Michael Tortorello on Urban Homesteading

Michael Tortorello, who wrote that nice piece about us a few months ago, “Living Large, Off the Land,” is one of my favorite writers on gardening and “urban homesteady” topics. He’s critical without being curmudgeonly and manages to separate the truth from the hype (and there’s an awful lot of hype in this movement!). Plus he managed to get an entire paragraph about my thyrsus into the New York Times. Thyrsus...

Continue reading…

The New Urban Forager

On a hot, humid day along Houston’s Buffalo Bayou, in the shadow of four abandoned concrete silos, a maggot infested corpse of a pit bull lies splayed across a sheet of black plastic. Nearby, a pile of asphalt roofing material blocks the path I’m taking down to one of the most polluted waterways in Texas. Not a promising beginning to an urban food foraging expedition.(Read the rest of our foraging essay via Reality Sandwich)...

Continue reading…

Saturday Linkages: Off-Grid Living, Urban Velo, Meat Glue, Home Depot and Dandelions

Happy Cinco de Mayo! Amazing photos of people living off-the-grid in the United States: http://boingboing.net/2012/05/03/photos-of-people-living-off-th.html This week in TSA awfulness: a recap of recent American airport atrocities: http://boingboing.net/2012/05/02/this-week-in-tsa-awfulness-a.html New issue of Urban Velo: http://www.urbanvelo.org/issue31/index.html Meat Glue (not to be confused with pink slime): http://boingboing.net/2...

Continue reading…

Spike 1998-2010

...Our much loved 12 year old Doberman passed tonight. It’s been a horrible day spent going back and forth to the emergency vet, but he went fast, which was a blessing. Right now we’re blindsided. The house feels like it has a crater in the middle of it. He’s been with us since he was a puppy, so we really don’t know how to get along without him anymore. His name was Spike, unless it was Deiter, which was also his name. He wa...

Continue reading…

Summer 2010 Tomato Report

...bushy growth pattern. Like San Marzanos this vine cranks out a ton of fruit. Did not taste great fresh but made the best canned tomatoes I’ve ever grown–I’m guessing this variety is bred for canning. St. Pierre: not much to say about it. O.K., but not all that exciting. Yellow pear. This small cherry tomato sprouted out of the compost. It’s kinda bland, but we got a ton of them. I borrowed some time in neighbors Anne an...

Continue reading…

Maggots!

Like a lot of the agricultural duties around our urban homestead, composting requires time and initiative. Unfortunately both our garden and our energy level are at a low point, both sapped by the record breaking heat – anyone see Al Gore’s movie? The result of this lack of effort has been the maggot party currently going on in our compost pile. The best compostin’ revolutionary I ever met, photographer Becky Cohen maintained a...

Continue reading…

A Bustle In Your Hedgerow: California Natives for your Vegetable Garden

...ensed in old books like Carrots Love Tomatoes. From what I understand research just hasn’t proven a lot of the relationships these sorts of books tout. What makes intuitive sense to me, however, is that biodiversity in in a garden can create habitat for beneficial insects and birds that can help keep our edibles free of pests. For thousands of years in Northern Europe that biodiversity was maintained through the use of hedgerows. Now, than...

Continue reading…

Essential System #9 – Hydration

...;ll be feeling mighty crabby after just a few hours without it. We’ve got a number of water sources around the homestead, with a few more back-ups in the works. First off it pays to have some plastic water jugs around – figure two liters a day per person minimum. There are stricter standards for tap water in this banana republic we call the USA than for bottled water so don’t go wasting any money on boxes of Evian. The Red Cross...

Continue reading…

Fashion on the Homestead

It’s about time I addressed, on this home economics/DIY/gardening blog, the importance of the way we dress. I’ve been bothered of late by my rumpled appearance. Like most Americans I wear in public what in an earlier era would have been considered pajamas. And I’m approaching fifty. The people I’ve met who have aged gracefully generally seem to dress well though not ostentatiously. Knowing what to wear...

Continue reading…

Picture Sundays: Uncle Sam Calls For Fruit Plantings On Every Farm & Suburban Homestead

...at last week’s National Heirloom Exposition, Gary Nabhan passed around this in-house newspaper directed at the sales force working for Stark Brothers Nursery in 1946. To assist the Government’s new Home FRUIT PLANTING campaign, Stark Bro’s have been conducting a huge Direct-Mail drive to create interest in this important subject. Inquiries from the huge Direct-Mail Campaign are referred to YOU as soon as you start selling Stark...

Continue reading…