The Big To-Do List

...iece of taped together paper to come up with our version of Heinlein’s skill set. Most of the subjects on that paper, everything from vegetable gardening to cargo bikes, ended up in the book or in our second book Making It. Now, we don’t expect everyone to master all the things in our books, but it doesn’t hurt to have a cursory knowledge of, say, greywater plumbing or compost pile construction, even if you live in a Manhattan a...

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Salvia Means Salvation: White Sage

...a, we’wey (waykway) in Chumash. The most fragrant and beautiful of all Salvias. Flower of Salvia apiana, photo by Stan Shebs White sage is a native Californian plant which is grown in many places, as long as it can grown in dry conditions (overwatering will kill it quick) and the winter temps aren’t too cold. See Plants for a Future Database for details. It has beautiful soft silvery foliage and white to pale purple flower...

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How to start a chicken retirement community

Mrs. Homegrown here: So–here’s the story of another mistake we made. When Erik and I first got chickens we didn’t lay out a plan for dealing with the chickens as they aged. That was the mistake. Simple as that. Make your plans, people! We learned how to slaughter chickens–we knew we could do it if we needed to–but we never really sat down and decided what would happen to our ladies when they stopped laying. We̵...

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Peat-free Planting Mix Recipe With Coconut Coir

Nancy’s coconut coir-based planting mix. Here she’s doing the squeeze test, which we talk about below. From an environmental perspective peat moss is a nightmare. Mining of this material is unsustainable, contributes to global warming and destroys habitat for many plants and animals. But, for starting seeds, we’ve used it for years. Our friend Nancy Klehm taught us recently how to make a seed starting mix with coconut...

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Media Fasting

Ant Farm’s Media Burn For the last year I’ve been trying, as an experiment, to see what it would be like to cut off the news. That means no newspaper, no Google news, no NPR, no broadcast television of any kind. At the beginning of my media fast, I was concerned that I would somehow lose touch with reality, with important details of what’s going on in the world. In fact, some news does reach me, filtered through conve...

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Healing the yard with a huge compost pile

The new compost pile is covered with a tarp to keep moisture in. Eventually it will fill this whole space. In the background you can see our leftover adobe bricks. So–our regular readers will know that we have high levels of lead in our back yard soil. We’re dealing with this by filling most of our yard with mulch and perennial natives to lock down the soil (lead laden dust is bad) and to diversify the local ecosystem. Mea...

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The Sacred Chickens of Ancient Rome

the armies, without omens being drawn from the sacred chickens. The most common method of drawing these omens consisted in examining the manner in which the chickens dealt with grain that was presented to them. If they ate it avidly while stamping their feet and scattering it here and there, the augury was favorable; if they refused to eat and drink, the omen was bad and the undertaking for which it was consulted was abandoned. When there w...

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Indigo 101

...s and notes which I hope will help other indigo beginners sort things out. Here’s a stack of stuff he’s working on : And here’s some silk he dyed with bougainvillaea flowers. The two tone effect is just how it happened to dye. You rock, Graham!: But back to the indigo. Indigo seedlings on Graham’s front step. A hint from Graham: to ensure germination, scarify the seed with sand paper and soak overnight before plan...

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