The Sundiner–A Groovy 1960s Era Solar Cooker

Backywards beekeeper Dennis of The Buzz in the Dale, was nice enough to gift me his vintage Sundiner solar cooker that he found at a garage sale a few years ago. Resembling a cross between a portable 1960s record player and a satellite, the Sundiner is compact, light and easy to carry. A built in thermometer lets you know when you have hit cooking temperatures. The unit is so efficient, that when I set it up at noon it hit 350° F within minut...

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Straw Bale Gardens

Tasha Via’s straw bale garden. Michael Tortorello (who profiled us when Making It came out) is one of my favorite writers covering the home ec/gardening subjects we discuss on this blog. He had an article last week in the New York Times, “Grasping at Straw” on straw bale gardening. We’ve very tempted to give the practice a try in our backyard. Why? We have lead and zinc contaminated soil so growing veggies in the ground...

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Compost and Pharmaceuticals

...If you know of more please leave a link in the comments. A 2010 study looked at the degradation of salinomycin, used on chickens to prevent coccidiosis. The study concluded, On the basis of the results obtained in this study, it appears that the composting technique is effective in reducing salinomycin in manure. Another 2010 study looked at the composting of sewage sludge containing fluoroquinolones (broad spectrum antibiotics), The concentratio...

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Federico Tbn’s Self Irrigating Pots

...onvenient way of inserting a piece of 1/2 inch PVC pipe to refill the reservoir. The plastic on the 5 gallon jug was surprisingly pliable; I was able to mold the top edge to fit the 5 gallon bucket better by carefully heating it with a propane torch.  The art is just for fun, sometimes it is hard for me to leave things unpainted. The second pot uses a sock to wick water up into a container full of cat grass. Kitty looks happy. I’ve used SI...

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Land Girls

Mrs. Homegrown here: During WWI, Great Britain instituted The Women’s Land Army, a civilian corps created to replace male agricultural workers called into military service. These women were generally known as “Land Girls.” Yep, the rural version of Rosie the Riveter. By WWII, both Australia and the U.S. had their own Women’s Land Armies, too. It seems in some cases the women took on full-time waged agricultural work, an...

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Power of the Patch

Our littlest Ramshackler sits on a hand-me-down car seat whenever we venture for a drive. After six years of use, the cover started to show some wear. I thought about buying a seat cover or making one from scratch. I decided against both. We don’t need a new $50 seat cover. And I would prefer to sew something else, like pants for the kids or even some skirts for me, rather than the intricate seat cover. Then I realized a patch w...

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Hay Boxes or Fireless Cookers

Illustration from The Fireless Cook Book Mrs. Homegrown here: Jessica from Holland sent us a letter recently praising our work, but very, very gently scolding us not including the hay box, a groovy old energy saving technology, in our book. We do stand corrected! And her enthusiasm for hay boxes has reignited our interest, too. We actually considered hay boxes for Making It, but didn’t end up building one for a variety of reasons...

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Kelly’s 2012 To-Do List

Even the kittens will help, not hinder, the New Productivity of 2012. I feel like Erik really threw down a challenge with his mammoth resolution list, so here’s my to-do list for 2012. It’s much less ambitious. I think I’ll schedule the concrete activities for certain weeks and months, and post a calender to keep me on track: -No lingering over breakfast, no excuses such as “just one more cup of tea” or &#...

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Gingerbread Geodesic Dome

Scout Regalia Reel 02: Gingerbread Geodesic Dome from Scout Regalia on Vimeo. Now you can bake your own version of Drop City without getting “baked” yourself! Some local designers, Scout Regalia, have cooked up a gingerbread geodesic dome and offer a kit for making one. Now when it comes to geodesic domes as shelter I’m with former dome builder Lloyd Kahn who concluded that “Domes weren’t practical, economical or aesthet...

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Food Preservation Resources

Due to a popular post on making prickly pear jelly, we get a lot of emails asking for advice on canning. So I thought I’d list three favorite food preservation resources. I like to go to respected sources when canning for reasons of both safety and reliability. While botulism is fairly rare, it’s a highly unpleasant way to pass this vale of tears. But beyond the safety issue, if I’m going to go through the work of canning, I w...

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