Urban Chickens and Lead

From the One More Thing To Worry About department, the New York Times has an article on lead levels in eggs laid by urban chickens “Worries About Lead for New York City’s Garden-Fresh Eggs.” According to the article, the lead levels found in New York City’s home grown eggs ranged from none to over a 100 parts per billion. Since the FDA does not have an acceptable lead level in eggs it’s difficult to interpret the results...

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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...

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Summer 2010 Tomato Report

Tomato season began inauspiciously with unseasonably cold weather for Southern California. I simply couldn’t get any seeds to germinate. Thankfully, Craig of gardenedibles.com came to the rescue with a couple of seedlings for us. Here’s a recap of our tomato successes and failures: Red Pear. I’ve grown this one before. It’s a plump, ribbed, meaty tomato. It’s flavorful and amazing both fresh and made into sauce. Cr...

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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...

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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...

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Essential System #9 – Hydration

As we’ve noted before you can go about three days without water, but you’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 f...

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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 and finding that w...

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Homestead Academy: A Two Day Course in Kitchen Self-Reliance

I’ll be doing a keynote speech at the end of an intensive weekend of classes in bread baking, vinegar brewing, yogurt making and more. The event, which will take place on July 6th and 7th is presented by Growcology and the Emerald Village and will take place in Vista, CA. This weekend intensive is designed to catapult you into a life of self-reliance through homesteading. Join Growcology and the Emerald Village Volunteers as we share the...

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

At a lecture 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...

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Rain Barrels

Constructing a cistern large enough to supply potable indoor water is an ambitious project involving pumps, filters, UV purifiers, and very large and expensive tanks. We don’t want to discourage anyone from making an attempt at it, but for most urban homesteaders it won’t be economical or practical given the space requirements and weight of thousands of gallons of stored water. Thankfully, there are simpler strategies for harvesting...

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