Shoemaking Advice?

If only my shoes will turn out this well. The oldest surviving leather shoe: 5,500 year-old shoe found in a cave in Armenia. Photo by Gregory Areshian. Via National Geographic My post about homemade mattresses turned out to be one of the most popular ever on this site. (By the way, I’m still putting up with our old mattress, but one day I will be letting you know what I’ve decided to do about the new mattress) Meanwhile, I’m wo...

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Lady Urine, Water Conservation and Halfway Humanure

I approve of the oval shape of the opening of this funnel– and the sporty color. Fact 1: Human urine is an excellent source of nitrogen for your garden. It can be applied directly to a compost pile, or diluted 10:1 and used on plants. Fact 2: Nature has equipped the male of the species in such a manner that it is easy for him to contribute nitrogen to the compost pile. For women, it’s a bit more tricky. So, how do ladies give back to...

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Why are the pockets on women’s clothing so lame?

Trout likes himself a sewing project. Especially one he can lay on. Or gnaw on. What is with women’s clothing? Why are all of the pockets sized somewhere between tiny and non-existent? There seems to be some misguided belief that women inherently carry lots of stuff, therefore must carry bags, therefore do not need pockets. This is false. Women carry bags because we have inadequate pockets, and we figure we may as well carry extra stuff...

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Beans 101 (Return of Bean Friday!)

Simple is good. As a follow up to the “Dollar Supper” post,  this post is about is the simple act of making a pot of beans. I make beans about once a week, the goal being to always have beans in the fridge. For us, they’re an essential staple. (Readers new to Root Simple should note that we’ve done a lot of posts about beans, and have gathered favorite bean recipes from our readers. So if you’re looking for recipes,...

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Someone Please Buy Me a KoMo Grain Mill

KoMo Medium Mill So out of the hundreds of vendors I visited at the Natural Foods Expo I’m literally down to only one that I found interesting: KoMo grain mills. Being an avid fan of baking German style breads such as Volkornbrot, I almost fainted with excitement when I stepped up to the booth of Pleasant Hill Grain, who imports KoMo mills to the US. KoMo’s products are designed by a German/Austrian team, Peter Koidl and Wolfgang Moc...

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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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Saturday Linkages: From Plastic Bottle Kayaks to Canine Staircases

...reports show | barfblog http:// barfblog.foodsafety.ksu.edu/blog/155901/12 /08/23/do-companies-really-need-babysitters-china-stiff-arms-fda-jerky-pet-treat-testi#.UDa6kfTHEpw.twitter  …       Gardening Letting Things Go in the Garden (on purpose) http:// shar.es/77QaJ   Community  A vivid account of life in The Late Suburban Age: http://www. nfb.ca/film/radiant_c ity/  … RT @theurbanologist: Tourists & Angelenos alike will find this 1907...

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Five Lessons We Learned About Lead in Soil

As regular followers of this blog may recall, we did some soil tests last year that revealed elevated levels of lead and zinc in our backyard. The cause? Most likely, paint from our 92 year old house and nearly a hundred 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 a...

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Moringa!

Photo by Harvey McDaniel One of the big inspirations for starting our front yard urban farming efforts at the SurviveLA compound is a Philippino neighbor of ours who has turned his entire front yard and even the parkway into an edible garden featuring fruits and vegetables from his native land, most of which we have never seen before. This morning, while walking the dog, I found him cutting hundreds of long seed pods off of a small attractive...

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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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