Lead Update

Our post about a high soil lead level needs an update. I asked my doctor do a blood test to check for lead levels since we’ve eaten plants grown in the backyard and done a whole lot of digging over the past 13 years. The good news is that no lead showed up in my blood. In the interest of “testing the testers,” I took one soil sample and split it in three, sending one sample to Wallace Labs, one to the University of Massachuse...

Continue reading…

The Making of a Great Olive Oil

...e At the end of all this machinery the oil pours out of a spigot and into a steel drum: We all had the great privilege of tasting the freshly squeezed oil. I won’t soon forget that heavenly flavor. Matt told us that it takes around a ton of olives to make 25 to 30 gallons of oil. The olives come from a thousand trees that are tucked around the vineyards. If you’re ever in Northern California the Preston Vineyard is well worth a v...

Continue reading…

Broom Corn–or is it Broomcorn?

Mrs. Homegrown here: This summer I suggested we plant broom corn for no other good reason than I saw the seed pack at the nursery and thought it would be fun to make a broom. (This sort of temporary insanity often overtakes me in the seed aisle.) So without knowing anything at all about broom corn or broom making we planted a block of the stuff. Maybe I should have done a little research into broom making before planting, but I let it slide ...

Continue reading…

Urban Chickens and Lead

From the One More Thing To Worry About department, the New York Times has an article on lead levels in eggs laid by urban chickens “Worries About Lead for New York City’s Garden-Fresh Eggs.” According to the article, the lead levels found in New York City’s home grown eggs ranged from none to over a 100 parts per billion. Since the FDA does not have an acceptable lead level in eggs it’s difficult to interpret the results...

Continue reading…

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...

Continue reading…

Back on the Yogurt Train: How to Make Yogurt

...what I can. Lately I’ve realized that one consistent source of waste plastic in our kitchen comes in the form of yogurt tubs. This is a little silly, because we know how to make yogurt. In fact, I do believe we covered it in our book. Thing is, back in the day when we made yogurt, it was Erik’s job. When he slacked on it, I didn’t even consider picking it up. Chalk it up to the mysteries of division of labor in a household. An...

Continue reading…

Get a Soil Test!

Regular readers have probably already got this message, but right now we can’t repeat it enough. If there’s a lesson with our backyard lead scare , it’s to practice due diligence when beginning a garden –or better yet, when you buy property–and that means getting a soil test from a soil lab. They’re not that expensive, especially when you consider the high cost of remediation, and the well being of your self...

Continue reading…

The Whip: A Homemade Moisturizer How-To from Making It

A quick little project: lavender infused moisturizer, two Calendula/plantain salves and a chamomile infused lip balm. Enough unguents to see me through Christmas. Note 3/16/13: When I posted this I never expected this to become one of our most popular posts.  Since so many people are looking at this recipe, I feel like I should let you know a couple of things about it before you try it. 1) The first is that it is not perfect. I love it...

Continue reading…

Looking for the Union Label

We’ve got a bad case of Ohrwurm, a German expression translated as “earworm” and used to describe a song stuck in your head. Our earworm came after a search for union made socks and underwear on the internets recalled a highly catchy ad jingle from the roller disco era, “Look for the Union Label” (youngsters can watch it on youtube here). We looked for the union label and we were surprised to find it via a company c...

Continue reading…

Three Mules in Los Angeles

UPDATE 01/21/13: We’ve been informed via the comments that a volunteer has set up a Facebook page for the Mule Man–and with his approval. It’s called 3 Mules. So if you Facebook you can go there for more info., or to post pictures or stories. There’s even video interviews. Of course, you are very welcome to continue post your sightings or thoughts here, too–especially those of you who don’t do Facebook. We&...

Continue reading…