Summer Urban Homestead Failures: Exploding Beer Bottles

Somehow in last week’s roundup of the summer’s failures I blocked out of my memory the most exasperating: exploding beer bottles. I think I may have had a contaminated siphon hose which passed on some nasty, yeasty bacterial bug to every single bottle of two batches of beer I had made this summer. Three of those bottles over-carbonated to the point that they became beer grenades and exploded. One blew up on the kitchen counter and...

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Press

m in the heart of Los Angeles. They are the keepers of the popular DIY blog, Root Simple, and the authors of The Urban Homestead (2008), which the New York Times calls “…the contemporary bible on the subject” and Making It (2011) a project book for post-consumer society. In addition to their writing and blogging, Kelly and Erik teach and speak on the topics of self-reliance, urban gardening and sustainability. Other Info: Contact us: roots...

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Making Salves, Lip Balms & etc.: Close of the Calendula Series

an also use essential oils to bring herbal essences into a plain salve.  Once you know how to make salve, you can not only make skin salves, you can make lip balm and headache balm and stick deodorant and homemade cosmetics. It’s a simple technique, but it opens a lot of possibilities. My favorite herbal salve is made out of a mix of equal parts Calendula (pot marigold), chickweed (Stellaria media) and plantain (Plantago major) oils. These...

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Erik Thoughtstylin’ in Urban Farm Magazine

” His answer follows. He was in high guru form that day. I hope Urban Farm will forgive me for lifting the whole quote: The action at the top of the to-do list on the path to true sustainability is not a tangible thing. It’s a change in perspective, a breaking down of the barrier between what is “within” and what is “without.” It is a recognition that our internal intentions and actions expand ever outward, tra...

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Build a Solar Dehydrator

Like many of you, I suspect, we’ve got a few too many tomatoes at this time of the year. One of our favorite ways to preserve our modest harvest is with our solar dehydrator. There’s nothing like the taste of sun dried tomatoes, but unless you live in a very dry desert climate like Phoenix, Arizona you can’t just set fruit out in the sun and expect it to do anything but go moldy. In most places in the world, including here in...

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How To Dry Food With the Sun

. But there’s a catch to sun drying: humidity. Food dries best when temperatures are above 85º F and below 60% humidity. If you live in a desert, humidity isn’t a problem. But in most other places in North America it’s simply too moist to set food out under the sun. It will rot before it dries. In Los Angeles, due to the influence of the ocean, it’s slightly too humid most of the year for sun drying to work well. But there...

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The Sundiner–A Groovy 1960s Era Solar Cooker

Backywards beekeeper Dennis of The Buzz in the Dale, was nice enough to gift me his vintage Sundiner solar cooker that he found at a garage sale a few years ago. Resembling a cross between a portable 1960s record player and a satellite, the Sundiner is compact, light and easy to carry. A built in thermometer lets you know when you have hit cooking temperatures. The unit is so efficient, that when I set it up at noon it hit 350° F within minut...

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Solar Light Hack

We wanted a solar powered light over our new entrance arbor. The problem is that most of the lights available are just plain ugly. And the solar panels on the cheaper models are usually mounted on the light itself making it impossible to place them in a shady spot. I came up with a simple solution. First, I bought an inexpensive solar light intended to be mounted on a fence. I took it apart and desoldered the LEDs off the circuit board. Nex...

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A Parvati Solar Cooker

Damn, is solar cooking easy! Put some rice in a pot, place the pot in this simple panel cooker, made with cardboard and aluminum foil, stick it out in the sun and two hours later you have lunch. We built our “Parvati” solar cooker with plans designed by Shobha Ravindra Pardeshi that can be found here. Pardeshi, who runs an “appropriate technology” company with her husband in India has another design for a similar dish-sha...

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