The Organic Minefield: How organic are your organic eggs, soy and dairy?

I wish the label “organic” meant all that I mean when I use the term, but unfortunately organic is not a a guarantee of sustainable agricultural practice, much less humane treatment of livestock. The Cornucopia Institute promotes sustainable organic agriculture and family farms, and helps consumers parse the difference between greenwashed and genuine organic farms and suppliers. They release quick reference charts...

Continue reading…

Making Salves, Lip Balms & etc.: Close of the Calendula Series

My calendula after-bath salve. The camera refuses to capture the deep butter yellow color On Saturday, as a part of this long series on Calendula (here, here and here), I posted about infusing oil with herbs. If you’ve got some herb infused oil, you can make that into a medicinal salve or balm. Salve is nothing but oil thickened by the addition of wax. I prefer beeswax salves, though there are vegan alternatives, like candelil...

Continue reading…

Rooftop SIP Garden in LA

Got to visit John Zapf’s vertiginous LA compound yesterday. He’s got an amazing rooftop vegetable garden using self irrigating pots. John has little sun in the yard so the roof is only option for veggies. He uses drip line to refill the reservoirs. Reminds me of the Green Roof Growers of Chicago (minus the extreme weather). His two cents on what to grow: chard good, zucchini good, corn in pots not so good. For more info on self ir...

Continue reading…

Harvesting and Drying Calendula

Mrs. Homegrown here: Okay, so in a previous post I talked about growing Calendula. This post I’m going to talk about harvesting and drying it. The next post I’ll do on the topic will be about making a skin-healing salve from the dried petals, olive oil and beeswax. When to harvest:  Start harvesting your Calendula as soon as the first flush of flowers is in full bloom. Don’t try to “save” the flowers. The more you...

Continue reading…

Noodler’s Ink Reusable Fountain Pen

Julia just wrote a post on Ramshackle Solid about our newest solution to the frustration of disposable pens: Noodler’s Ink and fountain pens. From the Noodler’s website: Why Noodler’s? “Noodler’s Ink” has the lowest cost per volume in stores that carry it and it’s 100% made in the USA from cap to glass to ink. The ink with the catfish on the label symbolizes a southern sport that attempts to equalize the struggle between man a...

Continue reading…

Grassfed Turkey Cooking Tips from Shannon Hayes

Thinking of cooking a grass-fed turkey for Thanksgiving? Just in time for the holidays, grassfed cooking expert and farmer Shannon Hayes has a blog post with pastured turkey cooking and purchasing tips that you can read on her blog grassfedcooking.com. We’re honored to have been included in Shannon’s book Radical Homemakers . One of her most important tips is to know what you are buying, “If you don’t personally know the farme...

Continue reading…

What Mountaineering Accidents Can Teach Us About Food Preservation

Would you eat pickles made by these two? Each year the American Alpine Club publishes a book detailing all the mountaineering accidents in North America. The club’s goal is simple, as they put it, “to help you learn from the mistakes of others.” I’ve often thought that the same approach should be applied to many of the activities we love in the homesteading movement, especially food preservation. Now, I think t...

Continue reading…

Clean your bathroom without resorting to Poison

We talk about non-toxic housecleaning in almost every lecture we do, and we cover it in both books, but I can’t remember if we’ve talked about cleaning the bathroom on this blog. We did cover how to clean kitchen sink fairly recently, but I’m not sure what else we’ve done.  Of course, I know my regular Root Simple readers are so hardcore they could give me tips in this area, but I thought it would be good to cover non-to...

Continue reading…

Advances in Gardening Series: A Progress Report

Yes, you’ve seen this before. But Erik looks so bad ass with his sledgehammer, I just had to put it up again. Some of you may remember that back in November we ripped out most of our back yard, redesigning the layout to maximize our growing space, and accommodate interests we have now that we didn’t have when we put in the original plantings. We’ve learned from this experience that you should never be afraid to change...

Continue reading…

Plum Lemon Tomato Power’s Heirloom Tomato

Congressional hearings today revealed that the FDA inspects fewer than 1% of food imports, yet another reason among many to grow your own food. While we have a less than lush vegetable garden this summer, we do have a decent crop of tomatoes thanks to a trip out to Encino a few months ago for Tomato Mania the Lollapalooza of tomato seedling sales. Unfortunately, to add to the ignominy of our white trash gardening efforts, we somehow mislaid the...

Continue reading…