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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The Elf and Ethics

The Elf is a kind of aerodynamic, electric assist tricycle with solar panels to charge the batteries. It’s a type of vehicle, somewhere between a bike and a car, that a number of inventors have tinkered with over the years. Good arguments exist for and against this type of transportation. On the one hand it uses far fewer resources than an automobile. But one could also argue, as does the owner of a bike shop in this video, that we’...

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Making It

Making It: Radical Home Ec for a Post-Consumer World, by Kelly Coyne and Erik Knutzen (Rodale Books, 2011) ISBN-13: 978-1605294629 Buy it at:  Amazon • Abe Books • Barnes & Nobel • Powell’s Making It provides you with all of the tools you need to become a producer instead of a consumer and transform your home from the ground up. Projects range from the simple to the ambitious, and include activities done in the home, in the garden an...

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Arduino Homesteading Projects

An Arduino-based chicken coop controller on Instructables. At the risk of putting high tech in our low tech, I just took an introductory Arduino class at Crash Space along with the folks at Zapf Architectural Renderings. An Arduino is a simple, low cost microcontroller thingy. It’s got a bunch of digital outputs, analog and digital inputs and a programmable microchip. You download a program onto the chip (either one you’ve written yo...

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Saturday Linkages: Straw Bales and Bike Hacks

Photo by Tracy Walsh/Poser Design Gardening Straw bale gardening in the New York Times: http://nyti.ms/10kt1Hf DIY How to fix a bicycle tube http://www.afrigadget.com/2013/02/22/how-to-fix-a-bicycle-tube/ … Bike headlight displays speed: http://boingboing.net/2013/03/20/bike-headlight-displays-speed.html Build-It-Solar Blog: A Inexpensive DIY Blower Door http://www.builditsolarblog.com/2013/02/a-inexpensive-diy-blower-door-that.html?spref=tw …...

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The Stages of Alchemy as a Metaphor for Composting

I’ve been struck, for a long time, at the connections between alchemy and composting. I thought it might be interesting to “thoughtstyle” on the alchemical process and what it has to teach us as a metaphor for composting. Though there’s not universal agreement on this, western alchemy is often divided into four stages identified by color: Nigredo or blackening “The ever deepening descent into the unconscious sudde...

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SunCalc: A Sun Trajectory Calculator

In attempting to figure out how to align a garden path with the sunrise of the summer soltice (that’s the way we roll at the the Root Simple compound), I came across a neat Google Maps hack: SunCalc, the creation of Vladimir Agafonkin. According to the description on the site, SunCalc is a little app that shows sun movement and sunlight phases during the given day at the given location. You can see sun positions at sunrise (yellow), spe...

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Emergency water storage

We’re finally ready for The Big One. In terms of emergency preparedness, we were pretty well set in terms of food, light, fuel, etc., but we didn’t have much water. Just some jugs, a rain barrel that’s empty most of the year, and the water in our hot water tank. This lack made me nervous, so we finally did took the bull by the horns–or the bung hole…  How much water should you store?  1 gallon of water p...

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Introducing the Dehydrated Kimchi Chip

Our focus this week has been all things Japanese, but now we’re taking a detour to Korea…or at least to kimchi: What would be the fermentation equivalent of finding a new planet in our solar system, cold fusion and a unified field theory all wrapped into one new discovery? That tasty snack breakthrough could very well be the dehydrated kimchi chip. Oghee Choe and Connie Choe-Harikul of Granny Choe’s Kimchi Co.’s just won...

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