion on urban homesteading along with our good friends Craig Ruggless of Winnetka Farms and goat keepers and cheese makers Gloria Putnam and Stephen Rucidel. The panel will take place at Artisinal LA on Saturday April 16th at 2 pm in Santa Monica. I will also be taking part in a bread baking demo along with the LA Bread Bakers the same day at 1 pm. More information at artisinalla.com....

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Five Lessons We Learned About Lead in Soil

...ndred years of auto exhaust and dust from brake linings. Applying a little alchemy to turn lead to gold, I think the most productive thing I can do is to help get the word out about lead soil and how common this problem is in urban areas. Towards that end I though I would share five things that we learned from our backyard lead crisis: Buyer Beware. When you are shopping for a house do multiple soil tests. Once you buy the house it’s too...

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