What Mountaineering Accidents Can Teach Us About Food Preservation

...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 that home food preservation is very safe. Indeed, it’s much healthier than eating commercia...

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Mistakes we have made . . .

...we used regular plastic pots, a thin layer of vermiculite over the potting soil and a plastic bag over the pot. It seems to work better. The other blunder here is posting about something before testing it. 4. Pantry Moths! A few years ago, using our solar dehydrator (we’ll post about that soon), we dried a summer’s worth of tomatoes to use during the fall and winter. We put the entire harvest in one large jar. Several months later we...

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Harvesting and Drying Calendula

...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 harvest, the more flowers each pl...

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Countdown

...out just about a month–April 26th–and today two super-advance copies came to us by mail. Believe me, it’s awfully strange to see something that has existed only as computer files suddenly materialize on your porch! We realize we haven’t given our new book a formal introduction yet, so here goes.  Making It: Radical Home-Ec for a Post Consumer World is our follow up to The Urban Homestead . The way we see it, The Urban...

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Making Beer in Plain Language

...comparative literature Judith Butler via the Bad Writing Contest Huh? At least the terminology surrounding beer making ain’t that obtuse, but it certainly could use some simplification. For novice home brewers, such as us here at Homegrown Evolution, the terminology creates an unnecessary barrier as impenetrable as a graduate school seminar in the humanities. Let’s see, there’s a mash, a mash tun, a wort, some sparging, maltin...

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Making Tofu From Scratch at the Institute of Domestic Technology

...ute of Domestic Technology, founded by our friend Joseph Shuldiner. The IDT is not your usual cooking school and its offerings are difficult to define succinctly. If I had to take a stab at explaining what the IDT does it would be that it teaches things worth doing from scratch that most people haven’t attempted since the pre-Betty Crocker era: cheesemaking, home coffee roasting, bacon curing, bread baking, jam and exotic projects like maki...

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Top Ten Vegetable Gardening Mistakes

...e gets lots of pests here. Some veggies are best to outsource to the professionals at the farmer’s market. 4. Not having a plan My brain, to put it politely, is non-linear. If I were to overcome that cognitive flaw and plan out how much and where things should be planted I’d have both a steady supply of produce as well as a more attractive garden. 5. Not labeling plants What kind of okra is that? I have no damned idea. Too bad when...

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Urban Homesteading Mistakes: Landscape Fabric

...be good idea to lay down landscape fabric to keep weeds from poking up. So why is landscape fabric a bad idea? It’s made of plastic. It rips. It just plain doesn’t work. After a few years Bermuda grass will inevitably poke up through it and you’ll end up with what you can see in the photo above. To repeat: landscape fabric doesn’t work and is a waste of money. My favorite alternative is a very thick (minimum 4-inch,...

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Gardening Mistakes: Six Ways We’ve Killed Plants

...ll with compacted soil, including natives. The best way to break up compacted soil is with a broadfork, a spendy item. We use a garden fork instead. 3. Soil fertility When it comes to growing vegetables, in particular, you need rich soil. Get a soil test first. But soil fertility is a lot more than chemistry–it’s about life. Healthy soils have a rich and diverse microbial and fungal ecosystem. You can jump start that fertility with co...

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Make that 11 Vegetable Gardening Mistakes

In my post, Top Ten Vegetable Gardening Mistakes, several readers and Mrs. Homegrown pointed out that I left out “inconsistent watering.” I plead guilty. I would also suggest an “absentminded” watering category, such as setting up a irrigation system on a timer and not adjusting it throughout the season. And those of us in dry climates could also be better about selecting and saving seeds for drought t...

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