Saturday Linkages: Tall Bikes, Za’atar and So Much More

Growin’ Why Your Supermarket Only Sells 5 Kinds of Apples http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2013/04/heritage-apples-john-bunker-maine … Taming the Wild Thyme: A Visit to a Za’atar Farm in Lebanon http://ow.ly/kqeoi  New Farmer’s Almanac for 2013: http://boingboing.net/2013/04/21/new-farmers-almanac-for-2013.html … Plants as Education: Kit Brings Gardening Back to the Masses http://dornob.com/37885/  Fortrait #4 “Su...

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Lady Urine, Water Conservation and Halfway Humanure

...we’re trying out this strawbale garden thing. We can help to get the bales going by peeing on them. But there’s a lot of bales, and Erik only has so much pee. My contributions would be useful. Plus, this method of gardening is undeniably water hungry. I feel like we should partially offset this expenditure by conserving water as much as we can. One simple way to save water is to stop flushing the toilet so much. And if all our pee wen...

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Straw Bale Garden Part III: Adding Fertilizer

After watering our straw bales for three days our next step is to apply a high nitrogen fertilizer. We’re following West Virginia University Extension Service’s Straw Bale Gardening advice. They suggest a 1/2 cup of urea per bale or “bone meal, fish meal, or compost for a more organic approach.” (I think they mean blood meal as bone meal does not have much nitrogen in it.) Choosing the organic approach, we’re water...

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Our New Straw Bale Garden–Part I

...yet to be built). We’ll keep growing in bales until we have enough compost for the beds. The problems presented by our property–lead and zinc contamination and a backyard that is up 30 steps–make straw bale gardening a promising solution. Bales and fertilizer are easier to carry up the stairs than bulk soil. It will be cheaper than buying soil. No lead and zinc. I was also inspired by this attractive straw bale garden in Ariz...

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Saturday Linkages: Coop Plans, Moonshine and Mercury in Seafood

...net/2012/12/18/an-easy-way-to-make-moonshine.html … Pastoral Pavilion: Eco-Friendly Retreat Meets Regional Style | Designs & Ideas on Dornob http://dornob.com/pastoral-pavilion-eco-friendly-retreat-meets-regional-style/ … Gardening Loving David Culp’s Layered Garden. Scheming to see the garden. | Garden Rant http://gardenrant.com/2012/12/loving-david-culps-layered-garden-scheming-to-see-the-garden.html … The story of Mission grapes: http://g...

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Tomato Report: Blush

I think I’ve tasted my new favorite tomato variety: Blush. I got to tuck into a box of these delicious tomatoes at the farm of Shu and Debbie Takikawa near Los Olivos. Yellow with red streaks, Blush tomatoes have the perfect balance of sweetness and acidity. The blush tomato was developed by geneticist and tomato geek Fred Hempel and are available via Seeds of Change. Due to a series of gardening blunders that I’ll blog about at s...

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The Practical Beekeeper by Michael Bush

...n made much worse by inept intervention.”-Richard Taylor Michael Bush, in his new book on natural beekeeping, The Practical Beekeeper Beekeeping Naturally, begins with Taylor’s quote, which could just as easily apply to gardening or many other areas of our lives. Yet doing nothing is one of the hardest things for us Homo sapiens to wrap our busy heads around. Nassim Taleb is fond of pointing out the huge number of medical mistakes that coul...

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Roundin’ up the Summer Urban Homesteading Disasters

...ter squash just ain’t space efficient. Next year I’ll tuck it around other plants and trees rather than have it hog up space in my intensively planted veggie beds. Luscious compost tomatoes. Unintentional Gardening I built a cold frame this spring so that I could get a head start on propagating my tomato seedlings. So guess which tomatoes did better: the ones I carefully propagated from seed and transplanted to richly amended...

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Eat Your Pests

...ust banned this practice, for some reason). Perhaps you have to grow up eating insects to be fully comfortable with the bug eatin’. If you look at the entry on rabbits in the original edition of Rodale’s Organic Gardening Encyclopedia, J.I. Rodale suggests eating them. This advice has been, unfortunately, edited out of the revised version. The way the economy is going this summer we may have to revise that encyclopedia again . . ....

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The Big To-Do List

...the planning process for our first book The Urban Homestead we used a big piece of taped together paper to come up with our version of Heinlein’s skill set. Most of the subjects 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, greywa...

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