The Sundiner–A Groovy 1960s Era Solar Cooker

...and make a mess of the difficult to clean, unidentifiable space age insulation material. Grilling is really not the best application of solar energy–you lose the smoky flavor and grill marks you get with fire–which is probably why the Sundiner never caught on. More recent solar box ovens that I’ve seen, both commercial and homebrew, have shelves with adjustable angles, making it easier to use them as crock pots. Nevertheless, I...

Continue reading…

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...

Continue reading…

DIY Outdoor Shower

...o heat that water, but your body odor will soon separate your real friends from superficial hangers-on. But we urban homesteaders don’t need to be stinky since it’s possible and easy to build an outdoor solar shower. There are two reasons this makes sense, particularly in a place with as warm a climate as LA. First of all, you can direct the water straight into the garden and in so doing irrigate some plants and keep that water from...

Continue reading…

Michael Tortorello on Urban Homesteading

Michael Tortorello, who wrote that nice piece about us a few months ago, “Living Large, Off the Land,” is one of my favorite writers on gardening and “urban homesteady” topics. He’s critical without being curmudgeonly and manages to separate the truth from the hype (and there’s an awful lot of hype in this movement!). Plus he managed to get an entire paragraph about my thyrsus into the New York Times. Thyrsus...

Continue reading…

The Food and Flowers Freedom Act

...ever, is that it is prohibited for city dwellers in R1 zones to grow fruits, nuts, flowers or seedlings and sell them off-site – at local farmers’ markets for example. Furthermore, no one at City Hall can agree on what Truck Gardening is. We think it’s time for the City of Los Angeles to come into the 21st century and amend its municipal code to support the burgeoning urban farming movement. It’s time L.A. legalized urban farming in R1 zon...

Continue reading…

Remember to Label Those Jars!

...e, from the jars above, that I’m not very good about this. When were those jars canned and what’s in them? I have 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...

Continue reading…

CooKit Solar Panel Cooker

I’ve been experimenting with a nice panel solar cooker for the past week and, so far, the results are impressive. Called the CooKit, it was developed in 1994 by a group of engineers and solar cooking enthusiasts associated with Solar Cookers International and based on a design by Roger Bernard. It has a couple of nice features: It produces ample heat to cook rice and simple casseroles. When you fold it up it takes up no more space than a...

Continue reading…

How to make a Calendula oil infusion

...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 it like making sun tea. You take a nice clean jar with a good lid, and fill that about half way full of dried herb, to...

Continue reading…

Urban Chicken Enthusiasts Unite!

Creating community is a vital part of the urban homesteading movement. For why should one make jam or grow zucchini without people to share it with? In a big, crazy city like L.A. there are lots of interesting people doing inspiring things, you just have to find them. I’m always excited to meet new people who are interested in all the things we write about here at Homegrown Evolution. I was lucky to move a block away from Mr. and Mrs. Home...

Continue reading…

What’s the Best Solar Food Dryer?

...Second to freezing, it’s the best way to persevere nutrition without adding sugar or salt. And if you use the power of the sun, you won’t need to spend any money on electricity. In a desert climate you can just put your food out on screened trays. But just a bit of humidity in the air makes this approach risky. Food can spoil before enough moisture is removed. That’s why you should build a solar food dryer. B...

Continue reading…