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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Saturday Linkages: Tiny Houses and Succulent Suprises

Gardening Sunflower sutra | Garden Rant http:// gardenrant.com/2012/10/sunflo wer-sutra.html  … Succulent Surprise http://www. dudecraft.com/2012/09/succul ent-surprise.html  … DIY Build-It-Solar Blog: DIY Insulating Window or Door Shutters Using Astrofoil: http://www. builditsolarblog.com/2012/09/diy-in sulating-window-or-door-shutters.html?spref=tw  … Bikes Cargo cyclists replace truck drivers on European city streets: http://www. lowtechma...

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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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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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Urine as a Fertilizer

...concentrations in urine samples were low compared with other organic fertilizers, but copper, mercury, nickel and zinc were 10–500 times higher in urine than in precipitation and surface waters. In a pot experiment with15N labelled human urine, higher gaseous losses and lower crop uptake (barley) of urine N than of labelled ammonium nitrate were found. Phosphorus present in urine was utilized at a higher rate than soluble phosphate, showing...

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4 Vermicomposting Tips

Ecological landscape designer Darren Butler has been teaching a series of classes at the Root Simple compound this month (I think there may be a few open slots in his Intermediate Organic Gardening class if you’re interested. 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...

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Lead Update

This week I thought I’d do a series of posts about soil and heavy metals beginning with a few more details about the possible lead contamination situation in our backyard. Two weeks ago Darren Butler, who is teaching a vegetable gardening series at our house, led a class project where we took four samples from different locations in the backyard, mixed them together and sent them off to Wallace Laboratories, a local soil testing lab with...

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