Greywater Workshops in Los Angeles

The folks at the Greywater Action Team asked me to spread the word on a few workshops they are doing in the LA area in October: Going Green with Greywater When: Friday October 14, 2011 – 9:00am – 12:00pmWhere: LA Eco Village 117 Bimini Pl Los Angeles CA 90004Cost: Sliding scale $25-50 limited work trade positions availableRegister hereReusing greywater, water from sinks, showers, and washing machines, is a great way to save water! I...

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Emergency Toilet Sanitation

I was asked by our local neighborhood council to talk about emergency turlets for their public safety committee. Doing some preliminary research about what our government suggests concerns me. FEMA and, it seems, all the state and local agencies I looked into rely on a poop in a bag, throw in some enzymes or bleach and throw it into a pit approach. In a short term emergency, a day or two let’s say, this might work fine. But if the emerge...

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SoilWeb: An Online Soil Survey Resource

One of the highlights of the California Master Gardener Conference I just spoke at was a lecture by Toby O’Geen, Ph.D., Assistant Soil Resource Specialist at UC Extension. O’Geen mentioned an amazing online soil resource called SoilWeb, avaliable at http://casoilresource.lawr.ucdavis.edu/drupal/node/902. SoilWeb overlays detailed soil information on Google Maps and Google Earth. There’s even a SoilWeb iPhone app allowing you to use...

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Congrats Denver!

From the Denver Post:   Denver City Council eases way to own chickens, goats at home Apparently it was previously legal, but more difficult because you had to pay steep fees and inform all your neighbors. Now, thanks to citizen action by urban homesteaders, the fee has been reduced to 20 bucks and you don’t have to inform your neighbors in order to keep 8 chickens or ducks and up to 2 pygmy goats. No roosters, natch. Congrats Denver! IR...

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Are Raised Beds a Good Idea?

Raised bed fail. Our appalling parkway beds. Extra demerits for having used treated lumber! * Raised beds have some pluses and minuses. Lately I’ve been thinking about their drawbacks. Namely: Cost How fast they dry out in a hot climate. Now I can also think of a few reasons one might want to grow vegetables in a raised bed: You do a soil test (and you should do a soil test, especially if you live in an urban area) and the res...

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99¢ Store Proofing Basket

For years I’ve used a special wooden basket called a banneton to proof my round loaves of bread in. I’m teaching a bread baking class this weekend and needed a bunch of proofing baskets for the class. Bannetons are nice but expensive so I decided to try using a canvas lined proofing basket as a more economical alternative. I got some metal bowls from my local 99¢ store. Wicker baskets or a plastic colander would also have worked,...

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It’s Elementary

I’m writing another article for Urban Farm Magazine, this time on elementary school gardens. If you have a hand in running or organizing an elementary school garden, outside of California, send me an email at [email protected] I need another interview or two, though I can’t guarantee I’ll talk to everyone. I took the picture above at a volunteer work day at the 24th Street Elementary School in the West Adams d...

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Birds on a Wire

A neighbor told me this morning that when the house next door to him was for sale the owners asked him not to hang laundry on his clothesline because it would, “bring down their property value.” And, of course, many housing developments have the same anti-clothesline restriction. Is it some distant cultural memory of 19th century tenement buildings, an id-based Ralph Kramden, an intense fear of anything urban? Maybe this clever desi...

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Nitrogen Deposition

Thanks to the millions of SUV driving knuckleheads out there we may not have to take a whizz in our compost pile after all. It turns out we have ample free nitrogen fertilizer in the form of air pollution which settles back down to the earth in a process science types call nitrogen deposition. According to Edith Allen, a professor of botany at UC Riverside, “Nitrogen deposition occurs at high levels in southern California, and is fertilizi...

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Make a Sourdough Starter

Every damn urban homesteader ought to have a sourdough starter living on their countertop. It’s easy and here’s how we do it around the Homegrown Evolution compound: 1. Get yourself a glass or ceramic container with a lid. It should be able to hold at least three to four cups of starter. Don’t use metal. 2. Put into this container one cup of white flour and one cup of lukewarm water and stir until mixed. Put it in a warm place....

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