Tomatoes in December

It ain’t pretty but I’m not complaining. Note to self: the tomatoes that sprout on their own are always the healthiest. The cherry tomato above has reseeded itself for at least 12 years. Sometimes its offspring survive the winter and grow as a perennial. Our climate sort of permits this but occasionally a cold night will kill tomatoes off. And each year the fruit declines in quality. This summer I transplanted two tomato se...

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Essential System #7 – Repair Kit and Tools

We were going to use this category to wax poetic about the early 90s Leatherman multi-tool that we wear on our belts at all times but, hold the blog press here, self-sufficiency geniuses Stephen Box and Enci gifted us with a category-busting set of tools that, get this, fit within a tiny 30g (1.5 oz) Altoid tin! Believe it or not this pocket size Altoid tin contains the following items: 1 inner tube piece – a section of a bicycle tire tha...

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Skid Row Community Garden Gets SIPs

Novice gardeners + hot rooftop accessible only by many flights of stairs = perfect opportunity to use self irrigating pots. Two master gardeners, Anne Hars and Maggie Lobl asked me to show them how to put together some SIPs (read more about what a SIP is here) for the Los Angeles Community Action Network, which works with homeless and low-income residents on skid row.  Hars, Lobl, myself and a bunch of folks from LACAN put together a few SIPs...

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Cat Poop Compost Installment #2

...n Saturday! As I shoveled, I decided that if I didn’t already have Mad Kitty Disease, I’d have it by the end of the day. As if to confirm this, Trout sat in the bedroom window over the poo-bin, wearing a peculiar, self-satisfied expression while he watched me slave away over his waste. (Phoebe didn’t join in, because she doesn’t admit to creating waste at all.) Okay, he doesn’t look smug here because he’s...

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Three Events Coming Up: Ciclovia, Huntington Plant Sale and Homegrown

...and many other speakers and vendors at the Homegrown “seed to plate” festival (note: though we share the “homegrown” moniker we’re participants not organizers). According to the Homegrown website, it will be a “free event celebrating food, sustainable gardening and an ecological lifestyle.” We’ll be doing a workshop at 2pm on how you can make a self irrigating pot out of two five gallon buckets. At...

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The kids are all bikin’

...pitched the notion of changing our built environment to encourage walking and cycling. Here in Los Angeles, with the majority of bike commuters being poor folks of color, making our city more bikable is a civil rights issue. For an overview of the bike to work day festivities (which ironically, since they take place in the middle of a weekday, tend to involve mostly the self-employed or unemployed) read Damien Newton’s post on the excellent...

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Saturday’s Quote

Ghandi in 1909, source Wikimedia. Interdependence is and ought to be as much the ideal of man as self-sufficiency. Man is a social being. Without interrelation with society he cannot realize his oneness with the universe or suppress his egotism. His social interdependence enables him to test his faith and to prove himself on the touchstone of reality                                       — Mahatma Gandhi, Young India, March 21, 19...

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Bean Fest, Episode 7: The Home-Ec Supper Club

...programmed anxiety about hostessing that transforms me from my usually lazy self into a Martha Stewart demon at the mere mention of a dinner party. (Ask Erik.) Well, good-bye to that and hello Home-Ec Supper Club, also called the Beans and Rice Party. This is the deal that Ari, Erik and I came up with. We’d invite over a mixed group of friends with similar interests in home-ec, home arts, bikes, brewing, bees, homesteading, whatever you wa...

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Have any ideas? We’re rewriting the anniversary gift list

...write it to be genuinely useful from a “homesteaders” point of view. I know I was just talking about the importance of experience, but we do need good tools in a functional household, and a list could be built around that. The second option is the experience list. What sort of skills and knowledge make up a self-reliant household–and a good relationship? How would you prioritize that knowledge on a year by year time line? Can w...

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Be a question. Be an answer.

...lady finds herself a little short on cash. Better to spend what you have on good bread and good books.” By the by, I’ve also discovered two charities which give cloth pads to African schoolgirls. It seems that some girls in Africa miss school for a few days every month because their families can’t afford to buy them disposable pads. Obviously this puts them behind in their studies and leads to high drop out rates, low self-estee...

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