Bees will love your Coyote Brush Hedge

Image: Wikipedia (our picture of the NHM’s coyote brush hedge came out blurry–which really is a shame because they were good looking hedges. You wouldn’t guess it from this pic). One of a series of posts inspired by our recent tour of the new gardens at the Los Angeles Natural History Museum. Baccharis pilularis, called coyote brush, or chaparral bloom, is an unassuming Western native plant with a secret super-power: native and...

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Build a Ghetto Solar Cooker

Using crap we had laying around the homestead, SurviveLA fashioned a solar cooker based on plans from Backwoods Home Magazine, the Dwell of the Ted Kaczynski set. We just substituted an old cooler for the cardboard boxes, and we finished it off by using one of Los Angeles’ ubiquitous abandoned car tires as a cradle to keep the cooker oriented towards the sun. It ain’t pretty but it works. In our first test we reached 160º inside the...

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Plastic or Wood?

Some time ago the folks at the FDA and USDA recommended that we replace our wooden cutting boards with plastic ones (such as the fine Elvis model on the right). This injunction rose out of rising fears of salmonella and e-coli poisoning in our food, which are, by the way, the signature bacteria of our deplorable factory farming system. But that’s another rant. This rant is about the boards. So as we were saying, it was out with the nasty,...

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Video Sundays: Doberman Outsmarted by Chicken

Via Doug Harvey, a video that brings back memories. Except that our late Doberman was deathly afraid of chickens, for some reason. Addition from Mrs. Homestead: I wouldn’t characterize our dog as having been deathly afraid of chickens. Rather, I’d say he let the chickens push him around–very much like this video.  Once I found him trapped, unable to get to the house because the mean chickens were blocking his path, so I had t...

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Security

A neighbor stopped me while I was walking the dog last night to tell me that they had an intruder the night before who crept around the house Manson family style but did not steal anything. This comes a week after another neighbor found some crackhead in their side yard. Now before having a yuppie-style freakout here, it’s important to note that Los Angeles’ crime rate is down significantly since the early 90s and is much lower than...

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Greywater 101

Survival Podcast intern Josiah Wallingford has started up a blog, Brink of Freedom, that I’m going to contribute to periodically. In my first post, Laundry to Landscape: How to Reuse Laundry Greywater, I discuss my own greywater system as well as the setup I installed at neighbor Lora’s house. Greywater has been one of the simplest and most rewarding projects at our homestead. And I’m looking forward to continuing the conversa...

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That ain’t a bowl full of larvae, it’s crosne!

Mrs. Homegrown, justifiably, gives me a hard time for growing strange things around the homestead. This week I just completed the world’s smallest harvest of a root vegetable popularly known as crosne (Stachys affinis). Crosne, also known as Chinese artichoke, chorogi, knotroot and artichoke betony is a member of the mint family that produces a tiny edible tuber. While looking like any other mint plant, the leaves have no smell. The tubers...

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Saturday Linkages: Making Things and Herding Ducks

Herding ducks. Via The Tangled Nest. DIY Simple Swiss fences for the homestead: http:// dirttime.com/?p=2687 via Practical Parsimony Build-It-Solar Blog: Comparing the Performance of Two DIY Solar Water Heaters http://www. builditsolarblog.com/2012/07/compar ing-performance-of-two-diy-solar.html?spref=tw  … Build-It-Solar Blog: Using Your Lawn Sprinkling Water to Cool the House… http://www. builditsolarblog.com/2012/08/using- yo...

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Support Locally Sourced Kittens

Mrs. Homegrown here: Our friend, Anne–who stuck us gifted us with our own kitten a couple of months ago, now has a pair of rescued kitties looking for a home. They came to her in bad shape, their tiny little bodies crawling with fleas, so much so that the water of their first bath turned blood red. One was very, very sick with some sort of intestinal bug. He didn’t seem likely to make it, but recovered, thanks to Anne’s 24-h...

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Mongolian Giant Sunflower

Nothing much to say about the Mongolian Giant Sunflower other than, “wow”. I got these seeds from Seed Savers Exchange and they have lived up to the “giant” in the name. I’m going to have to climb a ladder to harvest the seeds. Though I don’t see the need to get competitive with my sunflowers, Renee’s Garden has some good harvesting advice, As the petals fall off, the center florets dry up and the seed...

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