Get a Soil Test!

Regular readers have probably already got this message, but right now we can’t repeat it enough. If there’s a lesson with our backyard lead scare , it’s to practice due diligence when beginning a garden –or better yet, when you buy property–and that means getting a soil test from a soil lab. They’re not that expensive, especially when you consider the high cost of remediation, and the well being of your self...

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A Cheap Soil Testing Service

I’ve started a new method in the garden: test the soil, amend according to the recommendations and grow. Lather, rinse, repeat. In many parts of the U.S., you can get free or low cost soil tests from your county extension service, but not here in Los Angeles. Some time ago I answered a reader’s question about where to get soil testing done, only to have to correct my response several times. Last week, Homegrown Evolution pal and the...

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Remember to Label Those Jars!

e no idea. They were probably the result of some late night canning frenzy two years ago. At the time I probably thought to myself, “I’ll label them in the morning.” Not only should the jars be labeled, but it would also have been nice to have some notes on the recipe I used and where the fruit was sourced from. To this end I’ve started a preservation diary in a useful program called Evernote. Perhaps I should get a tatto...

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2011 in Review: Urban Homestead Trademark Dispute

...and organizations including our publisher Feral House/Process Media, public radio station KCRW, Denver Urban Homesteading, and the Santa Monica Public Library. In addition DI successfully manged to get Facebook to take down a page about our book The Urban Homestead, that our publisher had put up, in addition to Denver Urban Homesteading’s Facebook page. As of this date both of those Facebook pages are still down. The Electronic Frontier Fou...

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How to make a Calendula oil infusion

Love that golden orange color. It’s prettier in real life. So finally I get around to finishing off this mini series on Calendula (pot marigold). This post will be on infusing oil, and next week we’ll have the one on salves. We’ve already covered the growing and drying Calendula: Why not plant some Calendula Harvesting and drying Calendula Oil infusion is as simple as can be.  Oil infusion is soaking. Think of...

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Watering 101

This is watering 101. Those of you who have been gardening for a while have probably learned this the hard way. Those of you just starting out may find it helpful. Soil lies. It looks wet, but it’s bone dry a fraction of an inch beneath. Or it looks dry on the surface, but it’s actually quite wet below. Or it’s wet, but only for one inch down. The only way to find out if you’ve watered your garden enough is to stick your...

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What laundry detergent should I use for greywater applications?

the land is a bad idea? You don’t want to salt your garden. Those salts will build up in the soil and can cause salt burn on tree leaves. (This appears as leaves with browning tips, as if they’ve been sunburned.) It’s worth adding that the drier your climate, the saltier the soil, because there is not enough rain to help percolate it away–so if you live in a dry climate it’s even more important to be careful with sa...

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The Making of a Great Olive Oil

...e At the end of all this machinery the oil pours out of a spigot and into a steel drum: We all had the great privilege of tasting the freshly squeezed oil. I won’t soon forget that heavenly flavor. Matt told us that it takes around a ton of olives to make 25 to 30 gallons of oil. The olives come from a thousand trees that are tucked around the vineyards. If you’re ever in Northern California the Preston Vineyard is well worth a v...

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Back on the Yogurt Train: How to Make Yogurt

...what I can. Lately I’ve realized that one consistent source of waste plastic in our kitchen comes in the form of yogurt tubs. This is a little silly, because we know how to make yogurt. In fact, I do believe we covered it in our book. Thing is, back in the day when we made yogurt, it was Erik’s job. When he slacked on it, I didn’t even consider picking it up. Chalk it up to the mysteries of division of labor in a household. An...

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Lead Update

that “plant available” is different than the total amount of lead in the soil. The total amount would be about ten times higher or 1,120 ppm. According to the University of Minnesota Extension Service, Generally, it has been considered safe to use garden produce grown in soils with total lead levels less than 300 ppm. The risk of lead poisoning through the food chain increases as the soil lead level rises above this concentrati...

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