Edible Rooftop Gardens

...rom anyone who knows of a great rooftop edible garden, but I’d really like to find ones that I can visit. The picture here is of an urban farm in Chicago that I visited this summer. It isn’t on a roof, but it is smack dab in the middle of the city and was pretty impressive. And since I may be visiting Austin, I’d like to know of any cool projects or people I should visit there. Anyone who brews beer, builds bikes, does some s...

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Coffee Chaff Chickens

...easy to scoop up the poo when it’s mixed with fluffy wood shavings. It also smells better longer. Straw in the house is just sort of substandard. However…the big however….them’s dead trees we’re shoveling into our hen house, and as we all know, trees don’t grow on trees. But what’s a good alternative to shavings? Yesterday, Lyanda Haupt, author of Crow Planet: Essential Wisdom from the Urban Wilderness ,...

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La Alternativa

...m milk, a flan made with fruit or vegetables rather than scarce corn starch and eggs, and laundry soap made from the jaboncillo tree. What we like most about Gálvez is that she is a strong proponent of urban gardening, maximizing every available space for food, a contrast to Martha Stewart’s useless pesticide and fertilizer drenched flower gardens. See the the film Power of Community How Cuba Survived Peak Oil for more on Cuba’s inven...

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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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A Sports Utility Bicycle

...e if we could go for a week in Los Angeles traveling only by bicycle. What made this car-free week a success was the ingenious Xtracycle, a cargo bike ideal for the challenges of urban American streets. The Xtracycle extends the back wheel of the bike and is essentially a huge pannier bag with a skateboard-like seat. We’ve managed to haul four bags of groceries, the same amount we used to carry in my car, and we’re talking heavy stuff...

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

...balm. Same goes for cannibalizing beeswax candles. I hope to get some nice clean wax from our hive soon, but in the meanwhile I buy my wax from Mountain Rose Herbs. It comes in both pellets and blocks. Pellets are a lot easier to work with. Good organic beeswax smells heavenly, by the way, and that scent carries into the finished salve. How much beeswax do you use?  Making salves is all about simple proportions–the ratio of oil to wax. 4...

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Moonshine

...oncluded, “Cut it with water — preferably from a source that will lend itself to a pretty picture on the label — bottle it, and you’re in the vodka business.” As it turns out there is an art to good homemade moonshine — a far cry from the soulless mouthwash Archer-Daniels-Midlands turns out. Here’s some excerpts from an interview of ex-moonshiner John Bowman conducted by the Coal River Folklife Project fr...

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Grassfed Turkey Cooking Tips from Shannon Hayes

...Homemakers . One of her most important tips is to know what you are buying, “If you don’t personally know the farmer who is growing your turkey, take the time to know what you are buying! “Pastured” is not necessarily the same as “free-range.” Some grass-based farmers use the word “free-range” to describe their pasture-raised birds, but any conventional factory farm can also label their birds “free-range” if they are not in individual...

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How To Freeze Fruits and Vegetables

...es, green beans, peas, diced onions, whole-kernel corn etc are more convenient to cook with if you can just pour them out of a freezer bag without having to break them out of a solid mass. To do this you’ll individually quick freeze IQF them. To IQF: Wash, blanch (veggies) and cool . Spread in one layer on a cookie sheet and place in the freezer for four to six hours. Pack in sealed containers or in freezer bags. Label with date to avoid freezer...

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Quince: the “Poster Child of Slowness”

...too close to a large prickly pear cactus that is probably competing with it. We’ll hope it does better in the next season. Filling in for my lack of backyard quince, Homegrown Neighbor was nice enough to pop by with some she bought local Asian market. The label must have lost something in translation, but refers to a variety called “Pineapple quince”. Karp points out in his article that this is the most prevalent commercial var...

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