Laundry to Landscape Legal in LA

...ime for compliance” legal systems that are better, and can be installed by professionals instead of having to do it yourself. This involves surrendering the illusion of control, in trade for actually making things better on the ground.” By foregoing permits, city government can play a role in encouraging greywater. Legalizing the practice makes it possible for professional plumbers to do the installations in addition to plucky DIYers. Kin...

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Make a Spore Print

Making a mushroom spore print is a fun activity for the kidlings and it’s simple: 1. Pick a mushroom (from the wild or the supermarket) and break off the stem. 2. Put your mushroom, spore side down, on a piece of white paper (or a 50/50 split of of dark paper and white paper to check subtleties in the color). 3. Put a glass over the mushroom and wait 24 hours. The next day you should have something that looks like the picture above. Spore...

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Seedling Disaster!

...t shameful; this is wrongheaded and foolish . . . Mistakes are synonymous with learning. Failing is unavoidable. Making is a process, not an end. It is true that deep experience helps avoid problems, but mainly it gives you mental tools with which to solve inevitable problems when they come up.” -Tom Jennings, as quoted in Mark Frauenfelder’s excellent new book, Made by Hand: Searching for Meaning in a Throwaway World   Oh, but those...

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Solar Light Hack

...ights available are just plain ugly. And the solar panels on the cheaper models are usually mounted on the light itself making it impossible to place them in a shady spot. I came up with a simple solution. First, I bought an inexpensive solar light intended to be mounted on a fence. I took it apart and desoldered the LEDs off the circuit board. Next, I soldered four wires to the former connections to the two LEDs. Basically, I created a extens...

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Summer of Solar Cookin’

...dle of the day. It came with two round 3 quart pots, so it can cook up quite a lot of food. Summer is here and it is nice and sunny in Southern California. And way too hot to turn on an oven. So I am embarking on a summer of solar cooking fun. I’ve made a few peach cobblers in the solar cooker, but mostly I use it to cook beans. I love beans. They are inexpensive, hearty and filling. I keep my pantry stocked with at least two or three di...

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Showers to Flowers

...ywater solutions is simply rerouting your shower straight out a pipe and into the garden. Here’s how to do it: 1. Confirm that your shower is higher than the point you are watering. The minimum fall for waste pipes is 1/4 inch per foot — any less and you’ll risk a backup. 2. Cut the waste line from your shower, making sure that you are cutting the pipe before the point it meets up with anything coming out of the toilet. Remember...

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A Homegrown Revolution manifesto by way of a short (true) story.

1. Fitness is part of the urban homesteading thing So on our daily bike ride to the downtown YMCA we spotted four tires laying by the side of the road. 2. Try to grow as much food as you can Tires are a great way to grow potatoes–we’ll explain this when we try it ourselves. Meanwhile you can read about doing this, as well as many other uses for old tires in the informative archives of Backwoods Home Magazine. 3. Cargo bikes rule...

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In Praise of Disorder

Loose chickens in Houston A neighborhood whose demographics fall somewhere between the extremes of the crack den and the country club presents just the right level of civic inattention to allow the urban homesteader to get away with many of the illegal projects profiled in this blog: greywater, backyard poultry, and front yard vegetable gardening, to mention just a few. Ideally you have a balance between order and disorder–neither gunfir...

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A Parvati Solar Cooker

...our first pot of rice we used a black enamel pot to better absorb the heat of the sun’s rays, and wrapped it in a roasting bag to increase the efficiency of the cooker. A five gallon bucket made a convenient stand and did not have to be rotated in the two hours it took to cook the rice. Longer cooking times would require re-aiming the cooker as the sun moves across the sky. Temperature in the pot quickly went over 180º F, the point at whic...

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Get Baking and Share the Loaves

...he refrigerator. This deepens flavor, allows flexibility in your baking schedule and can help a hearth loaf hold its shape in the oven. Are you beginner? Make your bread in a loaf pan. It’s a lot more forgiving than trying to shape a boule. Use a tip sensitive thermometer to determine if your rye bread is done. Baker didn’t discuss the exact temp, but I shoot for 210°F. For wheat loaves let color be your guide–you want just shor...

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