What Are Your Favorite Compost Materials?

Root Simple’s new composting game for your Xbox! I wish I could source compost pile materials from our yard. But lead and zinc contamination in our soil make that a dodgy proposition without doing a lot of expensive lab tests. And I never seem to have enough materials even for our modest vegetable garden. So in the past I’ve used: horse bedding chicken manure from our own chickens alfalfa hay (kinda spendy these days) str...

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Google Sketchup as an Urban Homesteading Tool

I just completed a new chicken run, greatly assisted by an amazing and free 3d design program: Trimble SketchUp (formerly Google SketchUp). While it takes some time to learn (I’m still learning!), this program helped me visualize the chicken run as well as estimate the amount of materials I’d need to buy. Here’s how I used it to create the run: Previous runs either did not work (chickens squeezed out and flew over) or were hid...

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My Trip to Maker Faire

Getting ready for the earth oven workshop this weekend meant that I never got around to reporting on my trip to Maker Faire up in San Mateo on the 19th. I spoke in the low-tech “Homegrown” shed far away from the high powered tesla coil displays happening elsewhere. To add to the low tech/high tech irony, I was not able to use my PowerPoint and had to speak extemporaneously. This worked out for the better, as I was able to pull up a...

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Help Us Find the Ideal Urban Chicken Breed

Townes Van Zandt with chicken We are in the market for new hens and lately it has occurred to us that the best breed criteria for our situation is not a breed which lays most frequently, but a breed which maintains its egg production as it matures–even if that means that it doesn’t produce as many eggs per week as a typical high production hen. Does that make sense? Because Erik is such a soft touch, we have to maintain a nu...

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Introducing Nancy Klehm With Tips on Growing Jerusalem Artichokes

Photo by Ann Summa We’re very proud to welcome to the blog our good friend Nancy Klehm. Nancy is a radical ecologist, designer, urban forager, grower and teacher. Most importantly, unlike Kelly and I here in Los Angeles, she lives in a place subject that odd meteorological condition called “winter”, namely Chicago. We asked her to write posts for us for on gardening in a four-season climate and to add her expertise to...

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A Review of Williams-Sonoma’s Agrarian Line

...8217;s the veil in the beehive starter kit Williams-Sonoma is selling that bothers me the most. Like most of the other offerings in the Agrarian collection that veil is more about the image of the activity, in this case beekeeping, than it is about actual activity, i.e. beekeeping. This is, of course, the essence of modern marketing as pioneered nearly a century ago by Sigmund Freud’s nephew Edward Bernays (watch the Century of the Self to...

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A Time Out Box for Quail

...unrest flared. Recently, ‘B.B. Curious’, the largest of all the quail became exceedingly aggressive towards the others. She was chasing them and pulling their back feathers out causing periodic frantic scurrying and distressing calls from the others. I checked her body and health. I stepped up their seeds and protein in case it was a protein deficiency causing this. I created visual baffles with extra flower pots (quails love to niche themselves...

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Growing Home: Agriculture in the City

...ome grown, is a day of talks, tours and demonstrations by local experts on topics from nurturing soil to keeping chickens to growing organic flowers and produce.  Rosalind Creasy , edible landscaping pioneer, is the keynote speaker.  Other presenters from: Silverlake Farms, Homegrown Evolution, Food Not Lawns, Darren Butler, Full Circle Gardens, Metabolic Studio, Backwards Beekeepers, Fallen Fruit, Sustainable Habitats, Master Gardeners, and Li...

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Least Farvorite Plant:–Heavenly Bamboo–Neither Heavenly nor Bamboo

Chickens assist in heavenly bamboo removal. About a year ago, while searching for a spot for our new and larger compost pile, Mrs. Homegrown suggested ripping out a stand of heavenly bamboo (Nandina domestica) that occupied a shady spot in a corner of our backyard. My reaction? I think I said something like, “No way, it’s been there for twelve years and it took forever to reach three feet.” Some time later Homegrown N...

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Why Urban Farm?

...Homegrown Revolution compound. We lost one chick, bringing our nascent flock down to two. We decided that since chickens are social animals to add two more in case of other unforeseen problems bringing our total up to four. Such are the cycles of life and death on the new urban homestead. Bryan Welch, who raises livestock and is also the publisher and editor of the always informative Mother Earth News, wrote an editorial in the February issue c...

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