Tame the Email Beast and Have Time To Run Your Urban Homestead

...he end of the day. To do this you “train” your family, friends and co-workers by placing a footer at the bottom of your email to inform them when you check your email. Mine reads, I check my email at noon and after the sun sets. If your needs are more urgent please give me a call at [HOME NUMBER]. Bloggin’ at www.rootsimple.com. Co-author (with Kelly Coyne) of the Urban Homestead (Process Media) and Making It: Radical Home Ec fo...

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Start Your Urban Homestead for One Dollar

...The Lyth Cottage in Buffalo, purchased for $1. Photo: Buffalo Rising. Want to move to Buffalo, New York? If so the city has an Urban Homestead Program where you can get a house for a $1 plus closing costs. The rules–you’ve got to: Fix code violations. Live in the house for at least three years. Have $5,000 in the bank for repairs. Too cold a climate for me, but you can read more about the program and see some success stories at Bu...

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Grow the Soil

Above, proof of the adage that you grow the soil not the plants. On the left a vigorous eggplant growing in high-end potting soil in a self-watering container. On the right a spindly, nitrogen starved specimen of the same variety of eggplant, planted at the same time, in our parkway garden. The container eggplant on the left is larger, has greener leaves and is obviously more healthy. The stunted eggplant on the right is the victim of depleted s...

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Till vs. No-Till

...ticulture professor Linda Chalker-Scott seems to have opened a can of worms, so to speak.  Two issues came up in the comments on my post: the wisdom of using cardboard in a lasagna mulch and the pros and cons of double digging/tilling. Let’s address them in separate blog posts, beginning here with double digging/tilling. There are some very persuasive arguments in favor of a no-till, leave the soil alone approach. Chalker-Scott in the comm...

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Get a Soil Test!

...o be suspect. Lead contamination comes not only from lead paint on older houses, but was also deposited all over urban centers and near busy roads via a constant rain of fine particulates from auto emissions. It really is a shame that lead testing is not a standard part of the inspection phase of home-buying, especially as this is a pervasive problem in urban areas. Do companies that sell bulk soil test that soil for lead? A few phone calls Da...

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The Very First Urban Homesteading Book

The urban homesteading shelf at your local bookstore, thanks to the great recession, sure has gotten crowded in recent years. There are many fine volumes now alongside our two books with a great diversity of authors opining on chicken coops, homemade soap and composting. This is a good thing–we need as many voices as possible. But there’s nothing new here. On a serendipitous trip to the library last week I stumbled across what must...

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Poo Salon and Urban Forage Classes with Nancy Klehm

...cologies in response to a direct experience of a place. She grows and forages much of her own food in a densely urban area. She actively composts food, landscape and human waste. She only uses a flush toilet when no other option is available. She designed and managed a large scale, closed-loop vermicompost project at a downtown homeless shelter where cafeteria food waste becomes 4 tons of worm castings a year which in turn is used as the so...

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UMass Soil Testing

I finally got around to trying out the University of Massachusetts’ soil testing service and can report that it’s fast and cheap. I tested two areas of my yard for both nutrients and heavy metals and found out, more or less, what I expected, that I need to add a small amount of nitrogen. Surprisingly, for having such an old house, I don’t have a lead problem. It costs just $9 for the basic test and $13 for the basic test + hea...

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LA ecovillage: self-reliance in a car-free urban homestead

Johnny, who shot that nice video of us for faircompanies.com just made another video about our friends at the LA ecovillage. It’s well worth a view. Some of the most amazing folks in Los Angeles live there. And I like that fact that’s it’s an ecovillage smack dab in the middle of my beloved hometown. Make sure to also check out Johnny’s blog Granola Shotgun....

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