Alternatives to the Funeral Industrial Complex

A casket made by the monks of Saint Joseph Abbey in Louisiana. If there’s one business I’d like to see shut down and rethought it would be the funeral industry. I’m not going to mince words. The funeral directors I’ve had to deal with just wanted to turn grief into dollars. When my dad passed on his pastor warned me about what would happen at the funeral home, telling me that they would try to up-sell my mom and I. He sa...

Continue reading…

Healing the yard with a huge compost pile

The new compost pile is covered with a tarp to keep moisture in. Eventually it will fill this whole space. In the background you can see our leftover adobe bricks. So–our regular readers will know that we have high levels of lead in our back yard soil. We’re dealing with this by filling most of our yard with mulch and perennial natives to lock down the soil (lead laden dust is bad) and to diversify the local ecosystem. Mea...

Continue reading…

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...

Continue reading…

Mud for the People! Building an Adobe Garden Wall

of the workshop, but pieced together what Kurt and Ben went over. One of the first steps is to determine the clay/sand content of your soil and to do that you do a jar test. When you mix some soil with water in a jar and let it sit, the clay settles on top, the silt below that, and the sand on bottom. You can measure the sample and determine percentages. At the workshop, held in the high desert town of Landers, CA the sand and clay were source...

Continue reading…

Thoughts on Samhain

Image from the beautiful book, Haunted Air by Ossian Brown  Mrs. 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...

Continue reading…

4 Vermicomposting Tips

...terested. Click here for details). Darren dropped a few vermicomposting tips during the beginning class that we thought we’d share: 1) Worms don’t like empty space in their bin. They dislike voids. They appreciate it very much if you bury their entire working area under a very thick layer of light dry carbon material, like shredded newspaper or chopped straw. Yes, it’s standard practice to put a layer of cover material over the...

Continue reading…

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...

Continue reading…

Hay Boxes or Fireless Cookers

Illustration from The Fireless Cook Book Mrs. Homegrown here: Jessica from Holland sent us a letter recently praising our work, but very, very gently scolding us not including the hay box, a groovy old energy saving technology, in our book. We do stand corrected! And her enthusiasm for hay boxes has reignited our interest, too. We actually considered hay boxes for Making It, but didn’t end up building one for a variety of reasons...

Continue reading…

How To Design a Garden Step I: Identifying Goals

...s 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 the garden provide peace and well being? Educational opportunities? Ways to commune with nature? Some g...

Continue reading…

Is This Egg Good?

From left: Very Fresh • Pretty Fresh • Bad • Cat When you’re wondering about the age of an egg, put it in glass of water. Really fresh eggs lie on the bottom the glass, flat. These are the eggs you want for poaching and other dishes where the egg is the star. If one end bobs up a bit, as does the middle egg above, the egg is older, but still good. The upward tilt can be more extreme than it is in this picture. In fact, the egg can...

Continue reading…