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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Mahonia gracilis – Mexican Barberry

One of the biggest challenges at the Homegrown Revolution compound has been finding useful plants that will grow in our shady backyard. Not having to provide supplemental irrigation would be another definite plus. Unfortunately very few plants fit those stringent requirements. We came across some seeds recently for a plant called Mahonia gracilis or Mexican Barberry, but there’s very little information about this medium sized shrub, native...

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Can our landscapes model a vibrant future? Not according to the LA DWP.

...ld uninspired model, repeated on the institutional scale. I suspect this landscaping will have some fans because it is “tidy” and “low maintenance.” True. It is also devoid of life and actively hostile to nature. Landscapes speak. This one denies our relationship with the natural world and declares any actual engagement with nature to be too much trouble. No doubt they’d replace those sickly plants with synthetics if...

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Roundup

SurviveLA is embarrassed to admit that we used to have a bottle of Monsanto’s Roundup weedkiller around the compound. Embarrassed because one of Project Censored’s top 25 censored stories of 2006 includes this piece on the evils of this product: Third World Resurgence, No. 176, April 2005 Title: “New Evidence of Dangers of Roundup Weedkiller” Author: Chee Yoke Heong New studies from both sides of the Atlantic reveal that Roundup, the...

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On the Many Frustrations of Gardening: Pierce’s Disease

...is basically the reason we no longer have many vineyards in Southern California. Once a vine gets Pierce’s it will die within a few years. You have to admit failure and rip it out, which I plan to do soon. “Wood on new canes matures irregularly, producing patches of green, surrounded by mature brown bark.” To confirm that my vine had Pierce’s I called Jerry Turney, plant pathologist at the Los Angeles County Agricultural...

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A Review of Masanobu Fukuoka’s Sowing Seeds in the Desert

...nd the Central Valley of California. Fukuoka suggests carpet bombing these areas with seed pellets (a how-to for making seed pellets is included in an appendix). And the content of those seed balls? Whatever will re-vegetate the landscape most effectively regardless of whether those plants are native or not in order to achieve what Fukuoka calls a “second Genesis.” As he puts it, I would mix the seeds of all plants–forest trees,...

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How To Design a Garden Step I: Identifying Goals

...nd hang out with friends a place to sit and work with a laptop space for our chickens flowers for bees space for native plants areas that are semi-wild and not often visited  space for the composting Think and meditate on your goals before drawing up a plan.  And for those of us in the urban homesteading movement, I think it’s important to measure productivity in more ways than just the amount of food you get from your yard.  How will th...

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How to Keep Skunks Out of the Yard

...ther skunk to move in.  The best thing you can do is just make your yard inhospitable. Working with skunks Once plants are well established skunks aren’t much of a problem. Where I don’t want to have to take all these preventative measures (such as the front yard) I’ve got fruit trees, native plants and cardoons–things skunks can’t uproot. The two vegetable beds I have in the front yard have to be encased in bird ne...

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Home cooking advice?

...r them, along with the “usual suspect” types of food that you keep on hand for breakfast and lunch.  It really helps. Not just with organization, but also because it helps you set your intention to cook. This wakens your inner cook. 4) For bonus points on your weekly planning, consider how ingredients from one meal might transfer to another, and save you effort. Say you’re going to be making soup stock for something (or somethin...

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Failed Experiment: Bermuda Buttercup or Sour Grass (Oxalis pes-caprae) as Dye

...boded ill. Even without chopping, surely some color should appear. I looked askance at the napkin, wondering if it were truly 100% cotton, or adulterated with polyester. We always blame the victim. At that point I decided that I’d just start over and do it right from the start. I gathered more plants, chopped, and increased my ratio of plants to water to make the solution stronger. Then I heated the water to 180 F, simmered, drained, set a...

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