Our New Straw Bale Garden–Part I

Straw bales–ready to prepare. Pot in the center will be a solar powered fountain. We’re going to experiment with a straw bale vegetable garden in our backyard, inspired by Michael Tortorello’s article in the New York Times. The plan is to grow in the bales and harvest the resulting compost for use in permanent raised beds (that have yet to be built). We’ll keep growing in bales until we have enough compost for the beds. T...

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Pimp My Cold Frame

While the climate here in Los Angeles is exceedingly mild–it rarely gets much below freezing–springtime can, some years, be too cold to get good germination of summer vegetables such as tomatoes and peppers. This was the case in 2010 when I was not able to get a single tomato seed to germinate until late May. To head off another seedling crisis I built a simple cold frame. In order to prevent the cold frame from becoming a solar...

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The Construction of Secret Hiding Places

I love alternate views of our normal notions of domesticity and home economics. On a recent trip to the book section of a large surplus store I noticed our first book The Urban Homestead right alongside books on burying weapons caches, wiring solar panels, acting as your own dentist and assembling SKS rifles. We certainly have exciting company on this journey. One book in particular caught my eye, The Construction of Secret Hiding Places by Cha...

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Free Preparedness E-Books

...and Gardening Bulk Sprouter Bread Without an Oven B uilding Soils for Better Crops Colorado State University–Drying Vegetables Collecting, Cutting and Handling Potato Seed Everything Under The Sun: Food Storage for the Solar Oven Medicine Making Chinese Herbal Formulas Into Alcohol Extracts  The Ayurveda Encyclopedia Natural Secrets to Healing Prevention and Longevity How to Make Cannabis Foods and Medicines The Sacred Formulas of the Che...

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Propagating herbs via cuttings

...picious at all– on one of your cuttings, pull it out. You don’t want that spreading. If the cuttings are outdoors, you also have to protect them from heat and sun. Remember, the plastic could make your tray into a solar oven. We’ve come home after a day of unexpected heat to find our cuttings steam cooked in their trays. Move them to a shady spot if the weather is expected to be warm and sunny.  They like to be warm, but not too...

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Hops in Containers Update

...the bine, but they’ll definitely try to get them in the compost pile. 6. Prune to the strongest two bines for each plant and train them in a “V” shape. It’s really important to keep different varieties labeled and separate so, come harvest time, you know which one is which. While painting the south side of our house I put up a pulley and rope system so that I can grow more hops. The pulleys will enable me to lower the bine...

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Our Books

...ound up. Projects range from the simple to the ambitious, and include activities done in the home, in the garden and out on the streets. Provides step-by-step instructions for a wide range of projects, from building a 99-cent solar oven to making your own laundry soap to instructions for brewing beer. Making It is the go-to source for post-consumer living activities that are fun, inexpensive and eminently doable. Our goal in this book was to pro...

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A Humanure Powered Prius!

...aused by the expansion of the bladder automatically forces the methane into a storage tank located in the garage. Methane is then pumped into a specially modified Prius during the evening hours using a pump powered by rooftop solar collectors.  “Ed Begley’s people are jealous” said Root Simple blogger Erik Knutzen, adding, “I can finally ditch the bike–it’s dangerous anyways with all that slippery paint the cit...

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The Stages of Alchemy as a Metaphor for Composting

...owing Connected with the symbolism of the sun it’s a reminder that all life, including the microbes, fungi and insect life of the compost pile are ultimately (somewhat tangentially in the case of fungi) connected to the solar power of the sun. Rubedo, a reddening At the final stage, the rubedo, a multiplication takes place – life pervades the compost pile in a highly concentrated form. Lead becomes gold and, in fact, everything the ru...

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