Hops in Southern California

...arming experiment ended in the spring of last year after we accidentally plopped some home built scaffolding on top of the tiny vine while undertaking the heinous task of scraping and painting the front of the house. Planting it in terrible soil doomed it to failure anyways. We’re experimenting with growing both Cascade and Nugget hops in a big self irrigating planter with the hope that we can transfer them to the ground next year or the ye...

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Fish Don’t Fart

...en working on his aquaponics system for over 37 years. The tag line “Fish Don’t Fart” refers to the benefits of fish over methane generating cattle. We skipped over aquaponics in our book since we considered it too expensive and complicated for most people. But perhaps we should give it closer consideration. Aquaponics is profiled in the pioneering urban homesteading book, The Integral Urban House: Self Reliant Living in the Cit...

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Edible and Tasty Arugula Flowers

Our winter vegetable garden is just about finished. This week I’m going to tear out most of it and plant tomatoes and a few other summer veggies. I may keep some of the arugula that has gone to flower a little longer. Why? arugula flower taste great in salads bees love them arugula self seeds readily The flowers, which taste like the leaves, are a reminder of my favorite time of year: arugula season. Each year I curse myself for not pla...

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Shiitake Happens

Well, actually, shiitake doesn’t happen. It’s back to the drawing board for our first experiment in mushroom growing. We ordered a kit and dutifully followed the directions, but a combination of high temperatures and too much or too little water resulted in the result you see above, what looks like a cake with a skin disease. And even if we got a crop the cost of the kit was too high to make the process economical. The kit came pre-...

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Homegrown REvolution

...orced us to consider things such as branding and marketing. Like all children of the late 20th century we’re inescapably linked to a “mediated” culture, to a world of appearances defined by mass media in all its many forms. In the midst of having to figure out a new name for ourselves, along with the incredibly frustrating task of finding a matching domain name not already being squatted on by speculators in Turkey, we discovere...

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Urban Homestead Book Signing and Lecture

...canning produce from your garden, to harvesting rainwater, and much more! All very inexpensive and step-by-step instructions. The book is an important addition to the shelf of every Angeleno concerned about sustainability, self-sufficiency, and living a high-quality low-impact lifestyle. For more information, email [email protected] or call 213.738.1254 Admission proceeds will benefit both the Eco-village and the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalitio...

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Out of Water!

...aucets. We checked the little spinning red triangle indicator on the water meter to see if water was flowing (and perhaps leaking somewhere) but the triangle was motionless. We checked the shutoff valve at the street, turning it off and on, also to no avail. One of the few sensible things the previous owners did was replace the galvanized pipe with copper so we knew that corrosion was not the problem. We asked our neighbors if they had a problem...

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Least Favorite Plant: Yellow Oleander (Thevetia peruviana)

Thumbing through a book of toxic and hallucinogenic plants, I finally manged to i.d. the neighbor’s shrub that looms over the staircase to our front door. The popular name given for this plant in the book was “suicide tree”, so named for its use in Sri Lanka, though I’ve found other plants with this same moniker. The scientific name is Thevetia peruviana, and it’s also known as “lucky nut” (can we chang...

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A Primitive Bow Workshop

After spending an entire week staring a computer screens to update this website, it was a great relief to spend a Saturday carving primitive bows in a workshop led by local self-reliance expert Christopher Nyerges. Kelly and I have been into archery for many years, off and on,  but we’ve never tried to make our own bow. Root Simple pal John Zapf carves a bow to match that stylish hat A bow seems like a simple device until you try to make...

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Ladies of Manure 2013 Calendar

Just when our Kickstarter fatigue has reached terminal limits, this crazy pitch shows up in our mailbox to make our day. Two words: Humanure Cheesecake. (Err…two words you really don’t want to see together, ever,  now that I think about it. Sorry.) As teachers, we spend a lot of our time trying to convince people to mulch and compost. Return it all to the earth, people! We’re particularly fond of throwing down the humanure* g...

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