My Big Fat Greek Squash

...few mystery Greek vegetables growing in the garden. This spring he gave me a squash seedling he had propagated. It grew into a massive vine and produced two winter squashes whose weight exceeded the capacity of my kitchen scale. I harvested them last month and we’ve been eating a lot of squash! The skin turned a kind of manila envelope color and the flesh was a deep orange. It kind of looks like a butternut squash on steroids. The flavor r...

Continue reading…

CooKit Solar Panel Cooker

...ing with a nice panel solar cooker for the past week and, so far, the results are impressive. Called the CooKit, it was developed in 1994 by a group of engineers and solar cooking enthusiasts associated with Solar Cookers International and based on a design by Roger Bernard. It has a couple of nice features: It produces ample heat to cook rice and simple casseroles. When you fold it up it takes up no more space than an album (do I have to explai...

Continue reading…

Laundry to Landscape Legal in LA

...ime for compliance” legal systems that are better, and can be installed by professionals instead of having to do it yourself. This involves surrendering the illusion of control, in trade for actually making things better on the ground.” By foregoing permits, city government can play a role in encouraging greywater. Legalizing the practice makes it possible for professional plumbers to do the installations in addition to plucky DIYers. Kin...

Continue reading…

Seedling Disaster!

...t shameful; this is wrongheaded and foolish . . . Mistakes are synonymous with learning. Failing is unavoidable. Making is a process, not an end. It is true that deep experience helps avoid problems, but mainly it gives you mental tools with which to solve inevitable problems when they come up.” -Tom Jennings, as quoted in Mark Frauenfelder’s excellent new book, Made by Hand: Searching for Meaning in a Throwaway World   Oh, but those...

Continue reading…

Make a Spore Print

Making a mushroom spore print is a fun activity for the kidlings and it’s simple: 1. Pick a mushroom (from the wild or the supermarket) and break off the stem. 2. Put your mushroom, spore side down, on a piece of white paper (or a 50/50 split of of dark paper and white paper to check subtleties in the color). 3. Put a glass over the mushroom and wait 24 hours. The next day you should have something that looks like the picture above. Spore...

Continue reading…

Row Covers in a Warm Climate

...scrap PVC pipe to create hoops to hold the row cloth above the plants. Agribon is so light that you can just put it on top of many plants without hoops. Now I can sleep at night knowing that my beds are locked down in a kind of “vegetable Guantanamo”. Johnny’s Seeds sells Agribon 15 in 250 foot rolls for $45. Seeds of Change sells it in 5o foot lengths for $26. It would make sense for most urban homesteaders go in with a few f...

Continue reading…

Red Cabbage Kraut

...But now I am converted. I think if the kraut on my hot dog when I was a kid was bright pink, I would have liked it a lot better. This is my weird and wonderful urban farmer breakfast: raw kale, pinto beans, a spoonful of homemade pesto, eggs and kraut. Trust me, its delicious. I need a nutrition packed breakfast to go clean the chicken coop and garden all day. I got my kraut making ideas and recipes from Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutriti...

Continue reading…

LED Light Bulbs

...LED light bandwagon with a post about the C. Crane Company’s CC Vivid and CC Vivid+ LED light bulbs. While it’s great that folks are beginning to think about conservation, it’s disappointing that this interest seems to be about chasing the latest new techno-gadget. As concerns about impending climate and ecological disaster increase, it’s prudent to greet all new technical solutions with skepticism. After all, why replace...

Continue reading…

Homegrown Evolution Food Review: Backpacker’s Pantry Huevos Rancheros

On our recent Homegrown Evolution journey to Santa Rosa Island we taste tested another freeze-dried food item, Huevos Rancheros from Backpacker’s Pantry. While this product has an impressive shelf life and ease of preparation, making it appropriate for emergency food supplies, we’ve had better freeze dried entrees. Our fellow campers had the same reaction to the visual look of the cooked and re-hydrated product: dog vomit. The taste...

Continue reading…

The Tiny House

...n as “manufactured housing”. Trailers offer interesting possibilities, even for urbanites. But while it’s possible to pimp out an old trailer and make a decent living space, it’s hard to escape the fact that these structures were meant to be hauled down a highway and used for camping. Trailers often have a transient and less than homey vibe. Between the extremes of conventional housing and trailers there is an interesting,...

Continue reading…