It’s Calendula Season!

...oil, of course– as I’m doing above, with inevitable feline assistance. Well, that’s why I grow it. Calendula infused olive oil is the base of all my lotions and potions, because it is such a potent healer of dry, itchy, burnt or otherwise irritated skin. I’m using it right now to treat my sunburn–which is what made me think of this post. But outside of this, it’s an all around useful herb.  Here’s a coupl...

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Barley Water

...and cold roasted barley tea in those parts, too. Health claims for barely water vary depending on how and where it’s made. It has been used as a pap for infants, as a balm for digestive systems, to sooth sore throats and to cure UTIs, to promote lactation, and even to combat high blood pressure. This is all fascinating, but I’m just making it as a summer drink. There’s lots of recipes for barley water on the web, and most of...

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Thoughts on Samhain

...Homegrown here: I celebrate Samhain on November 1st because I enjoy marking the changing seasons of the year by making these old festivals my own. It’s so easy to lose track of time in an electronic culture. It’s even easier to lose track when you live in Los Angeles, land of the perpetual sunshine. Samhain marks the last harvest of the year. The weather is cold enough to keep meat, so it is also the time when all non-breeding livest...

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Mud for the People! Building an Adobe Garden Wall

...and/clay mixtures drying in the sun. You can also make a brick out of whatever soil you have on hand and see how it holds up. The first test Kurt did was drop one on a corner from about waist high. It didn’t break and thus passed the test. Another test is standing on a brick. Even though the brick we used weren’t really finished drying, they still passed. For a building that will be inspected you will probably have to send bricks to...

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Return of Recipe Friday! Carrot Soup

...shared this recipe on the blog, so I dug up the original recipe card. This is one of the oldest recipes I have. It sort of taught me the basics of soup making. I no longer refer to the recipe when I cook, but it was good to go back and see the original instructions. This soup is just about an ideal soup. It’s fast and flexible, doesn’t require many ingredients and seems to please everyone. At heart it’s vegan, but can be made m...

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4 Vermicomposting Tips

...pyramid and transfer that to a bucket. That material will be mostly worm free. Then we reform the pyramid and do it all over again. This method is fine, but Darren’s method is a little faster. It works on the same principle–the photosensitivity of worms–but instead of making pyramids he lays out softball sized mounds of castings. The worms will cluster at the bottom of the balls, allowing you to harvest off the tops and sides. T...

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The Big To-Do List

...ts on that paper, everything from vegetable gardening to cargo bikes, ended up in the book or in our second book Making It. Now, we don’t expect everyone to master all the things in our books, but it doesn’t hurt to have a cursory knowledge of, say, greywater plumbing or compost pile construction, even if you live in a Manhattan apartment. You never know when you might have to roast a pig in a pit (that will be in our next book!). On...

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Building With Adobe

Architect and Root Simple friend Ben Loescher, along with Kurt Gardella, is teaching a class on adobe construction. I’m going to attend the second day, November 6th, and hope to see some of you there. Adobe has a storied past and a promising future in the Southwest U.S., in my opinion. Here’s the info on the class: adobeisnotsoftware is pleased to host Kurt Gardella for the first in a series of classes on adobe construction within C...

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Food Preservation Resources

Due to a popular post on making prickly pear jelly, we get a lot of emails asking for advice on canning. So I thought I’d list three favorite food preservation resources. I like to go to respected sources when canning for reasons of both safety and reliability. While botulism is fairly rare, it’s a highly unpleasant way to pass this vale of tears. But beyond the safety issue, if I’m going to go through the work of canning, I w...

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Gingerbread Geodesic Dome

Scout Regalia Reel 02: Gingerbread Geodesic Dome from Scout Regalia on Vimeo. Now you can bake your own version of Drop City without getting “baked” yourself! Some local designers, Scout Regalia, have cooked up a gingerbread geodesic dome and offer a kit for making one. Now when it comes to geodesic domes as shelter I’m with former dome builder Lloyd Kahn who concluded that “Domes weren’t practical, economical or aesthet...

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