Ridin’ On

...al environment.” A bicycle is a great way to save money and true self-sufficiency entails being as economically prudent as possible. We can recommend compact fluorescent bulbs, hand washing clothes and a myriad of other energy saving ideas that will lesson our impact on the environment but at most save a typical household maybe a few hundred dollars a year. On the other hand, getting rid of a car and replacing it with a bike, which we were...

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Revolutionary Rusks

...arb fix, as well as protein and complex carbs. The recipe we use is from the “Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant: Ethnic and Regional Recipes From the Cooks at the Legendary Restaurant” To make the most of your time and maximize energy efficiency, bake two batches and stack them all up together for the 12-hour dry-a-thon following the initial 25-minute bake. You’ll end up with about 20 pieces from a single batch, and they go pretty fast. While rusks...

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LED Light Bulbs

...tions we obtained from the C. Crane Company web site. The spotlight profiled by BoingBoing, which we assume is also the C. Crane spotlight also has a lumens to watts ratio of 34. For more on these issues see the Department of Energy’s FAQ on LEDs. As the DOE notes in the FAQ, it’s not entirely fair to directly compare compact fluorescents to LED lights, since LED bulbs have a more directed light making them perhaps better for applicat...

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Urban Homesteading

...h love from you all that it’s been like being bundled in a warm blanket. We’ve been busy, and we’ve been taking this seriously, but we haven’t been worried or stressed. Thank you for all your positive energy. It’s also been wonderful to see how this has all served as a galvanizing action to bring the homesteading community together. We admire how the Take Back Urban Home-steading(s) page on Facebook stepped into the...

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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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Emergency water storage

...fter treatment. If you don’t, it’s not clean. Repeat the process. If you’re using iodine, use 10 drops per quart instead of 5. ETA: Forgot! Another way to disinfect water in an emergency situation is through solar water disinfection, or SODIS. Basically you fill up a clear plastic (PET) liter bottle–it has to be clear, and it can’t be bigger than a liter–and put it in intense sun for 6 hours. Filter the water f...

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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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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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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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